By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
No conversation with Knoxville entrepreneur Sam Weaver occurs without a discussion about world energy needs and challenges and the implications of failing to act.
These concerns clearly drive his passion for Proton Power Inc. and its CHyP (Cellulose to Hydrogen Power) process to produce affordable energy.
“We must transition to a sustainable future, and we must do it in time so it is not disruptive,” the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer says.
Weaver provided some meaningful statistics to back-up his challenge.
“World energy demand is 84 terawatts, but the current use is 18 terawatts,” he says. A terawatt is one trillion watts. Increasing energy availability in developing countries is the key to increasing incomes.
“We need to add two terawatts of new energy supply every year forever,” Weaver adds. To put that challenge in perspective, he says that would require bringing six new Watts Bar Nuclear Plants online everyday forever.
As anyone can see, that is an impossibility. So, what’s the answer?
“We can get there with biomass,” Weaver says, citing the fact that the worldwide availability of biomass production on an annual basis is 125 terawatts.
The scale is still huge. It would require the mechanical equivalent of 20 million 100 kilowatt engines or about the size of the engine in a small car.
The economic impact could also be significant – 50 million new manufacturing jobs and 10 million new support jobs each year, many in the emerging countries where average annual income levels are so low.
Perhaps more importantly, Weaver says 500,000 CHyP units would produce enough biochar that, if sequestered as a soil amendment, would offset all of the carbon emissions on the planet. This at a cost of one percent of the amount of money pledged at the Paris Accords of November 2015.
“We started our company to just make hydrogen, but this is now a solution to many global issues,” Weaver says.