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How to Advance Alternative Energy

November 15th, 2013

Despite significant government subsidies and investment, the alternative energy industry could be growing at a faster rate. While some of this lack of growth is due to Great Recession and its slow recovery, the advent of “fracking” technology that subsequently led to the increased availability and lower prices of natural gas also played a role in slowing the development of newer energy sources.

In short, the alternative energy industry needs to compete better with carbon-based energy sources, especially natural gas.

Sharing Ideas on Growing Alternative Energy

Recently the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) held a day long symposium in Washington D.C. focused on developing strategies to advance the growth of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. At this forum, Dr. Patrick Phelan from the U.S. Department of Energy noted that while these energy sources can’t yet provide a similar ROI as oil and gas, they are poised to get there within the next five years.

The promise of Concentrated Solar Power is still a ways off in being cost effective, but advancements in materials and manufacturing hopefully will make this unique technology — picture the “old magnifying glass with the sun” trick — viable in the future. CSP may even outstrip “regular” solar power in efficiency once it matures.

Combining Alternative and Traditional Energy Sources

Speaking of solar power, it appears there will be some use of the technology to help support generation at utility stations. There was also some discussion about using thermal energy in the world of transportation to supplement traditional fossil-based sources. Recent advancements in this area have lessened the use of expensive fuels in experimental military aircraft.

These kinds of hybrid applications, combining both alternative and fossil-based energy sources, appear to be one promising way to leverage the promise of solar and thermal energy, while their economics are still being developed.

If the development of alternative energy is something that inspires you in advancing your engineering career, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. They are one of the leading engineering staffing firms in the Seattle area, with the expertise to ensure your career takes off. If you are looking for alternative energy jobs in Seattle, contact us today.

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