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  • They've passed every test, cleared every hurdle, jumped through every hoop.

  • Now, all that remains is to unleash them on the world.

  • But waitwhat's this?

  • Ah, yes, there's one more challenge. They must now across the valley of death.

  • All new products must pass through here before they reach the market.

  • Many never make it out, and sometimes that's OK

  • if they don't work, don't fill a need, or for any number of other reasons.

  • But inventions that could help address massive global issues also face this risk.

  • That's because a technology's potential isn't the only factor

  • that determines whether it will succeed.

  • The valley of death is especially risky for innovations

  • involving complex physical objects as opposed to software,

  • and for those in highly regulated industries,

  • like medicine, building materials, and transportation.

  • Regulations and other obstacles aren't inherently bad

  • they're often designed to keep people safe

  • but they do tend to scare off investors,

  • and that's what traps good ideas in the valley of death:

  • their funding dries up before they can become profitable.

  • One of the fields where this problem is most pressing today

  • is zero-carbon technologies.

  • They're essential to our future

  • because they will help us eliminate greenhouse gas emissions

  • and stabilize our climate.

  • But they also have features that make them particularly vulnerable

  • in the valley of death.

  • Let's look at why that is, and how we can change it.

  • All new technologies must go through a development phase

  • before they can become profitable.

  • For zero-carbon technologies,

  • the costs of this phase are high, the timelines are long,

  • and, in spite of the good they can do,

  • demand is often low because they can require big changes

  • in both infrastructure and consumer behavior.

  • For example, electric heat pumps don't burn fossil fuels and,

  • when you factor in savings on energy use,

  • are cost-competitive with gas furnaces,

  • but homeowners only change their heating and cooling systems every few decades.

  • Direct air capture technologies, meanwhile,

  • remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

  • We need these technologies to reach our emissions goals,

  • and several of them have already been proven to work,

  • but they're at risk of getting trapped in the valley of death

  • because they're expensive.

  • This creates a vicious cycle because the best way to lower costs

  • is by, well, practicing: making more of a product and refining it.

  • But high initial costs scare off investors,

  • and without their money,

  • companies can't continue to develop their technologies

  • and can't ultimately decrease costs.

  • Fortunately, there's a way to break this cycle:

  • governments can help close the gap,

  • when private investors won't fund technologies

  • with such a high potential for social benefit.

  • This isn't just theoretical:

  • in the 1990s, functioning solar panels existed,

  • but weren't widely adopted because of their cost.

  • To change this, Germany offered government loans to companies creating solar panels,

  • and legally obligated utility companies

  • to buy electricity produced using renewable energy.

  • The U.S. and China followed suit by financing major solar panel projects.

  • The cost of solar has dropped almost 90% since 2009,

  • making it much easier to adopt.

  • A similar thing happened for wind energy:

  • during the oil crisis of the 1970s, Denmark invested in wind power

  • and started taxing winds' fossil fuel-based competitors.

  • Other countries took similar steps,

  • and as more wind power was generated worldwide,

  • the costs of this technology dropped dramatically.

  • These success stories tell us that government initiatives work

  • initiatives like boosting spending on research and development,

  • offering tax and loan incentives to startups

  • that want to develop zero-carbon technologies

  • and consumers who want to buy them, and putting a price on carbon emissions.

  • We need governments to do what they did for solar and wind

  • for many more innovations.

  • At the end of the day, ideas and inventions alone

  • can't solve our most daunting problems

  • policies and markets have to be shaped

  • so the most promising technologies can succeed.

They've passed every test, cleared every hurdle, jumped through every hoop.


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B1 中級 美國腔

新創產業的死亡之谷(Why good ideas get trapped in the valley of death— and how to rescue them)

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    shuting1215 發佈於 2021 年 04 月 11 日