Steve Howard on our energy-efficient future
Steve Howard, CEO of the non-partisan nonprofit organization The Climate Group, took some time away from his Copenhagen climate duties to share a tantalizing glimpse into our energy future:
Q. How will our day-to-day lives change if we really do adopt more sustainable energy practices and products?
A. You’ll walk out of a building and you’ll get into your electric vehicle. Your electric vehicle will have been charged, but it won’t have been charged from a coal plant power station. It will be sun from the southwest of the U.S., or it will be wind from the North Sea of the North English coast. You’ll drive home. Your car will tell your house you’re coming just before you get there — so if it’s summer the AC will kick on 15 minutes before you get home. It won’t have been on all day.
You’ll get your daily text message saying how much money you’ve made from the solar installation on the roof, because your solar panels will have been selling electricity to next door’s washing machine, because you have too much power you’ve generated that day.
The lights you’ll have as you walk into the house, they’ll all be LED. Actually they’ll be panels. You won’t even see the lights. There’s no light switches in your room because we’re all really bad at switching light switches off. The lights will switch off automatically when we walk out of a room and they’ll come on just before we walk in because the house will be smart …
The world will be connected, every product and service will be great. Your fridge will make your life easier. So on your PDA you’ll have a menu recommendation — for the things that [your fridge] knows you like to eat and the things that are available in your fridge. Your fridge will have done some internet shopping for you and it will actually be telling you that you shouldn’t order more of the things that you usually order. And it won’t order them for you. So you’ve eliminated a whole lot of food waste and your diet has improved as well. That’s the future that we’re going towards. We will have eliminated waste, eliminated carbon, and be totally resource efficient. And we’ll have created a whole new wave of jobs.
Q. You’re saying that our homes will be networked so an appliance in my house can borrow solar energy from your home when your solar array is generating a surplus?
A. Yeah. Our homes will be networked. The way electricity is produced will just be very different. So we’ll have de-centralized energy. We’ll have the solar panels on our roofs, or these new wind turbines that use the flow [of air] up your roofs. So your roofs like a wing. It won’t be a normal turbine, completely different. Your home will be producing energy.
Actually, America’s 129 million homes will be 129 million power stations. Power will be cheap, it’ll be ubiquitous, we’ll all have access to it, and it will be 100 percent clean.
Q. And there won’t be “green jobs” because every job will be a green job.
A. Every job will be a green job, yeah.
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