Bioenergy, Geothermal

Energy Czar says U.S. Program Helps Renewables

California’s recent energy crisis demonstrates that efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and to promote conservation are not enough to guarantee reliability on their own, according to the Secretary of Energy in the United States.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, US, 2001-07-30 [SolarAccess.com] California’s recent energy crisis demonstrates that efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and to promote conservation are not enough to guarantee reliability on their own, according to the Secretary of Energy in the United States. “A pervasive and paralyzing myth stands in the way of action – it is the idea that we have no energy crisis, or that if we do face a few energy problems, they can be disposed of with a little conservation or a little more efficiency,” Spencer Abraham told a meeting in San Francisco. “In other words no crisis, no tough choices, no problem.” “We’ve ignored the signs for almost a decade – and many people still want to ignore them,” he adds. “There is no question – we face rising demand, stagnant supply, and an energy delivery system that is out-of-date and in need of repair.” Abraham claims the President’s Plan confronts “our increasing reliance on a single fuel – natural gas – by paving the way for a more desirable balance among many sources of energy,” he says. “We need to look to renewables like biomass and geothermal, as well as to more traditional sources like coal and nuclear.” “By using technology to increase the efficiency of those sources, we can get more energy and more economic productivity with less impact on our environment and on our communities,” he continues. “”Our Plan confronts our increasing dependency on foreign sources of energy by calling for increased domestic production that relies on new technologies that again dramatically reduce the impact on the environment.” “You will have noticed that in almost every instance, the President’s Plan recognizes, indeed embraces, the potential of high technology. Woven throughout our Plan is a recognition that we need to change the way we think about energy production and use and that a large part of the solution to our challenges will be found, not in government councils, but in the efforts of the private sector where innovation flourishes and risk takers push the envelope. “Our Plan embraces exploring the idea of distributed energy,” he explains. “The concept of distributed energy is broad, but at its essence it means moving from our almost exclusive reliance on big power plants toward smaller sources of power . .. Distributed energy means moving away from a transmission system in which power only flows one way … and, instead, contemplates a two-way electricity grid where homes or businesses can sell their surplus power back to the grid.” “To accomplish this, we need investments in the electronic controls, switchgears, inverters and rectifiers that will give industrial, commercial and residential users some measure of independence from the central grid,” he explains. “In such a world, you could generate your own power with a micro-turbine at home, and reap the benefits of your own efficiency by conserving and selling excess power into the grid. Net metering moves away from the idea that there can only be one seller and one buyer in an electricity transaction to a vision in which everyone can be a buyer and a seller of electricity.” “Distributed energy would increase reliability by ensuring that, if something did happen to interrupt power on the grid, you could depend on backup power – from virtually your own backyard. And it would also increase energy efficiency by placing the source of power closer to the consumer — thereby diminishing transmission and distribution line losses of electricity.” “Distributed energy also means moving away from our current one-size fits all pricing system to one in which the Internet or other communication systems allow consumers to use power efficiently and reap the benefits of lower costs.”