The Solutions (coal continued) Coal
We can displace the other half of our demand for electricity from coal fired power plants and more besides with efficiency. Efficiency will come in many forms.
One innovation that will help us to make better use of energy will be the smart grid (video). Companies are linking up with Google (video) to to help consumers join in the smart grid via the internet to help put individuals in control of their home energy use from their i-phones. Not only will the internet generation be more informed and in control, but so will smart appliances. Through communication with the grid, smart plug in vehicles will choose the best times of the night or day to charge, smart washing machines will pick the most cost effective moment to wash, and dryers will determine when to turn on the heat. Through this communication, demand will be triggered by when the most wind is blowing or the sun is shining. This will cut back on energy cost and waste and match demand to supply. It will indeed be a brave new world.
Getting back to where we are now, you might like to view how the per capita carbon emission in your state compares with carbon emissions in other states. Right now the average individual in California is responsible for about 1/3 the CO2 emissions as the average individual in either Texas or Wyoming. Californians achieved this reduction through efficiency. It is estimated that efficiency alone could reduce demand for coal fired power plants by 50% to 60%. Energy efficiency for the home (video) will have to apply to existing homes, not just new ones. Replacing key appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, and hot water heaters with more efficient models could reduce energy use by 30 percent. There are many no cost, low cost as well as planned improvement methods for saving energy and energy costs in the home.
I personally dream of having a net-zero or passive house (video) for my retirement so that I have one less bill to pay with a fixed income. The lowering or even elimination of a utility bill suits the consumer and the economy. It does not suit the utility companies. Look at what PG&E just spent this year (2010) in lobbying and advertising to avoid a loss in revenue in this new, more efficient economy. They want to protect their monopoly in a sunshine state (California) where every roof top is beginning to go solar and where every local government and city has a lot of roof tops.
Buildings and industry and agriculture consume and also waste a lot of energy. The solutions to making buildings more efficient have proven to be architecturally varied and beautiful (video). They achieve substantial and ongoing energy cost savings while providing a healthier work environment.
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