Energy Policy Issues
What are some of the barriers to
sensible energy policy and sustainability?
There are many:
Legislative Barrier: The need is not seen or understood.
Continuous short term view
NIMBY Barrier: Many things are now unnacceptable to the public who
continues to act only in their own self-interest
Barrier: The public doesn`t understand the need to
invest in alternative energy sources now.
Industry Barrier: Economics of alternative energy are not well
understood, can industry make a profit? If not then their smokestacks
will stop. Who decides to give up jobs for sustainability
Capital Cost Barrier: Without government subsidies, some
facilities just can't get built
Uncertainty Barrier: Will new technology come along and obsolete
what has been done? Do we just have to wait to be "saved" by fusion,
or a better mousetrap?
Environmental Barrier: The perception of "damage" to the environment
greatly exceeds the actual risk. Whatever alternative is proposed
a self-interest group will arise to veto it
Energy Storage Barrier: All forms of alternative energy require
efficient and reliable energy storage to compenesate for low duty
cycle. We are still awaiting a technical breakthru here.
Breaking Down These Barriers:
Seizing the Initiative:
- Legislative: Difficult, traditional energy providers are a powerful
lobby --> employment issues are very important --> does the alternative
energy field give enough jobs? Will the product be affordable for the
- NIMBY Barrier: --> I have No Clue!
- Ignorance Barrier: Use the WWW, clue the public in! Reducate
Joe Six pack! Unless the population is better educated, there seems
to be little hope for progess.
- Industry Barrier: This is difficult, several new startup companies
in the energy generation field are required, many will fail. Taxing
fossil fuel use as a means of subsidizing these startup companies would
be a good idea.
- Capital Cost Barrier: --> Your congress at work. Only TAX breaks
and low interest loans can solve this one.
- Uncertainty Barrier: --> this can never be solved, just pick something
and go with it but its important to remain flexible and modular
- Environmental Barrier: --> Shoot the Media! Poor media reporting
(in particular, total failure to articulate a global view) combined
with NIMFBY is a real problem.
- Energy Storage Barrier: --> again a sizeable investment needs to be
made in energy storage technology. In the area of batteries, this at
least is recognized and progess is being made.
- Public cooperation, change of conscience and habit?
- legislation at the local level (Eugene is a fossil-free zone)
- Legislation at the state level --> California will clearly be
the leader here
- Legislation at the Federal Level --> probably unconstitutional
so we need another FDR to just do stuff, unconstitutional or not
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