Market won't drive clean energy transition

Geoff Styles blogs a recent Science article explaining why the transition to cleaner fuels will take a long time.
Here's a clear and concise explanation from the top science journal in the country on why the transition to alternative energy won't--and can't--be quick, cheap or easy...

That's a crucial point for anyone who sees this energy transition driven not just by concerns about energy security and greenhouse gas emissions, but by notions of clean energy as the next big wealth-creating global trend, akin to the computer revolution. A kilowatt-hour or BTU does the same work, regardless of its source, so unless it can be produced for significantly less than from conventional sources, greener energy offers no productivity gains of the kind that have fueled the global infotech transformation.
Density and intermittency are both large disadvantages that many renewable energy sources must overcome... and even without these disadvantages, the article explains, the transition to current fossil fuels took half a century.

Pursuing renewable energy is a worthwhile goal (neither Geoff nor the author disagree), as is chasing energy efficiency, which is perhaps our most attractive short-term option to balance energy demand and supply. But I also agree that it's prudent to disregard the optimistic claims of those who believe things along the lines of "replacing oil will be the greatest commercial opportunity of our generation." It won't.

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