Saturday, May 31, 2008

Liveblogging at API/Newsweek Energy Series (Part VII)

Dr. James Sweeney, economist and director of the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford, gave the closing remarks. He cautioned (much like David Victor’s comment about Silicon Valley getting “irrationally exuberant” about cleantech) that we get too excited about relatively small gains related to energy: “We’ve got to stop looking at the tiny steps we’ve made so far and thinking we’ve got a solution to the whole energy problem.” Later, when the other bloggers and I were at dinner with him and representatives from Chevron and API, he told us:

“There’s no silver bullet solution to the energy problem. There’s not even silver buckshot. We should be thinking in terms of silver birdshot!”

In other words, getting these technologies to market and scaling them up to commercial use should be the critical focus. It's great if there's one manufacturer out there making an efficient solar power system, but that system then needs to be on every home in American to really make a difference. And it's got to make economic sense for the homeowner to want to put the system on their house.

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