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BBC Asks Experts: How Will We Power the Planet?
Emily Gertz, 16 Nov 04

BBC Online asked several energy experts how we can meet the anticipated 60% increase in energy demand by 2030 without harming the environment.

Whatever the endorsements, from renewables to nuclear, via expanded investment or reducing consumption, overall the message is clear: We need to innovate, and fast.

Ashok Khosla, founder of Indian NGO Development Alternatives, says that the developing nations will have to leapfrog past Western technologies:

The world is not harnessing enough alternative energy sources.

At the moment, no more than 2% or 3% of most countries' energy comes from renewable sources. But it has to be done.

China, for example, has a lot of sun, it has a lot of hydro-energy, a great deal of biomass potential - these are all sources of renewable energy.

Unfortunately, these sources of energy haven't been developed in the West, so there are no good innovations available that will solve the problems.

Therefore, much of that innovation will have to be done in China and in India and in other developing countries.

I believe the future lies in choosing those kinds of technologies. But they will not happen on their own. They will have to be actively pursued.

This feature is part of the Beeb's new online Planet Under Pressure series.

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Let me say this loud and clear:


Really. You can save 50% of most nation's energy consumption at a profit: CFL bulbs and super insulated buildings, white roofs etc. get you most of the way there.

Posted by: Vinay on 17 Nov 04

It is quite tough to reduce demand even with new energy saving technology emerging. Earth population is already at 6 billions and it is showing no sign of slowing down. But of course, we could restrict everybody access to energy but I prefer free market to centralized economy.

OTOH, Increasing the supply side is far easier.

Posted by: __earth on 17 Nov 04

There is a basic fallacy with constantly saying we can cut demand 50% with conservation... Sooner or later you already did it or alot of it and its no longer 50% its 30% or 15% or 10%.

We already have done alot of the cheap conservation methods and as such a fair chunk of that pie is already long gone.

We need more power. We WANT and DEMAND to do more things that require more power. So the power plants are being built and the plans for safer nuke plants are being finalized and plans are underway to ram em through and into production when the time is right.

The plans for cheap fairly effective solar power cells for roofing materials and siding and even painted on are in the works and will come to market within the decade if all the kinks get worked out.

At home cogen power/heat plants are becoming more and more effective and cheaper every year.

But in the end even with eerything else we will tap nuke power again fairly soon. Because we want the power.

Posted by: wintermane on 21 Nov 04



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