I often wonder where we’re headed with energy and how we will move forward from where we are today. The evolution of energy has many possibilities with promising start up technologies in the market today. The ideal scenario is to produce on site energy that is regionalized ; mini power plants if you will, that generate and distribute excess energy to the existing grid. The question is will such a concept be viable for our present mass market. As renewable energy from photovoltaic systems and wind energy gains momentum in the U.S., the challenge now turns to overproduction and reintegration of this excess back into the grid. Until recently, technologies that store energy have been underperforming and expensive; that is until a very promising technology through Bloom Energy emerged a couple of years ago. Bloom Energy has made a huge breakthrough in the storage and production of energy through the development of their solid oxide fuel cells. This particular fuel cell uses a small percentage of startup energy to then generate 100% of energy on site and can be powered with almost any source of fuel. It truly has the potential of evolving into the new generation of green power. Why such a glimmering review? Because with this remarkable introduction of technology, solar and wind energy can now be stored or used as the primary sources of power with zero carbon emissions.
The other source of energy that I find intriguing has the same possibilities to generate on site power, microwave plasma gasification technology. This technology has come a long way from its inception. When I first heard about it, I thought of that great 80's movie "Back to the Future" ! Put garbage in the car and it produces energy? WOW! This idea that was so cool to see in a movie back in my teenage years, is now a reality. Literally, microwave plasma gasification takes organic matter (waste from landfills) and breaks it down into synthesis gas used to produce electricity, as well as producing LP gas, gasoline, benzene, kerosene, light and heavy oils, with the byproduct of incineration being slag. There have been many past attempts at making this technology efficient, but today, we have several companies which have succeeded in making the technology 80% efficient. This is another game changer in alternative energy and can be a viable source of regional power, while reducing or eliminating landfill waste and hopefully landfill footprints.
Good Sources to Read Relating Energy Use:
Switch – To A Smarter Energy Future (Documentary on Energy Sources)