Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Winds of Change.

All assumptions on the future of the global energy market assume growth in per capita energy demand, and I do not understand the basis for this assumption. In the 20th century, electronic computers and appliances increased faster than energy technology. Now newer devices use a fraction of the energy of older devices. Consumers are becoming more aware of concepts like phantom power, or energy used by appliances that are plugged in but "off," a problem easily solved by switching off power strips.

In the near future, electronic devices will use flash memory to remember settings instead of constantly draining power. The home PC will be networked with the home's electrical system to manage energy use and switch off lights on demand. Light bulbs will continue to drain less, heating and cooling systems will continue to be more efficient, dual pane windows will replace inefficient single pane windows, and small devices such as cell phones and cameras will operate on reduced energy to meet consumer demand for long battery life.

At the same time, the direct cost of energy will continue to increase. The indirect costs have been high for quite some time, especially increased medical costs for asthma, cancer, and other medical conditions correlated with point source pollution from power plants. Increases in oil prices are making it possible for alternative energy to break even. Off-shore wind farms are looking increasingly promising. Fluor recently signed a 1.8 billion dollar contract with a Scotland-based corporation to build the largest off-shore wind farm in the world, a 500 MW plant off of England's Suffolk coast. It's only a matter of time before alternative energy projects of this scale reach our shores.

1 comment:

ProblemWithCaring said...

Thank you! This gets so little media coverage. It doesn't fit the red state blue state conservative vs liberal dichotomy of the Green Debate that the MSM is use to so they ignore it.

You don't have to be bush/cheney to believe that techonlogy needs to increase (thereby causing demand to decrease) in the face of an end to finite resource. You don't have to be Al Gore to believe collective behavior modifications (sweater wearing) is possible and probable and will make a difference in energy consumption.

Just have to be rational.