Where can alternative energy best be generated? Can it be intimate? Personal? Can it supply all our needs at all times?
Does it need to remain in the hands of an elite few? How long can our current systems operate reliably?
That last is an oxymoron! We all have experienced outages of many kinds. Sometimes from weather events. Others due to mismatches in production and demand. Or failing transmission.
All our established systems are ageing. Should we continue to prop them up?
Can we expect another approach that won’t lead to more waste, contamination, pollution and scarcity? Is this reasonable?
We have needed power from our earliest times.
If we are going to live in demanding climates and seasons we need to control our homes. We need to cook, process, clean and have light for enough time to do all we need.
Since electricity came on the scene we have used it more and more. As soon as a way was found to generate and distribute it, the few came to control it.
Because of where it began, we developed it along a certain line of thinking. One that is very reductionist. One that seeks the highest possible return for every effort.
We continue to pursue similar thinking and paradigms in current alternative energy efforts. Just consider companies vying for your dollar.
It’s amazing how similar each one of them is.
Each new form of generation, storage or interconnection gets copied in endless iterations. All claim to be the best, the latest.
Each one of course highlights its selling points. The positives are up front. The drawbacks hidden.
Then there are the underlying assumptions we all have. We grew up with them. They are part of our culture.
Yes we can continue down the lines we are travelling on. But is it wise? Or for our best? Does it suit the whole world?
How will we feel about our choices in 20, 30, 50, 100 years…or more?
I can illustrate some of these postures simply.
The commonest, still considered a knockout, is whether the proposed alternative energy system produces continuous power.
Yes we need power around the clock, although there are peaks and troughs.
But when we think like this we tend to head down certain alleys. Ones that are not all that helpful from a creative point of view.
Such thinking produces the argument only nuclear (fission) power is going to work this way. This in spite of problems of waste and past disasters.
It’s a big system approach for centralised production. Costly too.
In the same vein the yet to be realised option of nuclear fusion is a possibility. Some versions still produce significant waste of concern, although maybe less so than the fusion option.
It certainly sparked my early interests. I have devoted a lot of time and energy and a large segment of this site to it.
It has a number of possibilities. Some are huge costly projects that are already heavily supported by a number of countries.
Yet there are still others that promise more affordable, localised, small-sized generation options. Maybe not yet like the DeLorean car of “Back to the Future”.
Also some streams do not produce any or hardly any radioactive waste.
The big promise of this approach is the huge power possibility if and when we get it right.
Meanwhile there are those that we already have developed like coal and gas, water-based like hydroelectric, and similar. They have have been large scale but there are more local, small-scale options.
With concerns about the waste streams of some of these, we have been pursuing alternative fuels. There are increasing options.
The white elephant of continuous generation has been addressed with storage systems. The battery considerations.
These rely on the balance of volume versus weight or size.
Some smaller sizes, those we rely on for phones and increasing numbers of electric cars, have had problems. Nobody wants their house or car to go up in flames.
Other possibilities are already out there. More will come online. Sometimes, though, we need better information so we can make the best choices.
Like the batteries it seems the first choice for local generation has to be sun-based ones. That is capturing the sun’s energy.
The sun controls a lot our lives and even how we get food to eat and keep warm. In the same way it produces a lot of other options.
Wind, tides, crops, ground sources of heat. Some ground heat comes from other internal earth sources. But the surface effects of the sun’s heat on the earth means this source is available practically everywhere.
Likewise we can utilise our waste systems and even our daily routines to supply energy.
Beyond that, though, is the more complex understanding of how we can use all these various sources of alternative energy in combination - more organically.
New understandings from other disciplines and peoples highlight better ways for us to move ahead.
Many of these areas actually benefit the planet positively.
They suggest ways we can continue to thrive and heal the world that is increasingly giving us some urgent signals that are becoming more difficult to ignore.
If we embrace these we will actually begin to enhance all our systems. We can be a solution rather than a problem.
We can also benefit by investing in these new alternative energy technologies that will have to be developed if we are to have a half decent future.
This is how my thinking has developed in recent times and why I am approaching energy in a rather different way.
Who knows? Maybe some options we already have will supply all our needs. It just seems doubtful.
What harm can there be from thinking a bit more creatively about alternative energy?
More options that can trigger even better choices!
I will be sharing my personal approaches throughout this site. I have interesting plans ahead.
If we all share our thoughts, schemes and progress we could make even better headway. We could trigger many new ideas, possibilities and supply!
Certainly it would produce more positive and fruitful thoughts than those focused on what we are doing to our climate with our current directions.