In case you haven’t read my bio, I have a real passion for automobiles. I love the way they handle, brake and accelerate, and I love the look of a sporty car. My love for automobiles probably harkens back to that Corvette pedal car I had when I was in kindergarten. Recently, someone asked what I thought of electric cars….after all they seem to be the wave of the future. To be honest, I don’t really care what powers a sports car as long as it does what it is supposed to do….be exciting to drive.
This got me to thinking of a recent article in the July IEEE “Spectrum” magazine entitled “A Skeptic Looks at Alternative Energy”. In that article, Vaclav Smil discusses the history of different fuels and notes the decades that it takes to ramp up an industry for the convenient and every day use of a particular fuel source. Natural gas, for example, took from about 1875 to 1930 to supply 5% of all primary energy; and from 1930 to 1960 to achieve the much sought after 25% of the market share. The same scenario is true for other fuels as well….coal and oil, for example.
After many years, nuclear energy has yet to achieve 25% in the US, wind power is at about 3% and solar is less. With climate change such a hot topic (no pun intended) we are desperately seeking alternative fuels to reduce our carbon footprint, provide clean air, and be renewable. But…as research shows, getting a new fuel up and running will take decades….perhaps generations.
For now and in the foreseeable future, it appears that sporty cars (ok…except for the Tesla) will continue to pull up to the pump for unleaded. But perhaps the day will arrive when we pull into the electric station for a quick “plug in”.
Dr. Jane – from the Café