Siemens, basically the General Electric of Germany, has a lot of stake in renewable energy, from generators to energy storage.
Siemens recently started a supercapacitor regenerative braking project in Portland. It helps to reduce the demand and spiking that occur when light rail locomotives accelerate and decelerate quickly, as they have to do at every stop. The same kind of technology helps to reduce the load on the grid by recovering energy that might otherwise be wasted. Recovering waste energy is especially important in renewable energy systems to keep the flow of energy constant in spite of fluctuating energy generation.
Sometimes, when confronted with the higher upfront costs of renewable energy, consumers and politicians balk. When people see price tags, they often don’t understand what those upfront costs mean. Utility providers understand this, but when it trickles down to the higher price that the consumer might pay for renewable energy, it could become a concern. What they don’t understand is that they can actually be supporting new jobs and a cleaner environment by changing over to renewable energy.
What’s the best way to help people understand other than to educate them? Not everyone understands or even wants to look at a sheet full of numbers to determine which renewable energy program might be worth looking into when compared to other energy sources. Siemens’ new online game, Power Matrix, is a Sims style game that teaches how various technologies can work together, providing reliable, and profitable, energy.
Why not give it a try and see what you can learn about balancing renewable energy in your neck of the woods? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert, but that’s the whole point. The more we understand the economics of renewable energy, the more we’ll we willing to accept paying a little more for it up front.