by Isaac Gunby

Throughout time, energy has always been important to human flourishing. Without energy from food, no man could ever live. Without the energy of human labor, no great empire would have ever risen. Without coal or oil, none of the modern technologies that we take for granted could exist. This begs the question: What is the next progression in energy and how should we, here in America, achieve it? Let us examine the future of energy in America by looking at our current policies and their problems, new promising technologies, and, finally, policy solutions that promote free market energy innovation.

Under President Donald Trump, American energy policy focused on national security and maintaining affordable and effective energy. Under President Biden, however, the focus has shifted to the goal to be carbon free by 2050. Biden has reentered the Paris Climate Accords and has moved to make the Federal Government a major player in America’s previously free energy market. Some of the many changes that have been put into place include the Defense Production Act that aims to replace the use of fossil fuels with wind and solar and the Inflation Reduction Act, which extends tax credits for ‘clean’ energy amid many other subsidies.

It is clear that the Biden Administration is incentivizing and distorting the energy market in favor of ‘clean’ energy in efforts to direct the future of energy technology; however, even though wind and solar are pioneered by so called progressives, they are actually regressive in nature. The problem with solar and wind is that they generate energy when the wind blows or the sun shines and not in proportion with supply or demand. For example, an energy shortage in Europe in 2019 was due partly to lower than average wind speeds. Advocates of wind and solar propose storage batteries as the solution; however, these are not yet efficient enough and their manufacturing also produces large amounts of CO2. Current energy policies are driving America to a future like Germany’s. In 2000, Germany started a program to get rid of fossil fuels, and later nuclear, and to replace them with wind and solar. From 2000-2021, wind and solar’s share in German energy went from 7% to 40%. Over this period, the price of energy also doubled. Energy became unreliable and Germany had to start burning coal again in order to stay afloat.

Our current government interference within the free market has been disastrous. Nuclear fission energy has been regulated so much that production of new plants is almost impossible and otherwise unviable wind and solar have gone much farther than possible in a free market. The decision of which energy sources to utilize should be left to the consumers and private businesses. When business is not encumbered by the government, innovation and new technologies will be more desirable for consumers and entrepreneurs alike. The result will be that the free market itself will accomplish both the government’s goal of low emissions, but also more importantly, the goal of human flourishing.

No, solar and wind are not the future. Humans long ago abandoned windmills and dams for power and opted for more reliable coal and gas. The best option for the next progression in energy technology is nuclear, but not nuclear fission. The sun, the center of the solar system, the object that keeps all the planets in orbit, and the source of light and energy that allows life to flourish on earth, is powered by nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion, the combining of smaller atoms to form a more stable intermediate one with a release of energy, was achieved by humans shortly after nuclear fission. Just like fission, it was first used in a bomb, the hydrogen bomb. Also like fission, humans were able to achieve controlled fusion in a lab, however, there was a problem. Fusion in a controlled lab, for a long time, never was able to achieve net energy gain, never able that is, until December 5th, 2022. At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scientists, for the first time, were able to achieve a controlled fusion reaction that produced more energy than was put in. Just recently in July of 2023, the experiment was repeated and successfully produced even greater energy. What does this all mean? Well, fusion is a much better source of energy than fission. Fusion creates much less waste, has no potential of a catastrophic meltdown (the plasma created would cool down too quickly to do damage), the energy supply, hydrogen, is extremely abundant in our universe, and human civilization could be powered for millennia to come.

It is beyond doubt to any impartial observer that fusion technology is the future of energy. Fusion is 100% carbon free and not prey to the whims of the elements. In the search for safer and more reliable energy, we in America should never settle for something worse than what we had before. With all this information, it is clear what path we should pursue in energy policy. The US should remove all incentives and subsidies that have been given to wind, solar, and other renewable energies and no longer distort the market in their favor. The US should also remove all undue regulations on fossil fuels and nuclear technologies, letting innovative discoveries, like nuclear fusion, thrive. With nuclear fusion, we will provide clean and affordable energy. With a free market, we will progress to the next iteration of energy science. With a new energy policy, we will have a brighter future.


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