Choosing the candy you enjoy most can be a treat. Not having a choice is not so much fun.
Choosing whether you want electricity generated from solar, hydro, gas or wind is a treat, unless there is little electricity to use at all. Then you take what you can get because you need electricity.
Yet there are places in the world where no power choice is the only choice. It is happening. Variations on the energy shortage theme are happening in America, too.
We would be smart to think about this now, not later.
Let’s start offshore. Is Europe’s Energy Crisis a Preview of America’s? That’s the headline in Foreign Policy magazine October 5. Europe has record gas and power prices and needs power, too. North Sea oil is trading at the high end of the curve, saying traders expect inventories to get even tighter.
Finger-pointing all around: “Achieving energy security requires carefully balancing market forces, technologies, policies, and geopolitics, which doesn’t fit into ideological templates. The truth is that both the right’s market ideology and the left’s reflexive market suppression have contributed to the current energy crisis.”
It is beyond Europe. China has low coal inventories and high prices. Drought in South America has led to low power supplies. Photos from the Mideast show rioters burning tires in the street because of scarce power and gasoline.
How about the U.S.? “Some of the world’s richest countries and U.S. states such as California have been struggling to keep their electricity systems stable,” says Foreign Policy magazine. “Global Energy Crisis Threatens to Hit U.S. Grids This Winter” says Bloomberg News. “There are fears that a harsh winter in the United States could deliver Americans’ most expensive heating costs in years,” says NBC News. under pre-pandemic averages and below the 2015-2019 average. Natural gas has doubled in price; as an energy resource gas is under pressure. Pipeline projects have been stopped.
Turn to solar energy? Along with the supply chain issues many manufacturers seem to have, there is this: “An industry whose growth model is predicated on continually falling costs is having to cope with its first bout of inflation. Raw materials are to blame.”
Batteries are under pressure: Lithium is key to EV batteries, but could face a shortage by 2023.
About now you are thinking that I am just a ray of sunshine. A great party guest.
I have a serious energy message. We have been living in a big energy buffet. It will change because of energy material limits, capacity, economics, the environment, and public opinion.
Some goals policymakers set may not be possible because of those issues. Making a choice about energy is not a matter of goosing along a legislative bill then taking a bow. The work is not in legislation but in learning and understanding. Those are in short supply, too. Some of our problems are the doing of the policies put in place.
A larger reality about energy, economy, and public patience is looming. It’s going to be a big thing. It will be worse the longer it takes to recognize the truth.
Our energy future is not going to be a big box of chocolates.
- Our column from yesterday – Changing Our Energy System Requires Some Give – looks at the NIMBY syndrome.
- A Climate Report Provides Direction for Legislators
- Energy Common Sense is Nonpartisan
- There’s No Energy Free Energy Lunch