Regular readers of Random Thoughts will know that I predict spectacular economic growth in the 21st century. The largest part of that is due to progress in computers (which I agree with Ray Kurzweil will equal and then vastly exceed the capacity of the human mind).
But another part of that probably spectacular economic growth is that money makes money. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has about $30 billion. Why, if I had only 1/3rd that amount, I could solve the world's energy problems myself! :-)
How would I do it? Three words..."technology inducement prizes." Probably the most famous technology inducement prize was the Ansari X Prize, given to the first private entities to put astronauts into space.
What technologies would I choose? Three technologies:
1) Non-tokamak fusion,
2) Photovoltaics, and
3) Methane hydrates.
My reasoning is as follows:
1) Non-Tokamak Fusion: There is almost no doubt in my mind that controlled fusion is where energy technology will eventually end up. I was at a scientific/technical conference recently, where the subject was the future of energy technology. There was essentially universal agreement that energy technology would eventually end up at either solar or nuclear. Unfortunately, the "nuclear" was thought to be nuclear fission, which I don't agree is the final solution for energy problems. In my mind, the "nuclear" is fusion. On the other hand, tokamak fusion seems to be headed nowhere. The latest tokamak device is the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER). Talk about boondoggle to the nth power. More than a decade to build (a single reactor), with years (or even decades) of experimentation to follow that. What a mess.
2. Photovoltaics: The other technology I'd concentrate on is photovoltaics. This is just in case the fusion thing doesn't work out.
3. Methane Hydrates: This is the third technology I'd concentrate on...just in the very unlikely event that both fusion and photovoltaics don't work out.
Note: I'm publishing this now...but I'll be doing some more work later.