New energy sources await a smarter energy grid

Newsweek has a dandy package of stories on the future of energy. Aside from an interview with ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, in which he says, more or less, “screw everything else, oil is the thing,” the stories present a relatively hopeful picture. There are bits on getting petrochemical substitutes out of prairie grass, using spinach to produce higher-efficiency solar panels, generating electricity from ocean waves, Seattle’s new fleet of hybrid buses, Indonesia’s move toward geothermal energy, and the expanding solar-power industry. Perhaps most intriguing is an article on making power grids smarter, more flexible, more decentralized and democratized, able not only to dispense power but to accept it from a variety of sources, from solar-powered homes to hydrogen-powered cars. Renewable energy and fossil-fuel energy would be funneled into a level playing field, with every energy consumer also an energy producer — and more conscious of the energy they use.