Energy Independence? Not interested. Why should I care about just getting us out of the oil import hole? Instead, I want to see the US back to being the energy export king of the world. Targeting energy independence in my mind is kind of a defeatist, reactive goal.
My personal feelings on what should be our primary energy policy goals
- Cheap energy
- Secure energy
- Clean energy
- Renewable energy
In that order.
But energy independence? Why not semiconductor independence? Or car independence? Or steel? We now also import a lot of those products into the US because we no longer have a comparative advantage in their manufacture. And they are both critical to the success of our economy.
The problem with targeting energy independence as a policy is that it doesn’t change the comparative advantage game. It also pushes both the environment and economics into the background of the discussion, leading us towards resources (like corn ethanol), that may or may not be cleaner, and have a comparative disadvantage to our imported energy sources.
Instead of targeting independent energy – let’s target cheap, secure, clean, renewable energy. And most importantly, let’s target resources and technologies that can change the comparative advantage game. Let’s target energy sources like clean coal and cellulosic ethanol, where the US has an economic comparative advantage in the resource, so that when we do figure out the technology – we can again be the energy export king, and this time, stay there.
Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to AltEnergyStocks.com.