Clean power economy
As we move away from coal and oil, what it will take to move forward in establishing a new, clean power economy.
President Barack Obama has pledged to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent come 2050, and that means saying goodbye to carbon-spewing coal and oil plants. But we can't wave a magic, rhetoric wand to change from black energy to green. So how do we move forward in establishing a new, clean power economy?
"The Takeaway's" Power Trip energy series looks at where we go from here, with Garry Golden, a futurist and editor of the blog, "The Energy Roadmap," who lays out the yellow brick road toward green energy. He says there are four specific things that the U.S. should focus on.
First, redesign the energy grid: "So the vision that is being promoted by the government and the private sector is one of a 'smart grid.' So today we have ... an electrical grid that is a one-way stream of energy; if you cut that stream at any point, you don't have power on the user side. So the smart grid integrates software to make things just more manageable, censors to ... close the communication feedback loop, and then storage at the local level to avoid any disruptions."
Second, renewable energy alternatives: "The problem with renewable energy is there is no way to store it effectively. So utilities are very reluctant to put on a new source of energy unless they can have absolute reliability. And until we come up with utility-scale sized storage solutions for solar and wind, it's unlikely that it's going to really grow as a market share."
Third, making energy efficient: "This goes from changing light bulbs to having smart thermostats and smart meters. This is where companies like IBM and General Electric and Honeywell are getting involved in government efforts."
Fourth, reducing poverty as a way to reduce energy consumption: "The poorer you are in the world, the worse you're going to be in terms of the form of energy that you use ... you're going to use the lowest cost form of energy. So if you use up that economic scale, your energy consumption patterns become more efficient and more clean."
Golden thinks over the next ten years we're gong to see a good amount of progress in smart grid technology and cleaner forms of energy.
"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.
More on the Power Trip series at thetakeaway.org