Strong fossil fuel industry precludes investment and growth of clean tech
Schneider 12 – (3/4/12, Keith, senior editor of Circle of Blue, former national environmental correspondent and regular contributor to the New York Times, “New American Energy Boom, A Reprieve and a Reckoning,” http://modeshift.org/419/new-american-energy-boom-a-reprieve-and-a-reckoning/)
The risks of perpetuating America’s fossil fuel economy are equally momentous, producing a new era of national reckoning. Ample natural gas supplies and low prices are dampening demand for wind, solar, geothermal, and other non-polluting sources of energy. One result is that clean energy manufacturing plants are closing in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain states, and California. Two solar producers in Michigan, for instance, have shut their doors in the last year.
Public investment in non-fossil fuel innovation is uncertain. It’s not at all clear yet whether Congress will renew the tax credits that expire later this year and that have spurred wind and solar use and manufacturing.
If the U.S. spends another generation in an oil and gas coma, choosing not to pursue alternatives with the fierce commitment to success that propelled the Apollo program to land a man on the moon, it will end up even more economically stretched and politically unstable than it is today.
That conclusion is easy to draw. Persistently high prices for oil, caused largely by rising demand in Asia, is strengthening the energy industry and its ability to convince state governments and Washington to scrub interest in developing cleaner energy alternatives. The urgency to avoid this scenario is keen for the millions of Americans who could work in the alternative energy sector, and for the planet’s health.
Disincentivizes renewables and makes warming inevitable
Schwartz 12 – (8/17/12, Peter, Wired Magazine, “Abundant Natural Gas and Oil Are Putting the Kabosh on Clean Energy,” http://www.wired.com/business/2012/08/mf_naturalgas/)
Since the 1950s, the US has had a perverse approach to energy. In effect we have maximized demand by building bigger, hungrier cars, homes, and lifestyles and minimized supply by limiting oil drilling, coal mining, and nuclear development. And how do we make up the difference? We buy oil from the people who hate us most.
But this is changing. We’ve long been acutely aware of the geopolitical ramifications of relying on Middle Eastern oil. And the threat of climate change—along with high fuel prices—has made us all realize the need for greater energy efficiency. Thankfully, technology is coming to the rescue. New methods of extracting gas and oil, combined with efficiency gains in nearly every industry, mean that we are now minimizing demand and maximizing supply. And that’s a good thing, right? Not so fast.
Flipping the supply-demand relationship is having some unexpected consequences. Chief among them is that, as fossil fuels become more abundant—and we consume less of them—the incentives to develop clean, renewable energy drop dramatically. As a result, we may no longer be looking at an age of increasing solar, wind, and nuclear power.Instead we are likely moving into a new hydrocarbon era. And that’s very bad news for climate change.
Abundant and cheap fossil fuels kill clean tech prospects
Schneider 12 – (3/29/12, Keith, senior editor of Circle of Blue, former national environmental correspondent and regular contributor to the New York Times, “U.S. Fossil Fuel Boom Dims Glow of Clean Energy,” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/us_fossil_fuel_boom_dims_glow_of_clean_energy/2511/)
The story of American energy used to be that we consumed and imported too much, that fossil fuel reserves were finite, and that a technical breakthrough in clean alternatives would save us.
How 20th century. The new narrative of American energy is this: We’ve been using less. A national boom in oil and gas production — spreading across 12 states, from California to Pennsylvania and North Dakota to Texas — is showing we have much more than we thought. And the clean energy economy, tiny by comparison and roiled by uncertain markets, is still decades away.
No state embodies these trends more clearly than Ohio, which for years has been a modest oil and gas producer, and not long ago was widely viewed as a leader in passing legislation, promoting jobs, and installing manufacturing for a clean energy economy.
Over the last year, though, everything in Ohio’s energy sector, like the nation’s, has changed. A surge in tapping so-called unconventional gas and oil reserves locked in underground shale formations is helping drive a national economic recovery, elevating fossil fuel production to a top economic priority, and dimming the glow of clean energy in the U.S., especially in natural gas-rich states like Ohio.
At night, on both sides of the upper Ohio River valley south of Pittsburgh, floodlights illuminate the table-flat summits of steep Appalachian ridges that now serve as production pads for natural gas wells and processing plants. Drilling rigs 18 stories tall are starting to tap huge reserves beneath 17,000 Nearly $2 billion in new gas processing facilities have been announced for the Ohio River Valley. square miles of eastern and central Ohio.
Early production results from Ohio’s Columbiana, Carroll, Harrison, and Belmont counties show the first completed wells are capable of producing millions of cubic feet of gas and more than 1,000 barrels of oil a day. Families are signing drilling leases that pay up to $5,800 an acre. Nearly $2 billion in new gas processing facilities have been announced for sites in the Ohio River Valley. The economy of the 145 miles of river from Pittsburgh to Marietta, for two generations a laboratory of industrial ruin, is perking up.
“It’s fantastic what this could do for this region,” said Sharon Davis, who owns a restaurant in Sardis, Ohio, and recently received up to $5,250 an acre for the 168 acres of minerals she and her family own in Monroe County.
Meanwhile, a plan to build an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie, near Cleveland, has faltered. Another proposal to build a big wind farm in western Ohio was fought to a standstill by local residents, who filed a lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court. In January, one of the state’s prominent solar manufacturing companies laid off half its workforce, and the chairman and founder of a second solar company resigned, leaving a skeletal staff and big debts. Cardinal Fastener, the Cleveland company that supplied bolts to wind turbine manufacturers, and which was visited by President-elect Obama in January 2009, declared bankruptcy last June, laid off most of the staff, and then was bought in November by a German manufacturer.
“The energy picture has changed dramatically,” said Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “The price of electrical power is low. The price of natural gas is low. It’s changed the thinking on all alternative technologies. It’s affecting solar. You could say it’s taking the wind out of wind.”
It wasn’t very long ago — 2008 in fact — that clean energy production, and the development of a manufacturing sector to support it, represented a cogent business plan for Ohio and other states interested in creating jobs and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama ran on a platform that responded to rising gasoline prices and industrial obsolescence with a clean energy, good jobs message.
Now, President Obama talks about an “all of the above” energy strategy, as he did in January in the State of the Union, when he hailed the fossil fuel sector for generating more natural gas than ever before and for relying “less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.” Weeks later the president dispatched Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to Ohio to tour a manufacturing plant that is adding jobs to build the bulk tank trailers used to haul millions of gallons of water to drill sites to hydro-fracture, or “frack,” the nation’s hydrocarbon-rich shales.
Link – Oil
Oil independence ends the necessary support for clean tech
LeVine 12 (Steven Levine, “If oil is making Americans independent, do they still need clean-tech?” 3/26/12) http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/26/if_oil_is_making_americans_independent_do_they_still_need_clean_tech
Let's say that the new conventional wisdom is correct -- that we ought to dispense of worries of resource scarcity, and embrace a dawning age of U.S. oil abundance and self-sufficiency. If we ask ourselves what that means, one conclusion is the apparent elimination of a central rationale for the development of clean energy technologies -- that the U.S. needs them to shed its reliance on unreliable oil imports from nefarious Middle East nations. Clean-tech must be scrutinized through a political lens, because by and large, none of the technologies stands on its own feet as yet in the marketplace. They require political support to survive. Let's take a look at the calculus for clean-tech. Industry analysts and journalists assert almost weekly (like Citigroup's Ed Morse and reporters at the New York Times) that U.S. shale oil and deepwater reservoirs, plus Canadian oil sands, are making the U.S. virtually self-sufficient in oil. (I myself have urged caution in this exuberance.) In response, President Barack Obamasaidlast week that oil drilling is not the "be-all, end-all strategy" of being energy self-sufficient, but rather that the U.S. requires "all of the above," meaning solar, wind and biofuels, too. He said this because he wants to retain federal support for cleantech companies and research, but is being pummeled by opponents who call such assistance a boondoggle, and accuse him of hostility to oil. The other reason he said this is that gasoline prices in much of the country are well over $4 a gallon. Already, politics have knocked out another pillar of the clean-energy foundation -- the push to hold down CO2 emissions. Since there is no longer apparent majority U.S. political will to stave off global warming, clean-tech has seemed to lose that logic for public support. Now goes the argument of energy security: If the forecasts of a U.S. bonanza are accurate, biofuels, advanced batteries and other technologies will be unneeded for the purpose of energy freedom from the Middle East.
Domestic oil abundance changes the political environment against clean energy
Levi 12 (Michael Levi, David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relation, “Does Oil Abundance Mean Climate Doom?” 6/6/12) http://blogs.cfr.org/levi/2012/06/06/does-oil-abundance-mean-climate-doom/
What I’ve left out, though, is the political dimension. Abundant oil can influence emissions by changing the political environment in which battles over what to do about our energy systems play out. This might ultimately be more consequential for emissions than the economic and physical influences are. The influence of oil abundance on climate policy could run either way. A sense of oil abundance could reduce any urgency surrounding efforts to curb traditional consumption of fossil fuels. The popular discourse often conflates the dangers posed by oil scarcity and climate change. If oil scarcity concerns weaken, then, it wouldn’t be surprising to see climate ones fade too.Since serious leverage over emissions will ultimately require concerted action from policymakers, the consequences of this dynamic don’t look good.
More domestic oil kills clean energy, CCS, and environmental laws
LeVine 12 (Steven Levine, contributing editor at Foreign Policy, a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, “Would becoming a petrostate change the American character,” 3/27/12) http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/27/will_becoming_a_petro_state_change_the_american_character
Yesterday I raised the potential for a U.S. political shakeout if the oil-abundant theorists are correct: If the U.S. truly does become effectively self-sufficient in oil, political support for clean-energy would be seriously undermined. Today, the Obama Administration imposed super-strict standards on the emissions from coal-fired power plants, incentivizing thedevelopment of carbon-capture technology, as well as the use of natural gas. This demonstrates that aggressive public policy can keep the goals of the clean-tech edifice alive; but it cannot be taken as a template, since policy ebbs and flows, and any future Republican administration, for example, is unlikely to embrace the same philosophy. What about the economic wrinkles of a shift to oil as a trigger of a new U.S. Industrial Revolution, as forecast by Citibank analyst Ed Morse? Low-price energy provides a big advantage to U.S. makers of chemicals and plastics, since the feedstock -- natural gas -- is so cheap. Yet would this edge flow up the line to high-end technologies, the foundation of the overall U.S. economic advantage? I exchanged emails with Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College and the author of The Race for What's Left. Klare thinks that oil abundance could have a fundamental impact on the character of the United States. He said: I see this as making the United States more like a Third World petro-state -- we will see increased economic benefits in some quarters and among certain specialized labor sectors. But we will become more like a basic commodity producer that must lower its environmental standards in order to boost production, and less like a modern high-tech country like Germany and Japan.
Link – Tar Sands
Tar Sand causing warming and oil dependence – massive emissions, derails transition to a clean economy, locks in bad infrastructure
Lefkowitz 9 (Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director International Program of the National Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., worked at IUCN's Environmental Law Center in Germany, “Tar Sands – Dangerous Distraction or Just Plain Dangerous?” 5/29/9) http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/tar_sands_dangerous_distractio.html
Clean transportation solutions for the 21st century such as wind and solar to power electrified vehicles are endless. We can lead the technological development of these solutions and put American ingenuity to work. So why would this new report emphasize the importance of Canada expanding its extraction of, and the United States increasing its reliance on, high carbon and environmentally destructive tar sands oil? Our reliance on oil has led us into dangerous places and oil is a limited resource, threatens our national security and pollutes our atmosphere and damages our health. Even though the tar sands are located in a friendly neighboring country, expansion of the tar sands means more of the same. This report endorses business as usual, in a business that is underminig our ability to build a clean energy economy. What the report fails to acknowledge is that while oil will be around for a while, we must now take steps toward a post-petroleum society. Postponing that day by expanding ever more remote, dirty and dangerous sources of synthetic crude is not a strategy for energy security. The report concludes that "For the near future, the economic and security value of oil sands expansion will likely outweigh the climate damages that the oil sands create..." This perspective fails to account for the costs and risks from locking us into an immensely expensive and complex tar sands infrastructure that does not make sense for a sharply emissions-constrained future. The report sets out to analyze "complex tradeoffs" in expanding the Canadian tar sands. It says that some argue that Canadian tar sands are an "energy security godsend" and others argue that they are a "climate disaster". It is significant that the report concludes that tar sands are not critical to U.S. energy security. However, it then goes on to conclude that tar sands are also not catastrophic for climate change. It makes policy recommendations that seem to have little basis in the need for a varied toolkit of solutions and that would largely support expansion of tar sands oil development. But expansion of tar sands oil development cannot be reconciled with the imperative to reduce the deterioration of our atmosphere. The CFR report will undoubtedly be used by those who want to justify expansion of tar sands oil. What the report neglects to acknowledge is that tar sands oil exemplifies a big step down a path that is dangerous and destructive. If we do not address oil demand, we will end up with dependence on ever harder to access, dirtier and more destructive forms of fuel such as liquid coal, oil shale and others. This debate is not just about tar sands, but about which path we wish to choose for our energy and transportation needs. Those of us looking forward to a new way of doing business know that we can reduce our dependence on oil by implementing the policies that the President supports and is already moving to put into place for cleaner energy and transportation solutions. It is by reducing our dependence on oil that we will actually achieve energy and climate security. President Obama, speaking Wednesday at Nellis Air Force base, said that we cannot bear the cost of our oil addiction any longer. He said that we are trying to build a firmer foundation for economic growth by harnessing the power of clean, renewable energy. This vision does not pit energy security against climate change - that is a false dichotomy used in the CFR report. Instead, it redefines energy security as including climate security. The United States cannot afford to undermine its efforts to move forward in building a clean energy economy by supporting expansion of tar sands oil.Increasing our reliance on tar sands oil would take us backwards rather than forwards. The report raises the question of whether the debate over tar sands is a "dangerous distraction." Far from it - this is a critical debate that needs to end in our realization that tar sands oil production is just plain dangerous - to our health and to our future. Here's a more detailed look at some of the points made in the report: The report minimizes the long-term climate risk from tar sands by focusing mostly on the high emissions from tar sands oil production as a percentage of global emissions and not on the larger climate risk associated with burning the tar sands oil reserves over many years in our gas tanks. The report also says that the climate change threat posed by tar sands is only something to worry about in the long-term. Fine - it is the long-term that we are concerned about. Tar sands projects, once built have a 25-50 year lifespan. We need to address them now in order to address that long-term threat. We can't afford to sink billions into expensive new tar sands infrastructure that will then effectively lock us into using this new oil source for decades to come. Expanding a high carbon fuel at this time takes us backwards, not forwards in meeting our energy goals - and the more reliant we get on high carbon fuels, the harder it will be to make the necessary move to lower carbon transportation solutions. We need to invest scarce capital in developing and deploying permanent solutions like clean electricity to power plug-ins and pure electric vehicles rather than locking into a 20th century oil infrastructure.
Link – Keystone
Keystone causes fossil fuel lock in
Burwell 11 (David Burwell, director of the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment, “Keystone XL: Danger Ahead,” 12/15/11) http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/12/15/keystone-xl-danger-ahead/8aib
Keystone XL is more than a political bargaining chip. It is more than a $7 billion capital energy project. It is the Rubicon that scientists, energy analysts, and environmentalists say we must not cross if we are to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. Build Keystone XL and we lock ourselves into reliance on "dirty" energy sources that will put us over the 2 degrees tipping point. It is "game over."This 2 degrees limit is not a random number. It is the limit beyond which settled science says we risk a 50-50 chance of severe planetary harm. Imagine a world with 35 percent of all species going extinct; a sea level rise flooding natural and urban infrastructure alike; forced exodus of more than 500 million people from coastal areas; and a deadly migration of tropical diseases toward populations that have not built up resistance. All this within the lifetime of those we care about most deeply -- our children and grandchildren. Energy analysts are increasingly alarmed at the rate that the world is getting "locked-in" to fossil fuels as its primary energy source. The International Energy Agency, in its annual World Energy Outlook 2011, estimates that we have only until 2017 -- just five years from now -- to fundamentally turn capital investments in energy assets away from fossil fuels if we are to stay within this limit. If not, the best we may be able to achieve is a 3.5 degrees increase. If we delay this shift until 2035, we will be on track for a 6 degrees increase, the consequences of which approach planetary suicide. If we continue to mine tar sands-- the unconventional oils Keystone XL will transport at a rate of up to 800,000 barrels a day -- the lock-in occurs even earlier. The 2 percent limit is also a legal limit. At the UN climate change summit in Cancun one year ago conferees signed an accord to keep global temperature rise to below the 2 degrees threshold. This commitment was reconfirmed and strengthened at Durban last week. Keystone XL requires a permit from the U.S. state department -- the same agency that negotiated the Cancun and Durban agreements. Given the warnings that scientists, energy analysts, and even insurance company executives are now urgently urging policymakers to heed, the state department has a duty to assess permit issuance against its commitments. With global consensus now consolidating around the 2 degrees limit, you would think both public and private sector leaders would act -- fast. Yet, as noted recently by Lord Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, major oil, gas, and coal companies proceed to extract these fossil fuels on a business as usual basis. Shareholders seem oblivious to the fact that conversion of resources into proven reserves increasingly relies on risky or destructive exploration in the Arctic, deep oceans, and sensitive ecosystems. Sir Nicholas' conclusion: "either the market has not thought hard enough about the issue or thinks that governments will not do very much." Environmentalists, understanding that neither private markets nor the political system is capable of responding to the challenge posed by climate change, are determined to stop this pipeline using whatever legal tools are available. If markets, international accords, and public policy won't respond by developing a plan to keep fossil fuel emissions within safe limits, then these resources must simply stay in the ground until an enforceable plan is adopted. Unconventional oils are at the frontline of the fight and Keystone XL is the point of the bayonet. Environmentalists are preparing themselves for trench warfare.
Renewable Energy High
New renewable energy tech now
PR Newswire 6/25
PR Newswire, 6/25/2014, Digital Journal, “Strong Investments in Clean Energy Technologies to Drive the Global Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Market, According to New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.”, http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2014352, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
A type of fuel cell technology, Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) generates energy by electrochemical conversion. The technology therefore finds attractive application in the energy generation industry. As a reliable, environment-friendly and low cost source of energy with long-term stability and sustainability, SOFC is poised to witness robust growth in the coming years. With per-capita consumption of electricity on the rise worldwide, the need to increase electricity production has become a top priority for governments across the globe. As governments seek to balance energy self-sufficiency goals and commitment to climate change agreements, SOFC is soaking up the spotlight as a clean technology of the future. By boosting electricity generation capabilities of a nation, SOFCs help in attaining energy security goals. SOFCs score over traditional energy generation technologies by virtue of their higher operating efficiency and limited reliance on imported fuels. Being a multi-fuel technology, SOFCs can operate on a wide range of fuels including renewable energy, such as biogas, which makes the nation less dependent on imported fossil fuel for electricity generation.
Renewable energy investment growing
Bryan Walsh (writer for Time, covering energy and the environment), 4/7/2014, “Renewable Energy Investment Is Down—and That’s OK”, http://time.com/51834/renewable-energy-investment/, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
Funding for solar, wind and other forms of clean power fell 14% in 2013, largely because it's now cheaper to adapt to the newer technologies, but that doesn't mean the shift to renewable energy has fully stopped¶ Hurricane Sandy flooding effects¶ MORE¶ Climate Change Is a Game of Risk¶ Warming World Threatens Us All, Warns U.N. Report¶ On the surface, the new numbers on the global renewable energy industry in 2013 do not look good for the planet. Investment in renewable energy fell 14% in 2013 to $214.4 billion, according to a new report from the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And that comes after a year when renewable energy investment was already falling—it’s now down 23% from the record investment levels seen in 2011. Given that recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscore the desperate need to increase the shift from fossil fuel to low-carbon power sources like solar or nuclear, the two-year investment decline is not good news.¶ MORE¶ Years of Research Reveal More About Iconic Orcas¶ 3 Ways to Exfoliate Without Using Microbeads¶ No Streams for You? What Supreme Court's Aereo Ruling Means NBC News¶ Jessica N. Turner: Moms, Put on That Swimsuit Huffington Post¶ Know a Debbie Downer? Stop Trying to Cheer Her Up NBC News¶ But looking at the numbers more closely tells a brighter story. It’s true that investment in renewable energy has been falling, but that’s chiefly due to the rapidly falling cost of solar photovoltaic systems, according to Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The average price of installing a solar panel has dropped by 60% in the U.S., which means that less money can buy more solar power. Globally, renewable energy aside from large hydro plants accounted for 43.6% of all new power capacity added last year—the same as in 2012—which translated to 81 gigawatts. That raised renewable energy’s share of total power generation from 7.8% to 8.5%.¶ On top of that, more clean energy companies can draw funding from public equity—a stock market index of clean tech companies was up 54% in 2013. And the biggest drop was in a form of energy—biofuels—that’s looking less green every year. Even with investment down, the shift towards a world powered by low-carbon sources hasn’t stopped. “The onward march of this sector is inevitable,” said Liebreich at a press conference Monday morning.¶ The biggest change on the global stage was in Europe, where investment was down 44% from the year before (U.S. investment fell by 10%). Some of that drop is due to the delayed effects of Europe’s economic slowdown, which led countries like Spain and Bulgaria to make retroactive cuts to subsidies for existing renewable energy projects, which killed off investment altogether. Renewable energy remains heavily subsidized in most of the world, which makes it extremely vulnerable to policy uncertainty. “For the last few years there has been enormous policy uncertainty, even in the heart of Europe,” says Leibreich. “We’re at a point where there will be a lot of regulatory cleanup.”¶ There are even some caveats to the caveats. Those 81 GW of wind, solar and other renewables added to the global grid last year is in terms of power capacity, not actual generation. Because wind and solar are intermittent—they generate power when the wind blows and the sun shines—they actually generate far less energy in practice than their listed capacity. In the U.S., the capacity factor for renewables—excluding hydro—was 33.9%, compared to 63.8% for coal and 90.3% for nuclear. Until we figure out how to balance out the renewable sources—either through cheap energy storage or through more advanced power grids—clean energy will often need to be supported by dirtier power sources.¶ Still, renewable energy is poised to become an ever bigger part of the global energy picture—though perhaps not as fast we need if we’re to stave off the worst effects of climate change. We’ll need not just more investment in new wind and solar plants, but also in the sort of research that will yield breakthrough technologies that can change the rules of the energy industry (More nuclear, by far the biggest source of near zero-carbon power in the U.S., would help as well). This is a power shift that is just beginning.
Renewable energy growing
Athena Yenko (writer for International Business Times), 4/8/2014, “Renewable Energy Global Investment Drops 14%; Au Dropped at 4.7 Billion”, http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/547112/20140408/renewable-energy-first-solar-australia-investment.htm, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen¶
Global investment in renewable energy dropped 14 per cent to US$214.4 billion, a report from UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.¶ The report titled Global Trends in renewable Energy Investments 2014 said that the decline in investments is due to the falling cost of solar photovoltaic systems and uncertain policy in many countries.¶ "A long-term shift in investment over the next few decades towards a cleaner energy portfolio is needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with the energy sector accounting for around two thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that renewable energy is gaining a bigger share of overall generation globally is encouraging. To support this further, we must re-evaluate investment priorities, shift incentives, build capacity and improve governance structures," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP.¶ In Australia, investments in renewable energy dropped at 4.7 billion.¶ Speaking with ABC, Clean Energy Council spokesman Kane Thornton said that the decline can be attributed to the cost of renewable technology being more affordable today than previous years.¶ However, he also noted that Australia is uncertain of its renewable energy policy hence the decline.¶ "The cost of renewable technology has come down. That's a really exciting development and therefore the cost to build a wind farm or a solar system has reduced. But secondly we've seen a lot of policy uncertainty in Australia over the past year, and that has meant that there is a lower level of investment in 2013."¶ Australian Renewable Energy Agency will undergo a budget cut on May. In what could be an unusual behaviour, the agency already penned a letter to its stakeholders saying that their budget was uncertain.¶ As a result to Australia's uncertain policy, Multinational solar panel maker first solar is having a double take with its investment in the country. Jack Curtis, First Solar's vice-president of business development said that in the span of eight months into the project, a lot has changed.¶ "Those projects ... reached financial close in a different political and business environment which was almost a year ago now. That's obviously changed quite dramatically since the election. There's now a much greater deal of uncertainty around future projects like this," Mr Curtis told ABC.
More investment in renewables
Andrew Burger (independent journalist), 4/16/2014, “Global Renewable Energy Investment Drops, But Installed Capacity Rises”, http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/global-renewable-energy-investment-drops-installed-capacity-rises/, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
Renewable energy investment fell year-over-year in 2013, down 14 percent, but the drop belies some heartening news for market participants and clean energy supporters. In short: Renewable energy’s share of overall power generation continues to grow, and more renewable energy generation capacity is being brought online at much lower cost, solar energy generation capacity in particular.¶ According to the latest global renewable energy annual report from the Frankfurt School-United Nations Environment Programme Collaborating Centre (FS-UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global renewable energy investment totaled $214 billion in 2013, a second consecutive year of decline and 23 percent below a 2011 peak. Even so, renewable energy accounted for 43.6 percent of new power capacity, while renewable energy’s share of worldwide electricity generation rose to 8.5 percent from 7.8 percent in 2012.¶ There were several other reasons for optimism regarding the outlook for renewable energy, according to FS-UNEP-BNEF’s, “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014.” For one thing, some 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were avoided as a result of renewable power generation last year. But that’s not all.
Renewable investment increasing now and the plan shifts attention away
Bobby Magill (senior science writer for Climate Central), 4/7/2014, “Cheap Solar Power Is Fueling Global Renewable Energy Growth: Report”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/07/solar-power-renewable-energy-growth_n_5107150.html, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
The share of total global electricity production generated by renewable energy is climbing, mainly because solar photovoltaic systems are becoming less expensive, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.¶ Wind, solar and other renewables, excluding hydropower, were 8.5 percent of total global electric power generation last year, up from 7.8 percent in 2012, the report says.¶ That comes just after Bloomberg and Pew Charitable Trusts issued a report last week saying investments in renewables worldwide has been declining since their peak in 2011, with the U.S. lagging behind China in overall investments in wind, solar and other renewables.¶ The reports come about a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part to its fifth assessment report, stating with certainty that humans are going to have to adapt to a world enduring climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from people burning fossil fuels. Renewables help reduce the climate-changing, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.¶ Monday’s report, “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014,” released during Bloomberg’s “Future of Energy Summit” this week in New York City, says that renewables, not including hydropower, accounted for 43.6 percent of total global new electric generating capacity last year, preventing an estimated 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere.¶ The report shows that there was a 14 percent drop in global investments in renewables partly for the same reason renewables’ market share is growing — the cost of solar panels is falling.¶ Solar power generating capacity worldwide increased 26 percent in 2013 over the previous year, from 31 gigawatts in 2012 to 39 gigawatts in 2013 despite total investment in solar falling 23 percent from $135.6 billion to about $104 billion, according to the report.¶ Other reasons for the drop in investment include uncertainty in renewables policy in many countries and a boost in investment in climate-changing fossil fuels.¶ The shale oil and gas boom hit renewables investments hard in the U.S., the report says.¶ Though the U.S. was the largest investor among developed economies in renewables last year at $33.9 billion, it was down 10 percent from 2012 because low natural gas prices helped bring about the shale gas boom, depressing clean energy development, according to the report.¶ The shale gas boom also contributes to overall uncertanty about the United States' policy commitment to renewables, the report says.¶ The global renewables picture is more positive, however.¶ “We’re not seeing anything in any way, anything we can characterize as a collapse in renewable energy investments,” Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said during a news conference Monday.¶ He said unsubsidized renewable electric power plants are being built across the globe as they become more able to compete with fossil fuel power generation.¶ Clean energy stocks had seen a 78 percent decline over four and a half years, bottoming out in July 2012 followed by a 54 percent gain in 2013 as solar and wind manufacturers regained profitability.¶ “Renewable energy is actually looking like it’s doing its part,” Liebreich said.¶ Report lead author Angus McCrone, chief editor at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the report is not “dressing up” the bad news of declines in renewables investments worldwide.¶ “What we’re saying now is that there’s a bit of blue sky on the horizon even though the overall investment numbers are down,” McCrone said, adding that trends in the cost-competitiveness of renewables, particularly wind and solar, are striking.¶ There are more and more places across the globe where renewable energy is being installed without any subsidy, or the renewables are being installed because they’re cheaper than the available fossil fuel technology, he said.
Harvey Wasserman (writer for EcoWatch, MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from the University of Michigan, both in history, and has authored or co-written a dozen books and countless articles, essays, op eds, etc.), 4/17/2014, “IPCC: Renewables, Not Nuclear Power, Can Solve Climate Crisis”, http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/17/ipcc-renewables-not-nuclear-solve-climate/, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.¶ It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not. The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.¶ This IPCC report was four years in the making. It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.¶ Photo courtesy of Shutterstock¶ Photo courtesy of Shutterstock¶ The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change. To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.¶ Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.¶ First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.¶ Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.¶ And third, the cost is manageable.¶ Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.¶ The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather. The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.¶ But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.¶ “It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.¶ The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition. Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.¶ Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming. But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”¶ Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.¶ But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades. Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.¶ With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions, the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.¶ And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.¶ With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”
Renewables now and solve warming
Kelpie Wilson (freelance writer covering energy and environmental issues), 2/11/2007, “Renewables Can Turn the Tide on Global Warming”, http://www.alternet.org/story/47654/renewables_can_turn_the_tide_on_global_warming, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
The American Solar Energy Association (ASES), with the backing of several U.S. representatives and a senator, released its new nuts and bolts approach to reducing carbon emissions with a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.¶ The report comes at an opportune time: the release of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest climate change report is expected to finally clear up any lingering uncertainty about the role fossil fuel burning and other human activities have in changing the Earth's climate. As the deniers and obstructionists lose all credibility, the debate now turns to solutions.¶ The ASES report, titled "Tackling Climate Change in the US -- Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions From Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030," makes this extraordinary claim: "Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies have the potential to provide most, if not all, of the US carbon emissions reductions that will be needed to help limit the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to 450 to 500 ppm."¶ The ASES report was presented at a press briefing in the Capitol with the support of Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chair of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, Representative Henry Waxman, Representative Chris Shays, Sierra Club president Carl Pope, and NASA's chief climate change scientist, Dr. James Hansen.¶ Hansen's backing is especially important because the report is aimed at meeting a target for emissions reductions that he and other scientists agree is the minimum necessary to preserve a habitable planet. The target is to keep the global average temperature from rising by more than one degree Celsius, and to do that, it will be necessary to limit atmospheric CO2 levels to 450 to 500 ppm. That means reducing U.S. emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by mid-century.¶ Over the past several years, as the dimensions of the energy and climate crisis have unfolded, the press, the public and politicians have embraced various "silver bullet" solutions one after another according to the fad of the day: at one moment it's hydrogen, then ethanol, then nuclear power, then wind. Today there is a growing recognition that no single energy technology can replace fossil fuels, but there is still no recipe that tells us how to combine energy technologies into a healthful brew that can save our planet and our civilization.¶ The ASES report takes a unique approach. Instead of turning to the systems analysts who normally tackle such problems, ASES asked the experts in each technology to estimate how much carbon-emitting energy their technologies could displace. Each technology is conceived of as a " wedge" in a stack of wedges that add up to a replacement for fossil fuels. The report consists of separate papers on each technology, including energy efficiency, concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, windpower, biofuels and geothermal.¶ Each paper was written by experts in the technology, presumably giving the most realistic possible assessment of the capabilities of the technology. And each technology was evaluated in terms of its current capabilities without relying on any major new technical breakthroughs, although some research and development to increase efficiency and reduce costs was assumed. The papers took economic factors into account and real world constraints like the silicon supply shortage that has hampered photovoltaic productions.¶ Despite its conservative assumptions, the ASES report concludes that renewables and efficiency alone can meet the goal of a 60 to 80 percent emissions reduction by mid-century while the economy continues to grow. Energy efficiency accounts for 57 percent of the reductions, and the renewable energy technologies provide the other 43 percent.¶ While the report does not estimate a total cost for the deployment of the technologies, it does assume that some government support for R&D and production tax credits will be available. At the press briefing, James Hansen also said that while much could be accomplished without a carbon tax, attaching some kind of economic cost to carbon emissions would be essential to keep the effort on track.
Cameron Scott (Cameron received degrees in Comparative Literature from Princeton and Cornell universities. He has worked at Mother Jones, SFGate and IDG News Service and been published in California Lawyer and SF Weekly. He lives, predictably, in SF.”, 3/8/2014, “100% RENEWABLE ENERGY IS FEASIBLE AND AFFORDABLE, ACCORDING TO STANFORD PROPOSAL”, http://singularityhub.com/2014/03/08/100-renewable-energy-is-feasible-and-affordable-stanford-proposal-says/, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
One of the greatest promises of the high-tech future, whether made explicitly or implicitly through shiny clean concept sketches, is that we will have efficient energy that doesn’t churn pollutants into the air and onto the streets.¶ But here in the present, politicians and even many clean energy advocates maintain that a world run on hydrogen and wind, water and solar power is not yet possible due to technical challenges like energy storage and cost.¶ Yet Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each state in the union that to move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan, presented recently at the AAAS conference in Chicago, also forms the basis for The Solutions Project nonprofit.¶ “The conclusion is that it’s technically and economically feasible,” Jacobson told Singularity Hub.¶ The plan doesn’t rely, like many others, on dramatic energy efficiency regimes. Nor does it include biofuels or nuclear power, whose green credentials are the source of much debate.¶ vehicles-WWSThe proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion.¶ The rest would simply be a question of allowing existing fossil-fuel plants to age out and using renewable sources to power any new plants that come online. The energy sources in the road map include geothermal energy, concentrating solar power, off-shore and on-land wind turbines and some and tidal energy. All but tidal energy collectors are already commercially available.¶ “The greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political,” the AAAS paper concludes.¶ Common political wisdom has it that, while clean energy is a nice idea, powering our economy with wind, water and solar power would require an enormous amount of land allotted to production and would push energy prices up beyond the reach of average consumers.¶ But according to Jacobson and his colleagues, the reverse is true. Less than 2 percent of United States’ land mass would support all of the wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation required to meet energy demand. That includes the space between concentrating solar arrays or wind turbines.¶Clean energy would save an average American consumer $3,400 per year than the current fossil fuel regime by 2050, the study lays out. That’s because the price of fossil fuel rises regularly, but with clean energy — where raw materials are free — once the infrastructure is built, prices would fall.¶ off-shore-wind-turbinesFor example, in California, the researchers found that it’s already possible to use wind, water and solar energy to meet demand 99.8 percent of the time. Similarly, in other states, it’s only the final percentages or fractions of percentages that would require technologies that are not yet mass produced, such as, in Louisiana, wave “mills” that turn the ocean’s power into electricity.¶ With the mercurial climate already causing major damage around the world, the plan claims it would save the U.S. economy $730 billion a year in climate-related costs. It would also avert roughly 59,000 lives deaths from air pollution every year and save $166 – 980 billion a year in health care costs.¶ Jacobson has previously mapped out a similar proposal for the global energy market, including China. A related plan with a greater emphasis on efficiency was recently released by the World Wildlife Fund.¶ Both domestically and internationally, transmission lines carrying energy between states or countries prove one of the greatest challenges. With natural energy sources, electricity needs to be more mobile in order to make sure that even when there’s no sun or wind, a city or country can import energy from somewhere were there is.¶ The biggest problem is who should pay to build and maintain the lines.¶ “I’m pretty sure the proposal will be adopted,” Jacobson said. “I’m just not sure it’ll be adopted by 2050. It has to be adopted in the sense that fossil fuels are limited and they’ll eventually run out, so what are the other options?”
Renewables Yes Tradeoff
Low oil prices prevent renewable energy development
David Baker (Chronicle Writer Staff), 10/27/2008, “Low oil prices take wind out of renewable fuels”, http://www.sfgate.com/green/article/Low-oil-prices-take-wind-out-of-renewable-fuels-3264286.php, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
Not everyone likes seeing oil prices plunge.¶ This decade's historic high prices for oil and natural gas have stoked the rise of renewable power and alternative fuels. As fossil fuel prices smashed record after record, options like ethanol, hybrid electric cars, solar power and wind looked better and better.¶ Now oil costs less than half what it did this summer. Ditto natural gas. If prices keep dropping and stay down, future fuels like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel will have a harder time competing. So will solar and wind power projects, which compete against power plants that burn natural gas. Public interest in alternative energy may dwindle as well.¶ "The excitement has subsided in the last few months," said Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst with the Edward Jones investment company. "When oil comes down, there's still interest, but it's not as passionate. That's a potential risk."¶ To many in the alternative energy world, it feels like a rerun of a movie they've already seen, one with an ugly ending.¶ American interest in renewable power and alternative fuels swelled during the oil shocks of the 1970s, which exposed the country's deep dependence on imported petroleum. But after the price of oil hit a record high in 1981, it crashed and took the country's interest in alternatives with it.¶ Alternative-energy entrepreneurs hope this time will be different. No matter how far oil drops, the fear of global warming won't go away, they say. That should keep both the public and the government interested in tapping energy sources that don't add to climate change.¶ Demand in China, India¶ And most people in the alterative-energy world are convinced that fossil fuel prices won't stay down for long. Fuel demand in China, India and the rest of the developing world is growing too fast for that, they say.¶
Lower prices kill renewable energy
Hao Li (writer for International Business Times), 5/30/2011, “Why lower Saudi oil prices kill alternative energy”, http://www.ibtimes.com/why-lower-saudi-oil-prices-kill-alternative-energy-287099, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
The biggest obstacle to alternative energy is money.¶ Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal seems to understand this. In a CNN interview, he admitted Saudi Arabia wants lower oil prices because it doesn’t “want the West to go and find alternatives.”¶ Alternative energy hasn’t taken off in the US because its development largely depends on the private sector. Currently, it’s simply cheaper buy oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, so not many private companies bother to develop alternative sources.¶ For example, if Saudi oil average $80 per barrel in the long-term, why bother extracting oil from oil sands and oil shale if doing so cost $85 per barrel? Why turn to electric cars if the whole ordeal – the research, electric cars, and electric grid – cost more than filling up convention cars with imported fossil fuel?¶ On the other hand, if oil skyrockets to $200 per barrel, it would make absolutely sense to develop oil sands, oil shale, and electric cars.¶ Experts generally put the threshold at which alternative energy becomes viable at a long-term sustained price of $80 per barrel.¶ A recent Federal Reserve research, for example, puts the figure for oil sands at $70 per barrel in 2005 terms, which translates to $77.5 in 2010.¶ According to Al-Waleed, Saudi Arabia probably estimates the threshold to be $80 per barrel. ¶ The cost of many alternative energy sources is front-loaded. For example, once a solar farm is constructed and the electric grid is built, the cost of harvesting additional electricity becomes extremely cheap.¶ The danger for oil producers like Saudi Arabia is that once a sustained period of high oil prices induces the Western private sector to invest the upfront costs of setting up alternative sources, the price of energy will be lowered permanently.¶ The optimal strategy for Saudi Arabia, therefore, is to avoid a sustained period of high oil prices.¶ For Western countries, the optimal strategy to bite the bullet, pay the upfront cost, and save money in the long-run with cheap alternative energy sources.¶ Western capitalism, however, can be short-sighted and decentralized; if oil prices stay reasonablely low, not enough players in the private sector will have the resolve to eat the enormous upfront costs of developing alternative energy sources.
Shale oil trades off with renewable investment
Will Nichols (writer for The Guardian), 2/14/2013, “Shale oil surge poses threat to renewable energy, PwC warns”, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/feb/14/shale-oil-threat-renewables-pwc, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
A worldwide expansion of relatively cheap shale oil could put investment in renewable energy and global emissions targets under threat, as well as posing other environmental risks.¶ The shale oil industry is still in its infancy, but has the potential to reach up to 12 per cent of global production, potentially pushing down oil prices by as much as $50 per barrel by 2035, according to a new report by consultancy firm PwC.¶ Lower oil prices are more likely to extend production rather than simply increase it, but this could make alternative low carbon technologies less attractive, Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, told BusinessGreen.¶ However, the report also notes that cheaper oil could displace production from higher cost and more environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic and Canadian tar sands, while tax windfalls could provide finance for carbon capture and storage and other low carbon technologies.¶ It adds that global GDP could receive a $2.7tr boost by 2035 with a 25 per cent to 40 per cent cut in global oil prices resulting from shale oil production. Under this scenario, UK GDP would receive a 3.3 per cent boost in 2035, China would see a three per cent GDP increase, US GDP would rise 4.7 per cent, and India's would climb by up to 7.3 per cent.¶ But Grant acknowledged any related reduction in renewable energy investments and an expected increase in mobility arising from the availability of lower cost oil is likely to increase total carbon emissions in the long term and potentially impair future economic growth.¶ "We're talking about a substantial increase in reserves ... that is likely to lead to a greater carbon stock in the atmosphere in the long term," Grant said. "We might get an economic high over the next few decades, but it could well worsen the lows."¶ In the US, shale oil production has risen from 111,000 barrels per day in 2004 to 553,000 barrels a day in 2011, equivalent to an annual growth rate of around 26 per cent. In the rest of the world the industry remains in its early stages, although China, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, and New Zealand are all exploring the potential for shale oil development.¶ A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesman said there is no estimate of potential reserves in the UK and to date there have been no explorations, adding the energy source is "not on the horizon" for the country at the moment.¶ Even so, green campaigners have come out strongly against exploiting any potential shale oil reserves.¶ Supporters of shale gas argue that the fuel source can deliver net carbon savings by replacing coal, but shale oil remains significantly more carbon intensive raising concerns that the availablility of a new cheaper source of oil will only lead to higher overall emissions.¶ "Digging up and burning new reserves of fossil fuels can only exacerbate the huge negative impact on the global economy of climate change," said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, in an emailed statement.¶ "Any short term price gains for consumers will ultimately be dwarfed by the impact of rising temperatures on every aspect of economic life."¶ Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, similarly warned of the environmental problems increasing fracking could cause, adding that governments should instead focus investment on green technologies.¶ "We've already got more than enough fossil fuels - more than we can afford to burn if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change," he toldBusinessGreen. "The UK has a huge renewable resource and if we want [to meet climate targets] we should be investing in those."¶ However, Grant warned advocates of leaving fossil fuel reserves in the ground were "not going to win that argument" given world leaders focus on economic growth.¶ "The use of fracking is obviously controversial because of the environmental and community impact and this would have to be carefully regulated, which may in turn have implications for the viability of extracting the resource," Grant said.¶ "[But] the experience with shale gas is that when we gain access to more fossil fuel reserves we try to extract them."
AT: Jevons Paradox
Price increases and caps solve Jevons paradox
Green Sense 10
Green Sense, 11/2/2010, “CAN YOU BEAT JEVONS PARADOX?”, http://greensense.com.au/2010/11/02/can-you-beat-jevons-paradox/, 6/25/2014, #TheNextPKen
Everyone knows efficiency is a good thing, right? By being more efficient we can get the same outcome with less resources: the same illumination in our homes with less energy, the same production of widgets in our factory with less waste, the same recreation spaces with less water.¶ Stanley Jevons isn’t so sure. He was a British economist who in 1865 pointed to the experience of the Scottish iron industry who had significantly improved their efficiency, in terms of coal per tonne, but at the same time actually increased their consumption of coal. This phenomenon has come to be known as Jevons paradox.¶ Earlier this year, a scientific article by Jeff Tsao looked at the effects of more efficient lighting technology over the last 300 years. He found that introduction of more efficient lighting had actually increased the energy consumption associated with lighting. Exactly as Jevons would have predicted.¶ As we are able to produce more light with less energy and less cost, we take the opportunity to increase the amount of light we generate. More efficient lighting has enabled us to literally ‘light up the night’ and provided us much more amenity and enabled 24 hour lifestyles. The conclusion of Tsao’s paper is that we should expect the transition to LED lighting to increase, rather than decrease, energy consumption.¶ You shouldn’t draw the conclusion that efficiency improvements are bad. Producing more with less is what has enabled economic growth, and what is helping to lift millions out of poverty. But, when one of our goals is to improve sustainability and reduce resource use, we can’t expect an efficiency improvement alone to achieve that end.¶ What else do you need to do? How can you beat Jevons paradox?¶ The answer is to restrict the use of the resource, while the efficiency improvement allows you to still achieve the output you need. This restriction might be in the form of a cap, like the cap on greenhouse gas emissions in an emissions trading scheme. It might be a price increase that acts as a countervailing force to the efficiency improvement. Or, it might be a monitoring and reporting/disclosure scheme like NABERS.¶ In practical terms, this means that when you are making investments in improving efficiency, you should also give thought to how you will monitor and restrict resource use. Our real-time resource monitoring solution, Greensense View, might be part of the solution. Feel free to contact us and find out how.