Innovation in Energy: Expressions of a Crisis, and Some Ways Forward

Woudhuysen, James
October 2012
Energy & Environment;Oct2012, Vol. 23 Issue 6/7, p933
Academic Journal
Using academic, journalistic and statistical sources, this paper situates energy innovation in historical context before describing the current sclerosis of Western energy R&D. It explores how rising energy prices denote weak innovation, and how society's emphasis on green technologies, green subsidies and green jobs has effectively supplanted a rounded programme of innovation. The paper refuses to prefer one source of energy to another, suggesting that this is to ignore the potential for technological change. It treats the rebound effect as positive, delves into the limitations of energy efficiency, and gives even shorter shrift to energy conservation. The paper shows how energy innovation has become synonymous with risk, reviews failure in energy innovation, and attacks innovations around smart meters and the behaviour of energy users. We conclude by briefly inspecting the relationship between finance and energy innovation, and, throughout, suggest elements of a new political approach to the latter.


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