Does everyone have to rely on the same fuel to power their houses, cars, computers, and tools? Will alternative fuels be the answer? The market may have something to say about this - and Propostion 80 in California.
It certainly hurts these days to feed my automobile the gas that it needs to take me on my errands, to work or even vacation. Having attended a couple trade shows dealing with power and tending the news from the power industry makes me wonder if we could do better for all our energy needs. For example, does everyone have to rely on the same type fuel to power their motorized cars and tools? Of course not, and if you look at your local electric power utility you will notice that they use several sources to supply your electricity, including oil, coal, nuclear, natural gas and even wind and solar. There are other possibilities, even if they are targeted for a much smaller scale such as hybrid grass. Obviously, the more alternatives we use the less dependence we have on oil.
Automobiles are another target market for diversifying power sources and you only have to look at the red-hot hybrid market to see what's possible. Of course if we diversify, some will say, we will lose the buying power that comes with quantity. That may be the thinking of California's Proposition 80, which will be on the state's November 8th statewide ballot banning any more companies or institutions from buying electricity through so-called "direct access'' contracts. It also sets a target for 20 percent of the state's energy supply to come from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2010. You can find out more opinions at this link on Proposition 80.
What about alternative sources for DC power? Does it create more problems with supply chains or is it a different situation? There's no question that extending the compute time of a laptop or the talk time of a cell phone are desirable traits. We already have several upcoming possibilities to keep batteries charged and recharged, including solar and several fuel cell architectures. The market typically decides which will be the winners while causing the losers to fade into oblivion. Maybe that's what California should let happen with its electric utilities. What do you think?