Note — Feb 24, 2019

How to Decarbonize America — and the World

Ramez Naam expanding on his Twitter thread I linked to last week, with lots more detail. His central point is that electricity generation and transport are largely “solved”, not that the work is done but we know how to do it and are on our way. Which means the US (and Europe) need to focus on creating technologies and lowering their costs to address agriculture and industry, the two largest sources of CO2, for which we don’t have good decarbonation solutions. Naam goes through how that might look like in the Green New Deal, concentrating on new ARPA programs and incentives to invest and deploy. Have a look at the learning curve (or the experience curve) section on how scaling production reduces cost for everyone.

Why did subsidies bring down the price of technology? Because industry scale leads to industry learning and innovation, and that, in turn, leads to lower cost ways to manufacture, deploy, and manage new technologies. […]

Electricity from solar power, meanwhile, drops in cost by 25-30% for every doubling in scale. Battery costs drop around 20-30% per doubling of scale. Wind power costs drop by 15-20% for every doubling. Scale leads to learning, and learning leads to lower costs. […]

By scaling the clean energy industries, Germany lowered the price of solar and wind for everyone, worldwide, forever. […]

The most just thing we can do is to address climate change as rapidly as possible, and to produce and spread the tools that also boost climate resilience around the developing world.