Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rock Star Energy Minister - Stephen Chu Speaks at Bright Green

I attended the "Bright Green" event today in Copenhagen. It is Denmark's showcase and trade show for green technology and innovation, a solutions-oriented compliment to the climate conference. Held in a large hockey rink-like venue, it was subdivided into large cube-like spaces for demonstrators to showcase their green-tech wares. The first projects to hit your eye as you entered were 2 impressive city projects. Scandinavian cities going 100% carbon neutral with rigorous targets and focused strategies. They were Copenhagen (setting the goal to be the first carbon neutral national capital in the world) and a smaller city in Sweden that will be 100% carbon neutral in 2 years.

These cities will get there with renewable energy, cogeneration, district heating, public transit, energy efficiency, and innovative planning: a whole lot of small solutions taken together to make a big difference.

Dropped in the midst of these practical working solutions and realistic targets, came the rock star Energy Minister, Stephen Chu. I was excited when I heard Obama's high profile, Nobel-Prize winning Energy Minister was speaking at Bright Green. I eagerly joined the several hundred other folks sitting in the stands in front of the 3 movie screens showing his power point presentation.

I was shocked at how out of touch his energy solutions were with the real world solutions going on all around him in Scandinavia. Sure he talked about renewable energy and improving efficiency, but then he went off on a wild goose chase about swimming pool sized batteries, large hydro dams, nuclear energy, and high tech research into energy from nothing. Huh?

Why does it have to be about a big bang, megaproject Mr. Chu? Check out the very city you're visiting today. Free bicycles for everybody. Incredible public transit. Wind turbines. District heating.

But then again, you don't win you the Nobel Prize by putting in bike lanes.

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