I have been a big fan of alternative energy. It was obvious back in the 60's and 70's, that we would be where we are today. We have disagreement over wether pollution is causing problems (global heating, ozone hole, etc). Likewise, arguments locally about if we are currently fighting our war for Oil/Gas or for our Freedom. The main thing that would help, would be to make our country less dependant on other countries. That basically means the Middle East (for oil) and China (for production).
To minimize or remove oil dependancy, we will have to turn to alternative energy sources. That would basically come down to two main forms: electrical generation and Hydrogen production.
Personally, I believe that GM will see to it that H2 production will occur if they get their hywire to production. But it will be slow and spotty. Most likely, it will also be expensive as the producers will most likely be Oil/Gas companies that do not wish to change. In addition, the mechanics will not want to work on this for some time, even though it should be much easier to do.
So we are back looking at electrical generation. Most forms (wind and solar) are intermitent. This will require supplementing either with centralized generation or with some form of storage. Currently we use mostly centralized generation and minimal amounts of storage. Either way is very expensive.
But the one thing that seems to elude most people in the field is that you will not make wholesale conversion to different sources, storage, and useage in one clean sweep. To do so, would require huge changes in a system that does not reward big changes. So we have some alternative production today, but would like more. This requires boosting Normal generation or Storage.
Electrical storage must happen if alternatives are to take off. By de-centralizing storage, we would also be able to store energy for helping during the day, but also during times of crisis. Three good examples come to mind.
- The recent power outage
In all three cases, Local area energy storage(LAES) would ahve enabled local supplements will the main units and lines were out. These would also allow for night time generation rather than building new plants.
An interesting one is the Sterling engine using high-temperature salts being developed by Beoing. It should be possible to build small units about an acre that would store energy for the local area. By then encouraging the creation of small companies (perhaps co-ops), we create a decentralized approach to energy storage. This prepares for the future use of alternatives as well as helps during times of crisis.