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Clearing the Path

The drive for clean and secure energy is at a crossroads. From Capitol Hill to Wall Street to Silicon Valley, and from Beijing to Bangalore to Brussels, yesterday’s green optimism is giving way to a sobering realization: Achieving an energy future that cuts emissions, boosts security and promotes jobs will require building it in an economically sensible way.

But today’s public policies and private financing mechanisms aren’t optimized to deploy the best technologies when they’re ready or even, in the meantime, to wring the most out of the world’s energy system today. Converting that system – as global energy use grows – will require tens of trillions of dollars at a time when investors, lenders and governments have little appetite for risk. And, since most energy infrastructure lasts for decades, current investments will have consequences for the next generation at least.

Given those stakes, the Steyer-Taylor Center’s guiding principle is no-nonsense and non-partisan: If the global energy system is to grow into one that’s cleaner, more secure, and more efficient, the finance and policy tools used to build it must themselves get more robust and less wasteful.

Now is the time to ensure that investments are made in an economically and environmentally reasonable way across the entire energy system: in renewable sources, fossil fuels and nuclear power, and critically, in energy-efficiency technologies that minimize waste in the delivery and consumption of energy regardless of where that energy comes from. Now is the time to clear the path, so that the best technologies can take flight.

Dan Reicher
Executive Director
Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance
Stanford University