From: Chris Tobias, Celsias, Clean Techies, More from this Affiliate
Published January 4, 2010 12:41 PM

Hidden Truths About Energy: Why One Source Just Won’t Cut It

Energy involves many complex issues, from how it is sourced to where it is used. Crafting intelligent energy policy also means understanding how cultural, social, and political issues come into play.

Dr. Michael Guan is one of the well versed experts in this area. With qualifications from Harvard and Yale, a 20+ year career in as an engineer and consultant, his latest work is with Energy Studies Institute and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He also does research and development for the U.S. Army around energy technologies.


According to Dr. Guan, taking a systems-of-systems approach is advantageous. The bigger picture view, taking into account even some of the smallest details, is useful to understanding complex interrelationships.

With energy, nothing can be oversimplified. Beyond that, energy projects– whether from renewable or traditional energy sources– need to be carefully analyzed for lifecycle costs and long term impacts.

"Anyone who champions one source of energy doesn't get it," Guan says. "We need everything." It is this diversity in supply and generation that will yield ultimate energy security and independence.

While many people hype green energy, there is the often one overlooked necessity: renewables need storage. It is a critical issue to understand, as merely slapping up more wind turbines won’t solve electricity supply issues if the wind stops blowing one night. In early 2008, that’s exactly what happened to one area in Texas, proving just how challenging wind power can be to work with.

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