A famous saying goes “When the shoe fits, you don’t notice it is on.” When something is working properly, one simply is not aware of it. Despite the periodic increases in the cost of gas at the pumps, by and large the global energy sector has run so smoothly that, historically, one rarely stopped to think about it. However, over the past several years that has changed. Nowadays, you can’t open a magazine or newspaper, surf the web or turn on the television without seeing or hearing some discussion about the pace at which humans are consuming energy, specifically fossil fuels, or what new technologies are being developed in the renewable energy space.
The US today consumes energy from many sources for a diverse set of purposes. As we have grown into the world’s largest economy, our energy choices have shifted from wood, biomass and small amounts of coal to those energy resources used for higher forms of human socioeconomic organization such as industry, manufacturing, transportation and communication. In fact, according to the Institute of Energy Research, 85% of the energy we consume comes from fossil fuels.
The rise of the digital age at the turn of the 21st century has driven consumer demand for high-speed computers, laser-jet printers, high-definition television sets, mobile devices and PDAs, and other gigabyte-rich devices. Compound this with the influx of larger SUVs on the road in the U.S. and the development of more buildings, plants and factories in both established and, especially, emerging markets. It all points to an increased demand for energy and perpetuates the ongoing discussion about the need to better manage and conserve energy and / or find alternative sources. In the decades ahead, almost all of the expanding demand for energy will be met by fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable sources – in that order. New sources of energy are also likely to enter the picture. However, that picture is still very much out of focus as politicians, citizens, universities, companies, NGOs, and various other associations and organizations debate the issues of energy consumption and energy management. Every person and organization has a perspective. There is legislation and stimulus funding in place to help spur the movement. And, there are new ideas and technologies being brought to the forefront regularly. At the end of the day, there is still a lot of uncertainty.
The only certainty is that inquiring minds will continue to probe for new breakthroughs. It is at this level that the iBridge Network hopes to facilitate the conversation and play a part in the global energy debate and solution. We recently launched our Energy Innovation Hub— an aggregated place for innovations and research from sources across the United States in a variety of areas, from the broad – environment and energy – to the more narrow – wind, solar, biofuel, and sustainable. Check it out our energy hub.