Fighting Climate Change with Renewable Energy? What’s ‘Plan B?’30 Dec

SBIR Consultant – Market Analysis: There are many issues of importance to be stressed in writing a competitive SBIR proposal. One of these is market analysis: urgent need for your innovation, your competition, showstopper issues, cost, and policy/legal impediments. The blog below is an example of a snapshot market analysis that illustrates the long time typically required for an innovation to reach high market penetration. Does your innovation face this type of problem?

This post is directed to those who accept the reality of climate change and believe that CO2 emitting fossil fuels must be sharply curtailed to avoid further greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Expanded use of renewable energy technologies is one such approach.

According to Bloomberg News, December 2015, “The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S.”

To what extent will these extended tax credits help the wind and solar industries achieve wide spread usage? There are two sources of information on this question: Dr. Vaclav Smil and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) from the Department of Energy (DOE).

A professor at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Smil has published 35 books and over 400 papers on energy, technical innovation, environment, risk assessment and public policy. In a Scientific American article (January, 2014), he stressed the fact that any new energy producing technology requires several decades before achieving a significant impact on society. That was true for coal, oil and natural gas in terms of share of world energy supply. (Please see page 29 of this reference for graphs of energy production as a function of years starting at the 5 percent energy level.) Why should renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, be any different?

The second source of information regarding renewable energy deployment ‘progress’ is given by the NREL table below. (Please see p. 27 of this reference). It shows the U.S. renewable electricity generation as a percentage of total generation. Hydropower, geothermal and, biomass electricity generation exhibited no growth from 2000 to 2013. Solar electricity production ‘grew’ from 0.0 percent to 0.5 percent during this period. Electricity from onshore wind went from 0.1 percent to 4.1 percent. There was no contribution from offshore wind in the United States. These data show that Dr. Smil is correct about the ‘snail’s pace’ progress towards deployment of renewable energies, especially in United States.

From 2000 to 2013, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for renewable energy was 2.6 percent. My previous post calculated that renewable energy would produce 25 percent of the U.S. electricity in another 30 years. These predictions assume a ‘business as usual’ policy by the U.S. Congress and the President (i.e., Energy policy dictated by the fossil fuel industry). Please see OpenSecrets.org for political campaign contributions to members of Congress and the President.

Summary: In the absence of any large-scale coalition formed by the U.S. Government, industry and academia to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies, Dr. Smil’s prediction about renewable energy technologies is correct (i.e., another energy technology requiring decades to implement.) Without timely, large-scale renewable energy, what is ‘Plan B’ to achieve a reduction in global warming?

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One Response to “Fighting Climate Change with Renewable Energy? What’s ‘Plan B?’”

  1. Hope for Renewable Electricity? NOAA versus History of Technology Deployment | JHEverson Consulting Reply

    […] History Shows: In a recent blog post, I wrote, “A professor at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Smil has published 35 books and over 400 papers on energy, technical innovation, environment, risk assessment and public policy. In a Scientific American article (January, 2014), he stressed the fact that any new energy producing technology requires several decades before achieving a significant impact on society. That was true for coal, oil and natural gas in terms of share of world energy supply. (Please see page 29 of this reference for graphs of energy production as a function of years starting at the 5 percent energy level.) Why should renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, be any different?” […]

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.

Contact

For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.