Thursday, April 24, 2008

We need alternative (and renewable) energy sources... yesterday!

Read that crude oil prices have hit a new high -- like this article from Forbes (22 Apr 08, "Supply Scare Sends Oil Toward $120").
Supply Scare Sends Oil Toward $120 - Forbes.com

Coincidentally, I watched a documentary tonight on the History Channel, about Alternative Energy (this page gives a summary of what was covered in the programme; apparently there's a DVD too).

The Forbes article mentioned that the rise in oil price wasn't the result of oil alone; it was also a result of negative market sentiments due to a weakening US dollar and the drop in US home sales and prices.

But what's clear is how we're all affected by Energy issues.

I mean, most of us are dependent on crude oil related energy sources (the powerplant that runs on oil, that generates the electricity that powers the computer, that connects us to the Internet; the vehicles which we use to bring us to places, and brings food, goods and services to us).

So, are we going to just wait for another oil crisis like that in 1973 and 1979?

Nevermind what are the reasons for raising oil prices. It's a crisis when our lives are held hostage to one main energy source.

Thinking about all that made me dug up this link from Gizmodo.com. I first learned of it in March 2007 (slightly more than a year ago):
Architectural Wind: Clean Energy, Birds Like It, Too
"... small 6.5-foot, 60-pound turbine... It's designed to mount on the top edge of a building, taking advantage of the unique aerodynamics of tall buildings, catching the wind after it's been funneled up the facade."

So, how about installing these on the roofs of buildings in our HBD blocks?

Power the lights. At least power the computers (store unused power in batteries). And how about the canopy being a solar panel?

Or maybe the rods could be concealed coolant hoses, to cool the air in the building. Used in conjunction with air-conditioning units, it might reduce the energy bills.

A few watts saved here and there. Multiply that by a million households, over a sustained period of time. Makes a heck of a lot of difference.

I'm no engineer. I don't know if the above ideas will work, let alone be economically viable.

Maybe schools should get their students to build and improve on Alternative Energy prototypes. Each new cohort will build or rebuild based on the versions and learning points from previous years. Some students may even bring these projects to the university education.

I see the Energy issue as one about investment for our futures, and generations that follow.

And of the planet.

Of which there's only one.

Even if "Saving the World" seems too airy-fairy for your taste, then think about what they advise about financial investments -- we should spread the risks by diversifying in more than one type of financial products/ market (or the English idiom that we're familiar with: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket").

More than twenty years ago, I read in my school textbooks about alternative energy. When I started working as a librarian more than ten years ago, students regularly came to the reference desk seeking resources for their school projects on "Alternative Energy".

Maybe for the next ten years or more, you and I will still be talking about the need for alternative energy sources.

We'll continue to say "We need alternative energy sources, tomorrow."

But what if one day, we come to the inevitable state where "tomorrow" was "yesterday". We can't travel back in time to make things right.

Even if Time Travel is possible, it'll probably take a whole lot of energy to power the device.

The irony would be that we can't get enough power to run the damn thing.