Says user ChrisStewart:
The largest source of energy reduction will come from the Internet. Video conferencing (read Google Hangout) will reduce travel-related energy costs. Productivity suites will provide better work-from-home support (in your face, Yahoo!). And most importantly, top employees from Amazon will leak into the broader market. These smart people will use the web to improve supply chain management for small businesses, reducing the energy footprint of food delivery and other essential services.
Optimistically, I hope that the Internet will move to cleaner sources of energy. This process will happen independently of the above energy saving techniques. If somehow, Amazon, Microsoft, and your local bank all find a way to power their datacenters with renewable power (or at least *not* dirty coal), then our energy future truly will be bright. Note, GreenPeace.org (see "how clean is your cloud?") suggests that a renewable-powered Internet is far off. C'est La Vie...
Reader KMBelliott writes:
Low Energy Nuclear reactions, aka cold fusion, deserve more attention. Cold fusion challenges our understanding of plasma fusion, which leads to its quick dismissal by many. However there is a growing body of research showing the effects are real and replicable.
Mark Gibbs of Forbes is doing a good job following one of the more promising prospects. Start here for more.
ElSurfeador makes a pitch--or at least a hope--for rapid advancement in solar technology.
In an ideal world, solar becomes so efficient and cheap it would be the ultimate source, but not likely for a very long time (especially with cars). An achievable approach though would be to start widespread use of natural gas for vehicles. If there is any kind of "Moore's Law" applicable to solar, reliability and efficiency would continue to increase while cost decreases to the point where it can be effectively used for our electrical needs. We will still be a fossil fuel based world for a while but in these two areas significant improvement could be made. Especially if people realized that, aside from any environmental framework, renewable energy could be a viable strategic tool in America's security. If thru wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas we virtually eliminated our use of oil, you'd see the face of the mideast look much different.
MelvinUdall suggests that there is a more obvious answer staring us in the face.
Fossil Fuels. They are the *only* reliable, abundant source for at least the next thirty years. They will allow for the prosperity necessary for continued technological advancement. Those advancements make fossil fuel production and use cleaner while finding new technologies.
The alternative is to deliberately cripple ourselves as other, smarter nations use fossil fuels. Those nations, such as China, India and more, do not care about environmental restrictions as we do. Look at China's air and tell me you want them to be the largest energy producers while we hobble ourselves with "clean" technologies that *can't* provide for our energy needs.
Truly unleash coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear in America for the next thirty years and by the end of the century fossil fuels can and will be a thing of the past. Continue the suicidal "green" con game, worried about the nonexistant anthropogenic climate change while China and India pay them no mind, and we become a permanent second class nation in the 21stC.
If LENr can be developed as a conventional energy source society would have unlimited energy with almost zero pollution. Pretty much what everyone is looking for, right?
Guy Noir, meanwhile, suggests this:
Molten Thorium Salt Reactors.
The technology is safe and thorium is plentiful. Additional advantanges include not being able to to processed into nuclear weapons. In the 1960s, this was seen as a disadvantage.
The Chinese are exploring it and the rest of the world is catching on. The USA needs to take leadership of this technology and usher in a new age of prosperity.