A friend of mine asked me to answer the following questions regarding energy policy. Here are my responses :
What are your thoughts about the “energy crisis”? Does one still exist?
Most energy literate people would argue that there are many tangible solutions to our so called current energy crisis. As far as I know from my knowledge of the US power grid, anyone that needs electricity and is willing to pay for it can receive it. Gasoline is still readily available, and so is natural gas for heating. In a literal sense I do not believe a energy crisis exist. Our energy crisis is not a physical thing, it is a political crisis.
The fuel of the future will be a combination of solar, nuclear, wind, and hydroelectric power that are renewable and clean sources of energy. I leave natural gas out of the fold, because natural gas while clean is not renewable. I do think about how we will meet our energy needs in the future constantly. I think we need to be cautious towards advocating for one type of renewable energy over the other. For instance, many advocates of solar energy, say the sun is a free source of energy. While that may be inherently true, that sunlight does not cost anything, the materials required to build a solar voltaic cell do require non-renewable natural resources. In some cases, the energy put into building a solar voltaic cell may never be recovered. Similary, nuclear power is renewable and clean energy, but storage of nuclear waste is problematic. Wind power seems to have the least drawbacks, yet it would be impossible with modern technology to feasibly generate more than 20% of the US’s total power needs. I think about it a lot because I’m taking power courses and I do think that I as an electrical engineer will play a large part in figuring out society’s energy needs in the following decades to come.
Considering the United States considers certain mid-eastern oil suppliers like Iran to be hostile to American interests. One would imagine it would be in our best interests to fund research into renewable energy. Iraq is a hotly debated item, I won’t get into the reasons why I think the war is just or not, I’ll leave that to the philosophy majors. I will say if and only if America is able to keep Iraq stable, we might get a better deal on the oil trapped under the sands there. As I have already pointed out renewable energy is the long-term answer to our energy issues, however Iraq just might be pivotal to our currency energy policy which requires huge imports of foreign oil. I think George Bush’s legacy will be tied to how influential Iraq becomes in our energy policies.
To be honest any literate person will tell you that OPEC the cartel which sets oil prices is looking for the best deal for the members of its cartel. The irony of course is, cartels are illegal in the United States. My point being is oil prices are artificially inflated whenever our suppliers want them to be, and of course gasoline prices are directly proportional to rising gas prices. Now if you notice, when the international finance markets went down gas prices did too, and OPEC in response to the drop, decided it need to cut production. Obviously, that’s the only way to keep gas prices up and drive up profits. I think until we find alternative forms of drive-trains for cars such as running them purely on electricity or fuel-cell vehicles, we will be held hostage to OPEC.
All of the above are intellectual property of Shawn Adderly.