Using flow-based systems such as wind, hydro-electric, or solar can be compatible with reasonably high societal complexity. For example, this document is being created on a computer powered by a primarily flow- based solar powering system, without conversion to potential energy. That is, there is no transformation to “potential energy” storage involved between solar irradiance and the device’s function. However, a significant number of watts from the capture device are neither used nor stored, and it won’t w ork at night. These tradeoffs eventually must be consciously and seriously considered. TaaL: Imagining such a thing as “no baseload” might be an esoteric exercise if it weren’t for the fact that “potential energy baseload” as it now exists is inherently temporary, requiring massive amounts of fossil energy and materials input that will progressively shrink going forward this century. Your species ultimately faces a “no baseload” future, period, full stop. The revolutionary notion would be to abandon it before it abandons you , using energy when the wind blows and sun shines, and very little when it doesn’t, and thereby perhaps maintaining a climate and world that is actually livable for the next 100 thousand years without grid power. Humans evolved to be resilient to intermittence in food, water, and all other resources, and still are. Humankind do esn’t need baseload, you are baseload. The Bottom Line: Usable energy is either potential (stored) or kinetic (in motion). Our current society is heavily dependent on the former, though people lived perfectly fine lives in previous cultures using the latter.
Summary: Energy differs not only in the quality and form we prefer to use, but in many other ways. There is a vast difference in the properties of various energy sources. Among such differences are:
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