TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

We will NOT find an alternative to energy dense, easily transportable conventional oil in time to sustain indefinate economic growth.

All alternative energies have one or more disadvantages that do not let them compete with cheap conventional oil.

Given our industrial civilization depends on massive amounts of cheap energy, the reliance on conventional oil is enormous.

The only quick solution I see is a drastic downscaling of economic activity.

Topics: energy
+1
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Feb 20 2013: The solution is easy.

    Just begin to diversify our energy sources. We have started already. Just look at the Wind Farms in northern Europe, Tidal energy in NYC, Solar around the world and super high efficiency cars.

    There is no one thing that will get us off of oil but many small things over time.

    I believe in the future.
    • thumb
      Feb 21 2013: Absolutely. What we have to watch is how we focus our future energy research. We need a resource that can provide future energy needs as do the fossil fuels of today. Most of the resources we look at today, wind solar, etc., are good supplemental sources but the best minds in the power industry is that these sources are limited to about 20% of the total requirement and although the fuel is free, collection and distribution runs about twice PKH then standard generation. Now there a few that are looking at a new nuclear generation. Some work on fuel cells but they require natural gas. Now, I see two problems to fix in the next two hundred years. We need a source of almost free electrical energy and another source of cheap transportation energy. if we are going to sustain the evolution of civilization. There are a number of interesting lab experiments but no concerted effort to plan and execute a serious new source of energy.
      • Feb 21 2013: Wind and Solar can take us way beyond 20%. Just look at Great Britain's current and 5 year projections.

        I don't believe all the Internet facts as many are posted by the oil and gas "experts".

        If the USA and China followed Ireland and Scandinavia's direction we would be well on our way in my opinion.
        • thumb
          Feb 21 2013: Brian, I wish I could share your enthusiasm.
          The Danes.who are probably the best in alternative energy sources had addressed the solar and wind issues and determined the 20% based on a national power system. An island resort off the coast of Africa generates over 50% of their power with wind to support the extensive resort hotels that provide the majority of nation's income. The cost of that power is several multiples of what we typically pay here and that cost here could crash our whole economy.

          Yes. read those oil and gas Internet experts. Even if you don't agree, you need to understand where they are coming from... per " the art of war"

          I would not make suggestions for China, but as far as the US is concerned... the Scandinavians are sitting on fossil fuels that proportionately dwarfs our potential and Ireland as a nation had been all over the place as a stable economy.
      • Feb 21 2013: Mike: you are basically right in what you say, except that I think you may have missed the fact that the power source you are hoping for has already been invented, demonstrated, and forgotten. The Thorium LFTR system of nuclear fission, developed as an aircraft engine, has the potential to replace oil, be cheaper than coal, and perform all the actions that any Green activist could want, and then some. For a good analysis of this, and most other alternative energies, see "Thorium: energy cheaper than Coal", by Robert Hargraves. By the way, one of the incidental side effects would be the ability to reduce C02 build up to neutral in about 40 years, assuming an all out effort. Still doable. Maybe we don't have 200 years, but I would think 40-50 is possible.
        • thumb
          Feb 21 2013: That's a great point
          I am not on the current science of this medium. What I have read, there is still some work to do to get it to be commercially viable. That is " profitable" I am also sure that there are some big energy conglomerates that have an eye on that ball. I know of local energy players that are looking for anything they can get to get them out of the oil business. In their words, oil is getting to hard to do. But, and they are honest about this, there has to be a better profit for them to make the jump.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.