Meeting tomorrow’s power needs will pose tough choices.
Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-at-large, and is a consultant and writer based in Minnesota.
"I have seen the future, and it doesn't work."
Journalist Robert Fulford wasn't thinking about the power-generation industry when he coined this oft-quoted expression. But he almost could have been.
Generators are being squeezed by an array of powerful forces, including the country's insatiable thirst for energy, rising concerns about global warming and other environmental issues, and an increasingly volatile world stage. No silver-bullet solution exists to deal with this array of forces, but companies and policy-makers are pursuing a combination of policy and technological measures that show promise.
Which solutions will be most effective is a subject of great controversy, and provides the context for Fortnightly's 2004 Generation Roundtable. We assembled a group of executives and analysts representing various perspectives on power generation, and asked them to predict the future for Fortnightly readers. Their insights suggest that the future indeed will work because it must, but making it work well-i.e., affordably, cleanly and reliably-won't be easy.
Fortnightly: What are the prevailing trends regarding demand growth? How long will the current oversupply situation persist?