How one company is changing energy

Along with rising interest rates, rising construction costs and the financial crisis have brought energy costs to the fore in recent years. These have come in the form of soaring electricity bills. Business leaders…

How one company is changing energy

Along with rising interest rates, rising construction costs and the financial crisis have brought energy costs to the fore in recent years. These have come in the form of soaring electricity bills. Business leaders and public policy leaders in the U.S. increasingly are focusing on ways to reduce the cost of energy in the economy.

In 2008, IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy established the Energy Initiative, which mobilizes government expertise and investments to advance energy management and efficiency. Since then, the IBM-Energy Initiative has sponsored initiatives in 18 countries and four continents.

The initiative has identified 66 energy-related innovation hubs. The data about energy prices in these hubs is now available at www.ibm.com/energy. The goal is to attract significant investments and talent toward creating better products, technology and services that can dramatically reduce energy use. This will ultimately help reduce the world’s energy use and the need for carbon emissions.

The U.S. Energy Initiative is seeking to extend that vision to become the global center for effective energy initiatives, a place where both private-sector and public-sector experts can learn and work together. A group of leading private-sector businesses, major international universities and public-sector organizations have joined with IBM to demonstrate how public-private partnerships can bring about energy innovation,

The Infrastructure Fortnight Action Plan, announced in August of this year, marked a groundbreaking opportunity for government and industry leaders to work collaboratively to bring people, resources and talents together to protect the U.S. infrastructure against our changing climate.

The Action Plan focuses on reducing the use of fossil fuels in ways that do not put us in harm’s way, reduce the use of fossil fuels to drive costs up and still provide the flexibility needed to power the U.S. economy. Working together, we can build a stronger, more secure future.

It is important to note that those who advocate for action on climate change have an interest in energy innovation and efficiency, a critical part of the new energy economy. Even the fossil fuel industry recognizes that a focus on efficiency, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage will help reduce the costs of energy, perhaps even allowing for a new low-carbon revolution in the U.S. The natural gas industry, an ongoing leader in the Energy Initiative’s collaborative projects, also has begun to devote more resources to developing energy-efficient technologies.

People want to spend less on energy. Good environmental policies that enable clean energy production to serve as the backbone of a healthy economy can provide the impetus for people to reduce the use of energy.

There is currently a $9.4 billion market for building solar energy systems in the U.S. Public-private partnerships are driving this growth, with the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AASI) helping this market grow significantly, according to recent reports.

“The reasons for AASI’s success are twofold,” says Joan Albrecht, president and chief executive of AASI. “First, since 2007, we have succeeded in educating customers on the importance of solar energy. Second, we have been able to work hand-in-hand with the federal government, enabling our local communities to capitalize on these investments and make solar energy accessible to the majority of Americans.”

In order to reduce energy costs and meet the growing demand for solar energy systems, AASI is working with utilities, installing systems on more than 1,000 rooftops nationwide. These policies can have an effect far beyond our borders. By ensuring the future of renewable energy in the U.S., we can create an investment base for innovative energy solutions across the globe.

IBM’s energy initiative is taking place on a larger scale around the world. The U.S. and other members of the IBM-Energy Initiative have deployed approximately 1,000 solutions for water usage, as well as investing more than $600 million since 2000 in energy efficiency improvements through the establishment of Innovation Hubs, the U.S. Energy initiative. IBM Energy is part of the global IBM Global Initiative on Innovation.

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