Small is Beautiful: We Don't Need to Go Big To Create New Energy Sources

PERI's Robert Pollin, author of Greening the Global Economy, says community-owned renewable energy sources are the path to the future

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay coming today from the PERI Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In the new book Greening the Global Economy Rob Pollin says we don’t need to go big to create new energy sources; in fact, small is beautiful. One of the central ideas in his book. And he now joins us here at the PERI Institute, thanks for joining us.

ROBERT POLLIN: Thanks for having me.

JAY: So the book is Greening the Global Economy and here it is. So let’s explore this a little bit. So what do you mean? Usually I think when people think, building a new green infrastructure creating thousands of jobs, its usually on some big scale. People imagine like thousands of windmills and such but you’re saying there’s other alternatives.

POLLIN: Well, there will, should be thousands of windmills but if we look for example at the experiences and of a few Western European countries Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the UK. They do have wind turbine projects that are community owned, that are placed right in the middle of the community, for example like right in the middle of Copenhagen. And they are community owned and because they are community owned they operate at lower levels of profitability, the people are willing to except lower levels of profitability. They have lower transmission costs because the wind turbine is right there in the community so you don’t have to have these long transmission infrastructure projects. And the community is supportive of it cause they own it.

JAY: So instead of a massive wind farm somewhere out here. One in the town.

POLLIN: And corporate owned. And so you can have small scaled projects. Look, the smallest scale project is putting a solar panel on your roof. And you know, that may not work every single place but for the most part that is a completely viable strategy for communities throughout the country, as we’ve discussed where we’re sitting at our PERI institute we’re putting a new building right across the way. In cold, not so sunny western Massachusetts that is going to over the course of the year, require it doesn’t have no emissions over the course of the year. It’s going to depend on being heavily insulated, high efficiency building, with solar energy and geothermal energy.

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