Skip

Nukes, schmukes
September 5, 2010 5:22 AM   Subscribe

How Business Can Lead us Beyond Fossil Fuels: a Techonomy presentation by Amory Lovins, followed by comments from Chevron CTO John McDonald and audience questions.
posted by flabdablet (18 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amory Lovins used to do these interesting back-of-the-envelope calculations in the 1970's that convinced more than one or two energy conglomerates to worry about the future. It's embarrassing how small his audience is for this stuff now.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:38 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Business? Fuck that! How can COMMUNISM lead us beyond fossil fuels, that's what i wanna know! Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your exploding offshore rigs!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:42 AM on September 5, 2010


Beyond Petroleum, mayhaps?

That ended well.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:30 AM on September 5, 2010


flapjax, I don't know know if you want to go there.
posted by indubitable at 6:30 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this just Chevron pointing at BP a la Nelson and going "Ha-ha"?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:46 AM on September 5, 2010


Jonathan Porritt did an interesting article on the potential for China to be able to bring its particular brand of post-communistic governance to bear on driving new environmental technology in an isue of Prospect earlier this yeat, its mosrly hidden behind a paywall but a discussion of his main points is here.

Essentially he suggests that as a result of being able to rapidly adopt policy and rive change then China may be well placed to rapidly industrialise for production and deployment of environmental tech if it decides to do so. We have already seen Chinese companies start to take an inceasing share of the wind turbine and PV sectors, challenging the dominant Danish, German and US (wind) and Japanese, German and US (PV) companies. China is already dominant in the global market for manufacturing solar themal technology. Personally I think this is fascinating, one of the key justifucations for many western countries to invest in long term expansion has been not just security of supply and the environment but also to the seize the potential for new industrial opportunities with attendant exports and employment, effectively offering the potential for an additional economic and social fillip against the money spent on domestic deployment. There is pretty clear evidence that this has been a key motivator underlying the renewables policy in amny nations inclduing those already mentioned.

We are already seeing evidence put forward that this relationship between investing and deployment and industrial development is not so straightforward, with Frondel et al presenting a case last year that German investment in PV may be misplaced if the focus is on least cost carbon emission reduction OR on stimulating employment.

The question I would posit is, will a growing Chinese dominance in these markets act as an argument against greater action on renewable energy and other environmental technoilogies as it removes one the potential benefits to investment?
posted by biffa at 6:50 AM on September 5, 2010


China also has the world's most ambitious nuclear power project. At the moment all proposed reactors are variations of existing French reactors or of American and French/German Gen III reactors (The APR1000 and the EPR), but it won't be long before they start building their own designs.
posted by atrazine at 8:11 AM on September 5, 2010


> China also has the world's most ambitious nuclear power project
I guess that means it has one?

Somewhat earlier in my career, we had a visit from $LARGE_NUCLEAR_CONGLOMERATE. They walked my colleagues through a typical timeline and business case for a nuclear plant. Included in — and indeed, required by — their business model was a government bailout when the inevitable time and cost overruns kicked in. They looked a bit hurt when we thanked them for their time and showed them the door.
posted by scruss at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Watch this! It was fabulous. I followed Lovins back in the late 80s and early 90s. Clearly I shouldn't have stopped... There was more food for thought, more cause for optimism and more solid factual content in that video than in any ten others I typically see.
posted by namasaya at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2010


Hmm, after watching the video, it contained some interesting information and ideas, but it was so dense with jargon that you could practically cut it with a knife (speaking as an engineer who did some college coursework in energy conversion). I found myself rewinding often to replay parts that I just couldn't parse in time before he moved on to something else. I kept waiting for military brass to walk on camera afterward to thank Lovins for the briefing.

If anyone else was wondering, as I was, how his house manages to be so efficient, there's an entire section of the RMI website devoted to it.
posted by indubitable at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Business can lead us beyond fossil fuels, but will they?
posted by Evilspork at 1:50 PM on September 5, 2010


The problem facing us is that even if we create the next breakthrough industry most of the manufacturing jobs will end up in South Asia. Just look at iPod.
posted by humanfont at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2010


I'd say to hell with business too, if they weren't already heading there more precipitously than I ever thought possible.

Now, if could only figure out some way of keeping them from dragging me along.
posted by jamjam at 3:58 PM on September 5, 2010


This is amazing -- the future is quite green and exciting. It's easy to be skeptical if one looks at how far we have to go however if one looks at how far we have come...

Great way to end it: "Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity"
posted by nickrussell at 5:14 PM on September 5, 2010


This is amazing -- the future is quite green and exciting. It's easy to be skeptical if one looks at how far we have to go however if one looks at how far we have come...

That sunny disposition will serve you well in Bartertown.
posted by phrontist at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2010


The problem facing us is that even if we create the next breakthrough industry most of the manufacturing jobs will end up in South Asia. Just look at iPod.

A few years ago I would have disagreed totally, now I would say that will happen, but only to an extent. Just as cars are built all over the world because its easier to build close to markets then I think we'll see the same with the bigger renewable energy technologies. Wind turbines continue to get bigger, which means bigger nacelles and particularly bigger blades, which are a pain to transport and tend not to be transported intercontinentally. Wave and tidal can be classified similarly. The more modular solar tech then I think you might be right, though Japan, Germany and the US look like they might put up a fight. It is worth beaing in mind that the free trade legislation that applies as regards ipods does not apply as regards environmental technology, and that the goals of environmental protection allow derogations from international protectionism regulation.
posted by biffa at 12:47 AM on September 6, 2010


Amory Lovins was one of the soundest voices for alternative views of energy in the 1980's, and he had a bunch of great ideas. Too bad governments and industry thought profit and the status quo were more important.

He gave a talk at the U of Alberta in 1981 or so, and one of his points was that insulating existing houses to a higher standard (they were talking about ~R20 in those days) would not only allow us to avoid the cost of constructing x number of nuclear power plants, it would generate quite a lot of jobs over many years. This still strikes me as an idea worth pursuing. Well, except that global warming is a scam to make Al Gore RICH!!!
posted by sneebler at 10:07 PM on September 6, 2010


The problem facing us is that even if we create the next breakthrough industry most of the manufacturing jobs will end up in South Asia. Just look at iPod.

Well, apart from Africa, South Asia is the poorest part of the world. Surely that is the best place for these jobs to go from a net benefit point of view.
posted by atrazine at 3:29 AM on September 7, 2010


« Older Old? You think you're old?   |   We've come full circle people Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post