Friday, November 21, 2008

Strategic Reviews - We are not doing enough today

In my relative procrastination to get going and writing my blog this morning, I was flipping through the articles at CNN. When I came upon a review of a report, Trends 2025: A Transformed World. Basically, it lays out the scenario we are in for a rough ride. These are the usual things, that have been pointed out in the past, a rising multipolar world, booming population, pollution, and the effects of climate change. But it also addresses energy. While emphasizing the continued reliance on oil from unstable countries, it also calls for a shift in energy technology and infrastructure. And here is one of the conclusion:

However, all current technologies are inadequate for replacing the traditional energy architecture on the scale needed, and new energy technologies probably will not be commercially viable and widespread by 2025. The pace of technological innovation will be key. Even with a favorable policy and funding environment for biofuels, clean coal, or hydrogen, the transition to new fuels will be slow. Major technologies historically have had an “adoption lag.” In the energy sector, a recent study found that it takes an average of 25 years for a new production technology to become widely adopted.

Think about that, "all current technologies are inadequate for replacing the traditional energy architecture." I think we have many quils to create a viable change in this time period, as pointed out by the EU Energy Strategic Review, but there is now doubt that despite building wind power on a massive scale fundamental change to the energy infrastructure takes a long lead time.

Let's scale down this analysis and think about the EU Strategic Review and the CEE/SEE region and what needs to be done. First, we have the EU being overly optimistic about the pace of its change in its own energy infrastructure. Ok, maybe there is enough 'waste' in the current energy system to get a 20% CO2 reduction by 2020. The reduction of this much can be seen to be accomplished with limited alterations to the EU's energy infrastructure. More nuclear, more wind, more busses and trains etc... even the plans laid out in the Strategic Energy Review rely on the existing infrastructure becoming larger and smarter, while some gaps are filled in with distributed generation. Is this actually enough to get even half way to a carbon free world by 2050?

I'll have to leave it there, but I'll delve into these reports over the weekend and more closely compare what they are saying. I think we may end up with the realist American perspective with the optomistic European visionary goals.