Renewable, carbon neutral energy is critical to a future where we’re not all living on rafts in the middle of a suddenly much larger ocean. Happily, we’ve got lots of ways of generating renewable energy, like solar farms, wind farms, and hydropower. Despite this diversity, renewables are horrendously inefficient compared with the dense solid or liquid combustibles that come straight out of the ground, both in terms of the energy density that they represent, as well as the amount of physical space that it takes to harvest them.
This is an often overlooked problem with renewable energy: Scaling up solar, wind, and hydro to make a dent in overall energy consumption takes up a significant amount of land area. Plus at some point, it starts to become impractical: There’s a finite amount of land area that is appropriate for and can be devoted to large-scale renewables. Not to mention that usually, these installations aren’t things that people want next door. As the global population increases, and energy consumption increases even more, we’re simply going to run out of space….