David MacKay, Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge: How can we power a modern lifestyle without fossil fuels? Individual actions saving 10% here and 40% there will not get us off fossil fuels. To eliminate fossil fuel use, we will surely also need to increase the amount of energy we get from non-fossil-fuel sources. Even if we imagine strong efficiency measures and smart technology switches, halving our energy consumption from 125 kWh per day per person to 60 kWh per day, we should not kid ourselves about the scale of the energy challenge which would remain. If Britain and the United States were to "get off" fossil fuels, what would the effect be on Earth's climate? Most of the rest of the world can not afford to "get off" fossil fuels or do not have the right governments, economies, education systems, industrial capacity to do so.
James Conca, scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences. Contributor to Forbes: Most people have heard of something called externalities, costs not factored into the price. An energy’s deathprint is a rarely-discussed externality. The deathprint is the number of people killed per kWh produced. There is debate on the absolute numbers, but no one debates on the relative ranking from most dangerous to least. It is notable that in media and legislative discussions, the only time death is mentioned is for nuclear, ironic since it has the lowest deathprint of any source.
U.S. Department of Energy: The evolution of wholesale electricity markets, including the extent to which Federal policy interventions and the changing nature of the electricity fuel mix are challenging the original policy assumptions that shaped the creation of those markets. Markets recognize and compensate reliability, and must evolve to continue to compensatereliability, but more work is needed to address resilience. The biggest contributor to coal and nuclear plant retirements has been the advantaged economics of natural gas-fired generation.
Bryan Leyland, power systems design, mechanical engineer: We constantly hear that our present way of life is unsustainable because the world is running out of fossil fuels and other vital resources. People in developed countries are healthier and live longer than in the past. Abundant energy, engineering, technology and modern medicine have driven this transformation. We have progressed from eking out a living from subsistence agriculture to having plenty of time for recreation and relaxation and living better than a king 300 years ago. Nevertheless, billions of people are still living in poverty, and they and we need good governance and economic growth from using the best available technology to ensure that goods are supplied at the lowest cost and that energy is used efficiently and wisely.