In engineering, one of the most fiendish challenges is to be able to create an inexhaustible power source. Of course, it is physically impossible to create an infinite power source – an eternal battery! – but to create a reliable, small, and cheap power source that can last for not hours or days but for weeks or even years is the holy grail for people who build power sources. To have, for example, a battery of some kind that can run a cellphone for months without charging would change the world. Creating a power source that can run lights and appliances for weeks and weeks would be a venture capitalist’s pot of gold. Everything runs on something – and to find a way to create semi-perpetual power boarders on the fantastical.
But interestingly, it really isn’t whether we can build a storage mechanism to hold power. That is doable. Batteries can hold charges for years. What really is the question is how the power will be used, for how long, and at what rate. It’s not a question of storing power – it a matter of how it will be used and how fast.
This all sounds goofy to most of you – to me, it is fascinating. Anyway, the point is that it’s not about having power as much as it is about how we plan to use the power. And likely, there will never be enough power for our needs regardless of inventions and investments. With our insatiable appetite for more more more, there will never be enough for what we want.
A short parable.