As the last day of the Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency began, the emphasis of the conference switched from what “could be” to “what is”, as representatives from Oracle and Chevron spoke on what’s working right now. As Jeff Henley, Chairman of Oracle Corporation explained in his welcome speech, “At the end of the day, what’s going to solve this problem of energy is technology.”
The truth is that, thanks to technological advancements in energy efficiency, we are on the leading edge of a fundamental change in how we use—and utilize—energy.
“In 30 or 40 years,” said Henley, “we may be sitting around saying, ‘what energy problem?’”
David Stone, Senior VP for Chevron Energy Solutions, began a panel discussion on California’s energy and efficiency innovations with a presentation entitled, “A Plug for Energy Efficiency and Renewables.” According to Stone, Chevron anticipates that global energy demand will rise by roughly 40% in the next 20 years. Although renewable energy sources continue to be fine-tuned and expanded, Stone believes that by 2030, renewable will still make up less than half of all energy production.
“We need all forms of energy,” said Stone, “conventional and unconventionals.”
“We are technology neutral,” he continued, “We are encouraging people to come up with new solutions . . . you create it, we’ll apply it."
Some of the options currently being explored by Chevron include:
* Investing in renewable energy technologies and capturing profitable positions
* Investing on current commercial options, and demonstrations of future possibilities and emerging future trends
* Continued exploration in waste-heat recovery, non-food biofuels, and fuel cells
* Focusing on “Efficient, Reliable, and Renewable power” via solar, fuel cells, biomass, and cogeneration
* Increased efficiency in the areas of lighting and HVAC
But source is only part of the picture. Chevron, said Stone, is focusing not only on energy production, but energy use.
“We really believe in energy efficiency,” said Stone, explaining that “energy efficiency is economical—if you can use less, that’s generally preferable.”
Stone went on to highlight some of the projects that exemplify Chevron’s commitment to pairing the right energy source with the most efficient energy system:
* US Postal Services: The country’s first fuel cell/solar renewable power plant. With efficiency upgrades, USPS saves $1.23 million annually (46% reduction in electricity purchases achieved inside with efficiency (lighting, HVAC, etc.) and outside (solar and fuel cells).
* Contra Costa College Community College District, Northern California: Solar panels on parking lot (3,200 kW of power), high-efficiency lighting, energy management systems, high-efficiency HVAC, electrical system upgrades. Total Savings: 4 million kWh per year.
* Chevron: Project Brightfield (Kern County) Caper Wind Project (Casper, WY): Located on an old oil field, the site utilizes an advanced solar array developed by Chevron wherein seven different types of solar are being tested.
As for the “next generation of research and development,” Stone explained that as energy technologies move from “idea” to “full-scale deployment”, companies that develop both energy sources and energy systems should devote their resources to internal research and development while also participating in external research collaborations.
“There are a lot of challenges, but I'm optimistic,” concluded Stone. “I am confident we are going to meet the challenge and there are going to be some heroes. The future is bright.”