Lessons From the Past for Assessing Energy Technologies for the Future


Addressing climate change will require the successful development and implementation of new energy technologies. Such technologies can, however, pose novel and uncertain hazards. Furthermore, the process of energy innovation is technically difficult and occurs in the face of powerful forces hostile to new technologies that disrupt existing energy systems. In short, energy innovation is difficult and hazardous, but essential. This Article presents case studies of three existing energy technologies to obtain insights in anticipating technological change, managing uncertain hazards, and designing appropriate laws and policies. The Article then applies these insights to a varied sample of emerging energy technologies. Ultimately, laws and policies should distinguish between new energy technologies according to (1) their state of readiness, (2) their potential to complement or disrupt existing energy infrastructures, and (3) the possible hazards associated with their full-scale deployment.

About the Author

Albert C. Lin is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

By uclalaw