August 5, 2008

The future ain't what it used to be

Clint Wilder, author of the recent book The Cleantech Revolution, comes with a heartening message from the heartland - a microcosm of energy transition:
... there are hopeful signs of the entrepreneurial spirit that's fueling the clean-tech transition – even far from the traditional centers of venture capital or technology on the coasts.
Other articles linked on the left at the above link provide many other reasons to cheer. (Note: These articles teach nothing new to someone like me who has been following this space for a while now but I blog about it to increase awareness to readers (anyone here?) who may not know about this.)

First up, there's a lot of talk about clean technology's 'coming out party':
... for the first time in history, the “greens” have converged. Today, there’s now a convergence of social, political, economic, environmental, and entrepreneurial forces collectively driving investment into clean tech. Even Thomas Friedman aptly said that “Green is the new red, white and blue.”
Ron Pernick (co-author of the aforementioned book The Cleantech Revolution) writes the art of long-term thinking and also about how Clean Tech is becoming ubiquitous "after years of pioneering efforts – hitting their stride, building momentum, and, most importantly, going mainstream"
We're no longer at the stage where people need to be introduced to these issues, we're at a stage where people are asking below-the-surface questions, devising innovative remedies, and creating new business plans to address some of the greatest challenges of our time: resource constraints, environmental degradation, energy security, and economic and job creation.
Clint Wilder also has written about how renewable energy is our New 'Greatest Generation' Opportunity:
In 2008, the United States faces a different kind of national challenge, less visible but arguably no less urgent than the one posed by Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito. It's the challenge of a rapidly changing global economy, a worldwide climate crisis, and oil – at $130 a barrel and rising – being largely controlled by less than friendly (and sometimes terrorist-funding) regimes across the globe. Earlier this year, the renovated Ford plant in Richmond became the new home of a clean tech leader: the PowerLight division of SunPower, which assembles and installs some of the largest solar PV deployments in the world.

I love the symbolism here.
Clearly, like Ron Pernick writes in another article: "the pendulum is shifting in favor of a range of renewables."
Critics of clean energy like to point out that without subsidies and regulation, clean-energy sources would never be getting a foothold in the market. But that misses the critical point that all energy industries are subsidy and regulatory dependent. Coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and other sources have been supported with the direct and indirect financial support of governments that want to encourage them. Clean-energy sources shouldn't be expected to operate without similar regulatory support and incentives.

Indeed, governments that support the growth of clean-energy industries are already reaping the benefits with tens of thousands of jobs, reduced carbon footprints, and the creation of competitive 21st Century industry.
As American baseball icon Yogi Berra put it, "The future ain't what it used to be." .
.... The future doesn't belong to the incumbents, but to a range of emerging efficiency and renewable energy technologies that are reshaping the global economic and environmental landscape.
Clearly, the times they are a-changin! Despite all the pressures and naysaying critics, there is hope! Drops of water make up an ocean, and such.

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