Energy policy is a mind-bogglingly complicated matter. It is very difficult to define the right way to go. However, a number of things appear very clear. As a first priority, we do have to reduce primary energy use dramatically for reasons well known. It is extremely cheap to say others, such as China, would have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions before one would move for action in one's own country. For decades to come, fossil fuels will be the primary source of energy, with gas and coal playing a much more important role. Sequestration will be a must. And nuclear energy quite likely will see a comeback; the problems regarding waste disposal can be solved today; terrorism is much more of a problem we have to get under control. Home heating should be done with heat pumps, liquid fuels reserved for transport. And let's introduce alternatives at a faster pace — we need to gain much more experience. A lot of the proposals made today need verification. It is too early to tell which are the winners and losers.
Regarding energy pathways for the Mediterranean, the energy of the sun has to be used much more, be it in the form of solar, active or passive. Photovoltaic electricity in remote areas without grids needs to be researched and one ought to revisit the idea of solar collectors with steam turbines. And one has to find base load sources as well. In this context one might think of geothermal power.
Since this conference is held under the auspices of the Cyprus Research and Education Foundation a couple of remarks about the role of universities seem appropriate. These days we witness an alarming loss of credibility of both industries and governments. I believe academia has to play a much more important role as honest brokers. We from academia ought to be in a situation where we can stick to the facts in a most independent way — we do not have to play politics. We also tell the interested parties what we do not know. And we certainly will teach the young generation and stimulate them to play a more active role in the shaping of our common future. To turn things around we need the young generation. All told, universities should develop more leadership — a high score in the citation index is good but not good enough.
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