Sun, water, wind, windmills, sails, draft animals, wheels, agriculture... How have they affected our use of energy? What do they tell us about the future of energy?
Great article Thomas!
If human energy sources are all derived from the sun.
A first principle analysis is where does the Sun's energy come from...Nuclear fusion.
As Dr Octopus said in Spiderman, "the power of the Sun in the palm of my hand."
Always a fun and educational read!
You mention heat, but not cooling and ventilation, which is interesting because back in April, you did write about how these technologies allowed geographic expansion into less desirable climates. It would have made a fine footnote to this article. (I'm in the HVAC industry)
Hi Tomas ...
Why do "We need to transition to low-carbon energy, and fast ?
Great topic, so much quality information and discussions needed in this urgent issue. Can't wait to read your future articles on this. May I suggest to consider discussing for your future articles the potential for "capturing" biological by-products like methane, especially for industrial processes that use bacteria to digest/process the "bad stuff", like water treatment plants, waste management, or plastics management. The potential to leverage the size of the industrial complex to produce solutions at scale that could make an impact is worth considering. Whether that by-product is captured & commercialized or simply released to the atmosphere, it is still going to be generated. I know the idea for a green future is not to "rely" of methane and the like, but this may qualify as a green, biological, recycling source of energy. And finding a green energy solution for industrial heat needs is one of the hardest challenges for the green energy revolution.
OK, I'm looking forward to hearing them - your articles are always so deeply informed that I felt glossing over the major limitations in nuclear power was jarring. I really do not understand much about nuclear power plants, so what I have I got about the need to be interconnected with other power plants is from news articles about the Zaporizhzhia plant: Based on this article https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/09/offsite-power-supply-to-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-destroyed it sounded like this plant relied on nearby conventional plant to provide stability in supply for its safety and operation, although it sounded like the plant can be run on its own electricity in a limited capacity.
Fusion could be a next multiplier, as well as precision fermentation, AI and quantum computing. These four things will likely have a profound effect on how we use energy in the near future.
Whenever you mention nuclear, there is no discussion about the energy cost of mining, transporting, and processing the fuel, and storing the spent fuel (plus the necessary security). Plus as the invasion of Ukraine has shown us, nuclear still relies on external grid power to run safely. This seems like a bit of a short-sighted, wishful-thinking analysis, and unfair comparison with other energy sources: Even if storage is a tiny number, infinity times a small number is still infinity.