Saturday, 2 May 2009

Energy For Life

The Human race's energy issues are well known to all of you guys - from the 'why the f*ck batteries don't last longer' question to what on Earth (or in space, for that matter) we're going to do about powering our needs, now that we've grown to have so many.

Well, it's not like I have answers to any of these questions for you here, 'cause, sadly, I don't. I just want to grasp this opportunity to join the crew in wallowing in self-pity for a minute because of this huge problem of our generation - and in doing so to underline it as such.

So, yes, the answer is bound to be in renewable resources, which probably means solar power, that's pretty much for sure. And, no, it doesn't just involve tying a pretty little bow on our miniature pools of leftover oil or whatnot and thinking, even for a second, that we've solved that problem, now. No, renewables'll have to do the trick, I say.

And, yes, this might even mean that here, in Greece, where I live now, will be a global frontrunner in that department, oh yes. But, well, the oil lords (which I'm sure are all stroking their Persian cats sitting on their golden thrones as we speak, villainous as they all are) won't let go of their reign so easily. And that's why - well, one of the numerous reasons why, at least - we're going through hell right now. Titans' struggle and all that.

Because, you see, all other problems that seem to worry the Humans from time to time are met within record times, usually - mostly because they promise amazing proceeds if you deliver, and there's more gold-diggers looking for something worth selling as a solution, but hey. It's just that here there's not only a great issue involving us having to change everything that works 'the old way' - which will take some time, money and overall effort on its own - but there's also lots of people, with lots of money in their hands and therefore power and humongous metaphorical boxing gloves trying to stop us until the last drop of oil is spent - on military purposes, nonetheless.

So, as you probably already knew, we're f*cked. Yes, let me say that again: we're f*cked, where energy is concerned. And now it's time for you to sod off and go charge your cellphone.


Stratis said...

Quite a superficial approach, I'm afraid. Supposing there is an "energy problem", renewable sources are by no means the only answer. And there is one reason for that: there is not a single renewable source [RS] that can function as a baseload energy provider. Baseload demand is the minimun one that a system (say, "Greece") must cover at all times, constantly, and cheaply. But that, RS can't provide. A day might not be windy enoughm or not sunny enough. The reservoir of a hydroelectric plant too low (they don't operate during the summer in Greece). Even a solar cell cannot function well under the midsummer sun. So, even we installed plants for 15 GW of RS, we would be in danger of constant blackouts. This is why it is rightly said that RS can maximally cover about 20% of our energy needs.

Oil, now: Oil is not mainly used to produce electricity (it would be extremelly costly). It is used to move...things. Cars, planes, ships. It is supported by a huge infranstructure, for which we have alternatives, thousands of people are trying to invent even better ones, but for now, we are not really in dire need to change that. We will, gradually from now on, but our wells are not quite empty. It is not a matter of some oil lords desperately resisting (they resist, of course...) but of the great difficulty to change the current "system".

There is increasing energy demand, mainly for electric power, but there is plenty of coal and other fossil fuels to cover that. Modern, state-of-the-art fossil fuel power plants can improve efficiency while minimizing toxic emissions (carbon dioxide not included). If you are that much concerned for the greenhouse effect, go nuclear. I am a staunch proponent for nuclear energy, and there is a universal trend supporting it.

Of course, we have to be more economical with power consumption, by building "greener" buildings, "zero-" or "low CO2 emitting thingies etc".

The point is that the energy problem is a quite complex one, and renewable energy sources can account only for 20% of the "answer". Even more, solar power is not ideal for Greece, as solar cells operate optimally in lower temperatures and sun intensity (40 degrees latitude and more -but then again, no sunshine there!). Wind is a much, much better answer for this country and is the field to play.

Mel said...

Well, you're right about the 20% thing, I've researched it since, although there's many who disagree, especially in the long run. I see it as much more possible that we find some technology-thing on that front, than in any others, actually, but right now things are the way they are, yes.

As for oil, again you really aren't looking at things 'in the long run', at all. We only have enough oil 'for now' - and that's really a fact. Hybrid technologies etc only prolong things a-bit, and still 'not enough'.

Anyway, we'll have to discuss this again when our planet's oil has run out and technologies have emerget at-need. Or on Saturday after The Brothers Bloom? :P