Douglas Healy, a Leader in Sustainable Energy Movement

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How much do you know and understand about sustainable energy? I for one needed to refer to Wikipedia to get the true definition of sustainable energy. Below is the first section of that Wikipedia listing:

Sustainable energy is the practice of using energy in a way that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[1][2]

Meeting the world’s needs for energy in a sustainable way is widely considered to be one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Worldwide, nearly a billion people lack access to electricity, and around 3 billion people rely on smoky fuels such as wood, charcoal or animal dung in order to cook. These and fossil fuels are a major contributor to air pollution, which causes an estimated 7 million deaths per year. Production and consumption of energy emit over 70% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”

We also found 5 amazing facts about sustainable energy at the website of the United Nations Foundation:

  1. Renewable energy is raising investments.
    • According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, $270 billion was invested globally in renewable energy in 2014.
  2. Renewable energy is creating jobs. 
    • The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that 6.5 million people around the world work in the clean energy sector.
  3. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power than fossil fuel generating capacity. 
    • In 2013, the world added 143 gigawatts of capacity for renewable power compared to 141 gigawatts of capacity for fossil fuels.
  4. Solar has gone global, and it’s huge in Bangladesh. 
    • More than 6 million solar-home systems are in operation worldwide; 3 million of which are installed in Bangladesh alone.
  5. Millions of homes are already being powered by off-grid renewable energy systems. 
    • The International Renewable Energy Agency recently released a report that stated that nearly 26 million households are served by off-grid renewable energy systems, such as solar home systems, mini-wind turbines, and renewables-based mini-grids.

One of the leaders in the sustainable energy movement is Douglas Healy. Mr. Healy currently serves as general counsel to the Missouri Joint Electric Utility Commission and assists municipalities in their energy and utility needs.  Douglas believes that without some safeguards in place, it’s possible to switch too much capacity to sustainable sources without taking into account a few issues. One of the biggest challenges is that energy demand doesn’t remain stagnant. Large towns continue to see a massive increase in demand for electricity, and they may struggle to keep up with solar and wind alone.

The currently accepted philosophy is that energy diversity is the smartest idea. It’s essential to have multiple sources of power, especially ones that create redundancy. On a grid filled only with solar and wind, the idea of constant outages becomes obvious. If the weather refuses to cooperate for long enough, a lack of power is the likely outcome. That can happen at any time.

Even natural gas is reaching its limits as a power producer. Power plants that run on natural gas need that fuel to flow constantly to their plants. However, those pipelines fill up during peak demand times. A recent example in Minnesota, Michigan, and Rhode Island showed that a Polar Vortex was able to put undue strain on the system. The only solution was for people to lower their thermostats, which is the last thing most people want to do when it’s freezing outside.

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