To achieve long-term sustainability goals, realize the promise of smart grid technology and capitalize on opportunities presented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the nation must develop a collaborative, comprehensive energy management strategy, according to a panel of experts announced at a National Press Club Newsmakers panel in Washington, D.C.
Representatives of Eaton Corp., the U.S. Department of Energy, University of Pittsburgh, and Bayer MaterialScience LLC outlined the case for moving toward a more strategic approach to improving the capability, reliability and safety of the nation’s electrical infrastructure.
“The ARRA creates an unprecedented opportunity to accomplish energy efficiency, smart grid, eco-commercial building and sustainability objectives,” said Thomas S. Gross, vice chairman and chief operating officer – Electrical Sector, Eaton Corp. “Traditional energy-use practices and purchasing patterns must be improved if we want to create a more energy efficient and sustainable world. Energy reduction is merely the starting point. We must now begin to build a nationwide energy-efficiency culture.”
The economic and environmental benefits of an energy-efficiency culture could be astronomical. A comprehensive, holistic approach to energy efficiency offers the potential to realize gross energy savings worth more than $1.2 trillion, well above the $520 billion needed through 2020 for upfront investment in efficiency measures (not including program costs), according to management consulting firm McKinsey and Co. Comprehensive programs to help accomplish this holistic approach could reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by 9.1 quadrillion BTUs, roughly 23 percent of projected demand, potentially abating up to 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually.
While the U.S. economy has demonstrated a broad commitment to energy reduction, the panel noted that the public and private sectors must now make strategic, long-term investments in their electrical infrastructure. Providing their perspectives and new imperatives for energy efficiency were:
“From a position at the forefront of research and workforce development, we know we can generate a positive economic impact through greater energy efficiency,” said Gregory Reed from the University of Pittsburgh. “As this panel of experts has demonstrated, we can accomplish this only through strategic energy management and the collaboration of the public sector, industry, and academia.”
Gross, from Eaton Corp., added: “The spirit of collaboration exists, the federal government has provided the incentive, and proven technology is available. The time to act is now.”