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Naked Opinion

We Should Invest in Energy Research

renewable energy
It is momentous to invest in new energy resources, in order to avoid a serious energy crisis.

It is momentous to invest in new energy resources, in order to avoid a serious energy crisis.

Irrespectively of any political points of view, it is time for everyone to admit that if we don’t act responsibly today, energy crisis will become the most noteworthy problem of tomorrow. It is a matter of simple economics: as the demand for scarce resources is infinitely increasing, the resources will eventually run out. That’s exactly what is going to happen with non-renewable energy resources, leading to a severe crisis that could change forever our industrialized society as we know it. We should confront this issue now while there are still a lot of energy supplies left, in order to save the next generations from reaching a dead end.

Renewable energy sources are inadequate to solve the energy problem.

Many believe that a movement towards the current renewable energy resources, such as solar and hydroelectric power, is the optimal solution to the preceding problem. Despite the fact that all of the renewable energy sources are seriously underutilized and it is unquestionably necessary to use them more, such an action is unfortunately not sufficient to solve the problem by itself.

By using more renewable resources we could only achieve to reduce the consumption of the scarce ones and therefore delay their inevitable extinction. However, those renewable energy resources are not adequately efficient and could not sustain our society with its existing level of demand for energy. For instance, solar power has very low power output and it would require covering a ridiculously large part of earth’s surface with photovoltaic cells, in order to supply the entire world by solar power, which would become increasingly difficult with the overpopulation issue. Hydroelectric and wind power are even more inefficient and the source with the more potential -nuclear power- poses major health dangers. Therefore, while we increase the use of those kinds of resources, we should also invest tremendous amounts of money to research, aiming both to make them more efficient and to discover any potential for new forms of energy like the one presented below.

Nuclear fusion might be the future of energy production.

There is an energy source with massive potential, which however remains unexplored: fusion. Fusion is the joining of two nuclei into a new one, which produces very large amounts of energy; it’s the same process that produces the energy of stars. Fusion is considered better than fission (the conventional method of nuclear energy production), as fusion power stations would be inherently safe, with no possibility of meltdown, while also the daily operation of a fusion power station would not require the transport of radioactive materials and it wouldn’t produce radioactive waste that creates a burden on future generations.

The advantages of fusion are very important, however we will never discover its full potential if we do not conduct extensive research. Right now, the biggest project is called ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which aims to make the transition from experimental studies to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power stations. ITER is currently on its construction phase, with expected completion in 2019. The problem is that its completion may delay even more, since more funding is required for such a megaproject.

Fusion might or might not bring a solution to the future of energy production; however it is vital that governments invest in ITER and in similar projects, in order to achieve a sustainable well-being after the non-renewable energy resources run out.

 

 

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About the author

Manos Makrygiannakis

Manos Makrygiannakis

Manos is an alumni of Yale Young Global Scholars and is currently studying Economics at UCL.

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