U.S. Unveils $350-Million Initiative at Copenhagen


"Climate REDI will also invest in further developing renewable energy sources in the developing world."

Since the 1970s, refrigerators in the U.S. have swelled from 18 cubic feet to 22 cubic feet. But, at the same time, the energy consumption of such gargantuan coolers has dropped by 75 percent, down to roughly 40 watts, saving countless tons of coal from being burned. And a five-year global program that reached all the refrigerators in the world with similar efficiency improvements might save 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide over that span, a significant contribution to combating climate change.

And that's exactly what U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu unveiled here Monday at the United Nations' summit on climate change: the Climate Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI)—a $350-million investment by major economies, including $85 million from the U.S., to bring everything from efficient refrigerators to solar lanterns to the developing world.

"The energy savings from refrigerators is greater than all U.S. renewable energy generation—all the wind, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics—just the refrigerators," Chu said in a speech announcing the initiative, noting the refrigerators also cost less.

In addition to coordinating global standards for efficient appliances, Climate REDI will also invest in further developing renewable energy sources—such as wind and solar power—in the developing world. The initiative will fund the deployment of "affordable home systems and LED lanterns to those without access to electricity," according to a program fact sheet.

And Chu spoke of some of the "game-changing" technologies the DOE, which he called the "world's largest [venture capital] firm for clean energy," hopes will come to fruition in coming years, such as a liquid-metal battery that could be both relatively inexpensive and store megawatts of electricity. . ."The prosperity of the U.S. is actually depending on how much we fund this research. We are serious about changing our direction."

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