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by John Brian Shannon | July 29, 2017
All I’m asking for is that renewable energy gets the same subsidies as fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Is that so unreasonable?
You can determine the subsidy costing by any method you choose using a per unit of energy formula — per Barrel of Oil equivalent (BOe) or per kW/h, or any other unit of energy formula you want — but conventional energy gets four-to-six times the subsidies as renewable energy, depending upon which method you use for your calculations.
America’s energy security is better served by LETTING THE MARKET CHOOSE what’s best for the continent and that can only happen when all energy producers play on the same subsidy playing field.
Renewable Energy adds to national security, while Conventional Energy leaves North America vulnerable
North America’s biggest national security vulnerability (aside from bio-warfare) comes from the hundreds of thousands of miles of electrical transmission corridors (pylons and power lines) and pipelines that crisscross the continent.
Every Pentagon General, along with every military rank down to Corporal knows it would be boringly easy for even the most inept enemy of the United States and Canada (both national grids are interconnected) to destroy the North American grid with as little as three well-placed air-to-ground missiles, or alternatively, three truck bombs. Those interconnect sites are unbelievably unprotected.
If that were to happen in mid-winter, hundreds of thousands of North Americans would die, and that’s indisputable.
That it hasn’t happened, proves to me that North America doesn’t have any ‘real’ enemies or it would have occurred a long time ago. (Yes, the U.S. and Canada are ‘irritated’ at some countries and some countries are ‘irritated’ at us. But by virtue of the fact that *they haven’t hit us where we’re most vulnerable* proves they aren’t real enemies, they’re only ‘irritants’)
Centralized Power vs. Decentralized Power
Conventional grid adherents are living in a previous century — a centralized grid WAS the best thing for North America in the 20th-century — but those days are long gone!
Fossil fuel supporters should stop helping our enemies, which they do by supporting a conventional national grid that even the U.S. military 3X over couldn’t protect!
Decentralized power is the ONLY choice for an energy-secure America!
Make better investment returns on Renewable Energy by leveling the subsidy playing field
I understand that many people are heavily invested in fossil fuels and nuclear power — and I don’t blame them, they were safe and secure investments for decades but such industries run counter to the national interest in the 21st-century — good investment returns aside.
And yes, the ONLY reason you have those high returns is that those industries are heavily-subsidized by U.S. and Canadian taxpayers; Oil & Gas get $80 billion per year in the U.S. and about $10 billion annually in Canada, nuclear a bit less — but nobody really knows for sure, not even the governments — because it’s all mashed together with nuclear fuel production, long-term ‘spent fuel’ storage, nuclear warhead production and nuclear warhead disposal.
Citizens can’t see this because those white elephants are obscured by mountains of cash!
Efficient investment vs. Inefficient investment
Energy companies have become like the Big 3 during the 1960’s and 1970’s, big, powerful, lazy, and wholly unwilling to adapt to changing market conditions.
Remember way back in 1970 when 95% of cars registered in the U.S.A. were domestic built and sold? Well, due to the laziness of the Big 3, in 2017 less than 35% of new car registrations are North American makes, and more than half of the parts of North American manufactured vehicles are supplied by Asia or Mexico!
You call that progress???
It’s killing North America!
A high 35% corporate tax rate in the United States might have had something to do with how that came to pass.
Renewable Energy creates more jobs than Conventional Energy (even using fossil fuel industry stats!)
Millions of people are unemployed in North America because the 1% wanted higher investment returns on their energy stocks so North American corporations off-shored millions of jobs! UN-AMERICAN in the extreme! (You already ‘work’ for China’s interests by sending North American jobs there, why don’t you just move there?)
Fossil fuel companies and their investors MUST become patriotic by relearning how to be ‘fleet of foot’ and adapting to the changing national security paradigm — and become ‘ENERGY COMPANIES’ instead of (only) Oil & Gas or (only) nuclear or (only) coal companies.
Profit is a great thing! Energy companies should make plenty of profit because energy is an ultra-important factor in the 21st-century. However, uneven energy subsidies are not a great thing.
Putting a square peg in a square hole, not a square peg in a round hole
When we train soldiers, we don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole — we choose those people based on their merit.
(The best snipers become snipers — not truck drivers. The best tank captains become tank captains — not dishwashers. And the best fighter pilots don’t peel potatoes aboard our warships!) Rather obvious when you think about it, isn’t it?
By the same token, if electricity companies were to embrace ALL energy (they don’t do it now because some energy is highly subsidized and some isn’t) they could then have the option to put a round peg in a round hole and a square peg in a square hole. As it should be!
I must add that gas-fired power generation is increasingly important towards meeting demand — and even moreso as increased renewable energy capacity comes on stream. Natural gas burns up to one million times cleaner than brown coal (lignite) and up to ten-thousand times cleaner than the best black coal (anthracite) and gas power plants can be as local to demand centres as required — quite unlike hydro-power dams and coal-fired power plants, and even nuclear power plants which also aren’t welcome near city centres.
Again, by setting an even subsidy playing field THE MARKET will choose which kind of power to best use in what location — and don’t worry — your precious investment returns will be just as high as they are now. Maybe higher!
As for U.S. jobs, solar produces more jobs than fossil fuel and nuclear power producers put together — and rising exponentially.
By setting a level subsidy playing field, the cream of the crop among energy producers will rise to the top, and market forces will choose which peg to put in which demand hole — nothing could be more efficient!
And in that case, renewable energy will win hands down — with natural gas-fired generation rising to meet demand to cover the variability of onshore wind power output (but not offshore wind power, because there the wind blows relentlessly) and solar power output after the Sun sets.
National security will become greatly enhanced as North America will no longer be dangling from a thread via the hundreds of thousands of miles of pylons and power lines that will no longer be required, as renewable energy is local energy, while conventional energy must carry electricity many thousands of miles. (And natural gas-fired generation can be local energy too, when the power plant is sized according to local demand)
Stop choosing profit over North American national security!
Stop arguing against North American national security, stop arguing against a free market, and stop arguing that you can’t make the same or better profits via renewable energy — assuming the same per unit of energy subsidies as conventional energy receives. It’s intellectually dishonest.
And for those who want to send me ‘green bullets’ (we all know what that code-phrase means) be man enough to bring it to my face, mano a mano.
I’m in Vancouver.
Energy Darwinism = Leveling the Subsidy Playing Field
By now, we’re all aware of the threat to life on this planet posed by our massive use of fossil fuels and how we might attempt to reduce the rate of CO2 increase in our atmosphere.
Energy Darwinism can solve all our energy-related infrastructure and national security problems while increasing GDP, by lowering the cost of energy to corporations, consumers and governments.
Both divestment in fossil fuels and reducing fossil fuel subsidies attempt to lower our total CO2 emissions by reducing fossil fuel industry revenues; While a carbon tax attempts to lower our total CO2 emissions via increased costs to energy producers and consumers.
But a revenue-neutral solution (from the oil industry perspective) would work to lower CO2 emissions by ramping-up renewable energy subsidies on a per-unit-of-energy basis to match existing fossil fuel subsidies.
So far, there are no fossil fuel lobby groups dedicated to preventing renewable energy from receiving the same per unit of energy subsidies as the fossil fuel industry receives, and has been receiving since 1918 in the United States.
Imagine how hypocritical the industry would look if it attempted to block renewable energy subsidies that were exactly matched to fossil fuel subsidies.
Were governments to decide that renewable energy would receive the same annual subsidies as the fossil fuel industry, a number of things would begin to happen;
- Cleaner air in cities
- Lower CO2 emissions
- Less imported foreign oil
- Lower unemployment rates
- Dirtiest fossil projects canceled
- Sharp decline in healthcare costs
- Democratization of energy through all economic quintiles
Even forgetting for a moment the externality costs of fossil fuels (up to $2 trillion per year) the annual $548 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels promotes an unfair marketplace advantage.
But instead of punishing the fossil fuel industry for supplying us with reliable energy for decades (by taking away ‘their’ subsidies) or by placing the burden of a huge carbon tax (one that reflects actual fossil fuel externality costs) I suggest that we match the renewable energy subsidy to the fossil subsidy on a per-unit-of-energy basis… and let both compete on a level playing field in the international marketplace.
Assuming a level playing field; May the best competitor win!
By matching renewable energy subsidies to fossil fuel subsidies, ‘Energy Darwinism’ will reward the better energy solution
My opinion is that renewable energy will win hands down and that we will exceed our clean air goals over time — stopping global warming in its tracks.
Not only that, but we will create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs in the process and accrue many other benefits during the transition to renewable energy, as per the German experience. We will also lower healthcare spending, agricultural damage, and lower damage to steel and concrete infrastructure from acid rain caused by burning fossil fuels.
In the best-case future: Oil & Gas companies will simply become known as Energy companies
Energy Darwinism will reward investors who migrate from fossil fuel to renewable energy within the same energy company.
At the advent of scheduled airline transportation nearly a century ago, smart railway companies bought existing airlines or created their own airlines and kept their traditional investors and gained new ones.
Likewise, smart oil and gas companies should now buy or create renewable energy companies and keep their traditional investors and gain new ones.
That thinking represents the best energy future for energy producers and energy consumers.
- The Responsible Investor’s Guide to Climate Change (Project Syndicate)
- Full Cost of Coal $500 Billion/Year in U.S., Harvard Study Finds (CleanTechnica)
- The Social Cost of Carbon Six Times Higher Than Estimated – Stanford Study (CleanTechnica)
- ‘Green Bullets’ vs. Renewable Energy: WHY isn’t there a level subsidy playing field? (JBS News)
- Southern Company subsidiary acquires two Georgia solar projects totaling 99 MegaWatts (PRNewswire)
- Duke Energy Takes Equity Stake in REC Solar, Embraces Distributed Generation (Renewable Energy World)