Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030
The industrial age of energy and transportation will be over by 2030. Maybe before. Exponentially improving technologies such as solar, electric vehicles, and autonomous (self-driving) cars will disrupt and sweep away the energy and transportation industries as we know it. The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of rocks. It ended because a disruptive technology ushered in the Bronze Age. The era of centralized, command-and-control, extraction-resource-based energy sources (oil, gas, coal and nuclear) will not end because we run out of petroleum, natural gas, coal, or uranium. It will end because these energy sources, the business models they employ, and the products that sustain them will be disrupted by superior technologies, product architectures, and business models. The same Silicon Valley ecosystem that created bit-based technologies that have disrupted atom-based industries is now creating bit- and electron-based technologies that will disrupt atom-based energy industries. This is a technology-based disruption reminiscent of how the cell phone, Internet, and personal computer swept away industries such as landline telephony, publishing, and mainframe computers. Just like those technology disruptions flipped the architecture of information and brought abundant, cheap and participatory information, the clean disruption will flip the architecture of energy and bring abundant, cheap and participatory energy. Just like those previous technology disruptions, the clean disruption is inevitable and will be swift. The industrial age of energy and transportation is already giving way to an information technology and knowledge-based energy and transportation era.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I bought the kindle version and it was full of formatting errors. Graphics that did not scale. Repeated texts. Shame! The content was engaging but it was like trying to admire a work of art behind a very dirty glass case.
Thought provoking book…, July 7, 2014 By Amazon Customer (Switzerland) – See all my reviews
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I enjoyed reading this book as it has quite a number of thought provoking ideas. It is also very well researched and up to date with the most recent developments in this area (July 2014).
Why I didn’t give it 5 stars? At times the book feels a little rushed with a fair bit of typos (of the sort ‘a utility spent 0 on the clean-up of its nuclear plant site’, ‘total investment equals EUR 600 billion = USD 800 million’) and some mistakes (like a whole argument is made about the next Tesla Model X being half price of the Model S whereas in reality the X will probably be marginally more expensive than the S). Also the Kindle formatting made it hard to follow at times.
Other than that the author has done a great job. Recommended.
Not a serious book on green technology, July 6, 2015 By C P (Japan) – See all my reviews
This is not a serious book on the topic. This is a hymn book for those looking to celebrate green technology without considering evidence. Most amazingly, the book proves the opposite of its theme: it shows that solar power is currently a failure and is not disrupting traditional energy yet.
If all of this sounds harsh, it is because I felt the author was deceitful in selecting evidence and withholding other crucial evidence. Let me explain.
The author repeatedly cites Australia as a model of success for solar power. The country has the sunniest weather in the world, which is ideal for capturing solar energy and powering the nation. Moreover, the Australian government has enacted policies and provided subsidies to ensure solar power is embraced by the country. The result of these ideal circumstances, says the author, is that one out of ten homes in Australia has solar power installed.
In discussing other countries and other states in the U.S., the author frequently cites Australia as the model. If only California or other states would go the way of Australia, they too could have the same success.
And what is Australia’s success? A quick check on Wikipedia shows that Australia currently receives 1% of its electricity from solar power. One percent! This is the successful result of ideal financing, sunny weather and governmental policies? By this measure, if 100% of Australian homes had solar power installed on their roofs, the country would still only receive 10% of its electricity from solar power.
Of course, this one-percent statistic is omitted from the book. The book boasts how much of Denmark’s total electricity is generated from wind (19.1% by 2008), so it is highly suspicious that the author never states how much of Australia’s electricity comes from solar power. In fact, the book never states how much of any country’s electricity comes from solar power. The book is littered with statistics and figures on solar power, so the failure to include this inconvenient truth of 1% must have been intentional.
If Australia is the success story as the author suggests, and all Australia can do is obtain 1% from solar, then solar power must be a failure in its current state. Unless there is a dramatic price drop (well beyond the recent huge price drop) or a dramatic improvement in efficiency, solar power cannot deliver or disrupt. Bill Gates agreed with this position in a May 15, 2015 interview on GPS.
Other issues I had: if solar is so disruptive, akin to digital cameras and the internal combustion engine, why is it that Wall Street doesn’t embrace the technology as they did with cameras and the internal combustion engine? Why the need for all these elaborate financing schemes as set out in Chapter 2 if solar is so attractive on its own? Why is Wall Street too “greedy” to embrace this technology, but Warren Buffett’s profit motives in investing in solar are pure? The author delves into these issues but does not provide adequate explanations.
To be clear, I support solar power and other green technologies, I believe global warming is real and I am about to buy my first electric car. This book, however, makes it appear as though green technology is too weak to stand up to honest discussion and scrutiny, which is a position I strongly deny.
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