Energy Race or Pure Optimism?

Although there has been much talks of increasing the use of green, renewable energy (focusing on wind and solar), its usage and productivity in generating electricity is minuscule (only 3.35%). Just looking at the statistics above of increasing energy usage, it should be clear that we cannot continue to rely on the limited amount of fossil fuel and coal as our primary energy source. We need to transition to cultivate primarily wind and solar energy if we are to continue the increasing energy usage. The question is, how fast?

From both the PlaNYC 2011 Report: Energy and “The Long Slow Rise of Solar and Wind,” they suggest that transition to two types of renewable energy will take a long time, perhaps too long. The other article, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030” is much more ambitious, calling for “3.8 million large wind turbines worldwide” and with enough solar panels to cover “0.33 percent of the planet’s land,” (Jacobson, 2009). There are, however, more than enough wind and solar energy to supply the world many times over if we have the equipment to harvest and store it.  Do you think there will be an energy race in the future, where countries scramble for materials to build wind turbines and solar panels? Or are we looking at a society that will slowpoke it?


Is time better spent on preparing for energy consumption versus attempting to lower it?

Many studies focus on attempting to decrease average energy consumption while also attempting to make it efficient. Most of the information conducted in reports, such as PlaNYC, exemplifies that energy usage has only increased with time and as technology is further integrated into our culture, it will only continue to do so. There are two ways of interpreting the data that is presented: quantity and acceleration. The amount, or quantity, of energy consumption has only gone up over time and will likely continue to do so. However, it is the rate of acceleration which has decreased over the past few years and where the social improvement can be made. If municipalities invest in a more efficient infrastructure grid, that works on a large scale, then 20 or 30 years down the road we will be able to manage our energy consumption far better than we are today. Instead of making a futile attempt to lower energy consumption, isn’t it better that we try to prepare for it?


“A central strategy for improving our energy system is to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings.”

Should we focus on reducing energy consumption in existing buildings, or start focusing on the buildings that are in the process of being built/ will be built in the future? Another words, should we focus on going back to fix things, or should we make sure future infrastructures will be “green” from the very beginning? Either way, even if we focus on both, how do we motivate business owners to get on board with reducing energy consumption? What are the arguments that will be attractive to them? If we want to make a change, we need to make sure everyone finds reducing energy consumption as an important topic that they want to take a part in.


Too Little Too Late?

In “The Long Slow Rise Of Solar And Wind”, the author explains the intensely long period of time it would take our society to convert from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy, mainly because of the size of demand of energy today and the lack of technology to supply USA with enough energy to meet this demand.

Will solar and wind energy facilities be enough to provide the consistently growing energy demand of America?

And if this transition to renewable energy would take as long as it took to switch from wood and coal, what kind of environmental damage can we expect by the time we fully convert from fossil fuels?


The “PlaNYC” reading references a 17-part plan for energy, to both improve energy planning and increase energy efficiency. Many of the points rely on encouraging various parties to transition to use greener energy and greener practices. However, in “The Long Slow Rise….” it is discussed that renewables are “not taking off any faster than the other new fuels once did, and there is no technical or financial reason to believe they will rise any quicker….” (The other new fuels refer to coal, oil, and natural gas).

“The Long Slow Rise of Solar and Wind” says:

“Of course, it is always possible that a disruptive technology or a revolutionary policy could speed up change. But energy transitions take a long time.”

Do you think that policy goals set by organizations like PlaNYC discuss revolutionary policies and disruptive technology that will speed up the transition to greener energy use, or will the energy transition to using greener energy take a long time?

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