A debate is on-going in the New York Times about the future of energy in the US. Bill Gates wrote one article that focused on the need to increase the spending on energy technology research. This article was followed by a reply written by Richard Rosen, a senior fellow of the Tellus Institute in Boston. Rosen argues that research into new energy technology is not likely to create substantially more cost effective energy technologies, to a large extent due to the large volumes of research that has already gone into energy technologies. Also, nuclear power, for instance, is not as inexpensive as many proponents believe. Regardless of this, Rosen argues that we need to increase investment in energy research, but also for the foreseeable future make the most of existing renewable energy technologies, whether it be wind or solar, to secure our need for new energy over the short term.
In my view we need to develop a strategy and a plan both for the short and long term that combines increased research into renewable energy technologies, energy saving technologies, and their implementation in various areas. We need national strategies, but we also need to understand that renewable energy technologies will not be able to be implemented and utilized as stand-alone inventions. These technologies need to become integrated into customer focused business offerings, that combine technologies, applications and a business concept. This needs to be done by systems integrators, similar to the ones that now operate in, for example, telecom industries, retail industries, and many other industries that provide a packaged offering to customers and end-users.
So far very little work has been done on the developing of frameworks for national energy strategies and on the development of concepts for systems integrators. The Global Energy Transformation Institute is one of the few organizations in the global arena that actively develop competence and debate these areas.