Solar 2010 events, left to right: At the poster session reception, researchers gave live presentations. ASES Fellows had their own reception. Chuck Kutscher (right)
led a lively press conference on water vs. energy issues. Steve Heckeroth spoke on the emerging electric vehicle market.
Zoi and Albert spoke about hard realities in
making real-life decisions. Zoi noted that subsidies and, therefore, pricing decisions are distorted by election cycles. Planning is done for
short-term gain, not for the long-term health of
the market, the consumer or the environment.
And Albert spoke of the complex decision process a utility undertakes in balancing the cost of
a new generating plant against the externalities
and the water resource.
Suarez asked if the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a
“teachable moment.” Why, he wondered, is it so
hard to draw a connection in the public sphere
between environmental damage — like greenhouse gas emissions — and energy decisions?
Zoi’s response: “People don’t make energy-
source decisions. Utilities do. And carbon diox-
ide is invisible and odorless. People don’t think
about what they don’t perceive.”
Hayes told an anecdote about a couple
making the decision to install a solar array. The
husband calculated the costs and benefits and
got a projected payback period. The wife said,
“George, it’s the right thing to do.” He suggested
that women take that attitude in most cases.
solartoday.org SOLAR TODA Y July/August 2010 41
SOLAR 2010 continued on page 64.
Lovins said. “By 2050, we’ll be off fossil fuels,”
just because they’ll be more expensive than the
alternatives. Zoi noted that energy decisions are
made locally. At the national level, “[The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] gave us
a chance to invest broadly in new energy technologies,” she said. Did she mean to imply this
will prove to have been our last national energy
policy move? Albert said, “Success breeds success. We now have thousands of PV and solar
water-heating systems installed in Arizona, and
as people learn that it works for their neighbors,
we’re seeing a snowball effect.” Lovins added
that accurate information is available outside of
mainstream media, for anyone who cares to find
it on the web.
Suarez asked whether transmission is a serious constraint on development of renewable