Last week, I attended the 8th Annual Sustainability Energy Conference sponsored by the Energy Division of the NC Department of Commerce. There were over 1,000 people vending, presenting and like myself, just plain interested in seeing how this field is emerging. Some cool facts. The state is focusing its resources (staff and funding) on six emerging sectors. They are as follows:
1. Solar. Did you know that NC is the 9th largest supplier of solar energy in the nation? I didn't and am pretty impressed with that statistic. We also offer some of the best personal, commercial and industrial state tax credits. They are summarized here.
2. Off-shore wind development: Is considered the next frontier of energy. UNC has done a substantial amount of research testing the opportunities engendered into our inner and outer coasts. I learned that there's a race between our exiting state energy suppliers (Duke, Progress) and the more diverse suppliers such as Iberdrola Renewables, as well as our neighboring states- South Carolina and Virginia to lead the nation with this energy source. Morehead City, the Pamlico Sound and OBX all offer promising locations for developing wind energy. Manufacturing, shipping and energy supply could be enhanced through policy and funding dedicated to launching this new market....Tuesday's Luncheon Keynote Speaker was David Shadle, Managing Director for Wind Business Development, Iberdrola Renewables. His discussion centered on Wind Development in the South and Other Tall Orders. ...it was all very exciting and keeps me hopeful that we may actually recover down east from the loss of manufacturing jobs.
3. Smart Grid: I must have been daydreaming about small scale wind farms on the Pamlico Sound as I didn't write anything down about Smart Grid technology
4. Electrical Vehicles: Get Ready Raleigh is one of three EPA funded test sites. With support from lots of different groups, the City of Raleigh has successfully installed 3 publically available Eaton charging stations downtown. Actions have spurred other local entities to begin installing infrastructure, including the installation of 21 charging stations in a newly constructed parking deck. Raleigh is planning for the installation of additional charging stations.... I wonder if they need a small, rural community to set up a plug-in station for all those interested in "staycationing" this summer....
5. Biofuels: the goal here is to TRIPLE production over the next three years...a tall order. Check out this cutting-edge co-op, http://www.biofuels.coop/, my husband helped to construct their straw-bale solar biodiesel warmer...
6. Energy Efficiency in Buildings: It’s estimated that 60% of Green Economy jobs will surface from this sector; everybody from the home contractor to the industrial energy efficient expert is slapped into this category. I think the biggest challenge for improving the energy efficiency of our buildings lies in the market, or the lack thereof. I'm of the opinion that if we really want to see growth local, state and federal administrations should incentivize residential and commercial markets; refundable tax credits, low interest loans, guaranteed energy savings, etc