Dec 9, 2011

"The Terawatt Challenge"

Many have said Nobel chemist Richard Smalley's 2004 presentation, The Terawatt Challenge, does the best job of synopsizing one of our world's great economic challenges: providing more electricity worldwide, year to year in the 21st century, while eliminating fossil fuel use.

A terawatt is one trillion (1012) watts. In 2006, global electricity use measured about 16 terawatts.

Smalley (2004), 
"To solve the energy challenge, we will have to find a way to produce, every day, not just what we are producing right now, but at least twice that much. We will need to increase our energy output by a minimum factor of two... certainly by the middle of the century, but preferably well before that... To give all 10 billion people on the planet the level of energy prosperity we in the developed world are used to... we would need to generate 60 terawatts —the equivalent of 900 million barrels of oil, per day."

Some of Smalley's cited challenges: 
  • Need for Presidential Leadership
  • Dealing with Atmospheric CO2
  • Finding Alternatives to Oil
  • Rebuilding the Energy Grid
  • Commercializing Local Energy Storage
Read the Smalley transcript here.

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