Study debunks 6 myths about electricity in the South

Dec 01, 2011

Clean energy can help meet growing electricity demand and minimize pollution in the Southern United States, but progress to adopt renewable energy strategies has been hindered by a number of myths, according to a new study by Duke and Georgia Tech researchers.

These myths, encompassing both sides of the debate, may affect how the South responds to what is expected to be a 28 percent rise in population within the next 20 years.

A study by researchers at Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, published in the journal Energy Policy, spells out and debunks popular myths about clean energy that have been promulgated by policymakers, business leaders and in the South.

"Myths about clean electricity shape perceptions and have delayed progress in the South," said Etan Gumerman, the study's co-author and senior policy analyst at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "We hope that by casting doubt on these myths, we can begin a productive discussion about affordable clean electricity and how it could shape public policies."

Using an energy-economic modeling tool, researchers analyzed the following six myths, identified through their earlier research on energy in the South:

  • Energy efficiency and by themselves cannot meet the South's growing ;
  • The South does not have sufficient renewable energy resources to meet a Federal Renewable Energy Standard;
  • Renewable energy cannot be promoted without escalating electricity rates;
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are not compatible;
  • Cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are sufficient to retire existing and reduce ;
  • Power resource decisions have little impact on water resources.

The researchers found that energy efficiency and renewable energy can work together to meet projected growth without escalating electricity rates.

They say that implementing renewable electricity standards and other complementary policies could stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. Coupling these policies with stronger regulations, such as a $15 per ton carbon tax, could help retire coal-fired power plants and reduce emissions by 23 percent compared to today's levels. And they found that while energy impacts on water usage are largely ignored, renewable and efficiency options could hold water-saving benefits -- up to one trillion liters in 2030 --for this drought-prone region.

"The South has an abundance of sustainable energy technologies and resources, but misperceptions about their availability and readiness result in support for conventional energy systems," said Marilyn Brown, co-author and professor in Georgia Tech's School of . "Our research is motivated by the hope that promoting fact-informed dialogue can tackle such barriers and clear the way for a more sustainable future."

Explore further: Researchers achieve 'holy grail' of battery design: A stable lithium anode

More information: Energy Policy, Volume 40, January 2012, Pages 231-241. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.061

Related Stories

China joins U.S. FutureGen project

Dec 16, 2006

China has joined the United States in the FutureGen International Partnership, a plan to develop clean-burning coal, the U.S. Department of Energy said Friday.

IEA backs renewable energy

Nov 23, 2011

Renewable energy resources are growing very fast but countries still must be vigilant to ensure that they continue to expand, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

IEA calls for scrapping $312 bln in fuel subsidies

Apr 06, 2011

The International Energy Agency is calling for 312 billion dollars in fuel subsidies to be scrapped in a bid to promote clean energy sources, according to a report presented in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Wind power in Spain reaches historic high

Mar 31, 2011

Wind power became Spain's main source of electricity for the first time ever this month, in a country renowned for its focus on renewable energy, the power-generating authority REE said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Economical and agile offshore construction ship

Jul 25, 2014

Siemens is currently installing the power supply and propulsion systems into a new multi-purpose offshore construction ship for Toisa Ltd. The ship, which is being built by the Korean company Hyundai Heavy ...

User comments : 18

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NotParker
1.7 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2011
"The researchers found that energy efficiency and renewable energy can work together to meet projected growth without escalating electricity rates.

They say that implementing renewable electricity standards and other complementary policies could stabilize greenhouse gas emissions."

"Coupling these policies with stronger regulations, such as a $15 per ton carbon tax,"

Such liars. If you impose a carbon tax, not only do you increase electricity costs, you send jobs and whole industries to China.

The morons who wrote this crap should be fired.
GDM
3.5 / 5 (15) Dec 01, 2011
Civility prohibits me from making unkind references to southerners who don't understand science or economics, such as the above.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2011
"If you impose a carbon tax, not only do you increase electricity costs, you send jobs and whole industries to China." - ParkerTard

America has no industry left to send to china. It is all already there.

America is old and dying. It is running on fumes, it's manufacturing sector long gone.

That is why George Bush Jr. had to redefine McDonalds workers as part of the manufacturing sector to inflate it's size.

Building Burgers and fries is manufacturing after all.

Ahahahahahahahah.... And ketchup is or course a vegetable.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2011
Over the next 20 years the desertification that is now overtaking Texas will be manifesting itself in the other southern states, and it will at that point be obvious that the southern states are not the kinds of places that children will find a viable future.

The projected growth rates, and the resources available will never be realized.
FrankHerbert
1.3 / 5 (59) Dec 01, 2011
Thank Reagan's petty political stunt of removing solar panels from the White House.
Quiet
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
The above may be true if coal workers were renewable energy Einsteins and the companies were run by Doctors of economic renewable funding. And you had Govt. leaders trained in handling renewable funding. And its ridiculous to assume that electricity producers would not pass as much of the cost on to the consumer as they could get away with.
that_guy
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
It kind of scares me that the population in the south is going to grow so quickly. I may need to draw up some plans to emigrate to canada or new zealand before bush the third makes it to office.

That said, I think that either the article or the study was just sloppy.

For example, a few of the 'myths' are:
-Energy efficiency and renewable energy by themselves cannot meet the South's growing electricity demand;
-Energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are not compatible;
---Cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are sufficient to retire existing coal plants and reduce air pollution;---


It's that last 'myth' listed that really gets me. it is contradictory to all the previous myths. It is also basically what they were trying to prove as truth.

I suppose that's a copy edit mistake, but really? I don't even know what was meant with that one.

3432682
2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 02, 2011
If renewable energy were cost-effective we'd all adopt it voluntarily. It is very expensive and very unreliable. We still need the full complement of conventional power generation for those times when renewables provide nothing. When it comes to myths, nothing beats the greenies.
Callippo
1 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2011
Even without cold fusion the green technologies couldn't compete with classical energy sources - but with it it's just a non-ecological nonsence.
Nerdyguy
1.4 / 5 (9) Dec 03, 2011
NEWSFLASH: Some of the information in the article might be misleading.

Duke University isn't too far from my home. But even closer is the corporation that the university's namesake founded: Duke Energy. One of the world's largest providers of power and a huge force in Southeast U.S. energy production. The two maintain VERY close ties. And to say anything that would upset Duke Energy is just NOT DONE.

So, I take most of this with a grain of salt. In fact, they didn't say all that much that was new.

But, I see it a little differently than the first commenter. Where he saw an attempt by Duke University to be radical by demanding a carbon tax, I saw the article as a very sly way of helping Duke Energy (currently requesting a big price hike in NC, btw) make the case that we're "not ready" for renewable energy and must keep using Duke's coal, nuclear, etc.
Nerdyguy
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 03, 2011
"If you impose a carbon tax, not only do you increase electricity costs, you send jobs and whole industries to China." - ParkerTard

America has no industry left to send to china. It is all already there.

America is old and dying. It is running on fumes, it's manufacturing sector long gone.

That is why George Bush Jr. had to redefine McDonalds workers as part of the manufacturing sector to inflate it's size.

Building Burgers and fries is manufacturing after all.

Ahahahahahahahah.... And ketchup is or course a vegetable.



Does the commie from Canada (wth? how'd they let you in?) have any actual information to share, or is today "spread your hate and misinformation day"?
Nerdyguy
1.9 / 5 (8) Dec 03, 2011
I suppose that's a copy edit mistake, but really? I don't even know what was meant with that one.


This list was presented, more or less verbatim, in the Charlotte Observer recently in an article about a proposed fracking startup here.

So, each of those items is meant to present a myth that is commonly spread misinformation in the South (according to the researchers). This one:

"Cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are sufficient to retire existing coal plants and reduce air pollution;"

...is specifically what I was saying above about the "sly" way of helping Duke Energy with its mission of keeping the coal and nuclear going.

The researchers are essentially saying that some "foolish southerners" believe we can use renewable energy NOW and retire coal plants. And they're proposing it as myth in order to denigrate the idea.

Nanobanano
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2011
Over the next 20 years the desertification that is now overtaking Texas will be manifesting itself in the other southern states, and it will at that point be obvious that the southern states are not the kinds of places that children will find a viable future.

The projected growth rates, and the resources available will never be realized.


Really don't find much of a viable future here as it is.

Louisiana pretty much has nothing to offer but drunkenness and violence lately. Certainly aren't jobs here, heck, we usually compete for worst and second worst poverty level with Mississippi.

Don't know why anyone would CHOOSE to live here if they have a chance to get the hell out of here...
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2011
Over the next 20 years the desertification that is now overtaking Texas will be manifesting itself in the other southern states, and it will at that point be obvious that the southern states are not the kinds of places that children will find a viable future.

The projected growth rates, and the resources available will never be realized.


If the trend continues with arctic sea ice and greenland ice caps melting, then the ecological damage over the next 20 to 30 years may be worse than anyone imagines as salt water intrusion into our freshwater and brackish lakes and rivers will destroy entire ecosystems.

Moreover, ocean acidfication in the Southern Ocean is been revised and realized to be happening twice as fast as previously thought. This means the oceans will reach a critical limit in acidity in about 20 years, resulting in massive casualties in the shellfish population and all branches of the food web dependent on them: birds, cephalapods, fish, human, whatever.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (4) Dec 03, 2011
"Don't know why anyone would CHOOSE to live here if they have a chance to get the hell out of here..." - Nanobanano

Is it rebuilt yet? Or does it still look like it did two months after the storm hit?
plaasjaapie
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
I wonder who cleared this silly piece for publication on this website?
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
Over the next 20 years the desertification that is now overtaking Texas will be manifesting itself in the other southern states, and it will at that point be obvious that the southern states are not the kinds of places that children will find a viable future.

The projected growth rates, and the resources available will never be realized.


Really don't find much of a viable future here as it is.

Louisiana pretty much has nothing to offer but drunkenness and violence lately. Certainly aren't jobs here, heck, we usually compete for worst and second worst poverty level with Mississippi.

Don't know why anyone would CHOOSE to live here if they have a chance to get the hell out of here...


Have you considered depression therapy? You seem a very likely candidate. Your descriptions of vast swaths of American territory as so negative that no one would choose to live there is a reflection of YOUR pain and suffering. Not anyone else's.
tarheelchief
5 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
Given thenew potential of Quebec's hydropower projects several planned efforts for renewable power sources seem doomed to economic reality.
By eliminating the supply problems in the Northeast,the value of the TVA increases,and newer technologies can be applied to the existing grid and existing dams which will greatly increase their potential outputs.
The other direction toward West Texas,Arizona,New Mexico,California,and Nevada solar arrays seems to further limit the demands on the TVA power.
Bonneville can also update their singularly successful dam structures to bring in far more power to the growing NW.
Segmenting the grid into workable arenas may help establish a more workable strategy which requires better computing switching for the entire nation.