One of the cheapest forms of energy comes from a very old process: nuclear fission. Fundamentally fusion is the better choice for generating heat to drive the steam turbines but is technologically very advanced and therefore more expensive but has very little wastage. To pack all nuclear reactors into moth balls and move on to safer forms of creating electricity is not going to happen overnight. But what are the alternatives?
Firstly one needs to look at the wind farm, wind driven-alternators. Expensive to rig but much safer to handle than nuclear power. Harvesting wind power to generate power may on the onset cost much more than nuclear power to get an equivalent level but the wind driven alternator in the correct environment does not need re-fuelling neither the equivalent level of expertise to maintain. In third world countries this is a huge plus. The downside is that in many third world countries nature has an uncanny way of taming man – cyclones and wind power don’t mix.
Solar power is for many an option. Although solar panels can be classified as nearly maintenance free the same cannot be said of the storage cells. Wave motion from our turbulent seas are being tested in many first world countries with great success but I don’t see this as being a viable means of generating power in terms of efficiency and economy. Too little is known at this stage either about the effects on the ecology – an uneducated guess is that it’s not a viable means of generating electricity.
Recently I saw an interesting documentary covering an evolutionary device called a kite generating power at lofty height of 2000m. The creators feel that it would be more economical that a uranium powered reactor to build kW for kW. I doubt this very much – I think it’s a hair brained scheme. Joe public need to harvest their own creative juices to think of alternatives to our power crises. I for one would not trust wind power, kite power, wave power to provide electricity to my ex-coal/oil fired boilers in any industry.
Trust the sun. We didn’t put the sun there but I think any form of solar energey is very, very viable. When one cooks or barbecues what happens to the waste heat? Think automobiles, diesel-generators, electrical appliances and the exhausting of warm air from computers. There are devices which now can be used to convert heat into electrical power, although still in it’s infancy it shows that it can be done. Now here’s a thing – imagine a highway with multiple coils placed under the road surface generating power through an induction process by the thousands of cars passing through during high traffic periods. If designed correctly the drag on the vehicle should be nominal – I state this hypothetically but it can be done. If we need to tax vehicles to drive on certain roads this is an alternative – vehicle owners may have the peace of mind then that they know where the money is going. I also think that where one has a sto sign, which as we should know, means to “stop your vehicle”, energy can be provided through an induction system which slows the vehicle from road to car and not using the conventional braking system if the vehicle was travelling over a preset speed.
Need to slow a vehicle down by using the speed bump to generate power – well Japanese scientists are using technology now to generate power from commuters walking in high traffic areas, e.g. subways. Whether it’s a commuter or a vehicle both can generate power through the same technique.
Here’s my own bizarre scheme: generating power at the gym. Think about it, we go to the gym to reap the benefits of looking mean and lean but yet we have nothing to generate power through this process. I think in the terms of dynometer linked to any contraption which is used to work out your muscles. Why use springs and weights when one could be using an alternator/battery to provide the load.
Where there is movement there is a 100% chance of us generating power. Mr. Newton said there will always be a reactive force but through careful planning the results can and will always be positive.
Enough said, I’m thinking of ways to generate power off my keystrokes, opening a beer can and eating my way through a 500g steak.