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Carl Wiens
A question of energy
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Lately the word energy brings to mind many more questions and concerns than answers. While I was working on this assignment, the world witnessed the partial meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
This series was developed with Daniel Smith, at the Wall Street Journal, who is always great to work with. Working towards an image that captures the idea of renewable energy proved to be more of a challenge than I originally anticipated. Renewable sources range from biomass to wind power, but ultimately renewable sources originate with the sun.
 
I tried a number of different approaches before coming up with this design. The green approach wasn't working, I think that green fatigue has set in. I have included a number of different 'sketches' below. I'll put them up to accompany some of my thoughts on the subject.
Finding energy solutions is no simple task. Each method of generation carries with it certain risks and drawbacks. The future looks towards multiple sources, locally generated.
I've been really impressed on my cycling trips this spring by the number of solar panels installed on local farms. I live in a rural area in Canada, I mean, this isn't sunny Arizona!
That is really encouraging.  While solar costs keeps dropping, the efficiency of solar generation keeps going up. Government subsidies are kicking in sweeten the pot.
Wind power, on the other hand is facing hurdles ranging from pricing and competition to organized opposition. Those towers are just so huge and daunting. Prince Edward County, where I live, was slated to be developed by a number of wind projects almost a decade ago. Most of those have been placed on hold, have lost funding or face serious protests from local landowners concerned about the long term impacts of these mechanical giants.

Biomass is another alternative with some serious issues. Whatever happened to switchgrass? Most of the the ethanol we use is derived from corn, which also is an excellent food source. What methods can be used that don't take up valuable farmland and food? Algae is now a leader in development and research as well as Bagasse, the residual waste fiber from sugar cane processing.

I don't know if I can take another oil spill or meltdown anytime soon. I also don't want to be naive enough to think that any of the changes we really need will be easy. However, change is going to come.
In ten years time I hope I can run my computer on sunshine and my car on algae. I will keep pedalling wherever I can and living a low impact lifestyle.


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