Energy Tech Won’t Progress Like Computing
A switch to batteries, solar panels and wind turbines entails increased use of mined minerals to produce the same amount of energy.
Bravo to Nick Stork and Joe Malchow (“One Man’s Trash Is Another’s Clean Fuel,” op-ed, Nov. 21) for endorsing an energy “price system untouched by government.” But in their otherwise sensible case for a bright energy future, they make a fundamental mistake by repeating a pernicious analogy: “The energy future may mirror computing’s past . . . [as] is happening with lithium-ion batteries today.” No, it won’t, and no, it isn’t.
If battery chemistry followed the arc of computing’s progress, we would soon power a jumbo jet across the Atlantic with one battery the size of a cereal box. Similarly, if silicon photocells followed the trajectory of silicon transistors, we would soon power all Manhattan with a solar panel the size of a page of the Journal. Only in comic books, however, does energy technology advance at the pace of information technology (aka Moore’s Law).
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund.
This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal