Les limites de l’innovation énergétique

Winnipeg – Le Président Barack Obama a promis une révolution énergétique pour la plus grande économie mondiale, avec des sources renouvelables d’énergies et des technologies ‘vertes’ afin de rompre avec la dépendance américaine, et à terme celle du monde, aux combustibles conventionnels. Les bénéfices environnementaux, stratégiques et économiques (un usage réduit de combustibles fossiles émetteurs de carbone, moins de dépendance sur les exportateurs de gaz et de pétrole politiquement volatiles, et la création de millions d’emplois bien rémunérés) ne donnent pas lieu à controverse. Mais cette vision est-elle vraiment réalisteamp#160;?

Il n’y a qu’une sorte d’énergie primaire (énergie issue de ressources naturelles) que les premières civilisations du Moyen-Orient et de l’Asie de l’est et leurs successeurs préindustriels ne connaissaient pas : les isotopes des éléments lourds dont la fission nucléaire est utilisée depuis la fin des années 50 pour générer de la chaleur, qui à son tour, produit de la vapeur pour les turbogénérateurs d’électricité modernes. Toutes les autres ressources d’énergie sont connues depuis des millénaires et la plupart ont été exploitées par les sociétés pré-modernes.

La différence fondamentale entre les utilisations traditionnelles et modernes de l’énergie ne consiste pas à l’accession à de nouvelles ou à de meilleures ressources énergétiques, mais dans l’invention et le déploiement à grande échelle de ‘forces motrices’ amp#160;efficaces, abordables, sûres et pratiques, de dispositifs qui convertissent les énergies primaires en énergie mécanique, en électricité ou en chaleur. L’Histoire profiterait d’un découpage en ères définies par les forces motrices dominantes. amp#160;

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