Oil and Coal are currently king on the energy markets, depending on your source of information oil and coal may be limited in their days as the primary source of energy, some estimates say we could begin to see a sharp decrease in oil as soon as 2025 due to current worldwide consumption rates, current Natural Gas deposits may last 50 years, coal on the other hand is very plentiful as is Shale however with global warming causing climate change they too may not be viable options for the future.
The state has been under pressure to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) for sometime, in fact the issue is at the boiling point with environmental groups and to the point where lawsuits are emerging over the issue, that is why I predict the next “McCleary” to be over the environment.
Sustainable energy is a subject that has gained in popularity over the years, now with years of research and development as well as technological advances in reliability many options are available and several other options on the horizon that appear promising. Now is the time to pursue green power and renewables while we have the luxury of time to prepare for our future energy needs for our state.
My approach to energy solutions is to maintain an open mind and approach the future in a wholistic way since there are broad options to pursue and all viable, from the more familiar solar, geo thermal and Bio Fuel to the not so familiar Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, protection of our environment is paramount as we increase the demands on energy consumption as our state grows.
Let’s get started!! read on for my ideas on sustainable power for our great state.
Creation of a Sustainable Energy Development Campus
My vision on the future of energy in Washington is the holistic approach involves the development of a working Sustainable Energy Development Campus where green power technologies can be advanced on various levels through Public/Private partnerships, a campus such as this would involve several environmentally friendly power generating methods each actively supplying power back to the grid to offset campus cost and achieve a return on investments by the private sector.
A large portion of this campus is envisioned to be think tank tied to a network of Washington state colleges and universities to better the technology and act as a working campus for students and apprentice training for individuals who are seeking a career in energy to further Washington State as a leader in the development of sustainable energy, this ties to my vision of education by hands on learning opportunities, (Please also take a look at my views on the subject of Education in the State of Washington)
The failed Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) site located close to Aberdeen, WA would be a fitting site for development into a working E-ARC or Energy Alternative Research Campus. This is the site of the failed WPPSS Nuclear power plant that was not completed due to lack of funding and politics, the vision is to raise a sustainable energy campus for research and development of new Green Energy in the shadows of the cooling towers which are now a monument to failed policy, planning and vision.
ENERGY IDEAS TO PURSUE
This method of fuel production has been in use in limited areas of the world by turning farm animal waste and wood/vegetation waste into clean burning Methane gas which is clean burning with no emissions, with Biomass the residue left over from combustion is organic and suitable to add to topsoil mix and recycled back in to the environment.
Forest biomass would not include wood from old growth forests, wood that is protected as habitat under the DNR’s 1997 Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, or any required to be left onsite under the state Forest Practices rules. Biomass also does not include any treated wood or wood that otherwise might contain chemicals such as creosote. Since wood for Biomass would have a value for power generation it is likely that more trees would be planted and more forested areas created to help sustain biomass generation in the future from downed trees and limbs, this would be a great advantage to our local environment, a tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
Biofuels are not the end all and be all as there are some limitations surrounding biofuels, however biofuels can play a large part in the wholistic approach to cleaner energy production as being another piece to the puzzle of sustainable energy as well as support and augment income for farmers in the state of Washington.
Biomass Energy plants are cheap to construct and would be financed through Private/Public Partnerships and strategically placed in several locations around the state to assist in affordable energy production and create job opportunities.
LFTR – Liquid Fluride Thorium Reactor
We are currently blessed with an abundance of cheap and existing Hydro-electric energy, this method of productionDuring World War 2 the Hanford site in eastern Washington became part of the Manhattan Project in the race for the bomb and Plutonium production, during the race to create the bomb Uranium, during this arms race one of the methods looked at was the Liquid Fluride Thorium Reactor or LFTR process, the issue with this process was that you could not create weapons grade bombs out of it so it was passed over, however it was briefly pursued as a sustainable energy producer. After WWII since there was a new demand for energy due to the post war expansion and scientists were very familiar with the Nuclear creative process, and of course there were politics involved, the nation pursued Nuclear power as we know it to be today, HOWEVER, there is a alternative to this Nuclear power that is in use today and yes, it is still very political, but LFTR is worth pursuing especially since advancements have been made in technology.
One of the issues that continues to be a issue is the corrosive nature of the LFTR process, but strides forward in new materials show promise toward solving this issue, China and India currently have scientists working at a feverish pace based on the promise of this cheap, reliable, green method of sustainable power, it is speculated that China has over 300 scientists working non-stop to get this method of energy up and running. Here in Washington state we have some of the brightest minds and strong corporations that if we pursue this technology with vigor Washington state can once again lead the nation and indeed the world down a path of clean, sustainable and green power that could change the way we think of reactive power generation.
With uncertainty of the environments ability to react to other power production methods and unknown climate change that may effect water usage in Washington, NOW is the time to invest and challenge Science and Industry to meet this goal. Additionally, coupled with my Education plan this would act as a spring board for our young adults desiring to pursue a career in green, sustainable energy, we will need new young minds to bring ideas and advancements forward to bring this to reality and sustain it long into the future (see my Education page for more information).
Companies such as TerraPower founded by Bill Gates and based right here in Washington is conducting research in the redesign of Nuclear power with a focus on safety and bringing clean energy to the market, Traveling Wave Reactor Technology and Molten Chloride Fast Reactor Technology are just 2 examples of energy innovation that have a promising future.
SUM IT UP
With population growth in Washington expected to continue to grow more demands on our energy resources will also grow, this includes our business and industry sector, in order for continued uninterrupted growth we need alternative energy options now.