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Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System Hardcover – October 21, 2011
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Richard Lester and David Hart offer a thoughtful analysis about the special challenges of innovation in energy. Their book will generate discussion and indeed debate about the relative roles of government and markets in bringing innovation about.(Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World)
Lester and Hart have perceptively described what a vastly improved U.S. energy innovation system would look like and the significant economic and environmental benefits it could deliver. Equally important, they have laid out a thoughtful initial approach to building this system over the near and long-term.(Dan W. Reicher, Executive Director, Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
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Top Customer Reviews
But that turned out to be typical of the book. All words, no numbers, nothing solid to work with. The overall thesis is we should just create a good incentive system by improving the grid (good idea), improving conservation through ideas like smart metering (being tried, catching on only slowly), and using the tariffs to incentivise green delivery (ok). Then we just sit back and watch it happen.
There is no reason we should not invest in cleaner energy. It would be cheaper (and more effective) than militarizing the world's oil and gas producers has been. Heck, with a trillion bucks we could have built a lot of wind and solar, figured out most of the technology needed for LFTR, got a solid run at diesel from algae, built some additional key links in our grid, etc. .. and had higher employment. But, government does not invest in the right thing without imagination and good advice.
This book is not how to imagine a better future. It is just more drifting along with a timid push in some useful directions, but what is described is barely above status quo. Uninspiring. At that rate we will have more wars, more global warming, more isolation, and the new power systems are all going to be invented elsewhere.
Instead the authors create envision a socialist fantasy land of Government programs, taxes and incentives that will cost every American tens of thousands of dollars. All the while ignoring the fact that the US share of greenhouse gas emissions is only about 15% and is rapidly decreasing. So even if you buy into global warming 100%, its ridiculous to think that a national policy will have any effect on our climate. Think of it this way. If we cut emissions like the author suggested by 40%, we will only affect world output by 6%. And that assumes that our percentage of world output remains the same. The more likely scenario is that our percentage of total is somewhere less than 10% by the time any grand schemes come into play. (perhaps much less) At that point, a 40% decrease would affect world output by 4%. The US has 300 million people. Combined, China and India have over 2.6 billion people. Almost 9 times the population of the US. With an exploding middle class in both of these countries, to make any sacrifice in the name of reduced domestic carbon emissions both pointless and wasteful.
One other annoyance is the fact that the author does not seem to recognize the booming domestic natural gas and oil production.Read more ›