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View Diary: Wind power set to decline under Obama? (270 comments)

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  •  Why do we never talk about... (2+ / 0-)
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    Jerome a Paris, The Wizard

    Conservation and the development of energy efficient technologies.  It's not as sexy as the development of new sources but it seems like there is a lot more to be
    gained by wasting less.  

    The big problem with alternative energy technologies, at least
    the ones we a currently aware of, is that they do not scale
    well in proportion to demand.  Seems like that's an easy problem to fix.  

    Some numbers:

    Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true) gives a consumption rate of roughly 2 Tera Watt for the  U.S. (2.0x10^12 Watt).  That's roughly the rate that would be delivered by 1000 nuclear power plants.  Cut that number by 10% - how many nuclear plants do you save? Or given the diary author's number's how many wind farms are no longer needed.  

    Run the numbers and I think you will agree that solar, wind etc. are very viable technologies if we can significantly reduce demand.  

    The primary barrier to energy independence is not technology, it is our own extreme profligacy.

    •  Energy efficiency is hard to incentivize (1+ / 0-)
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      Once the SmartGrid is in place with advanced metering you can start to have real time pricing.  But currently is difficult to create incentives to make it a reliable solution at this point.  That is not to say that energy efficiency isn't one piece to the puzzle, but for the moment is probably small.

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

      by Gangster Octopus on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:03:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't? I was under the impression we talk ... (6+ / 0-)
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      Odysseus, IM, HeyMikey, A Siegel, BYw, xgy2

      ... about it all the time. I talked about energy efficiency in my Electrification of STRACNET series, A Siegel talks about it on a regular basis, gmoke talks about it in his weatherization diaries.

      Sure, not many people show up when we talk about it, but we sure as hell talk about it.

      •  keep up the good work (0+ / 0-)

        Agreed, the above is just one person's impression of the current public debate.  We need to make sure this little point is not forgotten,

        If we want results, and we want them now, there are simple things that we can do that will have a major impact in the short term. You don't have to drop demand much to have a major impact on energy prices (remember the numbers we get are futures and they follow the trend).  I am also not questioning the need to invest in technologies and infrastructure.  That has to be done, but we should not overlook things that can yield tangible results now.

    •  I agree, but we need both (2+ / 0-)
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      HeyMikey, xgy2

      I'd like to make four points.

      1. If we increase our green energy mix to 20% of our current energy requirements, and cut our demand in half then renewable sources now become 40% of the mix.
      1. If we extrapolate to a developed world, the US energy consumption rate is a nearly impossible goal. That is, sustainability becomes a more realistic goal as we reduce the energy consumption rate per capita.
      1. We need to close all coal fired plants as soon as possible. Coal produces twice the CO2 per kilowatt hour as natural gas. To do this we need to reduce demand as fast as possible as we can't do it with just new green energy.
      1. Reducing use is consistent with a better quality of life. We can cut our energy use to 1/2 and probably 1/4 with energy efficient technology in transportation heating and power.

      The force opposing this is the Republican philosophy that the planet was given to us to exploit. We're just fine as we are, let's just find someway to generate even more power. The free market will take care of this, as demand increases we'll just build more coal fired plants and someday there will be cheap technology to sequester carbon so why incur the expense now? (yes, I have actually heard this line from a denier)

    •  Efficiency should be first in the loading order (4+ / 0-)

      xgy2---Thanks for bringing this up. I had to wade thru all sorts of to-ing and fro-ing about power generation before your fresh air about right-sizing the load. I wish those of us in the energy business could get clear on the notion that energy efficiency comes first. Trying to figure out how to get the supply right depends on knowing the demand.

      California's official policy is that energy efficiency is first in the loading order, and renewables are second. This doesn't mean delaying renewables, it just means you can't ignore the demand side. California's policy is working, BTW. Per capita consumption has been held essentially flat in California since the 1970s, due largely to effective regulations for buildings and appliances, decoupling of demand and generation on the part of investor-owned utilities, and a public goods charge that incentivizes efficiency and drives a world-class emerging technology program.

      The feds largely ignored California's (and some other places') progress during the Bush years. That problem needs to be turned around, with the feds becoming a full partner, joining California and other states/local governments who have already stepped forward in leadership mode (examples: New York's NYSERDA and Anchorage's smart street lighting retrofit).

      Efficiency is not a small piece, either. Consider office lighting. There's about 10 billion square feet of large commercial office space in the country. Lighting power density for that segment is in the range of 1.2-2 plus watts per square foot.  Research in California has shown that the lighting power density can be cut to .65-.5 watts per square foot. There are commercial products to do that and they are being explored by California utilities. That's potentially at least a 50% improvement, which applied over 10 billion square feet is certainly not trivial. This is just one example.

      One more thing, framing is important. When people hear the word "conservation", they interpret it to mean "sacrifice", which is a hard sell. The word "efficiency", OTOH, means being smart, something most people prefer to wastefulness and stupidity. I personally believe in "conservation" and try to practice it in my own life, but for the great masses of people, "efficiency" resonates better than "conservation". Both work towards the same goal, so why not go with the most palatable messge?  

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