This week it's back to Nevada to Reno for a conference paper review, with exactly one day of un-traveling between visits. The upside is that it looks like we'll finish early tomorrow and I'm thinking this could mean a trip to Lake Tahoe for the day. Tomorrow's forecast says 83 degrees and partly cloudy and it's only 30 miles away... how can I resist??
Monday, May 18, 2009
Dropped into the Desert, Part II
Well, I survived the speech and the city of Las Vegas, although I'd never recommend anyone travel there alone. The presentation actually went really well, considering it was my first public talk since joining DOE. I was nervous at first since this was a group of electric utility co-ops and the only part of geothermal they were interested in was heat pumps, but they were a laid back group and I was able to make some new friends while I was there. I also learned a lot about heat pumps and the electric utility industry, and was surprised to discover that the two go together really well. A great deal of government money is currently available to do both large and small projects with geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), and co-ops are ideal for trying out new technology/ideas, innovative financing models, and large scale demonstration projects. The 30% tax credit makes them essentially on par with other HVAC devices, plus they are more efficient, run at a a more consistent temperature (i.e., more comfort) and save literally tons of greenhouse gases. With the right policy incentives the efficiency and greenhouse gas aspects are what could finally push GHPs over the edge towards greater market penetration. There are a lot of barriers to overcome (e.g, high first cost, few qualified installers, lack of knowledge from policy makers and the general public) but I think things could really change this time. For example, if the Climate/Energy Bill passes and we have a national Renewable Portfolio Standard where saving energy counts, heat pumps will play a major role. Moreover, GHPs could also be major contributors towards reducing peak electricity and gas loads (meaning lower power prices). I’ll stop with the work talk, but unfortunately I don’t have much to report in terms of fun in Sin City. I was feeling an illness coming on and with all the traveling I have to do over the next 2 weeks I really didn’t want to overdo it, so I slept a LOT.