We are environmentalists, passionately concerned about the future of the planet. Our founders (Pavlak, Rudesill, Winsor) are also engineers who have successfully pioneered and developed workable, unprecedented system concepts. From this perspective we believe that the future of energy will be determined by environmentally responsible physics, engineering and economics. We are not wedded to any specific energy solution, but rather, we strive to find factually-based technological options for a sustainable future.
· We believe energy development should be a strategic process: start with the ultimate goal. Given what we know today, what are the viable options for powering the planet without fossil fuel? Once feasible choices are identified, we then work backwards to figure out how to realistically get there from where we are now. The currently popular approach of evolving forwards without a strategic plan runs the risk of expensive stranded technologies and dead end development.
· Society should be informed of the significance of all primary energy system constraints (including socialized cost). This is essential to achieve a public consensus on how to proceed.
· Our first effort has been to understand how to develop wind and solar energy. The engineering community is only starting to appreciate the full system impact of intermittency. It is technically feasible to build systems with intermittent generators to reduce fossil fuel consumption to arbitrarily low levels, but only at the expense of hardware redundancy and consequent high cost. Near fully redundant fossil fuel backup systems are required for reliable power. The system costs might be 3-4x current rates, especially since there is yet no scalable storage solution.
· The wider society does not yet appreciate the significance and limits of fracking technology. Natural gas will likely be the most acceptable energy source for the next 50 years contingent on environmentally responsible fracking technologies and effective regulations.
· Effective coal regulation can reduce atmospheric and solid waste pollution and mountaintop mining impact to environmentally acceptable levels. However the cost consequences may make coal uncompetitive with natural gas. The transition could have high social and economic costs if not carefully planned.
· The concepts behind legacy nuclear fission (civilian nuclear power today) need to be rethought. Legacy nuclear with its radioisotope pollution problems is not a sustainable form of civilian power. There is potential for new concepts with acceptable cost, safety, sustainability and security.
· The future of transportation fuel remains unclear. The high energy density of liquid hydrocarbon fuels yields a strong system cost advantage. The priority for development depends on how the control of CO2 is prioritized and handled. This, in turn, depends on clarifying the possibility of climate change associated with the so called “greenhouse effect”.
· We see no evidence that nuclear fusion will be feasible or more attractive than fission. Until real breakthroughs are achieved, efforts in this technology are likely to be dead end developments.
· We are mindful of controversies surrounding CO2 as a greenhouse gas that is seen by some to be a global warming threat. Whether CO2 is a minor contribution to climate change or an existential threat is not yet clear to us and must be clarified.
· We understand that radioisotope pollution from nuclear fuel cycles and the biological impact of such pollution is inadequately understood by society, and may constrain widespread deployment of nuclear fission.
· Finally, more clarity is needed to balance power priorities with other social needs. Effective development of new energy systems is contingent on effective policies that are based on facts, not fear or faith or hope.