本期原文选自The Economist 2017-02-25的文章Clean energy’s dirty secret，释义来自牛津高阶七版、有道词典等资源。如果您也在学习The Economist，欢迎订阅我的文集The Economist，一起学习交流。
Clean energy’s dirty secret
The renewables【1】 revolution is wrecking【2】 the world’s electricity markets. Here’s what to do
ALMOST 150 years after photovoltaic cells【3】 and wind turbines【4】 were invented, they still generate only 7% of the world’s electricity. Yet something remarkable is happening. From being peripheral to the energy system just over a decade ago, they are now growing faster than any other energy source and their falling costs are making them competitive with fossil fuels【5】. BP, an oil firm, expects renewables to account for half of the growth in global energy supply over the next 20 years. It is no longer far-fetched【6】 to think that the world is entering an era of clean, unlimited and cheap power. About time, too.
New regulations drafted by Thailand officials demand that electricity producers using blockchain be charged additional fees. Government regulators fear an explosion in independent power generation will lead to a reduction in revenue.
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has demanded the fees be paid as a subsidy for potentially destabilizing effects blockchain technology brings, Nikkei Asian Review reports.
“The number of household solar rooftop power generators is increasing rapidly. That’s why the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) needs to develop regulation that is fair for everybody,” declared ERC member Viraphol Jirapraditkul.
There is a growing number of Thai companies leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT) to help homeowners profit from rooftop solar systems. A new generation of blockchain-savvy consumers is muscling the state-owned utilities out of profits by buying and selling surplus solar energy on decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) energy markets.
There is a $20trn hitch【7】, though. To get from here to there requires huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching【8】 power plants and to upgrade the pylons【9】 and wires that bring electricity to consumers. Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns. Yet green energy has a dirty secret. The more it is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source. That makes it hard to manage the transition to a carbon-free future, during which many generating technologies, clean and dirty, need to remain profitable if the lights are to stay on. Unless the market is fixed, subsidies to the industry will only grow.
As the markets grow bigger, less electricity is being purchased directly from the state-run utilities, meaning less profits for the traditional power industry.
【7】hitch钩住（v），困难，故障，结（n）；get hitched 结婚
Here, we are witnessing the decentralization of the energy sector, in Thailand at least. Andreas Antonopolous thinks that this is one of the “most important trends in human history.” Despite the benefits of p2p energy markets, the fact that governments can just impose additional fees to compensate puts a real dampener on things.
It was only a year ago that Thailand rolled back strict restrictions on non-government solar power generation. Bangkok Post reported that the Thai government allowed households and businesses to sell surplus energy generated by solar panels back to EGAT last September, but I guess it didn’t count on blockchain being adopted by the p2p energy community so quickly.
来源：THE NEXT WEB
Policymakers are already seeing this inconvenient truth as a reason to put the brakes on renewable energy. In parts of Europe and China, investment in renewables is slowing as subsidies are cut back【10】. However, the solution is not less wind and solar. It is to rethink how the world prices clean energy in order to make better use of it.
【10】cut back (on sth)削减，减少
Shock to the system
At its heart, the problem is that government-supported renewable energy has been imposed on a market designed in a different era. For much of the 20th century, electricity was made and moved by vertically integrated, state-controlled monopolies. From the 1980s onwards, many of these were broken up, privatised and liberalised, so that market forces could determine where best to invest. Today only about 6% of electricity users get their power from monopolies. Yet everywhere the pressure to decarbonise【11】 power supply has brought the state creeping back into【12】 markets. This is disruptive for three reasons. The first is the subsidy system itself. The other two are inherent to the nature of wind and solar: their intermittency and their very low running costs. All three help explain why power prices are low and public subsidies are addictive.
【12】creep in/into sth 开始发生（或影响）
First, the splurge【13】 of public subsidy, of about $800bn since 2008, has distorted the market. It came about for noble reasons— to counter climate change and prime the pump【14】 for new, costly technologies, including wind turbines and solar panels【15】. But subsidies hit【16】 just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis. The result was a glut【17】 of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.
【14】prime the pump投资振兴