Tonight on my drive home, I heard an interesting radio program on my local NPR station (KQED). They were airing part of the Asia Society’s U.S.-China Green Energy Conference, a segment about Fueling a Clean Energy Future. The introduction was from one of the partners (I think he was a partner) from NEA. Most of the discussion that I heard (recording wasn’t posted at the time I am writing this) was about the energy needs of the world and the possible energy generation alternatives.
NEA is a venture capital firm. So the types of investments that they are looking at are the ones that will score huge payback. If the opportunity won’t turn into at least a $100M+ business, they usually aren’t interested. So it makes sense that they would be investing huge in the power generation side of the planetary energy coin.
However, on the drive home, it struck me…what about the flip side of that coin? If the estimated future power consumption for the planet is measured in the 10’s of Terawatts of power and if the power needs are increasing as developing nations raise their standard of living to match the developed nations standards, why isn’t there as much attention given to saving power?
Are we focused to much on addressing the symptoms and not enough on the cuase?
I remember years ago hearing about a company that was working on a power transformer that would allow devices to go into standby mode and consume fractions of a watt of power instead of 10’s of watts of power that is the norm now (see my previous post about Results from Monitoring the Meter). About a year ago I tried to find that company, doesn’t exist any more. Transmeta was another company that was focused on the power savings, but dropped off the radar and is a IP management shell employing more lawyers than engineers right now. The only company that I can think of immediately that is both above the radar and impacting huge power savings directly from their technology is VMware.
There are huge areas of waste that we can still address. Image how much of a dent we could put in the future consumption if our focus on how not to use as much electricity expanded beyond CFLs? I hope there are more companies out there than I know of working on conservation technologies, but I guess I find myself a bit annoyed by the lack of focus that seems to be applied to them.
(Disclosure: as of this writing I am employed at VMware as a Solutions Consultant.)