Energy & Transport Policy
[I’ve collected a number of the posts I’ve written on policy or for policymakers in this category. The posts or the series summary pages are found as links on the “Subpages” menu to the right.]
In reviewing the options available to build a greener society that has a better chance of avoiding some of the worst effects of global warming, I came to recognize the merits of the Electron Economy as the overarching concept which would guide longer-range technology choices, on the way adding the implied “Renewable” in Bossel’s original concept. The scientific and technical case for the Renewable Electron Economy however still leaves the question of how to build such an energy economy. As it turns out, energy and transportation market conditions now and in the foreseeable future will not lead to the “self-assembly” of a renewable electron economy or some, as yet unidentified, similarly low-impact energy and transportation system.
While our recent three-decade flirtation with market fundamentalism has cast a shadow on pro-active clean energy and transportation policy, it is through the scientifically-informed implementation of energy and transport policy that we will avoid some of the technical cul de sacs like biofuels and hydrogen that were supported largely by impressionistic analysis and pandering to various interest groups. Policy can involve provision of energy and transport-related public goods, market-based incentives and disincentives like Pigovian (“sin”) taxes, basic energy and transport research, and planning. While some cleaner products and services will be adopted spontaneously by foresighted individuals and companies without the aid of favorable policy instruments, experience has shown that policy is key to rapid implementation of the key infrastructure for the future. Some still in the thrall of the view that markets thrive without good government policy, will take this as a commentary on the quality of the products and services on offer now.
In this section of the website I collect posts I have written that are either focused on policy or are oriented towards policymakers. I include a summary of the Renewable Electron Economy concept for policymakers.