The simple fact is this: the demand for energy is high and expected to grow dramatically as more developing countries attempt to power a growing industrial sector. In the age of exports and technology, the great equalizer is power. We’ll have to collectively figure out how to handle a baseload that has grown higher than ever before, and we’ll need to do all of this without polluting the planet. Here’s how supply and demand may play a role in this complicated equation.
Right now, the world’s supply of oil is in dispute. There’s a great deal of conflict surrounding fossil fuels, and some countries are finding it far too expensive to continue using. There are a few issues, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. First, supplies are difficult to access. Since 1994, drilling for oil on American land has been difficult. There are many environmental concerns with surface drilling.
Renewable energy has been viewed as a favorable alternative, but the technology is still new. There is also the problem of where to build, as Peter Banner of Support Resources, Inc. says: “Increasingly, we are seeing both local regulatory and local neighborhood opposition to wind farm development.” That opposition slows development, which means it can’t contribute enough to the baseload.
As you can imagine, the baseload in a developed country like the US or China is quite high. It’s even higher in a place like India, where factories are using power inefficient machinery and manual labor in a poorly regulated environment.
The baseload for such a populous area exceeds that of the US or China already, and will only get larger as time goes on. As Dev Randhawa of Fission Uranium puts it: “The case for nuclear energy is really the case for keeping the lights on.” Nuclear is one of the only clear ways to provide the energy necessary meet that baseload, without polluting the environment as heavily. It even helps preserve fresh water, as reactors can be cooled with sea water.
Ultimately, we’re left with a hybrid of several fuel sources. Renewables, and potentially fossil fuels, will play a role in the future of energy. However, the backbone may require something like nuclear, which can meet these high demands with fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly means.