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Urgency now to transform energy use

Energy Transition: one chance to get it right Sustainable Industries by Richard Heinberg 4 Dec 09 Building new nuclear plants will be costly and slow—and controversial. Moreover, uranium is itself a depleting resource, with ore quality relentlessly declining worldwide.


Unconventional fossil fuels—tar sands, oil shale and methane hydrates—represent enormous deposits of hydrocarbon energy, but extracting them will be a slow, expensive, dangerous and dirty business.
What’s left?

Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro and a few others—all of which are renewable.These sources of energy are our future; of this there can be no doubt.
But renewable energy sources are not without problems. Their current share of total energy produced is relatively tiny, and a rapid build-up of capacity will require subsidies of some kind. Also, the two best candidates for development (wind and solar power) are intermittent, and the times of greatest abundance of sunshine and breeze do not always coincide with times of greatest electricity demand. This is a problem that can technically be solved, but not without an enormous upgrade to the nation’s electricity grid.
There is another difficulty: We will be building this new renewable economy at the same time we are continuing to operate the old one, and while population is still expanding and we are attempting to maintain economic growth. 
Altogether, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the years ahead are likely to see increasingly expensive energy, if not actual shortages……………..

Unless we begin now, the lights might begin to go dim in a couple of decades—at about the same time we may be facing climate catastrophe. 
All we have to do to realize that horrific future is to continue doing what we are doing now. The energy transition is not going to be easy, but the alternative is unthinkable.

Sustainable Industries | Breaking News | Energy transition: one chance to get it right

December 5, 2009 - Posted by | 1, 2 WORLD, climate change, ENERGY | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Nearly all resources are depleting, but the subject of uranium reserves is one that is so seldom mentioned that I find it deeply disturbing. Thanks for mentioning it. There are older sources that claim only a 50 year supply, and these pre-date the latest proposals of intensive build-out! Any legitimate, current references that realistically address this would be appreciated. So would getting it into the mainstream thought stream.

    Comment by Linda Ogren | December 6, 2009 | Reply


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