I read an interesting article in outside magazine that put the nation (and world's) energy needs in perspective. Now I have no idea if these estimates are correct but I trust that this is a very smart guy at MIT that is respected by the energy community. His name is Daniel Nocera and he thinks that he may have found the solution to the nation and world's energy problems.
The article made one main statement that caught my attention. Today Planet Earth uses 15 terrawatts of energy a year. It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will use 30 terrawatts of energy a year. So how do you make up the difference? Nocera says that if you cut down all plants on earth except those needed for food and turn it into biofuel which would produce 7 terrawatts. "We could build a new billion-watt nuclear plant every 1.6 days until 2050 = 8 terrawatts. We could cover every inch of land on earth with wind turbines = 2 terrawatts."
So for those of you counting at home that is 30 needed - 15 today = 15 needed - 7 biofuel - 8 nuclear - 2 wind = +2 terrawatts. The problem is doing all of that is not realistic from an actual construction perspective or a livability perspective. The one thing not mentioned here is the sun which sends 800 terrawatts as much as every hour. The sun sound like the way to go and Nocera thinks he has a way to harness it. Find out more in the current issue of Outside Magazine in the Code Green Column. The article is not available online yet but it is worth picking up the print copy.