Thursday, July 07, 2011

Cute Energy

No sooner had I read this interview with Bill Gates in this months Wired magazine then I spot this Astrum Solar crew at work on a home in Ellicott City. My immediate thought was "how cute!"

In the interview, Wired editor Chris Anderson asks Gates, who had just discussed his own involvement with a nuclear energy firm, where else “should we be focusing besides nuclear? On massive solar plants in the desert? On middle-size stuff for office roofs? Or is there a reinvention that could be done right in the home?”

To which he replied:

“If you’re going for cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. It’s really kind of cool to have solar panels on your roof. But if you’re really interested in the energy problem, it’s those big things in the desert.”

Even then he’s still no big fan of solar.

“You know, the sun shines during the day, and people turn their air conditioners on during the day, so you can catch some of that peaking load, particularly if you get enough subsidies. It’s cute, you know, it’s nice. But the economics are so, so far from making sense. And yet that’s where subsidies are going now. We’re putting 90 percent of the subsidies in deployment—this is true in Europe and the United States—not in R&D. And so unfortunately you get technologies that, no matter how much of them you buy, there’s no path to being economical. You need fundamental breakthroughs, which come more out of basic research.” 
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