Energy, Always A Journey
We know that energy is generated from coal, biomass, geothermal, oil, methane, hydro, wind, solar, fission and hydrogen. Recent successes brings fusion into the line of site.
We know that energy is distributed in varied formats including liquid, solid, gaseous and electric current.
We know that we can store energy, accessing it when needed via batteries
We know that energy is converted into work by internal combustion engines, by steam engines, by electric engines, by turbine engines and by jet engines.
We know that globally there is gross inequality in access to energy.
We know that lessor economic developed parts of the world burn a lot of coal.
We know that distributing energy is expensive, complicated, risky, subject to regulatory control and a cross section of differing formats. Most influential are the consequences of failure.
We know that the energy universe is fraught with all manner of geopolitical issues. These are confounding, intruding to such an extent that there is little to indicate any resemblance of a free market
Further to our “we know scenario” all of the energy generation, distribution and application methods have consequences that are unfavorable to planet earth’s ecosystem…..some more than others.
To be sure the energy journey has had profound upsides on all facets of life. Energy is the heart and soul of economies across the globe.
The journey embraces new sources, new methods of generation, new ways of distribution and new ways of application….all of epic proportions.
The journey has and will navigate paths of increasing efficiency and availability, accompanied by less intrusiveness. The function is an analogue, not digital.
The journey never sits still just as technology never sits still.
Talent and capital are the aces in the hole.
On a broad basis funding has two sources. One relies on the multitude of public incentives, the other on the capital markets and internally generated cash.
The human resource is equally important. Components of the energy journey require talents of every nature….some on the field, some in the bull pen, some on the roster, some in preparation, some ready to learn and some to acquire talent in spaces not yet identified. Some will be a transfer from one talent to another…..many more will initiate personal journeys.
The journey will be fraught with road blocks, detours, missteps, reversals, navigational errors and influenced by a Doubting Thomas or two.
Tweaking parts of the present energy system, while effective, will not hasten or change the journey’s direction enough to get the job done. We are looking at major undertakings including new sources, new distribution methods, new ways of employing energy and improved efficiencies.
One thing for sure, disruption is constant. Existing providers, governments, and consumers will welcome some of the changes and oppose some of the changes. No one will be satisfied all of the time.
Speculation is rampant as to the pitfalls, the shortcomings and the consequences of any initiative. Nothing is for sure….adjustments are always required…..improvements always a component…..patience a virtue. So it is with energy transformations throughout the journey.
The world is in the midst of a very significant transportation revolution as we switch from the internal combustion engine to the electrical engine. There is no end to speculations about battery capacity, mineral availability, charging stations, the influence of a new industry and reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. In this particular journey waiting, seeing and knowing that the status quo is just that….the electric vehicle is just a moment away from something better. This is not a fairy tale, mistakes will be made….we are well on the way to addressing them.
Solar and wind are proven sources. Not all of the consequences are evident as these parts of the journey progress. For now the negative externalities are tolerated.
The outcomes of employing hydrogen sourced energy to a far greater than presently remain very much a work in process. Hydrogen is everywhere….there are no political barriers, nobody has the capacity to create a cartel. At least the supply side is taken care of…..the conversion to a significant economic energy source is requires a great deal more work.
So it is with the small nuclear reactors…..speculation indicates that the technology promises a workable outcome….the geopolitical points of view remain cloudy at best.
Fusion is surfacing at every turn. Once again bit by bit this source seems more probable.
Existing energy sources are undergoing radical reformation. Fossil fuel producers recognize the necessity to remove greenhouse gases from the production and combustion stages.
Hydropower facilities have some distance to go before negative the consequences are eliminated or at least reduced to an acceptable level.
Storage is gathering capacity to becoming a very useful part of the journey.
The nuclear option has significant impact in parts of the world.
From an energy demand view point, the prospect of continued growth is an easy forecast.
Distribution is not the journey’s nemesis but certainly major progress is required to improve the system. Bringing the energy source closer to the consumer will play out depending on the circumstances.
What is the journey all about? Complicated at best, a never ending process, speculative in nature, rapidly changing technologies, wrapped in geopolitical intrigue, and always dynamic.
Along the way a more efficient, less intrusive and profitable industry will continually evolve.