Did you hear that U.S. President Barack Obama issued a Climate Action Plan on Tuesday? It’s a sort-of aggressive plan that was sort-of big news, though still probably off the radar or considered trivial for most Americans. Yet it could and should have lasting and positive effects for the green tech and energy efficiency industries.
Yes, we’ve sort-of been here before, and several of the president’s proposals have as well. And the big items such as ratcheting up the efficiency levels of power plants and using government land to double the amount of clean energy production from renewables like solar and wind can also seem removed from the mainstream.
However, if Obama’s plans go through and if they can withstand the doubtless legal challenges over the EPA reducing carbon emissions from power plants, some good things will result for the green and energy efficiency technologies industries, in buildings and homes and cities and towns. Here’s how:
Solar, solar, solar
Having Department of Interior accelerate the development of renewable power on public lands could have the effect of advancing the cause of renewables. More and more people want solar PV systems on their homes, especially if they live in states that are friendly to solar leasing programs. Many want to buy electric vehicles and power them with PV (PV to EV). And solar users are more apt to want energy monitoring systems.
Reduced power plant emissions will get utilities to save
Obama’s report is vague about the numbers, but it gives the EPA the go-ahead to mandate reduced emissions from power plants, and this should accelerate both the shift from using coal, which produces the most greenhouse gases, to natural gas, which produces far less. It should also prod more utilities to roll out more energy efficiency programs, especially if they can’t build new plants or convert old ones. And as utilities roll out more aggressive energy efficiency programs for consumers …
More smart grid programs should come on line
As part of utilities’ efforts to promote energy efficiency, we should be seeing them get more of their smart grid programs on line, including using technologies such as smart thermostats, smart appliances, and more smart meters utilizing wireless mesh technologies such as ZigBee Smart Energy Protocol 2 (SEP2) to create energy management networks within the home. And this will have the effect of …
Raising awareness about energy efficiency
If the a controversy over cutting power plant emissions doesn’t do it, and if doubling the amount of renewables like solar and wind doesn’t do it, maybe utilities getting really aggressive about helping consumers and building owners save energy will. Already energy efficiency companies work with utilities in some states, like Massachusetts, to offer no-cost energy assessments and deals on insulation upgrades that result. And energy efficiency companies like Next Step Living are already offering green tech products like solar and energy-efficient windows and are looking into energy management. The efficiency guys could be the green tech ticket into the home. And if all of this doesn’t raise awareness about energy efficiency, maybe the Energy Department setting new efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, as laid out in Obama’s plan, will. the plan expands on the president’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. There will be opportunities for green tech there, especially as more M2M and cloud-based analytics are used.
But … don’t rely on utilities to do it all
The utilities can raise awareness and be a great driving factor for green tech, but their programs and their smart grids have been a long time in development. Big service providers like ADT, Comcast, Verizon and Alarm.com offer basic energy management via connected home systems, and could partner with utilities. And plenty of products using wireless technologies like Z-Wave are available to consumers. But do people want to install these themselves? There are plenty of opportunities throughout the green tech industry that should accelerate because of Obama’s more aggressive approach.
You may also like: