Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Fog of Uncertainty

Even the most prescient of us has a pretty hard time seeing through the fog of uncertainty that is descending upon our society and the world in general. Some see soaring energy costs that will profoundly change the way society and business operate.

Here is an example:

Soaring energy costs 'to change how society operates'
Courier Mail
March 31, 2008

ENERGY costs could increase up to tenfold over the next few years, profoundly changing the way business and society operate, a former Woolworths chief says.

Roger Corbett told a Queensland University of Technology business leaders' forum in Brisbane today that rising energy costs would "no doubt" present challenges for the retailing and business sectors.

"Our lives in the Western world are absolutely dependent upon the unit energy cost, whatever it may be, most of all the petroleum costs," Mr Corbett said.

"And I don't think it's ill-conceived to think in the next few years that energy cost may go up by a factor of five or 10 times - certainly five."And I think that's going to make an immense difference to the way we all live our lives. (clip)

Mr Corbett said Americans in the midst of a credit crisis were also hurting because of rising fuel costs, prompting them to use their cars less and less.

"Certainly across middle America that is the most profound effect that is starting to affect that nation that is so thoroughly built up and spread out," he said.

"What happens in the future is going to be of immense interest."

And what might happen in the future?

Here is an alternative scenario:

NREL Sets Thin-Film Solar Efficiency Record
March 27, 2008
Source: Clean Edge News

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have moved closer to creating a thin-film solar cell that can compete with the efficiency of the more common silicon- based solar cell. The copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cell recently reached 19.9 percent efficiency, setting a new world record for this type of cell.

Multicrystalline silicon-based solar cells have shown efficiencies as high as 20.3 percent. The energy conversion efficiency of a solar cell is the percentage of sunlight converted by the cell into electricity.

"This is an important milestone," said NREL Senior Scientist Miguel Contreras. "The thin film people have always looked for matching silicon in performance, and we are reaching that goal."

CIGS cells use extremely thin layers of semiconductor material applied to a low-cost backing such as glass, flexible metallic foils, high-temperature polymers or stainless steel sheets. Thin- film cells require less energy to make and can be fabricated by a variety of processes.

Because of this, they provide a promising path for providing more affordable solar cells for residential and other uses. The CIGS cells are of interest for space applications and the portable electronics market because of their light weight. They are also suitable in special architectural uses, such as photovoltaic roof shingles, windows, siding and others. (more)

In the dense fog of uncertainty that we operate in,

one thing seems clear.

We are facing profound changes in the way society operates.

What is not clear is what kind of changes?

Shall we allow the titans of energy and commerce to bring us to the point where energy is five or 10 times what it is today? Where only the wealthy enjoy the benefits of using large amounts of energy in their lives? Where climate change becomes only a matter of adaptation?

Or will we develop the photonic sciences to a point where energy costs are not only capped, they actually decline... Where we develop the tools to manage carbon induced Climate Change. Where we move from the curse of carbon to the promise that resides in the light that surrounds us.

The Fog of Uncertainty is not a wall.

It is made of mind.

And we must make ours up.

What it is About
Earthfamily Principles
Earthfamilyalpha Content III
Earthfamilyalpha Content II
Earthfamilyalpha Content

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

CIGS solar technologies (and others,)are excelent and making terrific strides. What seems to be needed is mass education about the benefits and economics.

I live in Houston, and anyone with an MBA will tell you the benefits of "clean" nuclear energy. NO ONE seems to know anything about solar technologies!

Recently, Robert Redford was in town to present his new documentary about stopping the Texas Coal Plants. He was on a panel with the main players in that effort. Steve Sussman, the attorney whose firm contributed over $2 Million of pro bono legal work to stop the quick coal permitting process, told the audience that we should switch to nuclear energy worldwide because it was "clean." Although he was boo'ed by a packed audience, his statement shows a lack of education.

People in certain pockets know about solar. But the wider population does not.

Today at lunch, I was horrified to see a TV commercial about the "clean" effects and environmentally friendly benefits of nuclear!! It was sponsored by the nuclear energy initiative.

We need the same public campaign for solar - and we must bring to light what nuclear proponents are hiding. People need to learn about the technology and the economics of solar.


12:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home