The Future of the Energy Industry
By Garrett Berge*
*This article was written by Garrett Berge, and selected as the winning essay for the EnergyRates.Ca College Scholarship 2019. Berge is a Geomatics Engineering Technology student and wrote about how he imagines the future of the energy industry some years from now.
Energy is arguably one of the major challenges we face today as a planet. It is important that we accelerate the transition to sustainable energy as oil, coal and gas are not limitless. The vast amount of underground carbon that we continually emit into the atmosphere is very dangerous to both the atmosphere and the oceans. We know that releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere runs a significant risk of man-made climate change, the effects of which are noticeable worldwide. The problem is compounded by the fact that the demand for energy grows globally each year. So, in response to environmental awareness, either we need an energy supply that has no carbon release, or we need to find ways to use less energy.
The most reliable source of energy is solar power. The problem with solar power right now has everything to do with cost. In fact, it is more expensive to produce power from the Sun than it is from coal, wind, hydro, and nuclear sources. But, imagine having a completely self-sufficient skyscraper, entirely dependent on sunlight hitting its windows. The first thing I notice about any big city is the number of windows in the skyscrapers, providing nothing more than natural light and a nice view. If we can create a cheap, effective, and functional alternative to the way windows are designed, we can dramatically re-shape the energy industry while releasing less carbon into the atmosphere.
A very large proportion of power might come from off-shore wind turbine farms, although we have to implement some form of electricity storage to even the output. If we can find a way to minimize the cost of off-shore wind farms, we can invest more into both harvesting and harnessing their power. Although costly, wind farms have proven to be an effective, alternative clean energy, particularly in the oceans.
I do believe the oceans are being underutilized in the sense that they cover over 70% of our planet yet produce hardly any of our power. Tidal power is further proving to be a great source of renewable energy, since tides are more predictable than wind and sun. Where the future of ocean energy truly relies is in wave power. We know enough about the oceans to be able to determine where waves and currents are most prominent, we just have to invest extra time into designing a superior wave power generator site; one that can handle harsh ocean conditions.
Nuclear fusion power is the most desired source of energy among scientists, for obvious reasons. Once adopted, it will produce virtually unlimited renewable energy. Although it is still being researched and engineered, it is entirely possible. Fusion power will be the leading energy breakthrough known to mankind.
I am genuinely optimistic about the future of the energy industry and the environment; as we all should be. The more innovative we are towards sustainable energy, the better chance this planet has to survive and thrive.