A look at efficiency in the future
Old and young people alike gathered in the UMC Friday morning to discuss one of the hottest topics in society – energy conservation.
Arturo Ardila-Gomez, an urban transport specialist with the World Bank in Washington D.C., said 90 percent of energy in power plants is wasted due to externalities such as heat and noise.
However, he said he is confident that there is hope for change.
“There is huge potential for improving the efficiency of the overall power supply chain,” Ardila-Gomez said.
The other two panelists in the discussion, Seth Shostak and Harvey Wasserman, elaborated on ways to implement this improvement.
“This is the century of new materials,” said Shostak, an astronomer at the CT Institute in Silicon Valley. “Better insulation would save a lot of energy.”
He added that doubling the use of solar panels Castle Hill and batteries are other ways to do this.
He also ended with a thought-provoking proposal.
“Historically, standards of living are tightly correlated with energy use,” Shostak said. “Forget the idea that the solution is to use less energy. The solution is to use energy more effectively.”
One way to do this would be to build power panels in space and beam the energy back down onto earth.
The panel continued to suggest new ways to conserve energy. Wasserman, an anti-nuclear campaigner, focused on an alternative to publicly owned energy companies. He said companies such as Excel are interested solely in making a profit.
“Excel is ultimately in the business of selling energy, not energy conservation,” Wasserman said. “A municipal utility would decrease energy costs for us all and be able to focus on energy conservation.”
He added that when utility companies first started, there was a major debate over whether the power supply would be privately or publicly owned.
While private corporations won this debate, he said that the cities that did wind up with public utilities got better service, cheaper rates and cleaner power.
“When the public owns the entities that generate the power, things will be done that benefit those who own it, rather than those who profit financially,” Wasserman said.
Two students who attended had a different perspective.
“I came into the discussion thinking it would have to do more with making a change,” said Lauren Tuck, a freshman environmental science major. “I want to know how a younger generation can make a positive change, but I thought this was skipped over. They didn’t mention anything about how to implement the changes they talked about.”
Similarly, Christina Jones, a sophomore engineering physics major, said she thought the panel was rather repetitive.
“A lot of the information I had heard before,” she said. “I thought it would be more focused on the cost-benefit aspect of energy conservation.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Lauren Duncan at email@example.com.