Earth Week Celebrations Conclude With Panel of Energy Experts on Sunday

A panel of energy experts discussed the transportation and power generation industries in a presentation titled, “From Idea to Policy to Market: Mitigating Climate Change,” this past weekend. David Raney, Senior Manager of Environmental and Energy Affairs at Honda Motor Company, discussed future transportation opportunities and outlined the issues that the transportation sector faces when trying to be environmentally conscious. Raney explained, “Regrettably, the only significant market drivers [that encourage green technology] are government mandates and public policy. Building models are based on what there is a market for. We are capable of building niche market cars if there is a market out there.” Following Raney’s discussion, Honyan Oliver, research fellow at Harvard University and an expert on sustainable energy, discussed the issue of transportation in China. Oliver said that the Chinese government is facing increasing pressure to do something about carbon emissions. According to Oliver, China refused to commit to lowering carbon emissions on a global scale because the nation is still developing and does not want to limit their economic growth. However, China has taken other environmentally friendly measures. “Although there is little market incentive to become green, China has taken steps towards agreen economy,” said Oliver. “China has set very ambitious goals including reducing emission intensity by 40-45%, increasing renewable energy to 15% of primary energy consumption, increasing the size of its forest and looking to transform industry in the long term,” Oliver continued. “China has the ability to get things done very quickly because it is an authoritarian regime.” Ed Stern, CEO of Power Bridge LLC, followed with a discussion on power generation through wind power. Stern said that the hardest parts of being in the wind industry are getting the energy from the wind farms to the population centers, finding customers, and getting all the permits and approval necessary. Stern said, “Wind is one of our best resources but the issue we face is that many people say, ‘not in my backyard.’ The next generation has to decide whether the tradeoff is worth it. This will ultimately be the next generation’s issues and it is vital that they make the right decision.” Stern explained that one issue Americans face is the speed of the democratic process. In contrast to China, the United States progresses very slowly in regards to energy policy because of the debate. Allen Freifeld, Senior Vice President of Viridity Energy, explained the term ‘smart grid.’ Freifeld said, “Smart grid’s unofficial definition is ‘whatever product I’m trying to sell you.’ It’s official definition is ‘the marriage of 21st century technology to the electric industry.’” According to Freifeld, the electric industry completely lags behind the communications industry. He analogized that if Alexander Graham Bell saw the modern phone, he would not recognize it, but if Thomas Edison saw the electric meter, he would say, ‘That’s the exact same thing I made over a century ago.’ “The electric industry’s problems are largely cost based,” said Freifeld. “The price of electricity changes every 5 minutes but the consumer are charged a flat rate. People could benefit if they were charged whatever rate the electricity was all the time and use it to create a more sustainable environment.” Ed Krapels, father of Ben Krapels ’12 and expert in the field of anbaric power, or electric power, spoke about delivering green energy to the public. The presentation culminates a week of “green” activities that celebrate Earth Day. John Rogers, Dean of Studies, said, “It may be daunting to change the infrastructure of the our economy, but leaders like those we had on environmental issues are here to address that. We need them to work with the next generation to solve this issue.” Rachel Margolese ’12 said, “Going in, I expected this presentation to talk about the environmental impact of mankind on the environment but in all actuality, it gave a broader view on the future of an entire industry.” “It was so much more complicated and I feel like I left that presentation with a much better understanding of where we are headed in the future,” Margolese continued. Shelby Centofanti ’11 commented, “This presentation exceeded my expectations because a variety of perspectives were represented. We got to hear the opinion of someone from a big company, an academic, people in the field of green technology, and I learned so much from their discussions.” Patricia Russell, Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor in Science, said, “We [brought these panelists] to Andover because we have all spent almost 30 years in the energy industry and understand that it touches everybody’s lives. Students need to realize it takes all of us -not just engineers, not only mathematicians and scientists, but also artists, and lawyers.”