Being a sort of “hippy lite”, I find myself concerned with how much I consume, whether it be electricity at my home, gas in a car, or just the amount of food that I throw away. I try to minimize, recycle, and employ other forms of energy where I can. That doesn’t change the fact however that we are addicted to electricity as a culture. Everything from our homes, to our cars, and down to our places of work relies on it and population is booming. Below I’m going to go through a few hacks to help us mitigate our own use as individuals, communities, and as nations. When you’re done reading, I think you’ll understand why there are so many job vacancies in the field of nuclear energy, and so much interest in other forms of renewable energy as well.
When looking at the personal level of energy production, the first and most popular is solar energy. It’s easily deployed to your house, has a low maintenance rate, and can come with some serious tax credit depending on where you live. These additions can be as a simple as a few panels on the roof to keep your everyday, low voltage items from making such a huge impact on your energy bill. This really helps when considering the large amount of vampire electronics most modern homes have. Of course, you can go even smaller scale and switch to a solar water heater. With some high quality glass and an outdoor housing you can help keep you hot water showers from taking a toll on your pocket book. In some cases, you might end up with your utilities company paying you!
Wind power is the great lost energy of the human race it would seem. From moving ships across the seas, to providing pump actions for water reservoirs on ranches, the windmill has provided much, so why not take it forward into energy production? According to statistics, the energy produced by wind in the U.S. alone is enough for 1.6 million homes and can be potentially raised to 25 million in just 8 years. Given the installed cost of around 6 cents per kWh, and a dead simple design, there is no reason we should not be taking advantage of this. Thankfully, it seems the government is getting the picture. The United States is one of the fastest growing markets for wind power in the world.
Now as far as energy on the national level goes, I’m a big proponent of the hybrid approach to energy production. With emerging economies in China and India, and the western world’s addiction to fossil fuels, we’ll need something quick. While solar and wind technologies make for appealing supplements – especially on the more local level – world governments must also begin turning to more high output fields.
That’s where the big boogey man Nuclear Energy comes into play. Now I know that people are concerned about Nuclear energy and its safety, especially after the events in Fukushima. While the disaster was an unfortunate event, coupled with an already terribly natural disaster, nuclear energy actually has a fairly good track record for safety when properly deployed. In fact, US Power Plants implement impressive design, security, and fail safes that make the more secure than any other type of industrial facility. As well as a cleaner energy output, we can also achieve an increase in new nuclear jobs ranging from engineering, to construction and computer programming.
No matter what we choose to do as individuals or as communities, it seems clear that perpetually burning fuels are not the solution. With that in mind we can either make the large investments necessary for a transition into cleaner fuels, or we can go kicking and screaming as energy prices continue to climb.
(Photos by afloresm, Lollie-Pop, and Schwarz)