The Economist on the future of green energy
Check out this great article in The Economist about the future of green energy. They talk about the impending crisis that is climate change and the importance of finding safe, reliable energy sources that won’t put harmful pollutants or climate-changing CO2 into our air. And like any good discussion of the changes we’re going to need to make to the way we collect and use energy, The Economist points out the importance of nuclear power to provide baseload energy as part of a green energy mix:
In his election campaign Mr Obama dodged the subject of nuclear power. “New Energy for America”, his eight-page energy manifesto, mentioned it briefly, without enthusiasm. But it is hard to imagine halting climate change without it. Windmills and solar panels provide power only intermittently. To avoid blackouts an energy source that keeps flowing in any weather is needed. Nuclear power, whose CO2 emissions are tiny, fits the bill. But no new nuclear plant has been built in America for 35 years. Mr Obama is now mulling loans to restart the industry. Given the huge upfront costs and the certainty of resistance from environmentalists, firms will have to know the government is serious about curbing CO2 before they commit themselves to building nuclear plants.
The article also talks about the importance of implementing a smart grid – an electrical grid that can actually save energy by anticipating times and places of peak demand and making the grid more efficient:
Mr Obama included incentives for building a smart grid in his stimulus package. Businesses are queuing to build one. “This is the most sexy industry to work in,” says Guido Bartels, who leads the energy team at IBM. A smart grid would involve sensors to monitor power flow in both directions, and software to help crunch all the data thus generated. If you plug in your electric car at a friend’s house, you will want an easy way to be billed, says Mr Bartels. And information can be used in myriad ways to make the system more efficient, for example by imposing variable prices to discourage power use during periods of peak demand. Energy is one of the fastest-growing parts of IBM’s business. Manufacturers such as GE and ABB build the physical infrastructure, while IBM vies with such firms as Accenture to supply the information technology and integrate it all.
The entire article is definitely worth a read… you should check it out!