News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY Kevin Cooper, an expert in energy alternatives and green marketing, spoke at the SFCC University Center Friday. He told students to think creatively, to be patient but persistent. Energy alternatives are the future he said; challenges and opportunities abound.
published: Sunday, November 07, 2010
Patience and creativity key to the future
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- South Florida Community College held a special program Friday, a Day Institute sponsored by the Florida Campus Compact, devoted to green revolution, green jobs and green service-learning.
One speaker was Kevin Cooper, an expert in nanotechnology and alternate energies who currently heads the Indian River State College Banner Center for Energy. He has years of practical experience in the field as well as in research labs at Motorola and ran his own toy company that he marketed as green.
The idea of designing green, or with natural forces in mind, is as old as recorded civilization, Cooper said. He pointed to examples throughout history.
When gardens began appearing on skyscraper roofs in Chicago a few years ago, Cooper said, they simply imitated the hanging gardens of Babylon, which were designed to help cool and freshen the buildings.
Greeks built their homes turned toward the sun, using passive solar energy to warm their houses.
Water pollution created health problems in 1450 B.C. that led to religious dietary laws and the concept of kosher.
The feudal era plague led to the first public health policies.
More recently, American attitudes began to change after President Teddy Roosevelt inaugurated the national park system, and especially in the 1960s with the publication of "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson and the calamity caused when the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969.
In reaction, the 1970s was an active time for environmentalists. The Environmental Protection Agency was created, as was Earth Day, Greenpeace, and the Wilderness Act. Nuclear Power became a viable alternative and sewage facilities grew by 100 percent.
The 1980s saw concern with ozone depletion and now attention is being paid to climate change.
The term "green," Cooper said, has been difficult to define. It is an abstract umbrella term meaning roughly, "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future."
Cooper said that the driving forces behind green technology are new revenue sources and job creation.
He warned that America is not alone in exploring the field.
"We risk losing millions to other nations that offer more serious and sustained research," he said.
Florida is a paradox, Cooper added.
On the one hand it produces more energy than it currently needs -- even though Florida ranks third in the nation for overall power consumption -- and that slows alternative energy development. On the other hand Florida is the largest producer of renewable energy using wind and solar farms and solar thermal power.
The largest builder of smart meters is in Bradenton and Florida ranks second in the nation for wind turbine manufacture.
Smart meters are the wave of the future, Cooper said. They will be able to track a home's energy use minute by minute, sending in reports to the power company every few minutes.
With this information, the utility will be better able to adjust its output to a community's needs in real time.
Cooper warned the small, but attentive audience, that real progress is still down the road. Most alternative energy technology is in its infancy.
For example, solar power right now is the most expensive way to produce electricity, while nuclear power is the cheapest.
"It is an interesting market," Cooper said, "but we will need patience and preparation; creativity and the private sector to move forward."
In the short run green technology will cause a loss of jobs, as machinery and electronics do more of today's work. In the long run, however, there will be a growth in jobs that require specialized training and offer more money and better benefits.
An individual with an Associates of Science degree in energy management, for example, could expect to make $65,000 at a nuclear power plant.
Short term, the quickest way to save energy will be in weatherizing houses and buildings. This should provide a source of many jobs -- people to audit a home and recommend changes, and the companies to do the changes.
Cooper said there would be many opportunities for small businesses -- from transporting biomass fuel to processing plants, to those installing charge stations in cities and rural rest stops to serve the growing number of electric cars. There will also be a need for individuals versed in data storage, security, analysis and management.
Which is one reason the college hosted the green event -- its goal is to stay up-to-date with changes in the workplace and culture overall. The idea is to be ready with needed education as research turns into practical progress.
Green (by: BoB - 11/13/2010)
With so many hands in my pockets now -a-days, I never get a turn anymore.
Green=Communism (by: Notgoing green ever - 11/9/2010)
Do some homework reporters. Follow the trail from green to socialism. Wonder what happened to your lightbulbs? Follow the money.
Green (by: GT - 11/7/2010)
The only problem I have with "green" is the people pushing this agenda. It sounds very nice, who's against a clean enviornment? If nuclear energy is so wonderful,and it is, why did these same groups stop it in this country? All of these recomendations are good if they don't raise the price of energy due to government control. This is like the state mandating septic tank inspections. They all cost money that doesn't grow on trees in my yard. They all start with a nudge, then a push and finally a mandate.
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