Fossil fuel companies are not the “energy industry.” They never were.
They’re miners, seeking fuel. They’re bringing up stuff from the ground that engines then burn.
Solar panel and windmill makers aren’t the “energy industry” either. They’re manufacturers. They make engines that create energy.
Utilities are the energy industry.
The difference between oil companies and the manufacturers of solar panels is the difference between fuel and an engine.
Until recently, man had no choice but to do the energy two-step, burning fuel in engines to create energy. The engines created by renewable energy producers weren’t economically practical.
Now they are. It now costs less to build and run a windmill than a car engine, much less. The gap gets wider all the time. Even when the cost of battery storage is added, harvesting the energy all around us is the cheaper way to do things.
Given both that economic reality and the damage fossil fuels are doing to our climate, it’s clear that oil is the crack cocaine of our time. We need to get off it if we’re to survive as a species. As I wrote three years ago, we’re in the process of doing that.
There are ways through other than burning stuff or harvesting the Sun. Efficiency remains the cheapest form of renewable energy. Every new car, every new appliance, and every new industrial machine bought today creates efficiency. Cloud computing is more efficient than PCs and can readily use renewable power. Phones are also more efficient than PCs.
All this means the current crisis is a temporary one. It’s important that, as businesspeople, as consumers, and as voters, we understand that. Harvesting the Sun, the wind, the water, and the tides is cheaper than pulling oil from the ground, refining it, and burning it. It’s cheaper in every way. We are proving this every day. Every move by OPEC or anyone else to raise oil’s price accelerates the process, by creating more savings for those who build renewable engines, use them, or just save power.
There’s short term pain here but the long term gain is going to be enormous, for everyone.