War on renewables?

One of my new favorite world-wide-web stops is Noaphinion, an economics blog written by Noah Smith at the University of Michigan.  It’s witty and very well-written, and regularly linked to by big names in the field like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman- not too shabby for a grad student!  This recent post about efforts within the conservative movement to restrict biofuel use in the Department of Defense and undermine the solar and wind industries in general may be of interest:

I used to work at a small energy technology R&D company supported largely through military research office grants, and am familiar first-hand with the value of this type of funding in advancing next-generation energy technologies.  Biofuel research in particular has benefited greatly from such funding, having attracted considerable attention from the Army, Navy, and Air Force as a stable, domestically-produced energy source.  In fact, the keynote speaker at this year’s International Biomass Conference and Expo in Denver was a former DoD official highlighting their support for the fledgling bioenergy industry as a hedge against volatility in international fossil fuel markets.

However, I worry that the ‘energy security’ strategy of advocating for biofuels principally as a secure domestic energy source (rather than as a potential low-carbon energy source) could backfire, since there are plenty of high-carbon domestic energy technologies (think oil shales or coal-to-liquids) in the pipeline that may prove more feasible or profitable in the short-term than bioenergy… What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to War on renewables?

  1. John says:

    Update: here’s a very closely-related article from Grist-
    http://grist.org/politics/republicans-try-to-force-the-military-to-use-dirty-energy-it-doesnt-want/

    While the tone is perhaps a bit more partisan that the first article, it provides a perfect example of people invoking the priority of domestic energy security to promote a relatively ‘dirty’ energy source (FT coal-to-liquids).

  2. Thanks. I was looking for an article about renewable energy.

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