Thursday, July 26, 2012

Juan Cole predicts doom of carbon

Juan Cole does not just write about the Middle East. In a current post he predicts an interesting development in the area of green energy, namely that "Scientists have found that solar photovoltaic cells could be producing electricity at less 50 cents a watt by 2016, four years earlier than other projections." The whole thing is supposed to be the "Top Ten Reasons Fracking won’t Last Long," but here is a key paragraph:
. . . oil and gas triumphalists have another think coming. It is that the cost of generating electricity by wind and solar is falling rapidly. However hard they try to suppress government funding and tax breaks for renewables, Big Oil and Big Gas are doomed to lose, and in only about 4 years. At that point where it is just cheaper to generate electricity with renewables, no one is going to invest in hydrocarbons. Even with a price advantage it will take decades for renewables to displace hydrocarbons (the electricity grid, transportation, batteries, all have to be redone). But it isn’t a matter of “if.” It is a matter of when. All the anti-climate-warming propaganda and pro-hydrocarbon advertising is intended to slow this process; even Big Oil and Big Gas are not so stupid as not to see the writing on the wall. But if their delaying tactics can make them billions in the meantime, they have every reason to go for it, especially if they are moral cretins who don’t care about the health of the planet.
What is his source for the 4-year thing? If you follow his link, you get this, another blog post. Its source is this, something called Greentech Media. Is that the same as "scientists"? Wikipedia describes them as "a startup media company based in Massachusetts, United States, that generates research and news on the green technology market." Greentech Media could be right in their projections, for all I know. Juan seems to be relishing the prospect of oil companies and such getting their comeuppance. It doesn't seem occur to him that the demise of hydrocarbon also won't be such a swell development for Saudis, Iranians, and Venezuelans.

Juan never strays too far from the Middle East, of course. Here is the last of the "ten reasons":
The Egyptian gas pipeline through the Sinai to Jordan and Israel has been blown up 15 times since the Jan. 25 revolution. Egyptians are angry that the government of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak had sold the gas at substantially below-market prices to Israel . . .
Egyptians, especially the pipeline bombers, are angry that Egypt had any relations at all with the hated Zionist entity (even the purchase of their soon-to-be-worthless natural gas). That would be a more trenchant way to put it in my humble estimation, but Juan remains true to his biases, and those include taking Islamist accounts of their own motivation at face-value. Nice to know you can count on something.

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