Europe Shouldn't Submit to Vladimir Putin's Energy Blackmail
This column by Thomas Friedman — Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day — may sound too optimistic or oversimplified, but I agree with him completely. If Putin pulls the plug on Ukraine and the European Union, these countries will be in roughly the same position as the U.S. during the first Arab oil embargo in 1973. Thomas Friedman says:
“That 1973 embargo led to the first auto mileage standards in America and propelled the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries. A Putin embargo today would be even more valuable because it would happen at a time when the solar, wind, natural gas and energy efficiency industries are all poised to take off and scale.”
Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation, says:
“Clean energy is at an inflection point. The price reductions in the last five years have been nothing less than spectacular: Solar cells, for example, have dropped in cost by more than 80 percent in the last five years. This trend is underway, if a bit less dramatically, for wind, batteries, solid state lighting, new window technologies, vehicle drive trains, grid management, and more. What this means is that clean energy is moving from boutique to mainstream, and that opens up a wealth of opportunities.”
And that's not all. Opower is the name of a company that works with utility customers all over the country to help them reduce their electricity consumption. Opower accomplishes this by helping people pinpoint exactly when their energy usage is the highest, and comparing people's energy usage with that of their neighbors. This “behavioral economics” — as Opower's co-founder calls it — enables people to vastly reduce their energy usage without a lot of sacrifice. Since 2007, Opower has enabled its customers to reduce their energy usage by four terawatt hours, which is the amount of energy produced by the Hoover Dam in one year. Opower expects to soon be saving its customers that same amount of energy every year.
It's a start. It's time for everybody to suck it up, bite the bullet and start our fossil fuels cold turkey NOW.
Another article — How solar energy could be the key to reducing economic inequality — reiterates the same points, that solar energy's availability is expanding exponentially:
“Solar panels — the cost of which continues to massively decrease as the technology improves, and which are already as cheap as fossil fuels in some parts of the world — have the potential to create massive economic growth over the next two decades and beyond. The total solar energy hitting Earth each year is equivalent to...over 20,000 times more than the total energy that all of humanity consumes each year...Once solar is cheaper per watt than coal, oil, and natural gas, falling energy costs will provide massive relief to people squeezed in recent years by the rising cost of fossil fuel extraction...All else being equal, falling energy prices mean more disposable income to save and invest, or to spend. And because of the decentralized nature of solar energy, the benefits of cheap, plentiful energy can be realized by anyone with a solar panel, instead of being accrued by the capitalist who owns the coal mine, the power plant, or the oil well.”
OK, what are we waiting for???