Published on January 19th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan2
How to Achieve Our Ideal Energy Future, According to Energy Experts
We know by now that people support clean energy, want governments to promote it more, and think it’s a good idea to make polluting companies pay for the environmental problems they cause. We’ve covered that topic numerous times here on Cleantechnica. But when was the last time you saw a survey on what energy professionals think about such matters? Does the energy industry, itself, think we need to do more to promote clean energy, and does it support government policies aimed at making this shift happen more quickly than not?
A recent survey funded by ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, and conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services delves into these questions a bit.
In total, 468 energy industry stakeholders (renewable and non-renewable energy producers, energy distributors, major end users, consultants, and government/NGO officials working on energy policy) were surveyed. Here are some of the key results, mentioned in the video above as well (the four links below bring you to PDF files):
- “76% of energy professionals believe government regulations should require utility companies to produce more energy from renewable sources.”
- “89% of energy professionals believe government incentives trump markets in driving energy efficiency uptake by consumers.”
- “81% of energy experts think smart grid technology is important for creating a cleaner, stronger system of the future.”
- “63% of energy professionals believe the greatest opportunities for improving efficiency in the energy value chain can be found among industrial end users.”
Now, these findings clearly show that even in the energy industry, there is broad support for government policies that bring about a fast, firm shift to a cleaner, more efficient energy network. In fact, that is the most important way to bring about this preferred energy future according survey respondents.
I imagine part of the reason these energy experts favor such policies is that they see them as job creators; they recognize that the shift such policies produce will improve their countries’ energy independence and national security; and they recognize the inherent, natural limits of relying on traditional forms of energy like coal. However, the survey also made clear that protection of the environment was a leading factor of concern for these professionals as well.
82% of energy industry stakeholders “indicate that environmental protection should be given priority, even if an increase in the cost of energy is necessary.” No small matter and one that the energy industry clearly needs to help with.
Smart Grid, Renewable Energy, and Energy Efficiency Leaders
There are a number of private sector leaders these days when it comes to these matters, like the company that funded the survey itself, ABB, which is providing key technologies for the world’s largest seawater desalination plant using reverse osmosis, for the world’s longest power transmission link, to reduce the power usage of electric motors, and to bring electricity from offshore wind farms to electricity grids efficiently and without disrupting these grids, among other things. There are also numerous solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, and other clean energy companies out there now that are working solely on such matters.
However, it seemed clear from ABB’s survey that government action is the most important thing. It is what is going to really drive the shift to a clean energy and more energy efficient future.
Obama has talked a lot about clean energy, has invested a ton of money into it, and has helped to jump-start the creation of a national smart grid. Of course, the U.S. is still lagging behind the rest of the world on this matter, due largely to a unique disregard for science, Republican obstructionism and possibly a more substantial problem of a broken democracy. But hopefully the U.S. will get on track soon and join the global tide towards a cleaner, greener energy future.