Policy or Technology Solution?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Richard Lester, professor and head of the department of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and co-author with David Hart of Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System, answers that both policy and technology are needed to fill the world's energy needs.


Richard Lester

Comments [8]

Dec. 22 2011 03:35 AM

There's a really cool program by an environmental non-profit here in NYC called Solar One that teaches students how to lower their school's electric bills, and builds exactly on Professor Hart's suggestions. The kids do classroom energy audits and then come up with plans to reduce kW usage in their school. They're getting really good results, according to the Wall Street Journal. I agree with Professor Hart, buildings are the easiest way to reduce electric bills -- there are about 1,2000 NYC public school buildings, and they eat up about 25% of all the energy paid for by the city. What's so cool about Solar One's program, called the Green Design Lab, is that it pivots on behavior change, and gets to the kids early in their development. Think about how our country changed its behavior with seat belts in the past 30 years, or, safe sex practices.

Dec. 21 2011 02:19 PM
Graham from Bronx

Both Manhattan College and Columbia have courses on Green Building Design, Solar Design, and Building Energy Management. These are the technologies that Bloomberg should have emphasised for the new "technology university" and not silicone valley types of technology. If we don't solve the Green House Warming problem we will be in big trouble.

Dec. 21 2011 11:45 AM
James from cold spring from Cold spring

Can he comment on Jevon's paradox? More efficiency leads to more, not less, usage of energy

Dec. 21 2011 11:44 AM

60 million people drive alone to work, but live within very easy biking distance. Shouldn't moving some of these commutes to bikes, carpools, telecommuting and public transportation be a big part of this program?

Dec. 21 2011 11:44 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

It's so strange that even the best of "sustainable" development thinking doesn't include "before - after" math.

We can't achieve a reduction in energy use by improving economic efficiency. The clearest of world data is that economic efficiency, delivering more GDP per $, has the complete opposite of the intended effect.

Apparently the world doesn't sit still when your efficiencies make more money and resources available for other things..

Dec. 21 2011 11:44 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

This country was built on plentiful and cheap energy! But fossil fuel energy is no longer as plentiful, nor as cheap as it once was, and renewables are still not cheap enough for the masses. Only the relatively well off can afford to put solar panels on their roofs, or purchase electric cars without the gov't rebates. So we are in the twilight zone, between diminishing fossil fuel era and the still not fully competitive renewables. So it's going to be touch and go for another decade or two.

Dec. 21 2011 11:41 AM
Graham from Bronx

My understanding is that if ALL electricity in the world were produced using uranium 235 then "peak uranium" would occur in 25 years (and yes this this does ignore thorium use). If this is so, then even nuclear power would only be a short term solution unless we go to fast breader reactors. So my question is, what is the state of fast breeder research, or is it still too dangerous to be feasible?

Dec. 21 2011 10:52 AM

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