aNewDomain — Let’s lay it out right here. The average temperature of the Earth is rising, and has been rising for years, and that causes the Earth’s climate to change. At least part of the increase in average Earth temperature is caused by the human activity of burning fossil fuels to create energy, which adds carbon to the atmosphere.
For some people, many of them politicians with agendas of their own, stating this simple fact makes them prone to irrational behavior. They go so far as to deny the existence of the science that supports these statements. But I would like to suggest that whether you believe climate change is real, or man-made, is irrelevant.
The economics of energy production all over the world is changing and some very smart and clever people are leading the way. Here’s a quick look at a couple of key innovators who’ve caught my attention.
Not the End of the World
In the June issue of Popular Science, there’s an article with the title, The New Faces of Energy, which provides examples of scientists and entrepreneurs working to transform the way we produce energy. The 12 smart people introduced in the article are working on innovations that clearly show that there are ways to produce cleaner renewable energy, if we just apply some brain power to the problem.
One of my favorites was a clever idea put into action by a company in Portland, Oregon named Lucid Energy. Led by CEO, Gregg Semler, the company has installed a commercial micro-hydro energy system into local the municipal water infrastructure. The four turbines take advantage of gravity-fed water pipes and the water that flows through them to generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity annually. That’s enough electricity to power 150 homes per year using nothing but gravity and a water system that is already in place.
Because the system requires gravity-fed water pipes, this is not a solution that will work everywhere, but that is the beauty of it: Lucid Energy’s system is designed to be a localized solution that is inexpensive to deploy.
This is just one example of how innovation and technology can be applied to move us toward the ultimate goal of renewable, sustainable energy production without adding carbon to the atmosphere.
The Popular Science article also showcases innovative thinkers who are working on improving the electricity grid system, creating better nuclear reactors, and growing biofuel in the desert. Another example is a company called Cynar Plc. that is converting plastic waste into diesel, light oil and kerosene.
All of these innovations show that there are many ways to generate energy that is cleaner, renewable and more economical than the established conventional methods we use now. And that is the real story here — economics. If we, as a society, can produce cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy, the economics dictate that is what we should do, regardless of whether you believe the climate is changing or not.
So, despite what non-scientist politicians say and want you to believe, renewable, carbon-free energy is not only possible, economic forces make it inevitable.
For aNewDomain, I’m Mark Kaelin.
Image A: Courtesy of Lucid Energy, All Rights Reserved
Image B: Courtesy of NASA, Public Domain
Featured Image: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Public Domain