Ron, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I have been working in clean energy for 40 years – first on renewable energy policy, then programs, and now on cutting-edge solar, heat pump, and electric vehicle projects. I founded Starphire Net, Inc in 1999 and “do business as” EarthKind Energy Consulting. EarthKind is a boutique NYS consulting firm that represents commercial, non-profit, government and residential property owners in profitable energy transformations that save money and reduce carbon footprints with clean electricity, heating, cooling and transportation. You can find out more about us, our clients, and our projects at http://www.EarthKindEnergy.com.
What is a fun fact about you?
My wife and I are a blended family, with a total of 7 children. Although we never created a child together, we “had a liver”. During a challenging 3 years of health crises, we discovered that the liver is a renewable organ. I gave her half of mine in a live-liver transplant, and both parts grew back (in only 3 months!).
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
I have watched the exponential increase in greenhouse gases and the corresponding rise in extreme weather disasters for most of my adult life, including surviving a tornado event that almost wiped out my family (in New York!). We 8 Billion human beings are having a massive impact on the entire planet, and our very life support systems are reaching critical tipping points. Unless we eliminate our use of fossil fuels and evolve to a sustainable society – our civilization will be destroyed by the impending collapse of the entire ecosystem (air, water, & food). We can either deny, cry, or act to avert the catastrophes from our dinosaur consumption – or we will eliminate the ability of our children and grandchildren to live – and destroy the future of all human life.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The Good news is that the AWESome Forces of Nature (the Air, Water, Earth, and Sun) generate a thousand times more energy than we need. The Better news is that we have the technology TODAY to harness these AWESome Forces for our electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation.
In 10 years, most people will come to realize that clean tech is seeing the same cost reductions that enable us to now buy more computing power than existed on the planet when I was growing up (our smart phones) – for just a few hundred dollars. These same technology cost reductions already make solar and wind the LEAST COST source of new power generation on the planet TODAY.
In 10 years, we’ll see an exponential adoption of wind (Air), hydro/tidal (Water), geothermal (Earth – the “heat beneath our feet”), and Solar (Sun) because fuel-free energy is the least cost power. The fact that new clean energy technologies also create jobs and vibrant economies – and saves our children’s futures – is an added bonus. Solar will begin to power most of our buildings – directly on roofs and carports, or via community solar systems that serve neighborhoods.
Wind and solar farms on-land will provide a “cash crop” for farmers, while massive offshore wind turbines will create the power for coastal cities and suburban communities. Our “mobile power stations” – electric vehicles (EVs) – will move us almost everywhere. We’ll charge them when the clean energy is creating more power than we are currently consuming – and we’ll have our EVs discharge to our homes, schools, and workplaces when stored energy is needed (which is already starting to happen today). And the BEST News? When we build and maintain the clean energy infrastructure – we get CHEAP energy.
The wind blows, water flows, sun shines – and we have fuel-free, low-cost clean electricity that powers everything. Simultaneously, when we reach down into the ground and transfer “the heat beneath our feet” – we will have fuel-free HEATING & COOLING (just like St Patrick’s in NY City already does).
We will use the Earth’s constant temperature for all our heat and hot water – and then let the earth provide cool air during summers. In 10 years, the virtual-cycle of “lower cost – more use – lower cost” will have solidly taken hold, and we will be on the way to completely reducing our carbon emissions in a vibrant clean energy economy.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Identify and act on ways to reduce energy consumption and use clean energy everywhere we live, work, study, worship and play. Move to energy efficient lighting; insulate buildings; build solar or purchase electricity from community solar and wind farms; install heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water; buy an electric car; advocate for the clean energy transition in your workplace & community; and elect public representatives who support policies that help catalyze the clean energy revolution.