April 22, 2010
Dog Food Beats Energy
A new article in U.S. News & World Report notes that the dog food industry invests more in R&D than the electrical sector does. This is something we at Breakthrough Institute have been saying for a while, so it's good to see it's catching on.
From the article:
If technology in the home is racing ahead at broadband speed, the power grid is stuck back in the days of rotary-dial phones. According to industry statistics, the dog food industry spends more on research and development than the electrical sector does. Aging technology means more frequent blackouts, a greater vulnerability to computer hackers, and, perhaps most insidious, colossal inefficiency. As part of the economic stimulus package, the Obama administration has pledged $3.4 billion toward "smart grid" technology--the next generation of infrastructure, meant to stabilize the grid in the event of a failure, incorporate green technology, and vastly improve efficiency. But those billions are a drop in the bucket toward bringing the entire national grid into the 21st century, which could take decades and cost upwards of $100 billion, some experts estimate.
Indeed, the U.S. will have to invest much more in energy R&D and infrastructure if it hopes to finally build a smarter, more reliable electrical grid. But, as Breakthrough's Jesse Jenkins has written, the private sector just isn't up to the task. Private sector energy R&D spending, as a percentage of industry revenues, is 100 times smaller than leading sectors like pharmaceuticals and IT.
And public energy R&D investment has not risen to fill this enormous gap.
But is there a silver lining? Even if we don't build a smarter, more secure, and more reliable electrical grid, America's dogs will be healthy and have shiny coats for decades to come.