Energy economics

What most of us think about energy supply is wrong.  Energy supplies are unlimited; it is energetic order that’s scarce, and the order in energy that’s expensive…

Our main use of energy isn’t lighting, locomotion, or cooling; what we use energy for, mainly, is to extract, refine, process, and purify energy itself.  And the more efficient we become at refining energy in this way, the more we want to use the final product.  Thus, more efficient engines, motors, lights, and cars lead to more energy consumption, not less…

These are the seven great energy heresies we propound in this book:

1. The cost of energy as we use it has less and less to do with the cost of fuel.  Increasingly, it depends instead on the cost of the hardware we use to refine and process the fuel.  Thus, we are not witnessing the twilight of fuel.

2. "Waste" is virtuous.  We use up most of our energy refining energy itself, and dumping waste energy in the process.  The more such wasteful refining we do, the better things get all around.  All this waste lets us do more life-arrirming thing better, more clearly, and more safely.

4. The competitive advantage in manufacturing is now swinging decisively back toward the United States…[information technologies]

6. The raw fuels are not running out.  The faster we extract and burn them, the faster we find still more.  Whatever it is that we so restlessly seek — and it isn’t in fact "energy" — we will never run out.  Energy supplies are infinite…

That is all from the new Peter Huber and Mark Mills book, The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy.  The authors do not quite connect their premises to their conclusions, but it makes for interesting reading.  I took away the lesson that our energy consumption will rise indefinitely (and why), at least until our civilization falls.


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