Energy Versatility and Interdependence
By Ashraf (AJ) Jahangir, Energy Market Manager
Last week, two of our company’s directors – one responsible for the oil and gas market and the other for renewable energy - were engaged in some good-natured ribbing. While one was claiming that “our collective brains are fried from being in the sun too long” (innuendo to solar energy) the other was proclaiming “’no’ to the dirty, oily dark side”. While I was fostering this odd form of team building, I started remembering my college days’ physics. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. Nature has given us the gifts of earth, sun, wind, plants/fossils (transformed to coal, oil and gas), water and the atoms. All of these contain energy (mass=energy, remember) and all can transform into a usable energy source for our modern day life.
There is nothing ‘unnatural’ about any of the energy sources. Why fight over which one is best, per se? Yes, I understand the natural gas industry renaissance is producing many new jobs in today’s economy crippled by unemployment. I also understand that renewables and nuclear have less of an impact on our environment – now and for the future. But a solar panel is not likely manufactured using all solar power, is it? And it does not get transported to another part of the world by solar power alone – correct? I don’t have to stretch my imagination to see that fossil fuels will have something to do with manufacturing and transportation of the solar panels. My point is the solution lies not in one source, but in the allocation of the many.
Energy sources are interdependent and abundant. One source alone cannot bring the quality of life that we seek. I firmly believe that to improve the life of the global mass on this earth, we have to have more affordable energy. We need to seek all available sources driven by the market forces, letting boundaries (policies) set by the governments around the world for a long duration, led by valid science. Since coming to this country 20 years ago, I was very quickly taught the age-old wisdom of “no free lunch”. Coal produces mercury, other fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, dams for hydroelectric alters the ecology, wind turbines threaten birds, corn production for ethanol changes food costs. Risk versus benefit – we make those calculations every day. Improving the quality of life comes at a cost. At the end, the benefit has outweighed the price, keeping us steady in our quest for more energy. So I asked both of our two directors to keep doing what they do the best - supporting their respective clients in the respective energy segments.
The versatility and interdependence of our energy sources is our strength. Speaking on interdependence reminds me of the current discourse around energy independence, often defined in the spirit of patriotism bogged down in the narrow band of jingoism. Has not the world gone flat without economic boundaries? Isn’t the US renewable energy being transmitted in the US over the steel towers built in India? Has not the natural gas being transmitted by the pipes built in China? But that is another topic for another day.
Continue the conversation with By Ashraf (AJ) Jahangir, Energy Market Manager at AJahangir@Kleinfelder.com