Culture Energy Executives Support a Greener National Energy Policy

Published on February 16th, 2011 | by Guest Author

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Energy Executives Support a Greener National Energy Policy

There’s more support than ever before from consumers for environmentally-friendly policy. This can be seen simply from the ever-growing number of news articles about global warming to the amount of advertising promoting green products. From this, one would think that the market itself would be enough to change the current standards to ones with higher-efficiency.

However, a a 2011 report from Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services funded by ABB, a power and automation technologies corporation, found that, “Only 14% of energy industry stakeholders indicate that governments should leave development of alternative energy sources to market forces.” 1

The report from Bloomberg Businessweek is based on a survey of over 450 energy industry leaders and stakeholders, and focuses on all areas of the energy industry, from generation to distribution to policy. The following chart from their study is an extremely informative look into the mindset of the energy industry.

All policies related to improving environmental standards and renewable energy easily had the majority in favor of implementing them. The only policy that did not have majority support was for relaxed environmental standards.

Based on this chart, grid improvement programs would receive the highest level of encouragement from the energy industry. After that, support fell mostly for implementing standards for both the industry and consumer’s energy use. This also follows later evidence from the ABB-funded report that 80% of energy experts believe both consumers and the energy industry are responsible for improving and reducing their energy use. 2

Bloomfield Businessweek also reports that, “when it comes to adopting energy efficient practices the energy industry stakeholders believe they need to be incentivized to change their behavior.”3

With a predicted 30% increase in energy use over the next 20 years, 4 policies are sure to come into play to ensure that this energy is available. The groundwork is already being laid in countries around the world, and, as energy industry leaders think that it shouldn’t be left up to market forces, new and improved energy policy is sure to come.

To learn more about the future of the energy industry and policy, visit ABB’s research site and watch the video below.

Citations

1, 2, 3. Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services (2011). “Lowering Emissions (or Minimizing Climate Impact): Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” p.5

4. International Energy Agency (2010). “World Energy Outlook 2010 Factsheet: What will the global energy outlook to 2035 look like?” p. 1

Jeremy Jones is a eco web designer and committed activist for environmental change. He is the cofounder of the nonprofit The Kirksville Permaculture Education Center and writes for ABB.

Content syndicated by Nathan Brown, the sustainable building careers recruiter for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and provider of information on building your own solar energy systems for your home.

Take control of your own energy use: check out our selection of energy efficient light bulbs, air conditioners, and home power saver devices.

Photo Credits

1. Energy Policy Opinions Chart: Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services (2011). “Lowering Emissions (or Minimizing Climate Impact): Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” p.6

2. Power Lines. Peter Kaminski at Flickr under a Creative Commons license



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  • http://www.yahoo.com Bobby

    “Only 14% of energy industry stakeholders indicate that governments should leave development of alternative energy sources to market forces.”

    “when it comes to adopting energy efficient practices the energy industry stakeholders believe they need to be incentivized to change their behavior.”

    Duh! If green energy technologies were really able to increase profit margins, energy stakeholders would gladly fund their own R&D and product implementation. However, since it is a costly undertaking that yields poor returns on investment, it is only natural that they would prefer to have the government funnel taxpayer monies into their pockets to “incentivize” them to undertake what have historically been losing propositions.

    Anyone who lived during the 1970’s should remember that Jimmy Carter the 1st diverted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to fund green energy start-ups. Their legacy can be found in abandoned wind and solar farms in the American southwest and Hawaii. Heck, even Jimmy’s White House solar panels ended up in a museum. Now, we have Jimmy Carter the 2nd (Obama) doing the exact same thing. Several companies have already received millions of taxpayer dollars through the TARP bailouts, and not surprisingly many of those have since shuttered their operations:

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/11/ge-to-close-delaware-solar-facility

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/business/energy-environment/15solar.html?_r=1

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/26/AR2010032604611.html

    When an individual or corporation petitions a government entity to channel taxpayer funds to his operation, then closes that operation and pockets the proceeds – minus whatever political contributions he returns to his benefactor(s) – at the first realization that the venture is a losing proposition, is it called a “flim-flam” or a “switcharoo?” Who is responsible for following the money and auditing these people, and why aren’t they doing their jobs?

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @Bobby — had a really thorough response almost completely written, and then pressed the wrong button… grrr…

    So, I’ll try to re-create in short:

    1. Is the shift of operations overseas a sign of solar’s inability to make a profit, or a sign of bad trade policy that makes it profitable only to manufacture such products in China?
    2. Would fossil fuels be profitable without government support at the levels they’ve historically received? Truth is, we can’t know… but we do know that oil and gas have received much more government support than any other forms of energy — here’s a 2008 report that lays out various subsidies by industry since 1950 (which was commissioned by the nuclear energy industry): http://www.nei.org/filefolder/Bezdek_Report.pdf
    3. If conventional energy sources had to account for costs created by pollution at all points of its lifecycle — including costs to human health — would they be as competitive as they are now? Even when a similar lifecycle analysis is done of renewable technologies?

    You can only argue market forces if all things are equal, or, at least, if all costs are accounted for… otherwise, issues of profitability are smoke and mirrors.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Bobby

    I hate when that happens. I will also try to be brief.

    1. Neither. The problem is crony capisocialism (my word). I define “capisocialism” as a transaction whereby a government entity gives money to a “private” enterprise such that the press can report it as a capitalist venture (i.e. an investment), but which in reality is pure socialism since the government entity pulls the strings of the “private” corporation to a predetermined conclusion. The word “crony” precedes capisocialism because there must be a mutually beneficial, and most often, personal relationship between the power brokers on each side of the exchange. With most of our green “investments”, Politician/Political Party “A” channels tax revenues to fund Mogul/Corporation “B” under the guise that Product “C” will be put into domestic production. “B” bundles a portion of the money back to “A” via direct and indirect political contributions. “B” then waits an unspecified amount of time to close shop (or send it offshore) and pockets whatever balance remains. Since hindsight is 20/20, the whole scam reveals itself as nothing more than an elaborate version of money laundering.
    2. Your report starts in 1950, which is well after fossil fuels became the dominant energy choice and after Congress developed a tax code that penalizes fossil fuels at premium levels. Since the energy tax revenues are distributed to all of the players in the energy sector, the question that needs to be asked is whether or not the subsidies received are in any way proportional to the taxes paid. If fossil fuels pay the lion’s share of the taxes, should they not also receive the bulk of the subsidies? Green energy has benefitted from billions of dollars in subsidies, but has thus far contributed very little to the tax coffers. Is there a point where the continued funding of ventures that return very little in the way of tax revenues becomes unsustainable? Even after five decades of regulation and punitive taxation aimed at dethroning fossil fuel dominance, it still sits atop the market and still provides the majority of the energy related tax revenues.
    3. The lifecycle costs – via the human health angle – are incalculable equations. There are no honest ways to accurately correlate health care costs to fossil fuel usage. Pre-industrialization life spans were much shorter than today’s, so the “fossil fuel equals early death” argument is difficult to support. Trying to equate increases in respiratory illnesses, sinus infections, cancers, skin disorders, etc. to fossil fuel usage are also un-provable, since so many other factors have changed in the last century. The consumption of sugar is at record levels as is the consumption of processed foods, breast feeding is at an all time low, and we live in households that are nearly sterile. Some scientists argue that these changes have had gross negative impacts on our bodies’ natural resistances. Like the whole AGW theory, there are just too many variables to limit the cause-and-effect model to any one item.

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