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"Green" is no longer the magic bullet to solve our energy concerns, according to Dr. Joseph A. Stanislaw, an independent senior advisor to Deloitte LLP and founder of the advisory firm The JAStanislaw Group, LLC. Instead, says Stanislaw, a "transition from green to clean" can power the next phase of development of the world's energy and economic sectors.
Stanislaw makes this argument in a new white paper titled, "Clean Energy 1.0: Moving beyond green to create sustainable jobs and a long-term energy strategy," which focuses on the three interconnected mandates that are driving the evolution of clean energy in the United States: protecting the environment, creating enduring jobs and enhancing national security.
Stanislaw, who is the co-founder and former president and CEO of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, begins his white paper with historical context: "Just two years ago, when oil was levitating toward $100 a barrel and Russia was playing politics with pipelines – green energy was the holy grail of energy security. Then, when concern over climate change reached a fever pitch, it became the silver bullet to solve global warming. And, finally, when the 'Great Recession' struck, green energy was the panacea for unemployment and falling wages."
This metamorphosis, he says, is part of a necessary maturing of the debate around energy because clean energy technologies must "evolve from their current 1.0 stage to a 2.0 stage and beyond." He draws an analogy between clean energy and the high-tech industry: "Right now, clean energy is where the mobile-phone industry was in 1983, when Motorola released its two-pound, $4,000 DynaTac 8000x, or where the computing world stood that same year, when Windows 1.0 was launched."
Stanislaw goes on to explain that the past two years alone have shown us that green energy is "no longer the magic bullet." Clean energy, he says, can now take its "pivotal but mortal place in an array of energy forms and technologies that will power the world in the 21st century." He claims that the “transition from green to clean” will power the next phase of development of the world economy, as we race to create technologies that help us better produce energy and reduce its use.
The white paper points out that the stage is now set for a smart, long-term American energy strategy – for numerous reasons:
He advocates several steps to help move the United States along the clean-development continuum. First, he stresses developing a federal framework. "The absence of a federal framework is now an enormous handicap," he says. "The federal government should not avoid mandating renewable power consumption nationwide. Whether the target is 20 percent of American energy coming from renewable sources by 2020, or something more modest, a mandate is important. Policymakers should not try to pick winners, but they should set targets."
Stanislaw also stresses the need to reduce and manage energy demand instead of just producing clean energy. "Energy efficiency is perhaps the biggest untapped market for entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers. It meets all the demands of those seeking to reduce emissions and increase national security, while having the potential to contribute mightily to the creation of sustainable, well-paying jobs."
"And finally," says Stanislaw, "research and development must rise again." He cites an estimate that before the stimulus bill, the Federal government budget for energy research was the same today, adjusted for inflation, as it was in 1968 – about $3 billion. "This situation is made worse by a decline in energy-related research and development expenditures in the private sector over recent decades," he adds.
"We should reverse this trend by creating market conditions to promote investments in research, development, and market penetration in energy efficiency, in new methods of consumption, and in all forms of energy, be they traditional – oil, gas, coal, nuclear – or alternative.”
Stanislaw concludes his white paper by reiterating that this is just the early dawn of the clean energy era. "Only in the past year or two has energy become a national state of mind," he said. "But the historic importance of this can hardly be underestimated."
He argues that businesses and governments should respond to this new reality by creating the products and services that will help Americans manage their energy consumption. Corporations, meanwhile, should realize that in addition to their core business, each and every one of them is an energy company, too – and that managing their energy usage can be critical to their bottom line. Last, policymakers can amplify these trends by creating the rules of the game and funding the research that will position the United States at the cutting edge of the clean energy evolution.
To download the white paper, visit www.deloitte.com/us/CleanEnergy.