The political landscape meanders through our lives often enough by means of presenting a collection of false alternatives in order to promote binary thinking, analogous to our predominately right vs. left political system.
“You’re either for us or you’re against us.”
In the context of energy production—as the narrative of the left goes—you need to embrace “clean” energy (e.g., blighting the landscape with
bird killers wind turbines), while opposing oil and gas exploration, drilling, production and distribution generally—all while engineering schemes that subsidize the former while penalizing the latter. What this means in practice is that the government throws your tax money at “alternative,” or “clean,” or “renewable” energy in the belief that if you throw enough (which is never enough), often enough, you’ll “achieve” some breakthrough “windfall” that will make it all worth it…just like in the movies (and just as “real”).
On the other side of the equation, you penalize evil fossil fuels at every turn—from restrictions on exploration, drilling, and production, to onerous emission standards, to punitive fees, penalties, and taxes—and the list goes on and on.
In economic terms, this serves to artificially lower the price-to-consumer of rainbow-farting, flying unicorn energy, while artificially raising the price-to-consumer of devil’s spawn energy. In other terms, it’s yet another social engineering project of the left designed to modify your behavior; because you’re too bad, too stupid, too shortsighted, too selfish, and not altruistic enough to be trusted with true free-market price signals for anything actually essential to your modern pursuit of happiness and well being. You’ll ruin everything. You’re not sufficiently “enlightened.”
It goes without saying that both the right and the left use demagogic, Chicken-Little tactics to justify much of what they seek to advance, such that they craft the world in their image, never having to face the discomfort of someone else thinking they’re a moron (another manifestation of their inherent binary way of “thinking”). But, for me at least, going berserk because your teen might masturbate to dirty pictures on the Internet—and The Wages of Sin is Death—it being just one of their many “family values” catechisms based on ancient texts written by sheepherders…and going berserk because we’re despoiling Gaia; we hate Gaia, are distinctly different. The former is ignorant superstition that’s entirely dismissible, while the latter materially fracks with your life and livelihood. It makes everyone poorer and worse off.
Accordingly, there’s an imbalance in the way the left and right behave on the energy issue. While the left seeks to heavily subsidize so-called clean energy and penalize so-called polluting energy, the right seeks to mildly subsidize the latter in ways many industries are already often subsidized (eminent domain, land grants, tax “breaks,” etc.) while generally denying subsidies to the former. In other terms, the left will not have fossil fuels if they can help it, while the right is OK with alternatives so long as they pay their own way.
I embrace both. I want to see them fracking drilling everywhere it can be done in a financially sound business way, so as to get fossil fuels as cheap and abundant as possible (preferably with no subsidies). Why? Because this will help those with a passion for research, development, production, and the bringing of cool new things to market like solar and battery technology. How will it help? They’ll be shooting at a target that moves in economic ways instead of political ways.
Let me illustrate. In spite of the left’s efforts to make oil & gas derived energy as expensive as possible to encourage you to buy an electric vehicle and do other arguably ill-advised things for the sake of Gaia, have you noticed the prices you’re paying at the pump, lately? I recently remarked that it’s costing me about $40 less to fill my tank from empty than it did last time I noticed how fracking high it’s getting. Thing is, it’ll probably go lower and stay a good while, thanks in part to technological innovations like fracking Fracking, fracking oil-sands extraction, and a host of other things whereby, prices are moving in a way where markets, economics, technology are trumping leftist politics designed to make you pay as much as possible. (Expect tax hikes on gasoline everywhere soon, as politicians find your “found money” too irresistible not to take. Don’t expect the new taxes to ever be repealed.)
By contrast, according to a CNBC industry analyst, “I think we’re going to test those break-evens at every play across the country.”
Perhaps the only fall in the energy complex as spectacular has been the break-even cost to U.S. drillers of producing a barrel of oil.
Those costs vary widely across the country’s shale fields—from Texas’ prolific Permian Basin to the Northeast’s gassy Marcellus Shale—but productivity gains have helped producers continue pumping. However, with many analysts now expecting U.S. crude to fall into the $30s, the question is how low can prices go before producers turn off the tap.
It’s still cost-effective down to prices of $10 per barrel to maintain many existing wells across the United States, which is why drillers have not shut in production. But producers face a significantly higher bar when it comes to authorizing new production, because the cost of drilling and finishing a well accounts for the lion’s share of lifetime costs.
In other words, U.S. efficiency is now so profound that its putting a crimp on new exploration and development. This, of course, has market repercussions as well, but for the time being, anyway, the consumer benefits; but that, in-turn, has market and economic repercussions as well, as consumers spend money on things other than a fill up. And man does this ever completely frack the fracking hell out of the left’s hopeful vision for Gaia.
And this is good for solar!
The shortsighted, however, who don’t understand markets, are ignorant of economics; and similar to fundamentalists of all religious stripes, can never conceive of behavior that’s not prescribed by doctrine,
engineered interpreted by socialist-collectivists, and preached my ministers (with rewards and penalties met out according to solidarity to the cause).
In markets, rewards and penalties are met out according to how well or poorly individuals and enterprises predict, invest, divest, diversify, manage risk, develop, produce, and market stuff. This is an entirely foreign world to political junkies and the left are by far the chief sinners, in my view.
If you like alternatives such as solar and battery tech, don’t you think it would be wiser if the actors in those markets had market-based behavior and pricing signals in fossil-fuel markets to benchmark—rather than the changing and irrational tides of politics? I mean hell, you can’t even count on the Catholic Church to be as it always was, anymore. And if you can’t count on the Pope, who can you count on?
In my view, what’s going to make solar of far greater interest to far more people is not the silly, politically-left motivated electric car (that half-runs on the aforementioned rainbow farts of flying unicorns), but the combination of photovoltaic and battery tech, as is about to be released by Tesla, dubbed Power Wall. I’d have never understood this quite as I do now, had I not lived off-grid in Mexico for the summer, then immediately set up an off-grid living situation here in California upon my return. Almost 6 months now electricity-grid free, I’ve never had a power outage, and I’ve burned less than 3 gallons of generator fuel (and that was during my ramp up in equipment to where I am now, worry free, with abundant stored sun all night long).
I’ve known of photovoltaics and their advantages for on-grid homes for many years (saw a DIY installation by an electrician back in 2000). That lowers your electricity bill, which eventually pays for your equipment, plus the debt service if you finance it. Simple. It works. My brother has them and they perform great. But adding batteries to the equation is where it really gets interesting. Tesla’s $3,000 7 kWh Power Wall will power an entire average home all night long (you can hook them together for larger homes). This effectively reduces your electricity bill to $0, reducing your electricity-grid hookup to that of a backup generator.
Currently, I’m using four 100-watt PV panels and four 6v deep cycle lead-acid batteries (like they use in golf carts). They’re expensive…$720 for the four. For a bit more than four times that investment, a Power Wall could handle an entire house and last substantially longer than the 3 years or so these old-school batteries will last. It’s just downright kooky-cool to store the sun’s energy during the day and then power your lights, water pump, internet, WiFi, and a 32″ LED smart TV at night—where I pay a combined $40 per month for various streaming services, rather than a $150 cable bill for tons of shit I’d never watch.
So, what I’m saying is that batteries added to solar panels really kick it up in terms of utility and interest and this should, I predict, entice a lot more people to accept tradeoffs that might still be iffy. And more people = bigger market = more investment = more R&D = better products = cheaper products = fewer tradeoffs = rinse, wash, & repeat.