Monday, January 30, 2017

Fossil fuel people want to "short" the clean energy side of things

A lot of people are trying to split hairs between "Climate Change" and "Global Warming". While ordinary people might be confused by the terms, the spin-masters are not.

The fossil fuel industry hates the word "Global Warming" because it is tied closely with a number of negative perceptions like "melting ice caps", "coastal flooding", "desertification", "crop failure", "hurricanes and tornadoes" and a "runaway green house gas effect". 

The words "Climate Change" on the other hand has much milder connotations as it does not say that the temperature will shift definitively towards higher temperatures.  And so this carries a much less scary sounding word cloud with it.

Most professional scientists see the two labels as a way of talking about the same thing - i.e. inadvertent global climate modification by human activity. The most important activity is increased fossil fuel usage and that is uniformly seen as being bad.

Scientists want to see a reduction in global use of fossil fuel.

Fossil fuel companies - quite obviously - do not want to see reductions in global fossil fuel *revenues*.

Now there are two kinds of fossil fuel people

  1. the Smart Ones - They can see Revenue  = (Volume) x (Sales Price Per Unit). Meaning if the price per unit goes up and the volume goes down - the amount of revenue stays the same. These kinds of people tend to support anything that raises the price of fossil fuels - including the dreaded Carbon Credits. These guys usually say "Climate Change is real" because they make money on the total revenue from fuel sales..
  2. the  Others - These guys are fixated on volumes. They keep coming up with ideas on driving up volumes at any price point. The reasons why they do so are many fold. Some want to promote deposits in hard to access region (ex. Russians) or others want to maximize their current market share and in doing so buy time to restructure their economic sector (ex. Saudis, Qataris etc...). These are the folks who are saying "Global Warming is an expensive fraud" because they make their money only from the volume of oil.
Both kinds of people know that we are well past the point of peak oil. This works out well for bothe groups as each unit of fossil fuel volume demands a higher price. 

Both sides know they they will need to reinvest in clean energy technology if there is to be any future at all.

We all tend to focus on the apparent ignorance of the Others and try to make our imperfect peace with the Smart Ones.

This however obscures a very important issue from view.

Both the Smart Ones and the Others want the same thing - i.e. to shift out of the investments in "Dirty Old Energy" and move to "Clean New Energy". 

And while they may be interested in different segments of the "Clean New Energy" market, like any investor they would want to "buy low".

It is here IMHO the rubber hits the road. If these groups can artificially depress the price of "Clean New Energy", either by dropping the price of fossil fuel (i.e. increasing the volume of current sales) or by making it look like there is higher potentially accessible reserves (making the Clean  Energy promoters feel like this is going to be a very long haul) - they can create an environment where they can buy low. Once they are all invested, the price of both "New Clean Energy" and "Old Dirty Energy" will rise rapidly causing all  manner of suffering but these guys don't care about any of that.

A critical technology they will want to get their paws on is energy storage.  Whether thermal, mechanical or electrical, they will want to grab anything that is proven to work at scale while ensuring that they pay as little for it as possible.

There is only one way to do this - and it doesn't work out so well for the rest of us who aren't in on it. It really doesn't work out well for the "New Clean Energy" proponents who have fought a long and hard battle against the fossil fuel bullies.

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