Maybe I’m just prejudiced, but an estimate made by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2008 (George Bush was President) said “just 140 MW of total utility-scale PV solar capacity would be installed by 2015.” In fact, before end-2014, there was more than 8,100 MW actually installed. Obama has been President in the intervening years. Was this the difference? Could government loan guarantees instituted by his administration have made such a difference?
To be fair to the EIA, the Paris-based IEA (International Energy Agency, an important institution in the international salad of energy agencies) has also under-estimated the growth of renewables worldwide: “the International Energy Agency in 2000 projected 34 GW of wind power globally by 2010, while the actual level reached was 200 GW.”
Are these honest errors? Wrong question. This is not a question of honesty, but of views, ideologies, and implicit, unquestioned assumptions on which expert opinions are often based. An executive in a corporation with billions of dollars, pounds, euros, or ringgit locked up in an existing technology naturally thinks: why meddle with a model that has proved successful for a century? Young (mostly), hungry entrepreneurs risking their life savings and livelihoods to usher in an age of new technologies might lose out in the short run but will prevail in the end. This clash of views has nothing to do with honesty, but merely proves the wisdom of the old adage. “Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit.”