New Energy Economy

candicecoverSometimes, public policy gets it backwards.

Recently, there has been a growing movement to ban the manufacture of new housing that uses “gas” for heating or cooking so as to reduce green house gas emissions.  While a laudable goal, it is missing a key point about our new energy economy with its growing installation of renewable electricity.

You may be thinking, what is she getting at?  Is she crazy?

Stop and think for a moment about where we are generating the most electricity from wind and solar, where we need electricity, and when.  One of the key problems of wind and solar is that it is intermittent.  We need a way to store it.  We also need a way to transmit it from where it is most abundant to where is most needed, when needed.  The current electrical grid has severe losses moving energy across continents.  And we still don’t have a good way to store the energy until needed.

But there is a very good way that we could do so with very little investment and we can do it progressively, without major disruptions to our present systems.  I’m speaking of energy storage and transport as hydrogen gas mixed with our current natural gas pipelines.  Over time, as more hydrogen is created from excess wind and solar generation, more hydrogen will displace the natural gas in the pipelines and our homes.  The conversion will be gradual and cost effective.  We already have the pipelines.

Far from banning the use of gas in new housing, they should be designed to use mixed gas in anticipation of clean burning hydrogen.

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