Pondering a Future with Natural and Cheap Electricity

Given the current state of the economy and our increasing needs for energy, one may wonder how we are going to be able to meet our energy needs in the future. It would seem that we will need to find a source of abundant, cheap electricity if we are going to continue to grow as a technological society. So, where is this electricity going to come from?

It is almost certainly not going to come from fossil fuels like oil and coal. While these remain among the lowest cost sources of electricity today, and coal in particular may be the cheapest electricity supplier at present, the problem is that all fossil fuels must be extracted from the earth. As the easy to reach reserves are used up, it will become more and more expensive to extract what is left. This is without even mentioning the expense of cleaning up oil spills and other disasters that may be caused by the extraction of fossil fuels. In any case, fossil fuels will only become more expensive, and there is little chance that they will provide the cheap electricity that we will need to power a prosperous society in the future.

As a result, it makes sense to look to natural sources of electricity as a potential source of inexpensive power in the future. The atmosphere and ocean contain huge amounts of energy in the form of wind, waves, and tides, and wind is already a relatively cheap source of electricity in regions where strong, steady wind blow. Much research is currently being done on extracting energy from waves and tides, and we can look forward to much progress on these sources of energy in the coming decades. The sun provides an even more vast source of energy, as all of the motion in the atmosphere and ocean owes its existence to heating from the sun. While the photovoltaic technologies that are currently in existence to produce electricity from solar power are quite expensive, much research is also being done to make solar electricity cheaper.

Because of the existence of so much energy in the natural world, and this energy is constantly being replenished by the input of solar energy, it makes sense to look to this natural energy as a source of cheap electricity to allow our technological society to grow in the future. We need to continue to fund the research into renewable energy generation that will make this future a reality.

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