NSI News

After 40 years, it’s all about energy

For environmentalists, surely each Earth Day has marked another year of climbing the proverbial uphill battle. First, it was all about a whole lot of cleanup — the air, the water, litter along the highways. Some time later recycling was all the rage as a means of reducing waste streams.

Today, on Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, our efforts to effect environmental change have everything to do with energy and how it’s generated and used. The past few years have seen huge strides in this vein, from building retrofits, including numerous DOE programs and ARPA-e. Also, the new HomeStar program, currently in development, will provide incentives for homeowners who make energy efficiency investments in their homes. These accomplishments save money, improve the efficiency of the energy we already use and achieve environmental benefits.

It occurs to me that what marks this anniversary is that the connection between energy and the environment has been clearly established, and that the celebration is also about how we can achieve environmental benefits by focusing on energy efficiency. We’ve made a lot of headway — and we can celebrate that. But as you celebrate, remember that our work on energy efficiency is really just getting started. In fact, according to published reports, White House Administration officials will visit more than a dozen localities today to promote energy efficiency and hope to use the Earth Day commemoration to push for action in Congress on its clean-energy plan, which remains stalled in the Senate.
Allow me to suggest that we take a moment to celebrate what we’ve already achieved and renew our commitment to the things we still need to do, including:

· We still need to improve vehicle efficiency and scale adoption of more efficient power plants for all types of vehicles. These include improved gas engines, diesel, diesel-hybrid, and electric. We need a portfolio of technologies to meet different driving needs. DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program and ARPA-e are intended to meet these needs.

· We need to both improve the efficiency of the electricity grid and provide it with networking capabilities (i.e., make it a smart grid). Again, DOE has programs to pilot, mature, scale, and ultimately commercialize and deploy the technologies we need to achieve these two objectives.
These and other energy efficiency efforts will enable us to improve energy efficiency and substantially reduce GHG emissions. While some of these efforts may take decades to fully deploy, we are laying the foundation for a cleaner and more energy efficient future.

Just imagine what we’ll have accomplished in another 40 years.

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For more information, please contact Heather Sabharwal at hsabharwal@kglobal.com or 202-349-7016.