Realistic Expectations for Renewable Energy

RenewableEnergyWorld’s Inside Renewable Energy podcast returned to the potential green bubble this week. Carbon-Nation readers will recall that in May this podcast reviewed our reporting on organic photovoltaics, and the allegations that researchers developing that very promising (but still quite nascent) approach to solar power had overstated their advances. This week’s entry, “Keeping the Industry in Check”, broadens the issue to take on overheated hyperbole coming from the renewables industry writ large.

Podcast Editor Stephen Lacey’s quotes from wind energy expert Mack Sagrillo capture the conversation’s overall message: Buyer beware. “It’s great that people are looking for alternatives, but it’s amazing how little people know when they seek them out. That leaves people open to purchasing a product that is less-than-reliable. We are a very gullible culture, we’re always looking for the magic bullet,” says Sagrillo.

Lacey brings me in to speak to media’s role. Some of my touchstones: Asking uncomfortable questions; providing caveats that make the story a little more messy but a lot more accurate; and letting readers know when technology advocates are providing only half the story.

The most important audience for the above? The editors that serve as the ultimate gatekeepers for the reader and, all too often in my opinion, underestimate their audience’s appetite for complexity.

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