Overview of Alternative Energy

What is Alternative/Renewable Energy and Why is there a need for it?

The Current Situation:

Electricity Generation, Space Heating, Transportation dominate our uses of energy

  • Most traditional Energy production comes about via steam driven turbines so the heating of water is what is essential.

    • Coal Fired Steam Plants
    • Nuclear Fired Steam Plants
    • Oil/Natural Gas Fired Steam Plants

  • Basic concept of alternative energy sources relates to issues of sustainability, renewability and pollution reduction Despite this, deliverable cost to the consumer still drives everything which becomes a large barrier.

  • In reality, Alternative Energy means any thing other than deriving energy via Fossil Fuel combustion. Since 90% of our current energy usage is derived from fossil fuels and since there is only 50--70 years of production left in that resource then there is a clear need to invest in alternative energy sources NOW not later.

  • Basic Barrier to all forms of alternative energy lies in high initial costs and long payback times. This is the fluourescent lightbulb syndrome on a much larger scale.

  • Currently we have no significant production line alternative energy source operating anywhere in the US. There are a few successful "demonstration" projects operating in California which could serve as prototypes.

  • The only regional examples of renewable resources for electrical energy generation are Hydropower in the Pacific NorthWest and the Tennessee Rivery Valley. Yet it is now highly unpopular to even consider building more dams, even though this is a proven renewable energy source.

    Given the fact that the oil WILL run out then sensible choices which are not plauged by NIMBY, for profit only, and corporate lobbying must be made. Can we do this? In other words, our decision making process is so paralyzed by self-interest that its unclear any sensible large scale decision can be made.

    Here are the choices where we must recognize that all form have both good and bad points.

  • Forms of Alternative Energy: