Many visions on this website will not occur without the arrival of new sources of cheap energy. These energy saviors need to arrive prior to the exhaustion of the coal, oil, and gas fossil fuels.
What are our current choices for alternative cheap energy sources? What are the differences in environmental impacts associated with these choices? What energy research should we pursue to obtain cheap energy?
The US Department of Energy is leading research at the further frontier of knowledge. The Electric Power Research Institute does more incremental research financed by the American power industry. The holy grail, fusion power, gets tantilizingly closer but still remains out of reach.
The reality is that new energy sources having the greatest potential are the least feasible given the current state of knowledge. Nevertheless, government, industry and universities are working hard to (1) bring down the costs of existing energy sources and (2) make feasible new sources with the greatest potential. Some of those currently being considered are listed below. The most controversial and/or least feasible are fission, fusion, antimatter, and zero point energy.
These are sources of energy which can be continually renewed. The fuel is not a fossil which becomes more expensive as the most easily extractable sources are consumed. A major weakness of renewable energy is that it frequently is most availble when least needed. If renewable energy is going to succeed, we need good ways of storing it for times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.