Beyond Politics; A Project Managers Argument for Clean Energy

There is a moment in project management where everything you believe you know about a system becomes irrelevant. You are forced to admit one inevitable thing – the system is out of control.

It is called the Rule of Seven, when seven Key Performance Indicators show up outside your “control range.” This is never fun. However, what good project managers understand is that, at that moment, the time for ego has passed. Ascribing blame is useless. The only thing that matters is avoiding a catastrophic failure. If it is avoidable and you don’t take the necessary steps to solve the problem, it isn’t the system that failed; it is the stakeholders.

With insurmountable evidence pointing to a global climate system swinging wildly warmer at a faster rate than at any other point in our planet’s history, the moment for political divide on the issue of climate change has become irrelevant. The hottest years on record, the largest hurricanes and typhoons ever recorded and the worst droughts and wildfires ever seen in recorded history are undeniable. Every major data indicator for our climate system is trending well beyond  the established range. The system is out of control.

The time has come to use the same logical and systematic approach to problem solving that we would use in any project cycle or development process. It is time to workshop solutions.

Blame is pointless. Soapbox speeches and attempts to determine how much of the problem is manmade are irrelevant.  The problem of climate change is beyond politics and the data is clear. The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is the lead culprit, and energy production is the leading source of CO2 emissions on the planet. With these facts in mind, we can begin to look for solutions.

Yes, we do. Renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, geothermal and hydro produce power with very little emissions attributed to their manufacture and ongoing operation. Advances in natural gas production and the ability to process the unused heat from burning natural gas to produce energy affords the opportunity to magnify production by not wasting the energy of the exhaust coming out of the generators themselves.

Yes, we can. With the maturation of energy storage technology, balancing the production of new combined resources that function like the traditional baseload resources our lifestyles have come to depend on is a real possibility. Beyond that, there are many advantages to deploying a multi-resource energy solution.

This is where the magic happens. By bringing a multi-resource solution to the problem, you not only create a diverse portfolio of production options, you also build in redundant safety that reinforces the system if one resource is compromised. When it is cloudy, the wind is usually blowing. When the sun is relentless, excess energy can be stored for use when the sun goes down. When there is no sun or wind, natural gas can still provide a lower emission option than the traditional resource of coal. The options of hydro and geothermal are based on gravity – creating downward pull on water and the internal heat of the earth’s core. And gravity isn’t going anywhere, except down, or more precisely, inward.

With all this in mind, the need and ability to deploy possible solutions become apparent. As with any new idea, there are always detractors who point to issues. Let’s address two objections that have surfaced about climate change and energy alternatives.

“The data is flawed.”

This argument belies the evidence that we are all experiencing personally and witnessing firsthand. Summers are hotter. More people are dying from heatwaves annually than ever, and our favorite coastal places are being inundated by flooding from big events or even just full and new moons. Even if the data contains flaws, the evidence is  undeniable.

“It’s too hard, too expensive and too complicated.”

This argument is usually posited by those who directly benefit from the status quo. It comes under the guise that, somehow, we will all be better off enduring a slow but unstoppable decline into disaster rather than trying to fix things. People will point to jobs disappearing, deepening complexity and an “it’s fine” position. In reality, jobs are created by diverse infrastructure projects, complexity is what humans have been excelling at since our inception and we will be fine… as long as we focus on solving the problem instead of ignoring it.

The more practical flaws of regional energy production and distribution networks are painfully obvious. Every other critical infrastructure runs on energy. Medical, transportation, communications, commerce, transportation – all depend on energy infrastructure. By engineering a system that depends on one vulnerable component, you are creating a dangerous design flaw. Distributed energy resources (DERs) allow you to deploy energy infrastructure in a way that protects against single factor vulnerabilities.

My team at Alternative Resource Group has dedicated itself to creating targeted solutions that create opportunity and resiliency out of necessity. Our approach is to use clean energy resources to address demand specifically and locally, utilizing intelligent microgrids.

The Rule of Seven is flashing red warnings. It is beyond a question of politics. It is a question of survival. When a system is out of control, your options are to workshop solutions that work or be held accountable for their failure.

AT ARG, we don’t have problems, we have solutions.

2018-11-16T01:00:17+00:00

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