There’s something prophetic about Bainbridge Island’s brilliant community energy project, RePower Bainbridge. Watch a short, sweet video on it here.
Faced with the prospect of needing a new power substation to handle peak loads – a big, costly, ugly piece of conventional energy infrastructure – the community mobilized for something better. They insulated. They retrofitted. And most of all, they connected in ways that made costly new energy infrastructure unnecessary while making life on the island better.
As the clean energy revolution gets underway, we will face many choices like this, where the old way means adding expensive new capacity. Traffic volumes will increase, so there will be pressure to build more roads. Growth in energy consumption – especially in Asia – creates pressure to add new power plants. And most of the traditional answers involve huge expenditures of capital on equipment or infrastructure that lasts for a very long time.
Trouble is, we are out of time for that. The International Energy Agency’s new World Energy Outlook sounds an urgent alarm on this point: continued expansion of long-lived fossil fuel infrastructure will make it impossible to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate disruption.
So we must all do what Bainbridge is doing. Every time we run up against the “need” for a major new piece of conventional energy or transportation infrastructure, we need to rethink the problem and find a better way.
And every chance we get, we need to spread the good word when people do. RePower Bainbridge and more great Solution Stories are profiled here.