As we enter into yet another global summit on climate change, this time in Paris over the next month, I am expecting the pattern of previous summits to continue. Backroom deals, posturing, pointing figures, smiling photo ops, speeches, and all of the other things politicians do well. But my faith in this summit actually driving any meaningful reductions five to ten years out is very low, in the context of a world with falling energy prices and national balance sheets requiring growth at all costs. I fall in the camp that believes market driven technology is needed if the climate change problem is to ever be solved. Unfortunately, CO2, a key greenhouse gas (GHG), is a highly stable molecule. Both capturing and converting it to a product of value is typically an uphill battle with highly prohibitive costs. But living plants have evolved over billions of years to become highly efficient users of this gas, so what's stopping us from figuring out how to do the same? Let's see what a few smart people around the world are working on every day:
A penny saved is a penny earned. An old idiom still frequently uttered today. And its core value extends well beyond basic finance to energy. While "a watt saved is a watt earned" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, the implications are much the same.
Last week, my partner Andrew posted a blog about the LED market and discussed some emerging technologies that will revolutionize the lighting market. I want to expand on that topic and provide some insight into energy efficient green buildings.
Buildings are huge consumers of energy. The US Department of Energy estimates that, in the US alone, buildings use nearly 40 quadrillion Btu of energy for space heating and cooling, lighting and appliances. This represents approximately 39% of the total energy consumed in the US and 38% of a building’s energy is consumed for heating and cooling. The Building Technology & Urban Systems Department at Berkeley Labs states that buildings consume 71% of US electricity, 53% of US natural gas and emit 40% of US greenhouse gases. There is clearly room for improvement.