Commentary: new power generation: creating new sources of power is all well and good, but the system itself needs fixing.

Author:Hickox, Winston
 
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The electric energy sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases. Forty percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from the generation of electric power, more than cars, or any other single source. This little known fact deserves much greater discussion and understanding. While building alternative energy plants and asking people to be more aware of their usage are important steps, they are only a beginning.

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The technology already exists to radically reduce CO2 emissions, without building new power plants, and without asking consumers to make significant changes in their usage behavior. So why does the power system operate largely the same way it did 60 years ago?

The answer is that unfortunately, there is a lack of the kind of leadership that can ensure we implement the needed upgrades that could take our electrical grid system into the 21st century. Despite a strong public desire to make energy usage more efficient, affordable and environmentally responsible, those who have the ability to make this happen have been dragging their feet.

The energy sector is in dire need of visionary thought and action if we are to meet the world's increasing needs for energy, all the while being mindful of climate change risks. We must avoid building unnecessary and/or "dirty" power plants, thus further damaging our planet and wasting our resources. Rather, we need to address the problem at its source, the grid system and the efficient use of energy in buildings and homes.

Imagine that your energy provider had the ability to easily identify when and where the power grid was overloaded and immediately rebalance the system, so that it continued to hum along at its maximum efficiency. And further imagine that every time you turned out a light when exiting a room, your utility rewarded you for it. With technology that exists today, we could control all the networking components in our buildings and homes--security systems, electricity, wireless Internet, and phones--from a single screen. We can even access the system remotely. For example, we could turn off the light in the entryway from our phone, or turn on the alarm from our keyboard at work. In short, our homes and offices could be far more energy efficient, without our having to change anything we do or sacrifice our comfort.

Even more to the point, the grid itself could be operating at far greater efficiency, in light of the new technologies being developed by several green...

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