The energy policy of our time is a mess. What can be done about it? Lewis Perelman addresses the problem by first analzsing its various roots and subsequently pointing towards possible solutions. Not surprisingly, the roots are manifold comprising technical as well as political sources. In a nutshell: there are very good reasons to go “away from emissions regulation and toward technology innovation”. The ultimate goal is to “make clean energy cheap”.
Clean energy, however, does not become cheap by subsidising a particular branch of industry (as is currently the case in Germany with detrimental effects to the economy) but rather by providing the appropriate technology which is competitive against conventional energy sources.
Needless to say that there is a lot of effort put into R&D as well as innovation programs funded by countries and/or international organisations. In spite of that the great breakthrough is still lying ahead of us. Nevertheless, technology is the ultimate answer to our energy problems. Clearly, there are clean technologies, but so far none of them is cheaper and/or equally practical as the conventional carbon-based ones.
Perelman is convinced that governments have an important role to play in that game. I wonder why the market should not be able to create its own viable (and sustainable) solutions without regulators interfering. Nevertheless, also the role of government has its limits as Perelman acknowledges.
Thus the only way out from the current state of affairs is a big technology breakthrough. But how do we get there? There are clearly new ways needed to stimulate innovation in the energy sector. Thinking out of the box is paramount. Going beyond conventional mechanisms to promote innovation may open new possibilities. Perelman discusses various ways to overcome the traditional path of innovation management, like new financing models, prizes, the role of philanthropists etc.
All in all, Perelman’s book offers a great insight into the complexity of the energy problem as well as into the even more challenging complexity of how to overcome it. Technology can save us – it has to!
Energy Innovation – Fixing the Technical Fix
by Lewis Perelman