Technology Options

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Options for averting future energy crises exist on both the demand and supply sides. Demand-side management( a ) implies a reduction of consumption by consumers of energy, either voluntarily or mandated by the government. It often implies promoting technologies that increase efficiency without sacrificing comfort.( b ) Examples of demand-side management are better insulation, fluorescent lighting, energy-efficient appliances, hybrid vehicles, and using waste energy to produce heat (cogeneration).

Supply-side management requires finding new resources and processes that increases the chance of discovery, facilitates extraction, and allows more efficient processing (higher yields). New exploration techniques are available that can detect deeper and more out-of-reach locations in mines and reservoirs. Advances in engineering have made it possible to exploit vast hydro and solar resources with costs fast approaching those of conventional energy sources. Nuclear breeder technology is extending the lifetime of our nuclear supply by order of magnitudes. We are finding unconventional sources of energies (hydrates, tar sands, oil shale, etc.) that may open the door to vast sources of energy. Finally, in the not-too-distant future, fusion technology may provide us with the ultimate source of clean and cheap energy.



(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Additional Comments

(a) Many consider the demand-side management as tools and strategies for reducing energy use at a particular time as well as total consumption, irrespective of its impact on the environment or inconvenience that it causes on consumers. Here we concentrate only on technologies that are sustainable, i.e. do not harm the environment or the people.

(b) According to this definition, reducing the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph and turning down the thermostat from 70°F to 65°F in winter are not considered efficiency measures because they are accompanied by a certain degree of sacrifice.

Further Reading

Meadows, D. H., et al., The Limit to Growth, Universe Books, 1972. Also see, The Limit to Growth: The 30-Year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.

Diamond, J., Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Penguin Group, USA, 2004.

Cleveland, C. J., Encyclopedia of Energy, Elsevier Direct Science, 2004.

The International Journal of Energy, Science Direct Elsevier Publishing Company.

Applied Energy, Elsevier Publishing Company.

Journal of Energy Resource Technology, ASME International.

The Energy Journal, The quarterly journal of the IAEE’s Energy Education Foundation, (

External Links

Energy Citation Database, US Department of Energy (

Environmental Protection Agency (

US Department of Energy (

The NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty (

The Club of Rome (

The Sierra Club (