How will you be able to get the power you need for our technology-rich lifestyles in an affordable and sustainable way? More than 400 experts and public officials gathered in East Syracuse to consider such questions at the Energy in the 21st Century conference.
One of the biggest questions considered was whether renewable energy could completely take over. Natural Resources Defense Council Director Ashok Gupta says improved power lines and less household waste is a start.
“Clearly energy efficiency has to be the biggest part of that goal. If we’re going to try to get to 100% renewable future in any time frame, we can’t waste a third or half of the electricity we generate.”
Conservation is another aspect to limit greenhouse emission s and move toward things like wind and solar power. SUNY Stony Brook Energy Research Chair Bob Catell (ca-TELL) says that has to be better sold to the public.
“I don’t think the general public is really yet engaged in the subject. We’ve got to do a better job educating them. I agree conservation is the low-hanging fruit. We’re only going to get that conservation if we can demonstrate to the public that it’s in their best interests in the long-term to get us there.”
Yet another barrier is paying for improving homes and buildings with efficient lighting or better insulation…or managing costs of solar panels or other renewables. Stanford University Energy Policy Director Dan Reicher is seeing creative approaches.
“On-bill repayment, that is you pay back the cost of a unit put on your roof or you pay back the efficiency improvements made to your home on your monthly utility bill, that is also gaining some favor as well.”
Government Incentives are expected to continue to offset costs of green energy…though state policy is to phase those out over time. Most of the experts agree completely sustainable energy is a good goal – though it’s more important to focus on steps taken in the next 5 to 10 years.