Instantaneous, in perfect balance, universal—those are characteristics of the electric power grid. Imagine anything else in your life with such exacting standards. No, I am not talking about your honey–do list!
More than 100 years after we learned to harness the laws of physics to create light, power machinery, and put it to work to grow our economy the power grids have operated much the same. Yes, we have more powerful machines. We learned to move power over longer distances. We have perfected ways to transform it to deliver voltage suitable to our needs.
But there are some things we have yet to master about the power of light. We still have limited capabilities to store it. We still depend upon wires to move it. And we still consume huge amounts of energy to produce it.
So what you ask?
So today our policymakers are demanding we do more with energy as if the laws of physics do not apply to their aspirations. What makes them think that they can divine or demand what Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse or Nikola Tesla could not?
The difference between these geniuses of the electric age and our aspiring politicians of today is that the former recognized their limitations and were spending their own money to test them—the latter are spending other people’s money which they see as having no limitation.
Where is this going?
Today in energy we have reached a place we should be very proud to be. The fate of abundant, low cost, domestic natural gas is enabling us to transform the way we produce electric power from a dependence upon coal because while it was also cheap it was dirty, to more reliance on cleaner by half and now cheaper than coal natural gas. The genius of other inventors discovered methods for extracting that natural gas in long thin ribbons deep in the earth in unconventional ways—enough of it for hundreds of years of reliable energy supply. In doing so they freed us from dependence upon imported natural gas.
Our politicians’ aspirations of even cleaner energy supply from wind and solar are being realized. While we celebrate the achievements of wind and solar energy, we have yet to perfect those technologies to come even close to the efficiency of natural gas. And while the wind and sunshine fuel may be free, the technology to turn it into light is subject to immense global competition. Yes that competition is driving down the price of the equipment—and that is good, but the balance of system costs are still more than fifty percent of the total and subsidies are still required for suppliers to be profitable.
So our politicians‘ quest for a clean, sustainable, environmentally friendly energy supply remains dependent upon their ability to spend other peoples’ money. China is happy to suction up the subsidies in growing global market share with falling prices cheaper than domestic PV panels and wind turbines creating green jobs alright but in China not here. Meanwhile state politicians demand that regulated utilities but more and more renewable energy to achieve their environmental goals with other peoples’ money even if the cost of doing so is above the market price of energy from other sources. The result is utility rates are going up to cover that above market price they are ordered to pay.
And then there is this!
After driving up utility rates to live into their environmentally correct policies of cleaner at any cost, our politicians have arrived at a place they never expected to be. That abundance of low cost domestic natural gas is setting up an energy revolution not even politicians spending other peoples’ money can stop. It is too soon to call it a third industrial revolution. But it is not too soon to declare victory over imported energy, victory over OPEC and the LNG cartel, victory over the inevitability of loss of manufacturing to Asian producers.
Low cost energy domestically produced in North America is now and can tomorrow transform our economy helping to pull it out of the funk of stagnation. Low cost domestic energy security frees America from the unintended consequences of Middle East conflicts and oil speculators. Low cost domestic energy production creates jobs here at home. It recycles the wages from those jobs in American markets not Chinese or Saudi markets.
What must our politicians do to help us realize this potential? GET OUT OF THE WAY!
The pure essence of the laws of physics is that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest while bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. We need motion! Motion to get the wheels of commerce going again. Motion in hiring people to make things again. Motion that renews us, energizes us, restores our lost confidence in the pure essence of the laws of physics —-YES WE DID IT OURSELVES!
- Trend Analysis from the Wisdom of the Crowd (insightadvisor.wordpress.com)
- Setting the Stage for Change: Big Picture Energy Trends (insightadvisor.wordpress.com)
- Can America Avoid a Cleantech Collapse? (forbes.com)
- Yul Kwon: Waste and the Great American Energy Machine (huffingtonpost.com)
- The transition to a green economy (newstatesman.com)
- Keystone XL is Politics XL (insightadvisor.wordpress.com)
- TCLABZ Crowdsourced Scenario Process (insightadvisor.wordpress.com)