Energy the global future
Logical thinking by politicians needed
Energy- the global future
Logic to be applied to political decision
Some politicians are fond of claiming “we” should not cut “Green Energy Taxes” as in end green energy will provide cheaper electricity and so save money for everybody. This argument seems to depend on the concept that solar energy does not cost anything, as it comes from the sun for free.
If we agree to that, then oil and gas come from the earth initially “for free” as no one pays Gaia for them, any more than we pay Sol for the sunshine. Here it should be noted that the “design life” of most solar and wind energy capturing equipment, is around 25 years. They will never be cheap to consumers. Solar panels loose efficiency over time, windmill generators have a lot of moving parts.
It is capturing nature’s gifts, then converting these gifts to electricity or combustible gas, that costs money and that applies to solar and fossil fuels. So, if solar and wind energy can be claimed to be free, then so can coal. Stupid arguments cannot disguise the need for radical rethink on energy and how we deal with a looming worldwide crisis in the availability of energy.
While the world population goes on increasing and while more of that population becomes energy reliant- which means they move from subsistence living to a more developed society – the need for energy is going to go on growing.
The need to reduce pollution, the priority need to save what is left of the rain forests. The requirement to preserve natural wildlife habitats etc is self-evident. Long term history shows that climate change is not going to stop let alone be reversed.
These are factors which will affect all of our ability to meet the energy needs in the short term, medium term, and long-term future. There are other factors that will affect how well we cope, and these include international competition for energy, every government of every nation is going to try and meet the needs of its own people first and worry about the rest of the world sometime after that. Then there is the dead hand of the Machiavellian global businesses. Their prime objective is profit and that conflicts with the objectives of consumers and some governments (Governments tax profit and so need companies to make profit) Communist run nations also need enterprises to make a “surplus” since they need this to expand their empires and maintain their control over their one-party state.
Considering all of the above, it is a reasonable assumption that the demand for energy is going to go on increasing. Probably at a much faster rate than present policies (2022) can meet. BIG problem within 10 to 20 years, bigger problem in medium and long term.
The United Nations is not going to help draw nations together to find a global solution, we only have to examine its record since formed and consider what it has achieved for the fantastic number of billions of £ it has got through since that formation, to see that it will not be of any real help. Global businesses will claim that if we abandon all regulatory control, they will supply whatever is needed. Sales talk is cheap but what they will produce will be high-cost, high pollution, high profit, short term solutions. The accountants who effectively control these companies, do not look very far beyond the next 5 years profit and loss accounts. Consumers will find the cost of all forms of energy, from domestic needs, traveling, state delivered systems and all the foods and all the services that consume energy, will increase. As automation takes over both manufacturing and routine administrative tasks; the state will need to support more and more families. These twin arms of a pincer, that is more need at higher cost; will lead to political instability.
So, what can wise nations do now, immediately, to safeguard their citizens from a disquieting and unstable future? Firstly, try to stabilise their own population and so the number of people they need to keep supplied with energy is at a relatively stable level. Secondly have a resolute and fixed policy of being totally self-sufficient, as a nation, in energy within the next 5 to 10 years. Self-sufficient at a level of the expected increasing demand. They could also set up national financed research and development with the nation taking out patents on discoveries and the detailed engineering equipment that can turn these developments into a real-life, real-time delivery of energy. Fusion power may be 25 or 35 years ahead, so develop mini nuclear power generation stations. The technology for these is existing so 3 to 5 years to be in action. Help develop the laser transmuting of radioactive waste. This is probably going to be 10 years away but can then start cleaning all the radioactive material in storage and can be a built-in process on new nuclear generation plants so they do not need to store dangerous materials The costs of the fuel versions of uranium and its derivatives will increase, at least until the option of fusion power is available. Making sure there are processing plants to produce fuel grade isotopes of uranium will obviously be a wise move. Once the policies and infrastructure, to ensure enough energy- electrical- is produced, the attention must be turned to delivery, control and regulation. The tax money can be diverted from paying for such temporary things as solar and wind farms, to permanent national investments such as underground cable transmission to deliver electricity from generation to consumer. It may be best if theses underground transmission systems are owned and controlled by the state but that is a decision for the majority of the electorate. Regulation of safety is obviously a priority, regulation of price paid by the consumers is a political and business choice. If the state owns and gets paid royalties from patents used by the generation facilities, they may be able to supply consumers tax free. Again, a political choice.
Transport is a slightly different need; many seem to expect all transport to be powered by electricity via a battery, but the present Lithium batteries are ecologically unpleasant and going to be VERY expensive. The solid-state batteries may be 5 years in the future (at 2022) and this may not always be the most cost-efficient way of future transport. Biofuels powering a combustion engine are “carbon neutral” and so environmentally acceptable. These can overcome the limitations that battery powered vehicles face. Development of hydrogen fuel cells will also do this but the infrastructure to store and supply hydrogen will be expensive to set up while the biofuels use existing facilities. Minute fusion plants acting as an engine in each vehicle is a possibility in the longer term, say 50 to 60 years.
Political decisions are needed NOW to enable sensible engineering decisions to be made in 5 to 10 years’ time. How forward thinking and intelligent are our present politicians and their bureaucrats who advise and control them?