Tech & The District » Cap & Trade Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Nuclear, Renewable, Gas or Coal – Who Has the Energy? Thu, 09 Jul 2009 19:43:46 +0000 Andrew Cuneo It’s hard to know which basket of energy capacity we should be putting our eggs in. While the Obama Administration continues to push the cap & trade bill putting a tax on carbon emissions, the Department of Energy, made a somewhat surprising investment in the research & development of FutureGen’s clean coal project. We also have other forms out there including renewable energy, which includes hydro and wind power, natural gas and nuclear.


Consumers and businesses alike aren’t sure where to turn. Both are grappling with trying to reduce their carbon footprint. New automobile technology, such as hybrids and electric, are still utilizing coal-based power plants for electrical charge. By the same token, businesses all around the world are attempting to reduce energy usage by installing technology. Google has a great page offering tips to businesses on how to reduce energy used to power their IT infrastructure.’s Matthew Wheeland’s interview with IBM’s John Lamb also illustrates what companies can, and in some cases are, doing to effectively “green their IT.”


But what’s the real answer? The nation’s current position is not sustainable and, as Forbes blogger Rich Karlgaard points out, the U.S. currently receives 88 percent of its electricity generation from coal (48.9 percent), natural gas (20) and nuclear (19.3). Renewable energy came in at under 10 percent with seven percent in hydro alone.


What is amazing is that nearly half of all the nation’s electricity is generated by coal, which emits the most carbon of any fossil fuel. Businesses and consumers are using this generated electricity every day.


The other two listed in Karlgaard’s piece, natural gas (which burns 50 percent cleaner than coal, and, according to a piece in Dow Jones, is also considerably less expensive than oil) and nuclear (emits zero green house gases) are both domestic and environmentally friendlier.


Obama’s support for the clean coal project is admirable and my first inclination is to be excited about the emphasis the current administration is placing on these technological advances. But the likelihood of anything being ready in the near future is very slim – some are saying 15 years.  We just can’t wait that long.


What we do know now is the country is placing emphasis on both conservation of current sources, and the development of sustainable energy sources. Whether it’s the drilling for natural gas or the development of renewable and nuclear energy, all will play an increasing role in powering homes, offices, automobiles and even cities from now into the foreseeable future. 


The research surrounding clean coal is exciting and cutting edge. To be able to utilize a domestic and abundant energy source to improve the air quality is a wonderful initiative. But we need an energy solution that will bridge the gap between now and then, or we risk causing irrevocable damage to the planet.


Which energy source would you advocate if you were in Obama’s place?


*Hill & Knowlton works with CASEnergy, Better Place and America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) in some parts of the world.


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