Why We Fail to Correctly Project Renewable Energy Growth

By Michael Levi, Council on Foreign Relations:

There’s an interesting discussion going on in the blogosphere over why energy experts “failed to predict” massive growth in renewable energy over the past decade. David Roberts speculates that it’s because renewable energy is technologically dynamic and often distributed – two things that, he says, we’re bad at modeling.

Paul Krugman sees something much uglier at work: capture (“both crude and subtle”) of energy experts by fossil fuel interests. But there’s a much more mundane explanation: The sources that Roberts and Krugman point to as evidence of chronically underestimated renewable energy growth weren’t trying to predict the future. The sources – mostly the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) – were explicitly tasked with modeling future developments assuming no changes in policy… Read more


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