An eCatNews What If? article. What if Andrea Rossi manages a successful eCat launch?
A common dream among optimistic Rossi watchers imagines home-bound eCats leaping from factories to purr warm and cosy under our stairs – someday soon. A number of Defkalion/Rossi comments could easily lead us to that conclusion but I’ve never been convinced we were reading the tealeaves correctly. AR has now tempered expectations in a Skype call to the 23rd July Viareggio conference. This is the Google Translation of a critical phrase from 22passi’s report:
…For home and will issue the certificates needed another couple of years at least…
This makes absolute sense (even through Translate ;-)). Concentrate on the ‘at least’ bit. We all want this to happen quickly but it is easy to underestimate the challenges the eCat team faces. Is there a parallel in history where an individual has deliberately set out to create a trillion dollar business from scratch? Progress to-date is extraordinary. Through Defkalion and Ampenergo, we have a global call to action with finance to back it up. By ignoring the conventions of academia and concentrating on the practicalities of the product and business, Rossi has set a timeline punctuated by the irrefutable demonstration of a 1MW plant in a few short weeks. If successful, this demo will cut through a thousand arguments in one stroke.
As Dennis Bushnell almost said: The question of Is this real? will be over, the argument that there is no theory will be mute and on that day, all the plans of Andrea Rossi will be set on rails. On its own, LENR will have a real chance to solve all our energy problems and all our climate change issues. And it will happen fast.
With Professor Piantelli on Dr Rossi’s heels and the group-think blocking future alternatives removed, someday, with hindsight, we might say that it all changed in a blink. However, as we live it in real-time, when the public is enervated and then bored of the subject, the pace will seem measured. Problems will arise, controversy, patent wars, political wrangling, market manipulation, dirty tricks and evangelistic lobbying will shape the LENR world in ways difficult to predict. Periods of excitement will be strung with those of frustration. The global nature of any roll-out will mean that something is happening somewhere to keep those who care on the edge of their seats and it will be fun trying to predict what the market will do. Even so, I see unrealistic expectations regarding the global spread of LENR and the swift demise of oil. With that in mind, it’s worth exploring some of the issues that might determine what happens after a successful October demo.
If an Achilles Heel exists in the plan for eCat’s world-domination, it might be in the perception of safety. The shape of an LENR world will be determined by more than market realities. Government support or interference will vary from country to country. We might imagine two nations – Nation A is developing and Nation B is developed and rich.
Tightly controlled, Nation B can afford a measured approach to the eCat and we may see fevered research and a cautious roll-out that focuses on safe, centralised and highly taxed installations. This way, politicians get to make dramatic claims about climate-sensitive progress lowering the carbon footprint of millions at a stroke. In a society where you can sue a hardware store for hitting yourself with a hammer, the idea of installing tens of thousands of nuclear reactors throughout the country (using reactions no-one understands) is a hard sell that will take time. I hope I am wrong but, like a slow motion crash, you can see the politics unfold long before it happens.
What of Nation A?
Let’s assume it is a BRIC member. As the BRIC nations power their way to domination, a large part of their population live in a paradoxically primitive state. Frightened of the sudden and negative addition to the climate mix, developed countries caution Nation A to use clean energy when possible. Right now, that is an expensive route, one likely ignored beyond political lip-service. In the hands of an emerging economy (a potentially wealthy, hard-working and smart group of people who have not surrendered risk and responsibility to a nanny state) any cheap energy source will do. If that source is new, high-tech and clean then it will be hard to resist. While Nation B’s cities have legacy systems that have yet to pay their costs, Nation A is building towns and cities from scratch and will use the most cost-effective solution on the table at the time. The eCat requires no thousand-mile pipeline, no spider-webbed mass of expensive cables. Just as African villagers skipped a hundred years of phone technology with rapid adoption of the mobile, so might a billion people skip a century cloning the arteries that keep the traditionally rich fat and happy.
Andrea Rossi has many challenges ahead. Chief among them is proving that the cost, safety and utility mix is right for widespread uptake. If Greece awards Hyperion the appropriate certificates, the ball will roll fast for business use around the world. The global nature of commerce and the critical contribution of energy to the cost equation will force each nation to compete on an equal footing. If any country gains an energy advantage by using the eCat widely, it will force others to follow.
The imperative to install an eCat in every home in the West is weaker than the argument for its use in business and governments are likely to keep it that way until the device proves itself. In a few years, when lessons have been learned, when safety is proved, when high volume and competition bring down costs, when old systems need replaced and technology takes the Model-T eCat into the 21st century, we might get that cat purring where we want it.
I am going to take a risk. Assuming that the eCat is proven and Defkalion and Ampenergo launch their products successfully, I believe that a few pioneers with particular needs will install Hyperions in remote luxury houses or remote villages within three years. Within four years, the idea will spread but will still be the domestic exception. Oil and other ‘traditionals’ will fight back and the cost-differential will not look so good. It will be five years before money, planning, experience, technological advances and political expediency see new towns and cities begin to incorporate LENR into the mix. About that time, prices will be low enough and safety proven so that home use (new and replacement systems) will be taken up by the middle classes everywhere except the developed world. My guess is that tightly regulated countries will run around two years behind the pioneers and so, if your neighbour is in a developed country, you are unlikely to see an eCat in his house in less than seven years. There will be earlier experiments but, I would be surprised if, say, we saw significant adoption in UK or US homes earlier than five years and more likely seven. Seven years sounds an incredibly long time but it is lightning fast; faster even than the uptake of computers in the home. Once the trend begins, it will take another ten to fifteen years for the life-cycle of old systems to run its course for replacement unless the government steps in with grants in a genuine effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
With luck, Greece or some other country will run ahead and prove the ground. If so, all bets are off and I will gladly accept my prediction wrong. I do hope so.<< Previous Post -- -- Next post >>