Professor Guus Berkhout has published a challenge to the engineering community, to step up and make the Western energy transition work. He emphasizes that reliable and affordable energy is the key to future prosperity and well-being. So, if the transition fails then the Western world will fall back into poor economies without any power and authority. His opening call is pointed and clear:
“Experienced Engineers must take the lead in the Energy Transition. Green politicians made a big mess of the energy transition and climate scientists encouraged them with their computer models. Putin and Xi JinPing must have watched the self-destruction of the Western World with utter amazement and gratitude. Experienced engineers must pick up the pieces soonest.”
Berkhout says there are actually three distinct challenges, all engineering intensive. One is developing the technology needed for adaptation to climate change, whatever the cause of this change. The second is designing and building the energy transition by making use of the unlimited human intelligence. The third is focusing on measurement technologies that are desperately needed to advance climate science.
He also addresses engineering education, saying “Today’s technical universities have a great responsibility to educate the new generation of engineers. Without them, there will be no sustainable future.”
The energy transition is an exciting long-term project, a privilege to work on, so today and tomorrow’s students will have a big role to play. Professor Berkhout puts it this way:
“For man’s crucial energy supply, the multitude of technical measurements show unequivocally that nuclear power is by far the most promising energy source of the future. Not political obsessions, like wind turbines, solar panels and biomass plants, but modern nuclear power plants should be prominent on the energy research agenda. Not windmill engineers, but nuclear engineers are urgently needed.”
Here is the central analysis and call for action:
“The climate debate in recent years has been chaotic and incoherent because climate change, energy transition, and concern for the natural environment have been lumped together in one intermingled policy. This makes all discussions extremely opaque. After all, content-wise we are talking about very different subjects:
– Climate change is about the complex interplay of natural forces, which humans still have little understanding of and which will require many diverse scientific disciplines to make progress. Again, here advanced measurement technology is indispensable. This will require engineers who work closely together with climate scientists.
– In the energy transition, it is becoming increasingly clear that rushing to a shutdown of the existing energy infrastructure (EU-policy) will result in a major socio-economic downturn. Nuclear power is by far the energy source of the future. The big challenge here is a sensible transition phase. Not technically ignorant politicians, but experienced engineers must play the key role along this transition path.
– The natural environment demands good stewardship. Concerns about air pollution, water pollution, deforestation and resource depletion are entirely justified. In addition, our planet will be faced with a gigantic amount of waste when – because of the relatively short lifespan – we must write off millions of wind turbines, solar panels and battery packages every year. Technologies that prevent harmful substances from being emitted into the natural environment and technologies that make the reuse of raw materials economically attractive must receive more attention in engineering education.”
Professor Berkhout emphasizes optimism as the way forward and the proper attitude for inspiring the young generation, saying this:
“For decades we have been told by climate prophets that mankind and planet Earth will be doomed if there is no rapid and drastic intervention (‘Great Reset’). As a result, people increasingly live in a culture of fear and notice that they are pushed back into poverty.
The good news is, however, that in the past 50 years the catastrophic predictions of those prophets repeatedly turned out to be entirely wrong. Another positive fact is that human ingenuity has repeatedly shown that it will provide intelligent solutions whenever needed. We should not give up, but we should adapt!
Engineers have always played a leading role in the development of powerful adaptation technology. Engineering education should therefore stay far away from ideology-driven computer models. These models steer them in the wrong direction. That is my message to the Academies of Engineering and the Universities of Technology.”
There is a lot more in the call. See https://clintel.org/experienced-engineers-must-take-the-lead-in-the-energy-transition/.
I too have been writing about the deep lack of engineering in the climate change boondoggle. Let us hope this clear call is answered. A better world awaits.