In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency states that an immediate investment in sustainable energy is the only hope in preventing a global crisis in the complete depletion of oil. According to the report, the intensification of worldwide energy usage will, within a generation, create an immense global climate change, threaten energy security, and bring on the possibility of oil shortages worldwide.
Because of the enormous economic growth of China and India, the IEA has become more concerned about the situation at hand, and feels that we must find a way to move beyond fossil fuels in order to ward off such a crisis.
According to the 675-page report, China will surpass the USA as the world energy leader. By 2015, their energy needs will grow 5.1% annually. Their need for fuel will also quadruple for their growing fleet of vehicles which is estimated to reach 270 million by 2030. India’s projections are just as frightening. Even though the growth of these two countries has improved the lives of billions of people, the consequences create an alarming global energy demand. The IEA states that there is enough oil to last us through 2030. Yet oil in Mexico, Canada and the North Sea are rapidly depleting, causing an increase in global dependence on the unstable Middle East.
The Solar Tower plant that was once constructed and successfully operated in Manzaneres, Spain, is now the prototype for Australian company Enviromission Limited’s Solar Tower plant. The 50 kilowatt tower in Spain, originally designed by Jorg Schlaich of Schlaich Bergermann Partners, ran from 1982 to 1989. Now Enviromission hopes to have their 200 megawatt scaled-up version running in Australia by 2008. So far, the location is thought to be Buronga in the Wentworth Shire of New South Wales.
Once built, it will be one of the world’s tallest structures. At 1,000 meters, its height alone makes the concept seem a bit surreal. But in reality, the plant has been proven to work and is based on some very simple and tangible principles: the greenhouse, the turbine and the chimney. The higher and wider the chimney, the greater the efficiency.
Solar and wind power may get the headlines when it comes to renewable energy. But another type of clean power is heating up in the hills just north of Sonoma wine country. Geothermal power uses heat from deep inside the Earth to generate electricity. The Geysers, the world’s largest power-producing geothermal field, has been providing electricity for roughly 850,000 Northern California households, and is set to expand even further.
Producers Notes: When I first began researching this story for QUEST, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard more about geothermal energy. It’s never lumped into that renewable energy laundry list that’s recited by politicians and journalists alike — you know, “…solar, wind, hydroelectric and biofuels”. But it turns out that geothermal energy has really great potential. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
The TV show “Dallas” is looking pretty dated these days, and it’s got nothing to do with Victoria Principal’s wardrobe or whatever you call that hairstyle worn by Patrick Duffy. Actually it’s the premise – the affairs of an oil magnate – that makes it look so 30 years ago.
Once the oil capital of America, Texas is fast becoming the epicenter of wind-power, and this clean energy source is proving a money-spinner to boot.
Erase the visual of a quaint Dutch windmill — like everything in Texas, these wind turbines are big: “twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, with blades that span as wide as the wingspan of a jumbo jet”. Texas is currently ranked number one in the country for megawatts of wind power. Wind turbines currently provide 3 percent of the state’s electricity (enough to power one million homes) and 1 percent of the electricity in America (the equivalent of 4.5 million homes).
Energy from rainwater? If you read my blog on harvesting rain, you’re aware of the many possibilities nature provides to supplement our insatiable need for water. But some scientists at Europe’s Atomic Energy commission have taken the idea of utilizing rainwater a step (or ten) further – they’ve figured out a way to harness the energy released as a drop of rain hits a hard surface.
It’s quite simple really. A raindrop has absorbed a significant amount of energy through evaporation. That energy is increased by its height above the ground (anyone remember Potential Energy from Earth Science?). As the drop becomes too heavy to stay in a cloud, the drop begins to realize its potential, and as it hits the earth, it releases that energy in the form of mechanical force. Scientists are using piezoelectric material to capture that force and turn it into electricity.
Getting tired of hearing that petroleum is finite? No big secret that there were a limited amount of dinosaurs, and therefore a limited amount of petroleum reserves — not to mention the emission problem. I’ve said it many times on this site and elsewhere that internal combustion is a dead-end technology. No matter how much we play with new fuels and cleaner emissions, there’s not enough energy in the earth to sustain internal combustion indefinitely.
But it’s unwise and impractical to think that we can simply stop using the internal combustion engine as a tool because of its ability to rapidly convert gas into energy. There must be a period of transition as the world redefines the word “engine.” Part of this transition will involve developing and deploying new fuels that are compatible with the IC engine and are more sustainable and cleaner burning.
I found a handful of the solutions that are available right now, as well as some that are still in the design phase. GreenCar.com recently ran a feature on these fuel alternatives –but let’s remember: these fuels rely on internal combustion, the dead-end technology.