Copenhagen: Breakfast at Cassiopeia’s

December 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Google CO2 Cube: Monthly Emissions per Person

As the Google cube – a 27x27x27 foot video screen illustrating the volume of a metric ton of CO2 – rotated outside the window of the Cassiopeia Restaurant in the choppy gray waters of Copenhagen’s Lake St. Jørgens, I sat down to breakfast this morning with Speaker Pelosi and the U.S. Congressional delegation to the U.N. climate negotiations. Pelosi asked for this Smart Grid briefing from myself and other leaders of the Demand Response and Smart Grid alliance for two reasons: helping to reduce carbon emissions and helping to create jobs. Pelosi said the Smart Grid is important to climate change and ought to be part of the climate change debate, both here in Copenhagen and back home.

In addition to covering policy issues with the Members, I briefly demonstrated eMeter’s consumer engagement software and Control4’s Home Area Network devices to illustrate key elements of saving energy: consumer information feedback, dynamic pricing, automated control of smart appliances – and the added consumer benefit of convenience (in this case through an automated door lock: push a button by your bedside at night, turn off all the lights, and make sure all your doors are locked). The potential energy savings? Dan Reicher, Google’s Director-Energy and Climate Change Initiatives, who followed me, estimated 20% or more (my own research has found 5 to 15% is likely, but that 20% is certainly possible). And remember that 1 kWh saved is the same as 3 kWh worth of CO2 not emitted, because only about one-third of the fuel energy used to produce electricity is eventually delivered to the appliance.

In my table conversation with Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he mentioned jobs as well. We talked about both direct jobs – cleantech jobs in Smart Grid, solar, and renewables – but also about U.S. international competitiveness. Energy efficiency lowers energy costs, making U.S. companies leaner and meaner, while innovation – Pelosi stressed this, too – creates global opportunities for selling Smart Grid technology. One estimate is that 300,000 Smart Grid jobs will be created in the U.S.

As I told chairman Waxman, we’d much rather be sending our energy dollars into the pockets of American workers than the coffers of offshore oil companies. “That’s absolutely right,” he said.

And to DRSG’s Executive Director, Dan Delurey and the others who helped make it a great meeting: Thank you and well done!

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