Some say that the most powerful way to change the world is to educate its future leaders. This is certainly the view of Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ghana’s Ashesi University. While working as a software engineer for Microsoft in Seattle, Mr Awuah had been looking for a way to contribute to nation-building efforts both in his home country, Ghana, and more broadly across Africa. For a start, he says, only 5 per cent of school leavers were going on to college. Because the number of young people embarking on higher education is so small, he says, these are by definition the future leaders – and not just politicians but also the lawyers, doctors, bankers, chief executives and teachers essential to shaping society and managing an economy.
There remain a number of ongoing debates about achieving energy security in the United States and most of those debates surround oil. Oil is primarily used in the transportation sector. Other fossil fuels (i.e., primarily coal and natural gas) do play a major role in the generation of electricity and will for decades to come. Clearly, the energy sector is changing in dramatic ways.
If large-scale electric energy storage were viable, solar and wind intermittency would be less of a problem. However, large-scale electric energy storage is possible only in the few locations where there are hydroelectric dams. But when we use hydroelectric dams for electric energy storage, we reduce their electric power output, which would otherwise have been used by consumers. In other words, we suffer a loss to gain power on demand from wind and solar. At locations without such hydroelectric dams, which is most places, solar and wind electricity systems must be backed up 100 percent by other forms of generation to ensure against blackouts. In today's world, that backup power can only come from fossil fuels.
The climate change benefits that accrue from solar and wind power with 100 percent fossil fuel backup are associated with the fossil fuels not used at the standby power plants. Because solar and wind have the capacity to deliver only 30 to 40 percent of their full power ratings in even the best locations, they provide a carbon dioxide reduction of less than 30 to 40 percent, considering the fossil fuels needed for the 'spinning reserve.' That's far less than the 100 percent that many people believe, and it all comes with a high cost premium.
Crane must have struggled to find something for the northeast, since electric cars have nothing to do with power generation. In fact, they are part of the challenge that lies ahead since they can add significant stress to the grid. One of the challenges faced by any energy plan is getting the public on board. Although everyone wants reliable and affordable energy, it seems that no one wants the facilities that produce that electricity next door to them.