Daniel Yergin on clean energy

Energy Daily reports on some remarks by energy analyst Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) and executive vice president, IHS Inc. Yergin addressed the 2008 National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. The organization’s members include 50 state governors, as well as the heads of the U.S.’s three territories and two commonwealths. Making the nation a global leader in clean energy was the key topic of this year’s meeting.

Yergin’s theme was that rising energy prices, climate instability and energy security are pushing the development of clean energy. There is a major shift in public opinion towards clean energy, which is being bolstered by the growing conviction that new carbon policies will reshape the competitive landscape of the global energy business.

Citing CERA’s new study, Crossing the Divide: the Future of Clean Energy, Yergin said that renewable power and biofuels could be supplying as much as 16 percent of the global electric and transportation needs by 2030. “We are going through a period of what I call the ‘great bubbling,’ a high degree of innovation all across the energy spectrum,” he said. “To paraphrase a famous phrase about states as the laboratories of democracy, the states today are truly ‘laboratories’ of energy innovation and initiative for the nation.

Energy Daily noted: …Renewable power technologies are poised for substantial growth – Wind will make the largest gains, followed by solar power and biomass – despite near-term bottlenecks in wind turbine manufacturing, supply shortages in silicon and competitive pressures from escalating component costs.

Government policy remains a key driver for clean energy advancement – Putting a price on CO2 emissions, setting mandates and providing subsidies all work to kick-start clean energy technologies by meeting the economic competitiveness and cost advantages of conventional technologies. The challenge in the years ahead is to provide subsidies in a way that ensures that these technologies get off the drawing board and are able to wean themselves from support – allowing for a phase-out rather than an increase in subsidies – as they become commercially viable on their own. It is also important that mandates be set at achievable levels and with care so as not to create unexpected pressures from higher prices.

Clean energy portfolio – A full range of clean energy technologies along with demand side responses will be needed to address the challenge of redirecting global greenhouse gas emissions trends. While many clean energy technologies are commercially available, more work is needed to develop and demonstrate a broader set of technologies including advanced coal systems….

…Yergin explained how CERA’s analysis in Crossing the Divide uses a scenarios framework to assess the prospects among the various clean energy technologies and help define key risks and opportunities as companies seek to place their technology bets. The analysis addresses new and conventional energy technologies that can provide energy with a minimal carbon footprint and facilitate greater energy security. These technologies include biofuels, renewable power technologies, carbon capture and storage, nuclear and hydropower.

Photo of wind turbine by Andre Karwath, Wikimedia Commons


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