Discover Brilliant: Renewables and buildings
Now it’s "Moving the Technology Frontier," about technologies that are going to create "tectonic shifts" in the cleantech space, with Stan Bull, head of R&D at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Steve Selkowtiz, Building Technologies Program Leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Bull is first up. Says NREL’s budget is $200-$250 million. That seems tiny to me. Makes the point that available solar energy dwarfs what is available from any other energy source, technology and money aside.
Need to move to renewable electric generation, plug-in hybrid vehicles, zero-energy buildings, and sustainable communities. Possible breakthroughs: nanoscience, biotech, hybrid biological-physical systems, computational sciences, systems integration, and energy storage.
Now Selkowitz is up. Buildings use 40% of American energy, 70% of its electricity, and account for about $1 trillion a year in economic activity.
Says it’s not a new Apollo Project we need — pure science — but something more like eradicating malaria, something involving scientific and social pieces.
We need: a positive vision, consensus for collective action, change in values, political leadership, metrics to track progress, realism and feedback, persistence and optimism, and better urban and transportation planning (the context for buildings).
There is no silver bullet with buildings. There are 10-15 energy end uses in buildings, every one of which needs to be aggressively attacked. What will it take? A "building sector" strategy. Make performance visible. Define aggressive vision. Assess and evaluate continuously. Understand people and decisionmaking. Take the facility owner/operator perspective to drive market pull.
OK, this guy is really boring. Powerpoint is death.
Both guys agree: future electrical grid will be a hybrid, mixing central and distributed generation. Even a purely renewable grid would contain substantial central generation.
Bull says: we’re losing ground on renewables. Other countries are kicking our ass. We’re still good in foundational science, but as far as developing products, we’re losing.