Thinking about how America uses energy

A trip to Europe always gets me thinking about our American dependency on foreign oil. We at least get to drill some of our own. Europe is sucking on a great big straw from the Middle East. They willingly admit to their dependency, and work to change that.

There was an amazing amount of solar and wind in Spain. I know, I know, you really conservative folks are going to get the RINO stamp out for my forehead, and the liberal types will jump in and say how good it is for the planet, but that’s not what I want to argue.

My point, and one I just never hear out there, is that maybe solar and wind can’t compete around here because we are so quick to subsidize oil production. I don’t understand how subsidizing oil is good, but subsidizing wind/solar/electric is bad. Of course, my very favorite option is to subsidize nothing.

Nada. Zilch. Nyet. None. Let the market determine the price, and then let the market determine the source based on that price.

I still favor drilling our own supply instead of depending on foreign sources. I still favor conserving because it’s good for my wallet. What I’d love more than anything are several options with pure pricing. Then I could decide based on my wallet and my goals which to use.

This is but one of a number of issues Americans cloud with poor argument habits. From energy use to senate candidates, we take sides instead of understanding the facts. Wouldn’t it be great if we could retrain ourselves to think purely?

Comments

  1. Keith Schmitz says:

    Interesting POV Cindy, but I’m halfway there with you.

    No doubt it we subsidize big time oil production and the use of petrol powered vehicles big time thanks to government highway building. When people rant about we can’t support alternative energy strategies, they conveniently overlook the fact that we prop up other sources.

    Maybe a compromise. When you hope to get technologies going on a grand scale there has to be some government support. It was the case with the federal highway building program in the 50s and the 60s, and with the launch of the Internet (thank you Al Gore — not for inventing the Internet but for smoothing the way with government).

    But there has to be some way for industries to ween off of the government support at some point. It leads to weird dependencies.

  2. John Sawyer says:

    Solar is expected to reach grid parity within the next 5 years. Of course, if oil wasn’t subsidized, solar would reach grid parity earlier.

    Cindy, I’m with you on the no subsidies for any energy type. Just let the best energy type win. However, without government intervention, solar would be nowhere near grid parity — no demand = no innovation in the technology or development.

    The one government regulation I like a little bit is net metering — requiring utilities to buy back the energy at the rate they charge for it. It allows renewable energy to use the grid as a battery, and for solar, it allows businesses to install systems sized for the average energy use instead of the peak energy use.

    … Germany just added enough solar in the last 8 months to account for 1% of the country’s energy, and is expected to install enough for 2% by the end of next year.

  3. Randy in Richmond says:

    It should be noted that Spain produces 20% of it’s electrical energy with nuclear power.
    In France, that figure is 75%.
    Here in the USA, 20%.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf85.html
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html
    In Germany, 25%.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf43.html

    Even though it is not referred to as such this is the world’s already operating, by far, largest renewable energy source. Solar energy has potential but also has many limitations. It has taken several centuries to incorporate fossil fuels into our lifestyles and liveability and to try and change this overnight with a technology not there yet would be folly.

    Using your analogy of the Federal Highway System, Keith, leads me to comment that while and after being built, we did not close or curtail the use of the previously existing roads. Let’s take solar ( I personally have serious reservations about wind ) where it will go–give it all the support we can. But let’s not stop producing oil and natural gas because we have a new energy source producing miniscule amounts of our total need.