Yesterday’s post about Stephen DuVal’s salvation scenario based in fission offers the notion that other connections of technologies can solve the energy and fuel demand questions.

When one clearly looks at energy and fuels one unassailable fact emerges followed by obvious trees of connections. Other than humankind’s freeing of energy from heavy atomic elements by fission as in uranium, plutonium and thorium or by fusion in the lighter atomic elements such as hydrogen, deuterium and boron, the universe has already provided an enormous hoard of energy for use coming to us from solar radiation and by the earth’s geothermal radiation.

The task is to find the most cost effective ways to transform energy into work or into fuels to use to transform them into work. So far, we have exploited nature and time to capture solar energy saved in wood, coal and petroleum. Nature has done the heavy lifting for us and humankind has busily burned through the easiest accessible part of that now. We have unthinkingly used nature and geophysics to bring forward the solar energy of eons ago for use today. But, it is still only solar energy moved to use now.

The world is packed with stories, articles, research and papers that make the case that solar energy is abundant and useable. We already have solar thermal devices to transform the infrared portion into heat. There are photovoltaic cells to transform photon energy into electrical potential, crops, plants, algae and waste materials to grow feedstocks for many processes that can make fuels, wind turbines and ocean wave devices to transform the weather into energy, and just a few days ago a new innovation that transforms the resonance of radiation into electrical potential.

Another source of energy is already in the planet. The pressure of the mass of the planet expressed from gravity and the radioactive decay of the heavy chemicals deep in the earth keep the interior of earth hot and radiating energy out to the surface. We are blessed with a moon that pulls up tides and stirs the crust of the planet for more thermal energy.

The thinking mind can realize that there are only these four sources of energy for humankind to use. Fission, a technology of man ready for use or in need of some development to expand the fueling choices, fusion that offers a wide range of possible ways that should become productive in the coming years, the incoming solar energy of the sun and the geothermal heat beneath us in the planets’ core. That’s it, sorry.

We can make trees that describe the steps out from each source and devine where we are and need to keep going. The exercise can also illuminate where investment opportunities are, research needed, new product development and many of the prognostication tools that can assist in maximizing returns and minimizing risks.

This illuminates our choices. We are using old solar when we burn coal and petroleum. The task now is to go current on the energy sources. The choices will, whether we like a particular choice or not, be those least expensive to the end user. Many times humankind overlooks the full life cost of a technology. Perhaps now we are wise enough to choose for the full term cost of an investment or technology. Some problems that are coming are obvious, atomic waste, paving the world with solar collectors, littering the view with wind turbines displacing food production for fuel production and a host of objections real and truthfully, imagined.

This brings us to the point. Its not whether a scenario is better than another its whether a scenario is a lowest cost provider. The test is in the question of whether a source is a draw on the current account of available energy or a draw on the ancient account of the fossil fuels inventory. It’s important that humankind grows into current account draws to finally learn what the true cost is of highly energized life. Here’s a prediction – It’s a lot lower than we think it is today.


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