« Exxon, the Rockefellers, and the Future of Big Oil | Main | Going Down Under, Down Under »

May 18, 2008



Excellent insights into leading edge energy systems. The price of oil has finally convinced the skeptics that we have to use smart energy systems and alternative energy production. This time is different!

Bruce Klafter

Great idea .. but I think one pitfall is that "turning off" systems and bringing them back on line is not that easy. Some large HVAC require a considerable amount of time to get back up and running and the energy requirements may exceed the savings achieved during the 5 minute downtime. the key may lie in cutting the system way back as opposed to an actual shutdown. By the way PG&E (and probably others) already enroll commercial property owners in a mandatory cutback arrangement to handle extraordinary peak demand periods; upon receiving notification from the utility we will cut back energy use in all of our office spaces, e.g. half of all lighting will be dimmed or turned off.


This is new?

we had a box on the AC unit that did just this 10+ years ago. During certain times of the day, the power company (Reliant in Houston, iirc) could send a radio signal to disconnect the home AC unit is various problem areas. Granted it was just residential users at the time.

I think they dropped it.

Dagny McKinley

I'm amazed anyone would consider using chickens, cattle or pigs for biodiesel considering the impact on the earth of raising just one cow. It's not like we are trading our food for fuel, it will double the amount of water resources to feed them, the amount of waste that is already leaking into our waterways, not to mention the increase in cost for food consumption of animals, similar to the increase in cost of corn. Does anyone else find this a foolish solution?

Dagny McKinley
organic apparel

Tony Chadwick

Joel. Thank you for your insightful comments yet again. The notion that we are following the technology adoption curve I believe is spot on. I am delivering presentations along similar lines. Us 'baby boomers'who have riden and led the digital and Dot Com waves are cognisant that the sustainability revolution is very similar yet this time it's not so much about US as I'm one who unfortunately didn't know any better and helped create this bloody mess. So now I'm evangelising to anyone who will listen because this time it's about the future of my kids and my grand kids that's really at stake. Keep up the great work. Go the Mob. Cheers Tony

Patrik Marckert

Those are some pretty neat ideas. Posts like these open new ways of thinking. Most interesting about this post is the point that backup plants are in general dirtier than other plants, so investments in this area would have a large impact regarding GHG emissions. In general, renewable energy and energy efficiency investments should be judged by this criteria as well: what is the ratio (CO2 saved/$ invested) for this particular investment? That statistics would come in handy for those designing subsidy programs.

Probably these ideas would be easisest to implement where (1) there is a reasonable amount of sizable buildings available and (2) the owner company of the buildings is also the owner of the power utilities. That is sometimes is the case in Europe, where large public companies manage both power and real estate.

Some interesting technology solutions coming out of Scandinavia could alleviate the peak load problem as well. Swedish company Climate makes use of the fact that the stronger the sun, the more you need to use your air conditioner. Their airconditioner uses sun energy to provide cooling. Another Swedish company, SEES, use geothermal drilling holes to store waste heat generated from cooling buildings in the summer, and use this thermal energy to heat the same building during winter time.
Further on, buildings could also cover part of their energy demand through small geothermal heating, solar power and wind power plants, However, this kind small-scale generation is often quite cost-inefficient.

I cover Scaninavian cleantech innovations on my blog.


This has already been done in Chicago. Not sure when. A van from the local utility drove around the downtown core area and used radio signals to turn off AC units on business accounts,if you agreed to it you received a cheaper power rate.In order for it to pencil out you do need a compact core area and a high enough sign-up rate.

The comments to this entry are closed.