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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Comments

don't forget Bill Clinton's mid 90s "Car of the Future" and GWB's Hydrogen car. They were also pretty awesome, and a nice substitute for the more prosaic lifting of EPA mileage standards.

(Which, if I recall correctly, were finally lifted post bank-bailout, when the dynamic changed and they could be used to scold the car companies and the UAW that they wanted to drive out of business.)

I'm going to play optimist here and hope that the goals laid out in the law might not mean so much once renewables get a fair chance to prove themselves. In other words, once a process of technological change gets underway, it may develop a momentum of its own that leads us to exceed the minimal standards Obama is promoting.

Or at least that's what seems to be happening in China:

As recently as the start of last year, the Chinese government’s target was to have 5,000 megawatts of wind power installed by the end of next year, or the equivalent of eight big coal-fired power plants, a tiny proportion of China’s energy usage and a pittance at a time when China was building close to two coal-fired plants a week.

But in March of last year, as power companies began accelerating construction of wind turbines, the government issued a forecast that 10,000 megawatts would actually be installed by the end of next year. And now, just 15 months later, with construction of coal-fired plants having slowed to one a week and still falling, it appears that China will have 30,000 megawatts of wind energy by the end of next year — which was previously the target for 2020, Mr. Li said.

Wow, thanks for the NYT article, SteveB. That's strong stuff. It just amazes me that anyone who is not directly paid by the fossil fuel industry, still opposes a huge national promotion of renewable energy projects. They would be perfectly profitable and create lots of jobs, if we made them a national priority. We don't, so the conversion to renewables just lingers in this limbo where people get to say "I can't make money off renewables unless somebody else does it first". Beauties of the Capitalist system for you. I just want to barf every time some closet Objectivist hands me the line about how competition is the only way to promote innovation and America is the most innovative country in the world. Meanwhile virtually every other major country in the world is surpassing us in this, building a more secure energy future for themselves, while America keeps whining "it's not yet profitable to worry about the future, we have to milk a few more drops of sweet sweet oil out of the ground before the market leads us sheeple into renewables". {/rant}

...aaaand just to prove my point, Thomas Friedman comments on China's changing attitude towards green energy...

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/07/the-next-great-global-industry.html

Normally I think Friedman is a total idiot, (I'm in the Matt Taibbi camp), but when he talks about green energy he occasionally makes a modicum of sense.

Thomas:
Agreed, Friedman is a total idiot, but I find him especially annoying when he gets on the topic of "green energy" because he apparently can't understand the issue except as some sort of "race" between the US and China. Why frame the issue in those terms? Why should we care if the latest solar panel is developed by a Chinese-based multinational corporation rather than a US-based multinational corporation? Any technology that proves useful will eventually be used everywhere, and who cares which mega-corporation enjoys a temporary advantage over its competitors?

Sometimes, I think he doesn't really believe this silly "green energy race" nonsense, but promotes it anyway because he thinks it will catch the attention of the political elites that he always imagines himself talking to. But, then again, Friedman is a total idiot.

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