If you want to witness a snapshot of the vast chasm between how the establishment views the clean energy industry and how promising it actually is, look no further than this clip. In it, scientist, policy wonk, and author Amory Lovins is interviewed head to head with a leading Wall Street analyst. They discuss energy subsidies, whether the market is beginning to favor clean power, and the 'baseload' case against renewables that's so often trotted out by foes of wind and solar.
Watch: (via Peter Sinclair)
This should give you some idea why it's so hard to gin up support for (now only marginally) costlier energy technologies that will pay off big time in the future. Just listen to the nature of everything the analyst says -- it's all about whether or not the clean energy companies will see acceptable earnings in Q3, how they can't compete with the heavily subsidized fossil fuels industry. And then there's that age-old 'baseload' boogeyman -- that solar and wind can only create power when it's sunny or the wind is blowing, and nobody wants to invest in that! Of course, there's no mention of the health problems burning fossil fuels leads to, no acknowledgement that private venture capital is flocking to clean energy tech, that batteries are being developed to cure the baseload ailment (and that old nuclear and coal plants have major baseload woes of their own) and certainly no mention of global climate change caused by the greenhouse gas emissions generated by said fuels.
It's a series of fossil fuel industry-approved justifications and talking points from one side, and a clear-as-day enunciation of the market potential for clean energy (that appears to fall on deaf ears) on the other. Meanwhile, studies -- one from Bloomberg no less -- are showing that wind and solar will be cost competitive with fossil fuels in 5-10 years. That's really soon. Clean energy is booming in China, Europe, and certain U.S. states. There is a booming rush of venture capital into the sector, which has continued to grow and create new jobs throughout the recession, despite the pooh-poohing of such analysts as the one featured here.
These analysts, and other establishment pundits, nonetheless remain altogether skeptical of something that still carries with it the faint air of hippiedom, and that potentially undermines the fossil fuels industry, which has been one of the most reliably profitable sectors for decades. It really makes you wonder what will have to happen to get these boneheads to admit that not only has clean energy arrived, but that it's well-poised to be a dominant industry in the next coming decades. That's the market reality -- it's just a matter of time.