People have different views concerning the future of energy usage. If history continues on its current path of great change, trying to predict the future could prove to be extremely difficult.
One major determinant of the future will be the status of the earth's
non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. The availability of these fossil fuels has been declining for a considerable amount of time.
Some people advocated a "hard" path into the future. They say that present use of energy should continue without the concerns of previous decades. They argue that those concerns were proven unreasonable, and so our current path will not be troublesome.
However, they do stress that we should develop more efficient methods of using energy, as we have done in the past. They promote incentives for people to develop fossil fuels and nuclear power in large energy-generating plants. They prefer large, expensive, and centralized methods of power production.
Their opponents, who promote a "soft" path, want to decrease the use of
fossil fuels and nuclear power. They prefer geothermal, solar and wind energy, and photovoltaic cells.
Soft-pathers are concerned about our present supplies of fossil fuels. They advocate conserving these supplies so they last as long as possible.
The main difference though is that the soft path
advocates small-scale power production. For example, improving solar cells would allow widespread deployment of small devices on a large scale.
Overall, the hard path favors corporate development of huge power production facilities. The soft path, by contrast, prefers community and individual generation of power for small-scale use.