Brian Crossman. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

The future is a pretty big place. Huge. Ginormous. (Is that a word?) So where does the energy industry fit in? How are we to adapt to a future that seems to be without a standard of living that we are used to? A future they tell us is supposedly without fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, gasoline, diesel and kerosene. (Those passenger planes love that kerosene to stay in the air) When I stop in at the local coffee shop (The Beefeater in Estevan to be precise) to solve all the world’s problems, these are topics that remain front and center. For obvious reasons, the energy industry is always in the mix, along with tax dollars (Mismanagement of said dollars) poor political decisions, coal vs nuclear, how the Estevan Bruins are doing, and that three-legged cat Mike seen on Third Street last week. There are plenty of issues to discuss and problems to solve. (“Who is going to stop Putin?” is popular, too.)

So why, why are we so concerned with the elimination of fossil fuels? Many believe that the carbon being released is going to kill us all due to climate change. There are as many people (and scientists) that believe the opposite, and that this is all part of the history of the planet, (ice age anyone?) and we will adapt, survive and thrive these changes. Many are concerned with scarcity of fossil fuels in the future. Proven reserves tell us that this is a long ways off. The vastly improved fuel efficiency of vehicles along with more EVs also helps with this. But I won’t disagree with anyone saying we need to make changes for the future.

But how are we going to make these changes? If you’ve read any of Brian Zinchuk’s articles on solar and wind power generation, you will know that these are more for show than for go. Why do you think they set those units in sight of major highways? Because the sun shines more next to the road and the road traffic creates more wind for the windmills? I’m admittedly not the sharpest hammer in the drawer, but even I can see how that works. Then there is a twenty year life span of solar panels and windmill blades. Twenty years into the future is not a long time. Some days it seems like next week, especially at my advanced stage in life. So unless we can rapidly improve the efficiency and life span of this technology, I’m pretty sure this is not the key to baseload power.

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So, what to do? Do we continue on trusting politicians who only care about what happens during their four-year election cycle, with the goal to be re-elected? Do we continue to allow them to subsidize their friends who just started up a solar-panel company? In so doing allow them drag in more taxpayer money (see: OUR money) to continue to perpetuate antiquated low-efficiency technology that ends up in land-fills in less than three decades. Maybe less than two. This doesn’t even take into account how much energy, particularly from fossil fuels, it takes to build, set up, maintain and eventually de-commission these bastions of “clean” energy.

Luckily for ya’ll, I am currently the self-proclaimed “smartest person in the room.” (Well, as long as I’m alone…) I have a strategy on how we can solve the problem. So we need to make a list. I love me a good list.

Where

For obvious reasons, “Saskatchewan!” (Are you listening Premier Scott Moe?) Don’t believe me? God knows we have plenty of room. We also have high-grade uranium, diamonds, lithium, helium, rare earth metals, and of course, coal, oil and gas. We just happen to have the Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan. The U of S is a top-shelf institution of learning, and this would be a great opportunity for them. I am biased as my family has several degrees from this fine institution. (My daughter Jenn also works there, so there’s that, as well) The university has educated some incredibly scientists, physicists, engineers and more. We have two great airports to get people to and from Saskatchewan. Cameco just partnered up with Brookfield to buy Westinghouse Electric. The infrastructure needs a little help, but we can fix that up too. Plus, we have no daylight saving time. This is because everything in the universe, including time revolves around Saskatchewan. (That’s a scientific fact for you kids to ponder.)

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Who

Here’s the next step of the plan. Talk to some major forward-thinking money people or corporations (Hey Elon, you listening?) Put together a joint venture with the province and several high tech companies. (This is a thing in Saskatchewan, too) Pick a spot for a huge campus (see previous paragraph) and build a high end facility. Next; recruit the very best scientists, physicists, engineers, and visionaries. Get them all in the same place. Install a good coffee shop and restaurant. I’m pretty sure many of these people will have Saskatchewan roots. Once they see a Saskatchewan sunset, they soon will. (We will keep that winter thing quiet for now, sssshhhh.) Side note; Elon Musk has a Saskatchewan back-story. Google it.

What

Research, development and implementation. Maybe it is super-efficient and low to zero waste nuclear energy. Maybe it’s a new high efficiency solar power grid. Cold fusion is always in the conversation. Hey Star Trek fan, is that Dilithium Crystal ready yet? While we are at it, let’s work on the energy storage problems. They could develop batteries that are small, safe and hold more power longer with short recharge times. Basically create the future, as seen in the movies. At one point in history electricity was magic to us. Now it is an everyday pert of life.

When

Really? Like yesterday. Jeeezzz.

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How

Glad you asked. Turns out we have a lot of natural resources that we can sell to the world. That means good revenue for the province. That means funding for projects such as this. That means when the project is successful, even more revenue for the province. I don’t care if Elon is even more stupidly rich. Good for him. But we will be rich too. Then we can re-purpose the campus to build those light-speed starships that I am sure Space-X wants to build. To re-cap, sell much needed resources to fund research, use the research to create the future. Then enjoy the exciting clean-energy future that we all want. Do these things while rewarding the visionaries with the brains and talent to create this. Not some politician’s buddy that got paid six-hundred and fifty million dollars to create an app that any decent coder could do for a quarter million. I mean, really? FFS.

Why

If you believe the wild-eyed protesters, and people like Greta and Dr. Suzuki, it is to save the planet. For me, it is a good way to create the future. (I still want a flying car dammit.) Seriously, as a species we have consistently been moving forward. Life is better (in most ways) than it was one hundred years ago, never mind one thousand years. So why stop now? It just makes sense that we can make the future what we want and need it to be.

This Popular Mechanics cover is likely the vintage of when Brian Crossman was going to school.

 

Reality Check

Now that I’ve drawn up my little roadmap, here is the reality. Politicians will probably continue to make decisions based on getting re-elected, and enriching their buddies. In fifty years, we will be dealing with landfills full of solar panels, windmills and batteries. Idiot protesters will still be throwing soup and other things at expensive art to protest the oil & gas industry. (Because they are idiots.) And sadly we will be no father ahead (maybe farther behind) than we are today. But we don’t have to be. And that is both the scary, but very exciting promise of the future.

Brian Crossman is a partner with Independent Well Servicing in Estevan. He still wants flying cars and all that cool future tech. Look for the end of the year article when he once again asks the “Magic Eight Ball” for the answers to these and other questions. (Give me a call and we’ll go for lunch Elon, I’m buying.) Oh, and that three-legged cat is doing just fine.

 

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Brian Crossman: I want to buzz the tower in my flying electric car. Talk to me, Goose