Monday, July 07, 2014

By the Seat of Your Pants

Governments do things that would never pass muster in a disciplined corporation.

Imagine me going to the CEO of a company and telling him: give me 100 billion euros to invest in renewable energy (solar plus wind).

He would shower me with questions and demand a very carefully tailored plan.

The conversation would probably go this way:

CEO: what are you trying to achieve with those 100 billion euros?

Me: replace nuclear generation and reduce the carbon emissions of the electrical grid.

CEO: If nuclear is low carbon energy, why replace nuclear and not better fossil fuels?

Me: Because some people are afraid of nuclear.

CEO: Is that fear justified?

Me: For the most part, no.

CEO: Then why don't you spend a small part of that money in education / marketing / PR and better tackle the real culprits of Global Warming: fossil fuels?

Me: It makes sense.

CEO: Considering renewables need backup, usually fossil fuels, what is the floor of emissions an RE / FF electrical system would deliver?

Me: North of 300 grams per kWh if the backup is natural gas, north of 700 grams if the backup is coal.

CEO: Would that be enough to effectively combat global warming?

Me: No, sir, it wouldn't and today we already have important countries with electrical grid emissions well south of 100 grams.

CEO: How did those countries achieve their low carbon electricity?

Me: Without a single exception they did it mostly with hydro and / or nuclear.

CEO: Then, why are you proposing to spend loads of money on an unproven path?

Me: Well... Greenpeace says...

CEO: Greenpeace!  What do they know about energy?

Me: Not much, sir.

At this point, I was literally kicked out of his office.

Moral of the story: we cannot just pour gigantic amounts of money because we "feel" something might turn out to be a solution.

No, in the energy discourse we need to be disciplined, make our homework, evaluate alternatives and make rational choices not clouded by feelings.

Here is a suggestion respecting the basic questions we should answer during the homework phase:

Feel free to add to the conversation on Twitter: @luisbaram

Thank you.

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At 4:11 PM, Anonymous actinideage said...

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