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America's clean energy policies need a reality check, say Stanford researchers
Date:5/1/2012

p> With natural gas prices so low due to huge new supplies of shale gas, besting the current energy system has become tougher.

Reinvention, not rejection

Ball writes that governments and investors have spent big money on renewable power, slashing the cost of many renewable technologies and creating jobs. And yet, he notes, modern renewables remain a very small percentage of the global energy mix.

"Wind and solar power will never reach the scale necessary to make a difference to national security or the environment unless they can be produced economically," he writes. "The objective is not wind turbines or solar panels. It is an affordable, convenient, secure, and sustainable stream of electrons."

Taken together, the analyses by Ball and Yanosek argue for driving down the costs of key technologies and speeding up their deployment, said Dan Reicher, the executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center, launched a little more than a year ago at Stanford Law School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

"This will require the right mix of targeted government policy and hard-nosed private sector investment," said Reicher, also a Stanford law professor and business school lecturer, and formerly an assistant U.S. energy secretary and private-equity investor.

Ball, in Foreign Affairs, writes that rationalizing "the conflicting patchwork of energy subsidies that has been stitched together over the decades" is essential. Supporters of renewable energy point out that public subsidies for these technologies are a fraction of those for fossil fuels, both globally and in the United States. Realistically, Ball figures, subsidies should be examined not just in total dollar amounts, but also per unit of energy produced. This more apples-to-apples comparison would help foster an honest debate about which subsidies best promote the type of energy system countries want.

Also key to America pursuing clean energy
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Contact: Mark Golden
mark.golden@stanford.edu
650-724-1629
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

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America's clean energy policies need a reality check, say Stanford researchers
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