Commentary: The Importance of Debating Energy Policies—Not Technologies - Topic A: Energy
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February 12, 2016

Commentary: The Importance of Debating Energy Policies—Not Technologies

Robert Fares, a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. student at the University Texas at Austin, writes in Scientific American: “As a researcher working in the area of energy technology and policy, I often find myself drawn into debates surrounding certain energy technologies, and what role they should play in the future energy system. People are quick to list the specific benefits or drawbacks of one technology over another: ‘Wind energy is fine at the small scale, but it will never scale up like nuclear!’ ‘Electric vehicles will never be mainstream! We should be using natural gas!’ ‘Battery storage is expensive and won’t last! We should be using thermal storage!’”

“Regardless of whether or not these claims are based in fact, I believe it’s a mistake to frame our choice of energy strategy in this way. Today, the energy we use comes from a variety of sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent total energy flow diagram shows exactly where the United States gets its energy, and what that energy is used for. With U.S. energy coming from coal, natural gas, domestic oil, nuclear, renewables, petroleum imports, and more, it’s clear that we do not currently rely on any one particular energy source. In fact, we benefit from a diverse mix.”

The piece concludes: “Instead of debating technologies, we should debate the most practical and immediate steps we can take to reduce carbon emissions today using any technology at our disposal. There’s no time to waste. We need meaningful action to reverse the current climate trend before its too late.”

Categories: Commentary

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