The Corner

Comical Renewable-Energy Arguments

There’s an argument common among a certain type of renewable-energy enthusiast that we already have all the technology we need to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations while meeting energy needs, and all it takes is political will. That argument is questioned by Mary Hutzler, former head of the Energy Information Administration here. Mary’s piece should be read in conjunction with former top Energy Department official Steve Eule’s valuable presentation on the size and scale of the “greenhouse gas problem” here.

Incidentally, one person who does not believe we have the technology ready to go is Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who is quoted in today’s Greenwire (subs reqd) as saying:

Perhaps at the end of this century we could get renewables — and energy storage and transmission — on a plane where we can transition away from these others…But I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

Chu has also suggested that we may need to “spread the knowledge around.” In an interview with the New York Times he demonstrated a cavalier attitude to intellectual property:

So any area like that I think is where we should work very hard in a very collaborative way — by very collaborative I mean share all intellectual property as much as possible.

The reaction from those who will be making the investment in new technologies, like Steve Fludder, head of the expressly green “Ecoimagination” division of GE, was brutal:

Why would we invest $1.5 billion a year in innovation that just slips through your fingers?…I mean, why would anybody invest in anything that they would have to just give away?…Stifling investments in innovation is going to basically work against the very goal that everyone is trying to achieve.

If it wasn’t so important, this country’s approach to energy policy would be comical.

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