The E-Cat and Unemployment

Andrea Rossi has made some remarks lately which indicate his hope that introducing his E-Cat technology could have a positive impact on the employment situation, especially in the United States. When asked by a reader how he thought his invention might impact the unemployment situation in America and globally, Rossi replied:

“Yes, the creation of jobs is one of the main goals of our work. We really hope to generate thousands of jobs in the short term, millions in the long term. But we will have to fight hardly [hard] for this.”

In response to another comment he responded, “we have to work hard and fast: our Country needs jobs.”

Rossi is evidently anticipating that his technology will be in such great demand that it will take thousands and even millions of workers to provide the manpower to build, distribute, install and maintain his E-Cats. But perhaps there are other factors to consider, assuming that the E-Cat works as Rossi predicts. While a much better energy technology would certainly generate economic activity, it could also be disruptive to the point of causing unemployment — for example in the coal mining industry, which could take a hit if nickel, not coal became the primary source of energy for generating electricity.

There’s also the current nuclear industry to consider. E-Cat technology, which apparently uses no radioactive material, and produces no radioactive waste would be a much more attractive proposition than the current fission technology and so we could see unemployment in the nuclear industry.

Rossi insists that his technology will be integrated with all others — he seems to think that it can peacefully coexist with existing energy sources, but with such a disruptive technology as the E-Cat promises to be, I don’t think one can be so sure that we can sure that this would be the case. Market forces will put a huge amount of pressure on more expensive and dirtier energy technologies, and over time some energy industries could fade away.

There is another way to look at the picture, however. If the E-Cat is wildly successful, it will bring down energy costs significantly — probably enough to provide major cost savings to businesses who may feel confident enough to start hiring new workers. We also should think about spin-off industries. The E-Cat could lead to the development or expansion of new industries.

With cheap and abundant energy we could start doing things that have been prohibitively expensive due to high energy costs. One example would be desalination, which is technically feasible, but very energy intensive. With very cheap energy it becomes an attractive proposition, and among other things it could lead to the expansion of agriculture in new areas of the world where water has been scarce.

So it is a complicated picture — there are many variables at play and as with any breakthrough technology, there are things we simply cannot predict. Who would have thought at the dawn of the Internet age that the Internet would have affected the world in the way that it has? These are interesting and exciting times, and in just a few years time we could be looking at a very different world — one where many people could be doing very different work than they are doing today.