• Question: what is the best hope for a alternative energy source to provide power in the future?

    Asked by timkellett to Julia, Amy, Drew, Kimberley, Sara on 16 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by rachel1995, samtucker.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      Good question. If you add up how much power we need for everyone, it looks a bit bleak. We’re almost certainly going to have to use a mixture of different types of energy.

      In the past, trying to “pick winners” in science hasn’t worked out well for governments. The best model seems to be to let people chase questions that they think are interesting.

      In the short run, we don’t use a lot of the technology we have that could reduce the amount of energy we use. Direct use of solar for heating is a big one. So is insulation. My personal guess is that some form of solar energy capture is going to be the way to go, just because we know how much energy is available from sunlight, and we would only need a fraction of it. Don’t trust my opinion though – no one is ever good at predicting on demand what future technology will be like.

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      I like it! Sensible and meaningful! I can also answer with some knowldge as alot of research being carried out here at bath looks for renewable energy.
      We have projects on biodiesel, hydrogen storage (cars or larger industry), batteries (Lithium and smaller better alternatives for small devices), solar cells to name a few….

      to be honest with you guys, tim and rach, I think the best source would be to use a combination of renewable resources to fuel the world cleanly.

      Unless they come up with a super safe fisson nuclear reactor then we’ll have enough energy for the next 100 years or something ridiculously long like that!

      What do you think?

    • Photo: Kimberley Bryon

      Kimberley Bryon answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      I don’t know much about this but I think that solar energy and wind energy seem like quite good options.

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      I agree with the others that ploughing all our funding into one option (which may not be good enough) is not the answer, but instead use a mixture of a lot of things. I live next to a windfarm and it seems to be doing pretty well – but then the Highlands of Scotland are pretty windy!! it probably wouldn’t work so well down in a sheltered valley. So I think we have to use a lot of our ideas at the moment ..and maybe you could come up with some new ones?

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Great question Tim and Rachel!! I like what the others have suggested – to combine a bunch of different clean energy sources. The suggestions of solar and wind are great, those are some of my favorites. I also think geothermal is pretty cool. I wish more people would do something with that! I am on the fence about current biofuel technology relative to these other options – you have to grow biofuels and they require a lot of land and a lot of farming, particular in the case of e85 ethanol which is made from corn. All that land and energy could be used to grow crops to be used for food – like fueling the worlds needs, food production is another major issue – we need to feed the worlds population. I think growing fuel might therefore be not such a good option. Especially when we have other natural resources available. I also think nuclear energy is really good- it gives us lots of power and is very clean on average (despite a few major disasters including the recent problems in Japan). As Julia said we can get a lot of power from nuclear stations. So its up for grabs!! But at least we seem to have a lot of good alternatives. Further work needs to be done!