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President Obama: Less Waste and Less Air Pollution

October 4, 2012 - Hi Everybody.  Sorry to be so late getting back; I had some major catching up at work to do.  Things are under control now, and there's lots to write about.

Does it bother anybody else that President Obama is so bad at tooting his own horn?  Our president is not an easy person to get to know.  He has many layers, and the deeper you go, it almost feels like the less you know.   There's something he ought to be bragging about right now, but he keeps all his contributions to an improved environment to himself.  While I do understand that the Republicans turn everything he does or says upside-down, somebody ought to be spreading the word.  Let's get started right here.

At the end of August, President Obama signed an executive order initiating a huge increase in the number of combined heat and power systems used by industry.  The president is a smart man, and knows how to get the most bang for the buck.  After all, virtually all industrial facilities need to keep their employees and expensive equipment either warm enough or cool enough, and they all rely on electricity.  For ages, industry everywhere labored under the misapprehension that it needed two separate systems to accomplish the goals of electrical generation plus heating/cooling.  This, happy day, is no longer the case: enter cogeneration.
Heating gas that causes a turbine to spin, thus creating power, while simultaneously heating or cooling an industrial-sized building, is an enormous enhancement in efficiency.  Cogeneration entails far less waste, and given that waste has always been wrong, and never more so than now, it's an idea whose time has come.  Here is what the President's executive order says, in part:

"The industrial sector accounts for over 30 percent of all energy consumed in the United States, and, for many manufacturers, energy costs affect overall competitiveness.  While our manufacturing facilities have made progress in becoming more energy efficient over the past several decades, there is an opportunity to accelerate and expand these efforts with investments to reduce energy use through more efficient manufacturing processes and facilities and the expanded use of combined heat and power (CHP).  Instead of buning fuel in an onsite boiler to produce thermal energy and also purchasing electricity from the grid, a manufacturing facility can use a CHP system to provide both types of energy in one energy efficient step.  Accelerating these investments in our Nation's factories can improve the competitiveness of United States manufacturing, lower energy costs, free up future capital for businesses to invest, reduce air pollution, and create jobs."

That bears repeating: manufacturers will pay lower electric bills, which will free up money for growing their businesses, while at the same time creating 1) less air pollution, and 2) more jobs, as a result of growing their businesses.  Carbon dioxide emissions would fall by 150 million metric tons on an annual basis!  The president isn't just toying with this idea, either.  He has set a goal of putting 40 gigawatts of new CHP in place by 2020.  In addition, the government will provide workshops and literature through which to share best practices.  Massive private sector investment will be necessary - perhaps as much as $80 billion - to make this happen, with a savings of $10 billion per year in energy costs.  The United States, by the way, currently utilizes about 80 gigawatts of CHP.  The additional output will take us to the point where 13.5 percent of our electricity will be cogenerated.

Remember - this president isn't just talking about it.  He's taken action in order to make good things happen.  Believe me, the business community will not hesitate a moment to let consumers know about their contribution to an improved environment.  It's up to us to remember that it was President Obama's idea.

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