Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The present and future of energy

I'm showing my students "The End of Suburbia" this week, which reminds me of the centrality of energy to civilization and the risks of collapse posed by inablity to use it. On that note, here is a review of a talk and the talk itself about the current state of energy generation and how that might look in the future that I first posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (In Soviet Russia, Space explores you!) on Daily Kos.

Scientific American: Everything is (Old/New) Energy
By Melissa C. Lott
February 12, 2013
The world’s energy is primarily rooted in fossil fuels – oil, natural gas, and coal. Add in nuclear power, and you have the fuels behind the vase majority of the world economy. And, we have not really changed the fundamentals of how we harness energy in over a century.

But, according to Roger Duncan – the former general manager of one of Texas’s major utilities, Austin Energy - this does not mean that our energy systems are stagnant. Rather, these systems are changing fast – from conventional 1-direction energy flows and a disconnected transportation system to a unified energy system.
Here is Duncan at the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association (TREIA) explaining what he sees as the future of energy.

Webber Energy Group member, Roger Duncan, gives his unique view of the future of energy, renewables, and the Unified Energy System at Texas Renewables Conference 2012.
He should give this talk at TEDx someday. I'm sure he'll get a better reaction from that crowd.


  1. Neon my friend your stuck on "The End of Suburbia" but that's Ok. It is a 'seminal' film. My copy is on my bookshelf. I bought it went I went to a public showing years ago.

    Fascinating how it turned out.

    On the verge of North American natural gas supply collapse fracking came along to save the day. "The End of Suburbia" is forgotten by almost everyone. But now the phoenix rises again. Fracking turns out to be a pig in a poke and the documentary again claims its rightful place of greatness. The End Of Suburbia, a video soldier in the battle to honestly face up to reality and so thus we can begin to build a sustainable future.

    Talk of long cold winters will be heard again, and sooner than we are supposed to think.

    The end was looming but as we learned memory is short. History is written by the winners and for a while fracking won.

    Now cold winds of change blow unfelt around summers heat. Time will come when the heat is blown away and all that economic activity that could have been generated building energy efficient solar housing was never to be.

    As the multitudes shiver in the dark. What could have been.

    "The End of Suburbia" changed my life. That's for sure.

    We march on. I'm enjoying Roger Duncan as I write. Perhaps what could have been may yet be what can be.

    Let no more years be wasted.

  2. Finished Duncan.

    He's dreaming, an over reliance and worship of technology. No appreciation of the laws of limits as far as I can see. Equations have to balance and there won't be enough biofuel for everyone to drive. Not enough land on the earth for that.

    Lifestyles will change, like it or not. Some of his dreams are flat out fantasies without any chance of economic or environmental viability. Some of his dreams are an essential part of the solution but overall Duncan made me feel like I was in Disneyland.

    I want my flying car and a job to pay for it.

    The most realistic part was his ending, cute. Man serving technology and not the other way around.

    Duncan would do well to read this weeks Archdruid.

    Mean of me to say but his understanding of what technology actually is lacks, he worships technology like the god it is not. Thus he sees only paradise. I fear he is deaf to Cassandra's pleading.

    Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) referred to mathematics as "the Queen of the Sciences". Technology plays second fiddle to science thus making technology mathematic's bitch. Equations must balance and the earth with its limited resources and space is a part of the equation.

    But it was a general audience.