Our way of life, measured by the standard of living and quality of life, is greatly dependent on energy and resource consumption. Our exponentially growing resource consumption has caused CO2 emissions to grow 188% between 1973 and 2008. Our footprint on the planet is so strong that geologists are proposing a new epoch, called the Anthropocene, to accurately describe this period. However, as the name suggests, humans are the masters of their fate: the Anthorpocene is an epoch defined by the human impact on the planet.
About 95% of our transportation energy comes from oil and conventional fuels. Since the 1973 oil crisis much research has been done, and is being done in clean fuel sources. Restructuring our economy to use renewable energy – a form of energy harvesting, is difficult: it attempts to collect disperse energy into useable forms. We have advanced many types of energy harvesting: solar (photovoltaic, passive, hydrogen from solar, and biomass to fuel), wind, hydro (dams and run-of river), waves and ocean tides, yet challenges still remain. Technology dictates that successful renewable energy harvesting requires rare earth and precious metals (e.g. Lithium, Neodymium, Platinum, Ruthenium, and Vanadium). These metals are often found in corrupt autocracies (China, Bolivia, and Argentina). High density renewable energy locations are often found far away from cities. Despite new technologies such as UHVDC which limit losses compared to HVAC, large investments in power lines are still necessary. Advances in various energy production methods are bringing other technologies to the forefront that has not been available to this point.
Join the discussion around energy resources – production, distribution, and consumption. Let’s discover ways that we can positively affect the planet while maintaining our quality of life.