Americans represent 5% of the world's population and consume close to 25% of the global energy supply. You may have heard this statistic a few more times than you've cared to. But instead of assuming this figure is a harbinger of the unavoidable global energy debacle around the corner, I look at it as an opportunity. Then, the questions become: Can we use energy more efficiently and produce more of it with renewables? What resources do we have at our disposal, and how much renewable energy capacity can the grid realistically support?
• In every issue, Home Power profiles homes and businesses that consume a fraction of the energy required by their inefficient counterparts, while maintaining an equivalent level of comfort and convenience. Using energy intelligently is the foundation of long-term energy security.
• Nations that have implemented well-coordinated programs to increase renewable energy generation have succeeded. In the United States, strong consumer-level support exists for clean energy technologies, and a tangible, bipartisan shift in the collective attitude of our federal representatives is underway.
• Average per capita income in America is among the highest in the world. U.S. consumers and businesses have substantial financial resources, and represent the largest potential market for renewables worldwide. Many countries that already have achieved a high percentage of renewable energy generation have solar and wind resources—and financial resources—that pale in comparison to the United States.
• Variable resources such as the sun and wind account for less than 2% of U.S. electrical generation. In Denmark, wind energy provides more than 20% of the nation's electricity. Since the beginning, American utilities have successfully managed the variable nature of the load side of the grid. There are no insurmountable hurdles to keep them from doing the same on the generation side.
Turning a problem into an opportunity is a learned skill. The energy challenges that face America represent a tremendous opportunity for leadership, technical innovation, job creation, and lifestyles that are comfortable, satisfying, and sustainable.
—Joe Schwartz for the Home Power crew
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential—for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints; possibility never.
home power 121 / october & november 2007
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