Today, October 1, 2014, marks 18 years without a measurable increase in the earth’s temperature according to the RSS temperature series (note: other series have different durations since warming stopped, some longer, some shorter). This is not a reason to declare victory, as the side effects of our energy usage, including CO2 dumped in the atmosphere, add uncertainty to our future. But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t good news, as it certainly is.
Whenever I see something a wildly create idea like the solar road idea, it renews my faith in the power of innovation and its potential to address our toughest sustainability problems. Given the number of people who sent me links to this project, the idea seems to have captured the imagination of a good number of folks. I’ll be up front: in the case of solar roads, I actually don’t believe that it will make sense to widely deploy them today (more on this at the end of this post).
Were you outraged at the Department of Energy over the long-term lack of electricity to millions of Americans following hurricane Sandy? Are you waiting for Secretary Chu’s explanation of why 40% of the 2012 corn crop is going to ethanol, raising food prices during an economic slump? Do you follow DOE’s positions on the Keystone XL pipeline or the renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit? I can confidently say the answer is ‘No’, since no one I know believes the DOE plays a serious role in US energy strategy and execution.
Bloom Energy’s recent announcement of their fuel cell-based “energy server” drew lots of attention from the press, and for good reason. It set some nice marks for performance, and, if successful, will likely be the first of a new market category of energy products. At Sun we looked at this technology a couple of years back. The use case was as the backup for a datacenter, and to switch to it as primary power when grid power was more expensive (e.
[Note: I jointly authored this with Dan Sarewitz of ASU] The House of Representatives has passed a massive climate change bill aimed at legislating a new, climate-friendly energy supply into existence through emissions caps, technology standards, and incentives. The bill’s champions assume that, in response to an array of mandated carrots and sticks, nimble startup firms will be motivated to develop new clean-energy technologies that will ultimately revolutionize our use of energy, while investors smelling early profits will line up to fund these activities.
Roger Pielke Jr. has an outstanding post titled US Mitigation Math where he shows the general sources and sinks of US energy and resulting GHG emissions. He also throws out some reduction scenarios and concludes that they cannot come close to meeting an emissions reductions goal of 14% below 2005 levels by 2020. So he closes with a challenge: “… present a scenario combining decarbonization of the energy supply and efficiency gain that has a realistic chance of succeeding in meeting a 14% emissions reduction (below 2005) by 2020.