Saturday, December 12, 2009

Local Solutions Globally Applied

Technology Review

A briefing on electricity appeared in the September/October issue of MIT’s Technology Review magazine. The briefing begins with a section titled, “Can Renewables Become More than a Sideshow?” The introduction concludes with some commendable exhortations, but the body contains two exasperating statements:

“The reality is that renewable power and other alternatives to fossil fuels, including nuclear, remain too expensive to compete with coal and natural gas."

… and …

“Renewables are unlikely to end our reliance on fossil fuels within the next 20 years.”

I responded with a letter to the editors that they were kind enough to print in the Letters and Comments section of the December issue:

Our September/October Briefing focused on the prospects for renewable power.

In “Solar Power Will Make a Difference—Eventually,” the author presumes that ubiquity is a condition for a valid global solution, but the maps of the “energy belts” on page 97 are clear enough evidence that each region must respond to energy issues in its own way. Solar power, particularly, is now an economical solution in our sunniest climes. This fact has been disguised by—among other factors—an energy pricing scheme that defeats the investment value of on-site solar energy and other energy management strategies. We can’t blame the tardiness of technology while we remain tardy in implementing transparent and equitable economic systems. The answer to the rather silly question in the opening section—“Can Renewables Become More than a Sideshow?”—is not only “Yes!” but “They must, and soon.”

This was all that could be said within the constraints of the allotted space. Many other thoughts can be explored here on Rate Crimes. Yet, if I had been permitted to express just one more idea in a periodical devoted to technology it would be that clever technology and honest economics cannot alone resolve our energy issues; humanity will be sustained only by a conscientious and comprehensive discipline of stewardship.

No comments:

Post a Comment