The International Energy Agency (IEA) has posited that any reasonable carbon targets forty years out will require that 40% of the mitigation be from conservation and efficiency. This puts a heavy burden on technology such as wide band gap semiconductors, allowing the consumer to get the same gratification at lower power usage. Reliance on the consumer to simply use less could be tenuous. A recent paper indicates some movement in this area in the case of goods made under fair labor practices wherein consumers paid as much as twenty percent more. A fruitful area of economic research could well be to better comprehend these drivers and whether they can be harnessed with the right technologies and policies.
If for example, a homeowner is more likely to install solar panels because of social approbation, technology to “hide” the panels in roofing material may not address this driver. However, the economic benefits of selling unused power to the grid would be in the same genre as cost effective insulation of home and businesses. As discussed earlier, the consumer ability to comprehend and use life cycle costing in decisions would be a key. This area more than almost any other requires a combination of technology, economic models of consumer behavior and governmental policies. RTEC believes that the Research Triangle area is uniquely suited to this three pronged approach.
RTEC actively seeks investigation In this arena and will source needed funding for meritorious projects. This site has posts and reading material pertaining to this area.