Energy Conundrum

Framing the energy conundrum in financial terms is without any doubt the ultimate way of commanding attention from the myriad stakeholders in this important global issue. It’s apparent that dominating green energy technology is tantamount to either maintaining or gaining economic dominance, depending on which side of the geopolitical spectrum your nation happens to be at this juncture.  The old cabals, marred with corruption and cronyism will not work.  Innovation and path to market are the new operative words.

Can I Clean Your Clock?


Published: July 5, 2009

Over the past decade, whenever I went to China and engaged Chinese on their pollution and energy problems, inevitably some young Chinese would say: “Hey, you Americans got to grow dirty for 150 years, using cheap coal and oil. Now it is our turn.”

It’s a hard argument to refute. Eventually, I decided that the only way to respond was with some variation of the following: “You’re right. It’s your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think America just needs five years to invent all the clean-power technologies you Chinese are going to need as you choke to death on pollution. Then we’re going to come over here and sell them all to you, and we are going to clean your clock — how do you say ‘clean your clock’ in Chinese? — in the next great global industry: clean power technologies. So if you all want to give us a five-year lead, that would be great. I’d prefer 10. So take your time. Grow as dirty as you want.”

Whenever you frame it that way, Chinese are quizzical at first, and then they totally get it: Wow, this energy thing isn’t just about global warming! In a world that is adding one billion people every 15 years or so — more and more of whom will be able to live high-energy-consuming lifestyles — the demands for energy and natural resources are going to go through the roof. Therefore, E.T. — energy technologies that produce clean power and energy efficiency — is going to be the next great global industry, and China needs to be on board.

Well, China has gotten on board — big-time. Now I am worried that China will, dare I say, “clean our clock” in E.T.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: