New Energy Weekly – Energy Autonomy, Security, and Extortion
Energy Autonomy, Security, and Extortion
I have strong opinions about the oil industry. We have a history, oil, and me. And here’s what I know: energy supply equals political power.
It has been that way from the beginning.
- If you had fire and the other guy didn’t, you won.
- If you had horses and the other guy was walking, you won.
- If your ships ran on steam and the other guy’s had sails, you won.
- And until very recently, if you had oil and the other guy didn’t, you won.
Energy supply has always meant military might. If you didn’t have fuel for your planes and tanks, you couldn’t project power over your neighbor. And you couldn’t protect yourself from them, either.
Oil is the only reason Russia and the OPEC bad guys have any influence on the world stage at all. They use oil and gas supplies as a bludgeon – a literal sword of Damocles held over the head of their customers.
We are seeing that in real time right now. There are countries supporting Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine because they want to secure their energy supply. Western Europe may not get enough gas for winter because of its opposition.
That has sent energy prices soaring. Here’s what CNN reported back in September:
Europe’s energy crisis is deepening as Russia further limits exports of natural gas, forcing governments to spend billions to protect businesses and consumers from soaring bills as the region slides towards recession.
European benchmark natural gas prices spiked 28% on Monday morning to hit €274 ($272) per megawatt hour – the first day of trading after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted flows through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
This is having a major impact on politicians in Europe. They’ve had an uneasy relationship with Russia for many years now, but it was never quite this bad. Now, that relationship is costing them.
And that is shaping energy policy in a new direction.
You see, nations are coming to grips with an ugly fact: If they are dependent on imported energy, then they can be extorted.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder. Russia cut off natural gas to Western Europe because those countries wouldn’t sanction Russia’s war in Ukraine.
That’s why investments in nuclear, solar, and wind power are soaring: Europe can build those plants within its borders and (almost) never need imported fuel. That creates energy autonomy. And energy autonomy creates security.
I’m happy to say we anticipated something like this. I didn’t know it would be Russia. But I did know that we would see higher prices again. Back in 2008, soaring oil prices led to groups meeting in Manhattan to learn how to farm without petroleum.
This time, people are pushing for more green power. Because green power isn’t beholden to anyone. And that provides security.