Clean Power

Published on November 22nd, 2017 | by Steve Hanley


It’s All About Power — The Connection Between Sustainability & Renewables

November 22nd, 2017 by  

In the movie Apollo 13, three astronauts are on the way to the moon when their spacecraft is crippled by an explosion on board. The movie focuses in exquisite detail on the problem-solving process that went into figuring out how to get them back to earth alive. At one point, in the heat of a passionate and often contentious discussion, one engineer walks into the room and tells the others. “It’s all about power.” He was right and the rest is history. His insight has relevance today as the world wrestles with how to keep the earth habitable. Sustainability, say researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, is all about power from renewable sources.

The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals it says must be met by 2030. Most are progressive. Some would call them Utopian. Here are 8 of them:

GOAL 1: No Poverty.
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger.
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being.
GOAL 4: Quality Education.
GOAL 5: Gender Equality.
GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

The researchers in Stockholm and at the University College of London examined all of the goals to determine how they could be implemented and found that access to clean, renewable electric power is essential to most of them. Francesco Nerini, an assistant professor at KTH, is the lead author of a report published recently by the journal Nature Energy. He writes, “Access to food, clean water, sanitation, education, technology and healthcare are all underpinned by affordable and clean energy. For example, electricity access is needed in schools and homes in order for all girls and boys to have access to free, equitable and good quality primary and secondary education.”

Co-author Yacob Mulugetta in London adds, “This paper helps us think through the place of energy across our economic and social systems, and by extension, helps us understand our relationship with our environment. By exploring these interdependencies, this paper argues that the transition to a clean energy future cannot be separated from the important goal of building a fairer and more just society.”

We here at CleanTechnica tend to focus on the nuts and bolts of how the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy will occur, but we also need to be mindful that human society has many challenges facing it even if we succeed in not destroying the earth. 20 years ago, we thought the digital age would unite us in ways never before thought possible. The free exchange of information would unite us and open new avenues to improving the human condition.

Quite the opposite. Thanks to the manipulations made possible by social media, society is now fractured into smaller and smaller segments, each one pitted against the other. Information hasn’t set us free; it has enslaved us.

Marshall McLuhan once observed, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” Perhaps we need to be mindful of the lessons from the digital revolution as we look forward to the day when renewable energy can provide abundant electrical energy to all. Who controls that energy may determine whether it is a blessing for humanity or just another tool to keep us inthralled to our corporate and political masters. Electrical power and political power are two separate and distinct things.

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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

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