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Everything is (Old/New) Energy

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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The world’s energy is primarily rooted in fossil fuels – oil, natural gas, and coal. Add in nuclear power, and you have the fuels behind the vase majority of the world economy. And, we have not really changed the fundamentals of how we harness energy in over a century.

But, according to Roger Duncan – the former general manager of one of Texas’s major utilities, Austin Energy - this does not mean that our energy systems are stagnant. Rather, these systems are changing fast – from conventional 1-direction energy flows and a disconnected transportation system to a unified energy system.

What does that mean?

Duncan believes that, while the fundamental technologies behind how we use energy will not change significantly any time soon, how we use them will certainly change. From solar cells on our clothing to new types of nuclear reactors, our energy systems will become increasingly connected, interactive, and intelligent.

At a recent conference held by the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA), Duncan took just under 18 minutes to outline how he sees the future of energy. How old energy sources and technologies will be used in new ways.

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Colten 6:30 pm 02/12/2013

    Alternate power sources would be nice only to a certain extent. Thinking about the bigger picture, the impact of the economy would be would be greater than the gain of the alternate power sources. Many people in different regions of the country would lose their jobs due to the need of fossil fuels being depleting by these alternate power sources. The more solar panels and wind turbines that are put up the less fossil fuels will be needed.

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  2. 2. sethdayal 2:55 pm 02/13/2013

    Actually the more solar/wind/with the necessary inefficient fossil backup installed the greater the need for fossil fuels. Less fuel less GHG’s shipping the wind/solar and using efficient gas backup run efficiently.

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