Allan Barker – Owner and CEO of Alphatech5.com.
CONGRATULATIONS on thinking outside the square. This site is dedicated to examining and promoting alternative energy solutions for our planet in the 21st Century. With world population heading for 16 Billion by between 2050 to 2060, non-renewable energy sources almost totally depleted by 2050 (oil and gas) we must begin to develop alternative, renewable energy sources and alternative food production methods or we will not be able to warm, transport, produce goods, survive or feed ourselves adequately over the rest of this century and beyond. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) first published his work “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in 1798 and he said “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”.
Essentially, the Malthus theory is that the world population will grow so large that we will be unable to feed ourselves. Perhaps, a few hundred years after he expounded his theory, it may yet prove to be correct?
Creating a new paradigm
World population has already reached 7.0 Billion. At current rates of population growth it will reach between 9.2 Billion (low estimate) or 16.0 Billion (high estimate) by 2050. UN population growth control measures have been proposed but have not yet been agreed or implemented, particularly by lesser developed countries. Main population growth over the next century will come from China, India and Africa, creating hugely increased demand for both energy and food.
There have been no major new oil field developments since 1984 and world oil reserves are forecast to run out by 2050 or earlier. Natural gas reserves are forecast to last a little longer but will run out by around 2070. We supposedly have around 200 years of coal reserves worldwide but how can we convert that into clean, efficient energy? Burning fossil fuels, coal in particular, is known to create massive carbon dioxide emissions and opinion is divided as to whether these emissions are killing the planet through global warming, or not. Two things are certain. One, the climate worldwide is definitely changing – and not for the better. Two, non-renewable fossil fuel energy sources are finite – and will be almost totally depleted by the mid 21st century.
Renewable Energy Sources
Alternative, renewable, energy sources must be and are being developed, but not quickly enough to fill the fossil fuel void. The time to act, for governments, companies and individuals, is now. Any later and it will be a case of “will the last person left please turn out the lights”.
Hopefully more will be discovered and developed very soon, but at the moment the main known alternative energy sources are:
Solar – relies on the nuclear fusion power from the Suns core. Currently expensive to collect and convert to power.
Wind – can be used to generate electricity but requires a huge area to produce meaningful amounts of energy.
Hydroelectric – efficient but already widely used. Only has limited potential for expansion to other sites, as most are already in use.
Biomass – energy from plants. We have to stop burning plants and produce methane and alcohol as alternative energy sources. Viable but more expensive to produce than fossil fuels.
Fuel Cells – can burn hydrogen or almost any gas to produce electricity. Fuel cells have the highest energy efficiency rate and produce zero emmissions. Currently expensive but becoming more cost effective and widely used for electricity generation in Europe. Fuel cells could possibly power entire factories or entire cities in the future.
Wave power – currently cost prohibitive to generate significant amounts of energy.
Currently these energy forms are more expensive than fossil fuels, so more development will be required to make one or more of them a cost effective and environmentally suitable replacement for coal, oil and gas.
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