This means many different things to many different folks. I have heard it refer to reefer. It can be code for cash. Sometimes it actually refers to the energy of the color green. Healing and full of growth potential. More and more I am seeing the term point us in the direction of sustainable power generation, specifically electric power from non-fossil, non-nuclear sources. I live nearly as close to the North Pole as I do to the Equator, so my interest is more in winter heating rather than summer cooling, so I have to include space heating in the term green energy.
I first heard the term, used in this way, in the past ten years or so. Before that it was renewable energy, or alternative energy. The prejudice just dripped off those older words used to describe something that was supposed to sound like a hippy offshoot of socialism, or worse yet require one to revert to using a privy. Back in the thirties, when the highest percentage of passive solar homes were built, it just made good sense to site your home in a way that would utilize the indecent solar thermal benefits of the sun, which almost always comes out tomorrow. Never mind that NASA used photovoltaic cells on remote satellites. Discount the fact that Jimmy Carter put them on the White House, and Reagan had them removed. Needless to say, the powers that be wanted nothing to do with clean, virtually limitless power making it’s way to the people. They still don’t.
I live just a few miles from what is called a zero-net-energy home. It uses photovoltaic cells (which convert sunshine to electron flow) on the roof to produce more power than the home requires to feed all of it’s systems and the lifestyle of those who live there. Less than 1/6 of the roof has solar cells on it, and the excess power is sold back to the local utility, creating a profit center rather than a monthly bill for dirty power, produced elsewhere.
It seems that the government loves to dole out our dollars to research things to death. This is installed now, working now and within the reach of anyone doing new construction. Why is it not mandated? We have had solar cells for nearly a century. Their design has changed little unless there were large government grants to fund “further research”. What we need is the vision to install what we know works. The Germans use the slopes along the autobahn for power production, just lining the roadways with solar “pv” cells. Why is it that we are lagging behind nations like China, Denmark, Sweden and Finland with regard to sustainable methods for meeting our needs now and into the future?
I shudder to think that it may be because energy production, the way it has been done in the past, benefits the richest among us, those insulated from the lives of coal miners, power “plants”, and ecological damage. Those who would rather kill their own workers (who they deem replaceable) and who are wiling to pay millions of dollars in fines rather than provide safe working conditions and equitable pay for backbreaking, dangerous work. The current system wastes more in administration and transport losses than it provides to the consumer. You know that they have the “right” to their billions. Just keep paying your bill and they will use that money to lobby for more subsidies, leniency and tax breaks.
I can’t wait to see the day that people get rewarded for doing the right thing. Taking responsibility for their own needs, breaking ties with corpulent corporations and reducing their negative impacts on the planet. In my mind, no company is too big to fail. In fact, if some choose to call a company that, it raises suspicion that they actually need to be run out of town because by the time they get that big, they have learned to use our own government against us. I am hopeful that as more people decide to make the switch to sustainability, the government will get behind us, the people who do most of the living and dying in our country. Perhaps then our elected officials will lead, follow or get out of the way!