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Published on January 19th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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How to Achieve Our Ideal Energy Future, According to Energy Experts

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January 19th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan 


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.

As we know, China is not holding back, India is steaming forward now, and Europe continues to shut down coal power plants and meet or exceed its renewable energy targets.

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 scienceRepublican 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.

Photo Credits: MrsMinifignasa hq photo

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Pingback: Energy Professionals Get It, Why Can’t Our Political Leaders? – CleanTechnica: Cleantech innovation news and views

  • Roger Lauricella

    Hey Zach: You say:

    “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.”

    This is what the survey says. Be very clear on the words:

    This is leading many in the sector to see energy efficiency and renewable energy as underutilized—perhaps critical—options for powering a global society with an insatiable thirst for cheaper, cleaner energy. That probably explains why a majority of energy professionals believe in the importance of government action
    to incentivize cleaner and smarter technologies. In a world where demand is perpetually on the increase, helping consumers to increase the adoption of energy efficiency and renewables would seem to be a natural next step for an ever more thirsty global energy system.”

    No where do they even infer that “coal” is limited or bad. In fact if you read it clearly they are saying energy efficiency and renewables are needed to help an ever more thirsty global energy system. In fact many studies have shown coal has more than 400 years of supply in the USA at going rates, not limited in the short run. That you state some European countries are retiring coal does not infer what may be the best mix in the USA. If you look at China the Renewable champs you will find they are building all types of power plants at record rates including coal and nuclear. Are they wrong on coal and nuclear when you infer they are so right on renewables??? Me thinks they have the right approach all around as each type of power has a place in the mix for a energy hungry world.

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