I keep waiting to read about innovative energy technologies with potential to handle the worlds demand, however all I ever hear about are existing technology options that will clearly be too little too late or miss hitting the true problem targets. I have mentioned this before and I will likely keep saying this, but change is almost always based on financial motivation. Public infrastructure entities lack the financial motivation to be the source of change. The economics of change point to private entrepreneurs with the financial motivation of investors being the source of change that the world desperately needs to mitigate climate change. I would like to share a few examples of ground breaking innovations that may change the game and the extent of the climate change problem completely.
The power grids in the US cannot store power, they can only convey power. An unacceptable amount of energy is also lost during conveyance, meaning that it is essentially wasted. Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX is addressing the lack of energy storage problem with innovations in battery technology associated with residential solar collection. I could go on and on about how cool and obvious it is that energy storage will reduce the demand of energy production, but please check it out directly from the source. http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall
The biggest innovations that the world will potentially see in the next 10 years are based on harnessing the power of fusion. Fusion has the potential the meet the world’s current and future energy demand as well as to mitigate climate change on a colossal scale. Nuclear power that has been around for the last century uses fission, which is simply stated as the pulling apart of atoms. Fusion is putting atoms together. The fusion process creates large quantities of energy and produced zero harmful waste. Currently there are a few fronts in the effort to bring fusion to the world.
Bill Gates is heavily invested in a company that uses nuclear waste for the fusion process they call Traveling Wave Reactor – which would serve the added benefit of reducing the worlds quantities of stored nuclear waste. They are currently in progress of building the prototype plant which is expected to be completed by the the early 2020’s. The company is called Terra Power and it is based out of Bellevue, WA. It is amazing and truly exiting, please check it out for yourself. http://terrapower.com/
On the other front of fusion is a truly global effort that is being constructed in France currently by the ITER Organization. ITER has received $13 billion dollars of funding from China, European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. The ITER fusion process is very different than the process used by Terra Power. Similar to what happens in the sun, fusing hydrogen atoms together to create helium as well as massive amounts of heat energy. What is intended to be a fully functional fusion power plant is on track to begin producing energy in the 2020’s. Each fusion power plant would be the same size as current power plants such as coal or nuclear and produce as much energy as a currently operating nuclear power plant – minus the nuclear waste. But don’t take my word for it. http://www.iter.org/
It starts to get really depressing reading about problem after problem in regards to climate change. I am so happy that there are real and viable solution in the works. I can’t believe we do not hear more or anything at all about these endeavors in the news. What could possibly be more important or interesting? Luckily there is more than just one team and method underway to hedge our bets in this crisis situation. Let’s cross our fingers that they both meet their milestone goals of initial testing within the next 10 years.