A call to encourage the creation and production of superabundant energy

The ivory towers of academia have echoed a sentiment of multitudinous ends and limited means. Even though it lacks a healthy dose of common sense, this academic "wisdom" has a significant impact on the media. Despite being profoundly contradictory, the relationship between population increase and abundance exists because historically, on average, each individual human has produced more value than they have consumed. In the process of discovery, people are left with innovations that overcome shortages, spur economic growth, and raise standards of living. However, to innovate, people must be allowed to think, speak, publish, associate, and disagree. They must be allowed to save, invest, trade, and profit. In a word, they must be free. Renewable & non-renewable energy sources

Let's talk about a "general economy" when discussing the issue of energy production and consumption. That means an "energy economy" because it depends on "the circulation of energy upon the earth". The systems of human economic production and consumption have to be viewed within a larger context since they are only made feasible by the global energy flows. In general, analysts fundamentally misunderstand the material foundation of life, which causes them to misinterpret how we understand human economic behavior. They believe that we organize and distribute the outcomes of these systems in the most effective way possible and operate on the principle of utility, yet this is untrue. A political centrifuge oriented towards the use of material resources has been created to achieve short-term goals but fails to recognize –or it is convenient for their political ambitions not to recognize– the long-term purpose of our actions because they are promoting the immediate and more visible ends instead of the more important final ones.

Most economists believe that human activities are organized around utilitarian objectives, but in reality, our "activity, in fact, pursues the useless and infinite fulfillment of the Universe". It is important to develop the concept of a "general economy", one built on an abundance of energy as opposed to the concept of scarcity which dictates our immediate restrictions and goals. Let's understand the truism that life is possible due to an excess of energy in the Universe. Solar energy is therefore the primary source of life's development. It is superabundant and only a tiny part of it is enough to maintain the richness of life on our planet. Therefore, the origin and essence of our wealth are given in the superabundant radiation of the sun, which dispenses energy and wealth without any required return.

Although the energy that the sun constantly sends to the earth is largely lost, its abundance allows for an economy of life that we may transform into a "general economy". If this excess did not exist, there would be no evolution or progress.

Energy Superabundance: How Cheap, Abundant Energy Will Shape Our Future

Executive Summary

It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matter of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours.

—Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman,
United States Atomic Energy Commission,1954


In this policy paper, authors Austin Vernon and Eli Dourado explore what life would be like with endless energy. Coining the term “energy superabundance,” they look at energy policy, not in the usual sense of trying to restrict energy consumption, but as a way to promote energy abundance—a future in which energy is so clean and plentiful, limiting consumption would be entirely unnecessary.

Though energy may never be “too cheap to meter,” Vernon and Dourado explain that higher energy consumption directly increases economic growth. Achieving energy superabundance would radically improve the US economy as well as the quality of life for all Americans. They show us a vision of the future that includes flying cars, hyperloop, sub-orbital point-to-point travel, electric autonomous trucking, vertical farming, water-from-air condensation, water desalination, and so much more.

In this research-based vision, cities are no longer limited by access to ground transportation. Plastics and cement are made from air, water, and electricity. Vernon and Dourado even predict a carbon shortage.

This future is only possible if we remove the many obstacles standing in the way of building new infrastructure. New power plants, transmission lines, transportation infrastructure, and better energy technology are all being held back by red tape that stops us from building a better future. This paper will help us show policymakers and thought leaders what is possible if we are able to reform our policies and reclaim a future of superabundant energy and prosperity.

Introduction

What would it be like if we were able to consume vastly more energy? Over the past several decades, industry has mainly focused on increasing energy efficiency, not on finding new productive uses of more energy. Attention to energy efficiency is what the market demands when energy costs are nontrivial, when supply shocks can cause them to suddenly spike, and when consumers are conscious of the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels.

Policymakers, too, have focused on energy efficiency over energy abundance, through policies like Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and bans on sales of incandescent light bulbs. To be sure, some of these energy efficiency policies make sense, but they have not been balanced by an effort to create true energy abundance. Whereas the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954 spoke of energy “too cheap to meter,”1 today’s politicians at best speak of new energy technologies as a way of merely replacing fossil fuels with carbon-free alternatives.

Climate change, however, gives us an opportunity to rethink energy technology. Recent cost reductions in wind- and solar-energy production have created a wave of optimism. They show that costs can come down quickly with adequate scale. If they continue, or if similar cost declines are possible with advanced nuclear or geothermal technologies, we could find ourselves somewhere most of us never expected: in a world with cheap energy, free from international supply shocks, and with limited environmental incentives to conserve. We call an extreme version of this scenario “energy superabundance.”

If our society remains suspicious of high energy expenditures, at least part of the reason is a lack of vision of what we might realistically do with superabundant energy. This paper aims to supply that vision. Our hope is that by examining the new possibilities that arise when energy becomes much more available than today, we can produce a shift in mindset. While today’s energy sources have environmental costs, we can focus on those costs narrowly while still viewing energy abundance as a goal worth striving for.
(...)

[ Download PDF → HERE ]

In light of these arguments, "The Center for Growth and Opportunity" at Utah State University affirms that: «Achieving energy superabundance would radically improve the US economy as well as the quality of life for all Americans». And they confirm in their study that: «This future is only possible if we remove the many obstacles standing in the way of building new infrastructure. New power plants, transmission, lines, transportation infrastructure, and better energy technology are all being held back by red tape that stops us from building a better future». Well, the fact that currently exist so many barriers in the way of increasing oil production is a disastrous course of action without having other energy sources adequately developed to compete on cost and, most importantly, being able to dispose of waste that is very long-lasting and highly harmful to the environment, I may add. 

The cost of energy increases as a result and the environmental damage caused by non-renewable energy sources is being poorly replaced with longer-lasting and more dangerous pollution and contamination from radioactive waste, huge amounts of lithium remnants, wasted batteries in electric and hybrid cars, and vast tracts of land that must be covered with solar panels trying to match unsuccessfully the amount of energy provided by non-renewable energy sources, in addition to the fact that all these renewable energy sources are not yet cost-competitive.

I urge all concerned World citizens to read the study we hereby offer our readers: "Energy Superabundance: How Cheap, Abundant Energy Will Shape Our Future". It is a clarion call to wake us up to the essential aspects of this issue, in particular to the need for an extensive infrastructure overhaul.

  • Hits: 764