The mission of EnergyTradeoffs.com is purely educational. It has no commercial or political purpose. It is aimed at facilitating a deeper understanding among the energy and environmental policy community of the difficult tradeoffs that the green energy transition may entail. Our working premise is that engaging with these tensions fairly and transparently is what scholars ought to do, and that doing so facilitates rather than impedes a successful green transition. Therefore, readers will find a diversity of opinions and visions of possible energy futures represented here; we hope that diversity improves readers’ understanding of the energy transition challenge.
Appreciating tradeoffs is more difficult in today’s politically-polarized, digital age. People rely less on carefully-curated news than they once did, and instead sort through a blizzard of online information, much of it from biased sources. At the same time, the social process of digesting and making sense of new information also tends to happen in online, in digital communities. As a consequence, people may reach conclusions about an issue quickly, and without seeing a representative sample of informed positions on the issue. In the ongoing policy debate about a transition to a cleaner energy mix, some online communities ignore or assume away the difficult tradeoffs at the heart of that transition.
EnergyTradeoffs.com is intended to offer a window into deeper analyses of those tradeoffs, in two ways. First, we feature conversations with scholars and experts who grapple directly and honestly with tradeoffs — tradeoffs between energy reliability, energy affordability, and the environmental impacts of energy production, and the political and other tradeoffs inherent in any such transition. Second, we plan to host a discussion board for energy policy experts. We expect the discussion board to be up and running sometime in 2020. We hope that it will be a forum for high-level, civil, cross-disciplinary discussion of tradeoffs, and will represent an online analog to the kind of deep exchanges that some of us have experienced at the annual Austin Electricity Conference.
This post at the EnergyLawProfessor blog offers a fuller description and discussion of the ideas behind this effort.