Energy Management Laboratory – Seminary Resume
Note: an energy management seminary held in Bandung Institute of Technology almost a year ago, but this seminary told us an urgent issue and important matter about this world’s energy crisis. And this seminary concerns me of how important new technologies are to solve the fossil fuel problems.


The dependence of petroleum is higher and higher these days. Most of the nations in the world still using oil and gas as their primary source of energy, and that made them started the fight over oil. The oil is scarce; as we have known that it was made by plants fosil which were given heavy pressure over thousand years. The problem is that with the increasing world’s population, the needs of energy increases greatly – and unfortunately, some countries use too much energy! With the low supply of oil we should search another source. In this world we are living in, there are only four primary sources of energy we are able to extract: THE SUN (active and passive), NUCLEUS (fussion and fission), GEOTHERMAL, TIDE (gravity/moon).


THE SUN. The abundant energy from the sun can be extracted directly by using PV (PhotoVoltaic) System – which you have known this as “Solar Cell” – the system which convert sunlight to voltage; a form we can use directly to light up lamps etc. We can also extract its thermal energy (heat), or stored in chemical bounds such as photosynthesis. The sun energy is free, abundant, and renewable, a perfect source for humanity. But the problem is that how can we capture / extract / story this energy? The method developed by engineers and scientists are still expensive and inefficient. Say, the PV System can only convert the sunlight to voltage by less than 50%, and is still affected by many kind of disturbance factors such as the cloudy days or the night. Another kind of sun energy is the wind power, waves, and ocean currents. They can be extracted by the difference of temperatures and have developed by countries to replace fossil fuel power plants. The wind power is free but the maintenance is quite expensive. It does have quite good efficiency but depends heavily on the blowing wind; which not many countries have continuous blowing wind all the time. The wave energy can only be extracted if the seawave reaches more than 10 meters.

THE GEOTHERMAL. If you visited Java, you might have heard about “Kamojang Geothermal Power Plant” which located near Garut. The principle is simple. There is lots of heat inside the earth, but it is not easy to get it. The gas from inside is extracted and enters the gas turbines – more like Rankine Cycle. But there is another problem: the corrosive gas and it is not really effective to power entire the area. Last year I visited Kamojang and asked their machine’s efficiency rate – which is not measured until now – and I can say it was really low. Some method can cause earthquacke too; it was not safe.

THE BIOFUEL. Biofuel converts certain crops to oil and used to replace fossil fuel. As far as I know, Brazil disagrees with this because there are still many people starving; they have to choose growing the crops for biofuel or to feed people?
[LINK] Biofuel

THE TIDE has to have a great temperature difference. But the installation is big and expensive and the problem is the corrosive of the air and only produces a small current. The tide can only be extracted in areas other than equator. The tidal energy can be extracted by Pelamis or Buoy.

ELECTRICITY is actually not a fuel, and not a primary source of energy. It is a kind of energy we used, but the source is made in a power plant. The electricity is 2x effective as with gasoline, but the production efficiency is low. The problem rise is how to story this kind of energy? The battery might have given good solution, but it has to be recharged and limited lifetime.

THE HYDROGEN. One of hydrogen-based plant is by principle of Fuel Cell. It is also not a primary source and made by a factory / carrier. Although it is environmental friendly and using only oxigen and hydrogen to produce energy, the storage of hydrogen is the most important problem. As we have known that the hydrogen is highly flammable and once it explodes, it will be a hydrogen bombs – much like nuclear bombs. The hydrogen storage is still in development right now; the lattest technology is by using nanotubes. Another problem is that it uses highly valuable platina as catalyst.

THE NUCLEAR. Not forgetting about Fukushima, the nuclear power plant principle is as the same as Water-Vapor Rankine Cycle, beside the source is a radiactive material such as Uranium-236 or Plutonium. The blanket which covers the highly radioactive material is rather high-tech and it must be operated by smart and special engineers.

The conclusion about what renewable energy can replace fossil fuel is still unclear. There is no exact 100% renewable ones that can replace the fossil fuel completely, but some nations have made decisions that they will reduce the use of fossil fuels and make use the renewable ones that can be applied and installed in their regions.

Summary of Seminary on Energy, ITB-2010
-Dr. Fred Schlachter [Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory]