By: Matt Bartlett
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. This is a key ingredient to American success over the last couple of centuries. The Will to effect change, innovate new technologies and become financially successful has established the United States firmly as a world leader.
When it comes to something we want, there’s no lack of Will and we get it done.
Except when it comes to securing the energy future of the United States. In that regard, there is very much an absence of Will.
I say this because I believe the Way to increase oil independence, revolutionize energy supply and lower consumption has been readily available for over two decades.
There’s no doubt about it…the U.S.
is addicted to oil…
As a country, we shell out $600 billion a year for oil and import 8 million barrels everyday to fuel our habit. At best, we have tenuous political relationships with many of the volatile countries that control the majority of the world’s oil supply.
This is not a formula for long-term success, and I don’t need a degree in economics from an Ivy League school to say with confidence that we’re headed for disaster.
Politicians are well aware of the wall we’re about to hit and have analyzed how to reduce our oil imports as a start.
Obama’s goal is a 50% reduction in the next 6 years. His administration, as well as his predecessor George W. Bush’s administration, focused on bringing down the amount of imported oil while increasing drilling here at home. I read recently that we’re now engaged in more domestic drilling in the United States than we have in over 20 years.
Oil dependence is only part of the energy
crisis we’re facing…
The environmental impacts of our modern oil-chugging lifestyle is mind-boggling. Experts say that at a bare minimum, to stop the worst effects of climate change, vehicle emissions alone must be reduced by 95% in the next 30 years. Even the relatively recent increases in fuel standards won’t get us where we need to be in time.
Alternative energy (solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal, hydro, etc) and efficiency technologies capable of bailing us out of this mess have been around for years. The problem lies in deploying that technology on a grand scale.
This takes an enormous upfront investment and the ability to think beyond the short term hassles of starting something from the ground up. Strategic decision making capability is far more scarce than the investment capital needed to get renewable energy and fuel efficiency technologies rolling in the U.S.
Short-term thinking has paralyzed both the community and the government agencies in charge of policy in these matters. No one is willing to front the investment to get this technology deployed on a large scale, despite the evidence that the savings produced by alternative energy or efficiency upgrades will produce a reasonable payback period.
Instead of relying on Congress to uphold existing renewable energy tax credits (which they won’t given recent policy trends), I’m a huge proponent of the private sector leading the effort on this.
Through innovative service contracts, like the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that are becoming more prevalent in the wind and solar industries, private funds can be used to create a long-term solution to the energy crisis.
Renewable energy, fuel efficiency and energy conservation projects would get up and running faster, creating long-term income producing assets for the investors and saving the consumer money along the way.
A colleague of mine put it best when he said that working out how we’ll achieve energy independence is “the largest wealth creation opportunity of our time.”
I couldn’t agree more.
What’s your opinion on this topic? Leave your comments and questions below or “friend” me on Facebook to start a conversation.