2021年9月30日 星期四

Who Created the Renewable-Energy Miracle? 紐時賞析/誰創造了再生能源奇蹟?


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2021/10/01 第352期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
 
 
紐時周報精選 Who Created the Renewable-Energy Miracle? 紐時賞析/誰創造了再生能源奇蹟?
California's Plan to Make New Buildings Greener Will Also Raise Costs 加州要新大樓更環保 拉高建築成本
紐時周報精選
 
Who Created the Renewable-Energy Miracle? 紐時賞析/誰創造了再生能源奇蹟?
文/Paul Krugman
譯/李京倫

紐時賞析/誰創造了再生能源奇蹟?

As terrible as many things in the world are, climate is unique in posing an existential threat to civilization. And it's horrifying that so many political figures are dead set against any serious action to address that threat.

氣候變遷跟世上許多事物一樣可怕,卻因為能威脅文明存續而更特別,令人震驚的是,有這麼多政治人物堅決反對所有因應這種威脅的認真行動。

Despite that, there's still a chance that we'll do enough to avoid catastrophe — not because we've grown wiser but because we've been lucky. We used to believe that achieving big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would be difficult and expensive. Over the past dozen years or so, however, we've experienced a technological miracle. The costs of solar and wind power have plunged to the point that quite modest incentives could lead to a rapid reduction in use of fossil fuels.

話雖如此,我們仍有機會做得夠多而避開大災難,不是因為我們變聰明,而是因為幸運。我們一直相信,大幅削減溫室氣體排放,不但困難且所費不貲。不過,過去12年左右,我們經驗到技術奇蹟,太陽能和風力發電成本驟降,以致些許誘因就能促使人們快速削減化石燃料用量。

But was it really luck? Did this miracle — actually two miracles, since generating electricity from the sun and from the wind involve completely different technologies — just happen to arrive in our moment of need? Or was it a consequence of good policy decisions?

不過,這真的純屬幸運嗎?這個奇蹟——其實是兩個奇蹟,因為用陽光和風力發電涉及的技術完全不同——只是湊巧在我們需要時發生,還是優質政策的結果?

The answer is that there's a pretty good case that policy — the Obama administration's investments in green energy and European subsidies, especially for offshore wind — played a central role.

答案是,有相當充分的證據顯示,美國前總統歐巴馬政府投資綠能和歐洲補貼綠能的政策,尤其是離岸風力發電,扮演重要角色。

What's the justification for that conclusion? Start with the fact that neither wind nor solar power was a fundamentally new technology. Windmills have been in widespread use at least since the 11th century. Photovoltaic solar power was developed in the 1950s.

怎麼說呢?風力和太陽能發電都不是全新技術,風車至少從11世紀就盛行了,光伏太陽能則在1950年代就研發出來。

What we're looking at, instead, appears to be a situation in which growing use of renewable energy is itself driving cost reductions. Renewables appear to be subject to learning curves, in which costs fall with cumulative production.

我們看到的似乎是,再生能源用量逐步增加使成本降低。再生能源產業似乎可以用學習曲線來類比,經年累月的生產,會使成本愈來愈低。

And here's the thing: When an industry has a steep learning curve, government support can have huge positive effects. Subsidize such an industry for a few years, and its costs will fall with experience, and eventually it will reach a tipping point where its growth becomes self-sustaining and the subsidies are no longer needed.

重點是,當一個產業經過長年累月生產就能拉低成本時,政府補貼便能產生巨大的正面效果。補貼這種產業幾年,產業成本會隨著經驗增加而降低,最終會達到臨界點,產業能靠自己的力量持續成長,不再需要補貼。

That's arguably what has happened, or is on the verge of happening, for renewable energy.

可以說,這就是再生能源已經發生或將要發生的事。

In short, there's a really good case to be made that government support for renewable energy created a cost miracle that might not have happened otherwise — and this cost miracle may be the key to saving us from utter climate catastrophe.

簡言之,有充分的理由說明,政府補貼再生能源締造了成本奇蹟,否則奇蹟不會發生,而這項奇蹟或許是拯救我們免於極端氣候災難的關鍵。

 
California's Plan to Make New Buildings Greener Will Also Raise Costs 加州要新大樓更環保 拉高建築成本
文/Ivan Penn
譯/李京倫

加州要新大樓更環保 拉高建築成本

California has led the nation in fighting climate change by encouraging the use of renewable energy and electric cars. Now the state is taking on an even harder challenge — reducing emissions from homes, businesses and other buildings that have to be heated, cooled and powered.

加州藉由鼓勵使用再生能源和電動車,成為美國對抗氣候變遷的領導者。如今加州挑戰更大的目標:使必須加熱、冷卻和供電的住宅、商店等建物減少溫室氣體排放量。

Last month, state regulators updated California's building code to require new homes and commercial buildings to have solar panels and batteries and the wiring needed to switch from heaters that burn natural gas to heat pumps that run on electricity. Energy experts say it is one of the most sweeping single environmental updates to building codes ever attempted by a government agency.

加州立法機構上月更新建築法規,要求新住宅和商業大樓安裝太陽能板和電池,而且電路布線必須從燃燒天然氣的加熱器改為用電的熱泵。能源專家說,這是政府機關對建築法規最大刀闊斧的環保變革之一。

But some energy and building experts warn that California may be taking on too much, too quickly and focusing on the wrong target — new buildings, rather than the much larger universe of existing structures. Their biggest fear is that these new requirements will drive up the state's already high construction costs, putting new homes out of reach of middle- and lower-income families that cannot as easily afford the higher upfront costs of cleaner energy and heating equipment, which typically pays for itself over years through savings on monthly utility bills.

不過,一些能源和建築專家警告,加州可能野心太大、過於急切,而且鎖定新建物而非數目多得多的既有建物,也是找錯目標。他們最擔心的是,這些新要求會把加州已經很高的建築成本推得更高,使中低收入戶買不起新屋,他們難以負擔潔淨能源和加熱設備較高的前期成本,雖然這些成本通常能透過每月節省電費而在幾年後抵銷。

The median single-family home in California sells for more than $800,000 compared to about $360,000 nationwide, and businesses pay more for rent in cities like San Francisco and San Jose than anywhere else in the country. A big reason costs are higher in California is that the state is not building enough homes, something lawmakers tried to address this past week by advancing legislation that would allow more than one home on each parcel of land.

加州單戶住宅售價中位數為80多萬美元,全美則約36萬美元,而且舊金山、聖荷西等城市的商業租金比美國其他地方都貴。加州房價高的一大原因是房屋建量不足,州議員過去一周企圖透過推動立法,允許每個單位土地蓋不只一間房子,來解決這個問題。

Adding solar panels and a battery to a new home can raise its cost by $20,000 or more. While that might not matter to somebody buying a million-dollar property, it could be a burden on a family borrowing a few hundred thousand dollars to buy a home.

新屋加裝太陽能板和電池,價格會提高2萬美元甚至更多。對買得起百萬美元房產的人來說,這可能不算什麼,但對貸款數十萬美元買房的家庭,則會構成負擔。

"You're going to see the impact in office rents. You're going to see it in the cost of the milk in your grocery store," said Donald J. Ruthroff, a principal at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning in Pleasanton, California. "There's no question this is going to impact prices across the board."

加州普萊森頓市道林建築設計公司總監魯斯羅夫表示:「你會看到這對辦公室租金的影響。你會在食品雜貨店牛奶價格上看到它所造成的衝擊。這勢必會波及到各類商品的價格。」

 
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