Former U.S. Official Calls for New Power Technologies

A former key official with the Environmental Protection Agency says the current energy crisis in the United States “would not exist if alternative energy technologies had been developed and deployed earlier.”

SAN DIEGO, California, US, 2001-06-26 [SolarAccess.com] A former key official with the Environmental Protection Agency says the current energy crisis in the United States “would not exist if alternative energy technologies had been developed and deployed earlier.” Edward Furia was appointed by the Republican party in the early 1970s to be the first regional administrator of EPA. He later initiated the first Supreme Court test case of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and was project director of the first Earth Day and Earth Week in Philadelphia. “Unfortunately, it seems that it takes a crisis – in this case, rolling blackouts, steep oil and gas prices, and global warming – to move America to action,” he says in written testimony to the U.S. government. His comments were made public in San Diego at a Strategic Research Institute conference on alternative energy. His testimony was also delivered to the Department of Energy in Washington. “Now that the crisis is upon us, it’s time to seize the opportunity to deploy new power technologies to address these challenges and create a whole new energy future,” says Furia’s. “This situation cannot be mitigated simply by finding new oil supplies or building new power plants; we need to put new power technology solutions to work, many of which are now available to solve our energy problems, but are just beginning to be used.” “The burning of fossil fuels is like taking a powerful drug; it may be what is temporarily required for our economic well being, but it has severe side effects – it contributes to air pollution and global warming, it presents tanker and pipeline transport hazards,” he says. “Moreover, importing so much of our oil supply negatively affects our balance of payments and requires massive defense spending to ensure continued supply.” “At some point in the future, we will have to start burning less oil and conserving more because oil is an irreplaceable source of petrochemical feedstocks for future generations,” he adds. “No other materials, natural or man-made, are available to take the place of petrochemical feedstocks which took millions of years to be created.” Furia quoted recent remarks by Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi Arabian Oil Minister, who has said that the real enemy of OPEC is technology such as fuel cells and alternative energy and distributed generation technologies that reduce consumption of fossil fuels. There is an “inaccurate belief that building new power generating capacity, alone, will solve the problems of the electric utility grid,” he says. “Although new central generating capacity can be built, this won’t solve the problem because U.S. electricity transmission and distribution capacity is virtually at its limit now and is unlikely to be quickly increased.” Building new transmission and distribution capability faces a wide range of regulatory, permitting and political hurdles, and he says society must move electricity generating capacity to the end-user and make that capacity environmentally friendly. “The shift to fuel cell, microturbine and other distributed generation technologies in combination with advanced flywheel systems to achieve rapid start-up and load-following, is inevitable and has already begun,” and Furia urged the Department of Energy to do everything it can to support and accelerate that shift. He urged President Bush to use “all of the tools of government” to hasten the development, deployment and widespread use of distributed generation and alternative energy systems, including tax credits and other tax incentives, direct or matching funding of research and demonstration projects, as well as government agency and departmental purchases of power produced by such systems. Furia now is chairman and CEO of AFS Trinity Power Corp., which develops advanced flywheel power and energy storage products. The company was granted the first patents in 1992 for a flywheel battery and an advanced electromechanical flywheel energy storage system. Flywheels are expected in future to act as energy storage systems for solar, wind and other renewable energy systems, as well as to store braking energy in hybrid transportation. Long-term applications also include large scale peak-shaving, electric vehicles and spacecraft applications.
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