There are currently alternatives to fossil fuels in solar, wind, tidal or bio mass or the slightly controversial Nuclear power stations. The logical step for an island nation like the UK would be to harness the natural resource that surrounds us and try and harness the power of the sea to generate a reasonable proportion of our electricity. To take some of the strain off fossil fuels and to appease the environmental lobby.
I don’t believe we should be looking at wind energy as a viable option in the UK at the very least, on a few grounds. Wind energy is reliant on there being some wind to generate energy and when there is no wind where you have the wind farms you have no energy generation. On top of that they are not overly aesthetically pleasing and its fine if you live in a city or a town as you don’t have to see them, but they are a blight on the countryside and I personally don’t believe that they are as productive as some people would have you believe.
Now solar power has its advantages that you can stick some panels on your roof, providing its facing the right way, and you can generate a bit of power to save some money on your electricity bill and put a little bit back in to the national grid. Which is great, it saves you money and reduces by a small amount the need for burning fossil fuels. However there is one small problem, and the clue is in the name, solar power needs sun light to be effective so when it goes dark it doesn’t work. It’s great in the summer time when there is lots of sunlight but in the winter when we want to heat our houses and use more electricity it’s not so good.
So what about bio mass, well there are certain environmental issues in that although we are not burning a fossil fuel to generate the power we are still burning a fuel which releases potentially harmful gasses in to the environment. So although it is a viable alternative in that we can grow crops to use as bio fuel which could take the strain off fossil fuel consumption; environmentalists would argue that it’s not really doing much difference. We would also have to factor in the setting aside land to cultivate crops like hemp purely for fuel production. Which could have an impact on our food production.
This leads us on to Nuclear, a very reliable and clean energy production method. They can be run day or night and are not reliant on external forces such as wind, tides and the sun. Its currently an under used power generation method, and is estimated to be value for money wise as cheap as producing electricity as a coal power station. Though people will point to the accidents as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and most recently at Fukushima as to why we shouldn’t move to this type of power production and the fact you are left with some rather nasty waste at the end of it, which has to be disposed of safely for several thousand years.
If we look at them all like that then there really does not seem to be a really viable solution to solve what is a rather big problem; and that we may have to actually resort to decimating our countryside with thousands of wind farms and sticking solar panels on every available surface that faces the right way and replace our cars with horses and bicycles.
Though there is one other option one that you won’t hear any environmentalist spouting off about, purely because they all have shares in bicycle companies, but that’s Nuclear Fusion. The same reaction that happens on our sun every day, the great power source of the universe, which in essence is pushing hydrogen together to make helium and a hell of a lot of power.
Now people will say that this is a technology that is decades away and it may not work and all of that stuff. Currently it’s probably one of the most underfunded alternative energy sources out there. Which considering what it would mean if we could harness its great power is shocking. We see at the moment little clusters of some of the greatest minds working away on separate projects in different corners of the world. Instead of this we should look to our not too distant past and look what happened when we put the greatest brains and engineers together to work on the Manhattan project, humanity split the atom.
If we took a lead from that, and got all of these great minds together and funded them properly like it was a military project. I guarantee you we would have viable fusion reactors in years rather than decades. Imagine a world powered with clean unlimited energy just how beneficial to mankind that would be. Businesses could prosper; old people wouldn’t have to worry about heating bills in winter, you wouldn’t need to worry if you turned the light out.
So let’s stop this debate about should we put wind farms in the peak district, and let’s get the G8 nations together to commit to putting in the money that is needed to advance the development of fusion as a power source. The money that we would have to spend to do it would be miniscule to the benefit that humanity would get out of it, and it’s Green so there would be less chance of making the poor polar bears homeless. The only viable long term solution to the worlds energy demands is Nuclear Fusion, so let’s make those politicians do something about it now!