The following are excerpts from an article in the June 2010 issue of Discover Magazine entitled “The Power Plan”. Discover Magazine teamed up with the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to sponsor a series of briefings on Capitol Hill. This is their expert analysis.
Embrace Radical Efficiency
Make our economy more productive by using energy more intelligently. A stunning 57 percent of our energy ends up wasted. Residential and commercial energy consumption accounts for 72 percent of all electricity and 13 percent of all fossil fuels consumed in this country. That means buildings offer huge potential for energy savings. Conservation is a new supply.
Give the Power Grid an Extreme Makeover
Rebuild our aging, patchwork electrical grid to reduce losses and improve flexibility. A better energy delivery and storage system will have far-reaching effects on all forms of energy consumption – from transportation to heating. It would eliminate supply and price volatility, level peak loads, increase reliability, and decouple production from demand, thereby making alternative sources like wind and solar more viable.
Jump-Start Alternative Energy
Wean the United States off fossil fuels by developing and adopting better alternatives. The obstacles are not just technological. The nation’s leaders will need to take on entrenched interests. Petroleum, coal, and natural gas dominate today’s energy system, making up around 84 percent of our nation’s total energy consumption. Biofuels and other alternative energy sources remain minor players in the overall economy.
Support Energy R&D as if Our National Security Depends on It (Because It Does)
Encourage more basic and applied R&D in the United States, and increase the flow of students into science and engineering. The challenge of satisfying America’s future energy needs is staggering – but essential to our national security. “The pet food industry spends more in pet food research than we do in energy technology research.”