EARTH DAY 2019
EARTH DAY 2019.
It shouldnâ€'t surprise you to learn that all of
the efficient and renewable energy technologies being employed today
will be considered old technology in just 10 years. There isnâ€'t such a
thing as â€œplanned obsolesenceâ€ in energy technology, as the auto
manufacturers were once accused of. Itâ€'s just that energy research
continues at a determined steady pace, so what seems cutting edge today
will be just â€œoldâ€, but still useful, a decade from now.
is clearly in a period of transition. The world knows we need clean
sources of energy and sources that donâ€'t cause wars. But the world also
needs more energy to drive growing and prospering economies. For the
two fastest growing energies â€" wind and solar â€" deployment will have to
accelerate at a much faster clip in the next ten years (and beyond)
just to keep up with global economic growth, once we get beyond the
current slump that is. (Which will happen.)
In ten years, green
technology now gaining acceptance could be commonplace. Highway-capable
electric vehicles are one example. Another is high temperature
superconducting (HTS) electric transmission cables for power grids.
These exotic nitrogen-cooled cables are now commercially available and
being built into a few scattered small projects. This technology, such
as manufactured by American Superconductor (AMSC) of Devens,
Massachusetts, can carry as much as 10 times the electric power as
ordinary high tension cables. Further, HTS cables donâ€'t need to be
strung on monstrous environment-altering towers. The cables can be
buried safely underground in a Superconductor Electricity Pipeline that
needs only a fraction of the right-of-way required by overhead high
The U.S. is planning new transmission lines
from areas of high potential renewable energy resources to populated
areas that could utilize clean power that could be generated. Are
utility planners considering incorporating these cutting edge HTS
cables at any portion of these projects? They should. HTS power
transmission was once just a dream. Now itâ€'s a commercialized reality.
same wires, by the way, that are spun to make HTS electric transmission
cables can also be used in motors and generators to make them lighter
and more efficient. American Superconductor is including the wires in
superconducting wind turbine generators and ship engines.
seems feasible that the green energy landscape in 10 years could be
completely different than it is today with the introduction of totally
new technologies that are now only on the benches of research labs.
who didnâ€'t see the 60 Minutes (the CBS television news show) segment
â€œCold Fusion is Hot Againâ€ which aired on Sunday, April 19, should take
the time to view the video or read the transcript available on the 60
As the news story goes, after the first
announcement of the discovery of cold fusion was trashed by the
scientific community 20 years ago, research continued in labs around
the world. Scientists involved with the research now say that theyâ€'ve
discovered excess heat in a reaction using palladium in a bath of water
containing deuterium energized with an electric current. The extra
heat, the scientists interviewed for the program say, is the result of
a kind of nuclear affect, not necessarily â€œcold fusion.â€ The reaction
could result in a new source of clean energy for the world.
Minutes says that, â€œAt least 20 labs working independently have
published reports of excess heat - heat up to 25 times greater than the
electricity going in.â€
If this is all true, the world in ten
years could be dramatically different than it is today. Weâ€'ll be
driving electric cars that donâ€'t need recharging but have a nuclear
battery that needs swapping every few years. Weâ€'ll have laptop
computers that never need charging. And the technology could be used as
a one-for-one replacement for fuel rods in nuclear power plants,
without the radioactive waste. Or we could all go off-grid and have
clean, radiation-free nuclear power plants to provide heat and
electricity for our homes.
All the above, and more, if the technology pans out that is.