False equivalences in "technology adoption" arguments

Evangelists for EVs and Solar and Wind renewable energy often present the issue as if it is only a matter of changing our mindsets. That we only need to "think differently" and adoption rate of Solar and EV's will somehow mirror that of smartphones, the TV or the Internet.

But these are false equivalences and many of the examples cited are not at all similar to the issues around new technology adoption of EVs and Solar renewable energy generation.

Let's consider some of those.

Horse carriages were replaced by cars because cars were a much superior alternative for getting from point A to B. A horse has 1 horsepower. Model T had an engine that had 20 hp. And when you were not using the car, it just sat there and you did not need to feed it or clean up manure. Horses and carriages were replaced by a vastly superior transportation alternative.

Moving on to TV which either "replaced" radio or simply "came into being" on its own because most households did not give up their radio when they bought a TV. If you ask 100 people which they would rather have as their in home entertainment and can only choose one, how many do you think would choose radio? So TV was a completely new experience that never existed before and it was affordable very soon to an average household and therefore its adoption rate was very fast. Having a TV in the household significantly changed how people lived their lives and most people felt it was for the better.

How about smartphones? Could you listen to your music or watch YouTube videos or download an app to your original Nokia or Motorola cell phone? The smartphone experience is vastly superior to that of the simple cellphone and your old telephone landline. Of course it would have a steep adoption curve because there are lots of reasons to have a smartphone. It was a compelling new technology unlike anything else before it and spread very fast because of it.

None of that is true with using Solar energy or driving an EV. A Solar produced electron is exactly the same as the one generated from coal. You cannot tell them apart and they can both power a toaster exactly the same way. And driving an EV still only gets you from point A to B and it is not more comfortable, safer or cheaper. The only "benefit" that it gives you today is the sense of superiority you have over others who don't drive an EV. Most of whom don't because they can't afford one.

So while I would very much like Solar and Wind to account for 50% of our electricity by 2025, it is something that simply cannot happen in practical terms. We should stop talking about it as if it is just around the corner and a simple matter of "changing our mindset". Because it is not.


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