During the ASME Power 2009 conference, keynote address, Pat Themig (VP of Generation at PNM Resources) referred to a story on NPR: Dude, Where’s My Cap-and-Trade?
Being a fan of NPR myself, I had to go read it. It’s a light hearted primer on Cap-and-Trade, and some of the issues which may come up in determining who gets CO2 permits, what they cost, and how they’ll be traded. Well, actually, it doesn’t really go into that much detail… but it was a fun read anyway.
The other Keynotes were Dr. Jeffrey Nelson of the Solar Technologies Dept at Sandia National Labs and Ed Tirello, the managing director and senior power strategist at Berenson & Company.
Mr. Tirello discussed Cap-and-Trade a little, but mostly to mention that there is no current policy. People in DC are doing a lot of talking, but have been unable to put down a policy for any real discussions. There are still too many questions on how to handle certain things – such as emergency situations. Do you offer emissions ‘forgiveness’ during emergency situations – such as fuel shortages during winter when natural gas plants have to burn oil in order to allow the gas to go to priority customers for heating purposes?
Dr. Nelson, speaking as a scientist, had good things to say about the future of solar power. Sandia National Labs are working on using solar power to make liquid fuels as well as electricity. Recent DOE reports also indicate that the cost of electricity from solar generation will drop to competitive levels in the next 3 to 10 years.
10 years may seem like a long time to wait for competitive renewable sources, but we have a lot to do between now and then to get the infrastructure and policies ready. We’ll need a robust infrastructure in place before renewables become cost-effective if we want consumers to be able to take advantage of them. It would do no good to have cheap residential solar panels, if utilities are not able to connect them all to the grid.