They interviewed me on hydrogen fuel cells vs. plug in hybrids. No mystery where I stand.
Do we need “disruptive clean-energy technologies that achieve non-incremental breakthroughs” to solve the global warming problem, as S&N (and Lomborg and Bush and his advisors) argue? Let’s hope not — for the sake of the next 50 generations!
Why? Two reasons:
- Such breakthroughs hardly ever happen.
- Even when they do happen, they rarely have a transformative impact on energy markets, even over a span of decades.
Consider that solar photovoltaic cells — a major breakthrough — were invented over 50 years ago, and still comprise only about 0.1% of U.S. electricity (and that amount thanks to major subsidies).
Consider that hydrogen fuel cells — a favorite technology of the breakthrough bunch — were invented more than 165 years ago, and deliver very little electricity (and what little they do deliver comes only because of major subsidies) and no consumer transportation.
Consider fusion — ’nuff said!
I know this seems counterintuitive, when we see such remarkable technology advances almost every month in telecommunications and computers. But it’s true — and I will explain why in this post.
Let me start with a question I often pose to audiences of energy and environmental exports: What technology breakthroughs in the past three decades have transformed how we use energy today? The answer may surprise you:
“I don’t see us passing cap and trade,” Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) told E&E News (subs. req’d). “That’s a hard bugger to pass.”
And Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) have been struggling with the challenge of crafting compromise legislation on climate change, as the article makes clear:
Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spoke at the opening plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative. Unintentionally, her remarks illustrated the challenge of sustainable development.
First the good news — green power:
We are endowed with geothermal power and it fits very well with our Green Philippines program. We want to use clean energy, we want to have energy independence, and geothermal power gives us clean energy and energy independence. Just before coming here yesterday, I was in an island in Santro Philippines, in a geothermal field. In fact the biggest wet field of geothermal power in the world. And what we did was we presided over yesterday a turn over of a build operate and transfer project from the private sector to the government sector. I had a similar turn over a few weeks ago, and the private sector has been able to get, the investors have been able to get their money back before they turn it over to the national government. So it’s been a well paying proposition for them, too.
Now the bad news (which she thought was good news) — subsidized power:
The report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Bureau of Meteorology titled, “Climate Change in Australia” projects that:
- decreases in annual average rainfall are likely in southern Australia – rainfall is likely to decrease in southern areas during winter, in southern and eastern areas during spring, and along the west coast during autumn.
- droughts are likely to become more frequent, particularly in the south-west
- evaporation rates are likely to increase, particularly in the north and east.
- high-fire-danger weather is likely to increase in the south-east
- tropical cyclones are likely to become more intense
- sea levels will continue to rise.
Let’s hope this is enough to spur them to action. Too bad the Bush administration has, unlawfully, blocked a similar assessment for this country.