There’s a lot of yelping these days about the cost of renewable energy technology but in some cases the investment is just a fraction of the payback. For instance, with a nation wide smart grid in the United States, new estimates say we could save up to $2 trillion over the next twenty years with an investment of $476 billion. Trillions in savings sounds like a great kickback to us, and we think that it’s time to get it in our heads that sometimes you just have to pay it forward.

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These new estimates were created by the clean energy thinkers over at Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). “We need to tell power customers there is going to be an improved power system that will result in reduced costs even if they do not see an immediate reduction in their bill,” said Clark Gellings, an EPRI Fellow. EPRI estimates that by 2050, with a smart grid, the average electricity bill will go up by about 50%. If the smart grid is not employed that same bill will go up by 400%.

With all the sexy innovation in wind turbines and solar panels the comparatively boring innovations in smart grid technology often get pushed aside. You can’t show the smart grid off in a wind-swept field or on a brand new building like you can with other clean energy technology — but that doesn’t mean the benefits aren’t huge. Creating a renewable energy future is as much about producing carbon-free energy as it is about making sure we use that energy in the most efficient manner.


Via Reuters