With current political emphasis on kicking fossil fuel habits and modernizing the electrical grid, many are dreaming of Thomas Friedman’s Utopian world of clean, reliable and cheap electrons.
First, if you haven’t read Friedman’s latest book yet, start today. Second, if you’d like to see how some are preparing for this brave new world, read on.
While our electrical power still comes mainly from burning dirty fossil fuels and our electrical transmission grid lies in dire need of modernization, the future of electrical power is a bright spot in our otherwise gloomy energy paradigm.
For while fossil fuels will always be a dirty power source to some extent, there are viable, cleaner ways to generate and deliver electrons.
Locally and renewable-generated power is a promising solution to the inefficiency and pollution of our current system. Individuals interested in sustainability know those bananas flown in from Costa Rica may be a delicious and great source of potassium, but recognize also all the wasted energy spent to transport them.
The same theory holds for the delivery of our energy. Convenient though it may seem to site a coal power plant in someone else’s backyard far, far away, much of that energy is lost when electricity is forced to travel such distances.
Think of it like a neighborhood farm. The produce grown there isn’t shipped halfway around the world to arrive at your plate, is therefore fresher, and can potentially be sold much cheaper. The merits of this will become more apparent as the price of fuel inevitably skyrockets once again. Let’s not forget that local workers are also employed at that community farm to tend and deliver its crops.
Now imagine a wind farm instead of a vegetable farm, one where clean (might we say organic?) electrons are harvested instead of asparagus. Those electrons are readily available for consumption close to where they’re cultivated, and therefore little energy has “spoiled,” been lost on its way to homes and businesses.
Shirking responsibility for the power we all use is a luxury that’s waning. While opponents of clean renewable power are becoming fewer and ever more distant between, that populism can vanish when wind turbines are proposed within view.
Here in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project recently received a favorable environmental report, and is moving forward. Yet progress of the proposed 130 turbine wind farm has been slowed for years by powerful opposition groups.
The steady trickle of positive reports Cape Wind has received over the years lends credence to the charge that opposition groups are driven primarily by the NIMBY philosophy – Not In My Back Yard.