As long as I can remember, there has been an underlying argument that our nation needs to exploit its natural resources to free itself from the addiction to foreign oil.
The key word here was of course ‘foreign’ not ‘oil.
And there were good arguments for this based on the past experiences of the oil embargo in 1973 and the knowledge that this could effectively happen again at any time.
Then technologies in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing came along, and despite any reservations that the country, if not our strategic teams or the oil and gas industry, had about its environmental impact and long term risks to other strategic resources like groundwater aquifers and air to breathe, we went full bore ahead and became the largest producer of oil in the world, to the extent that we lifted our own ban on oil exports and began shipping away as much oil as we consumed.
Oil imports from the Middle East have slowed to a trickle.
But, let’s be completely honest.
This view of energy independence is really just switching from one drug dealer to another, not kicking the habit.
It’s the same dependence on the same drug and delivered by the same people. They may have switch suppliers, but in the end is it really any different for the addict?
However, in the meantime, other technologies have also evolved, cost profiles and efficiencies have changed. And these technologies also fall under the promise of energy independence but this time instead of just on the ‘foreign’ part, but the ‘oil’ as well.
Where are the energy independence people when you talk about getting off of oil altogether?
What you don’t hear is that true energy independence doesn’t look like a drill pad in the Permian Basin, injected with chemicals and flushed out, piped around the country and stored and trucked in sites that need environmental monitoring for decades after they have served their purpose.
Energy independence doesn’t look like the car I currently have that fills up at the gas station down the street – despite the fact that the gasoline in it was refined right here in the good old USofA from that Light Sweet crude from Texas.
Energy independence doesn’t mean my lights are on with gas fired electricity instead of coal, wired to me in a 100 year old grid that crosses borders and is run on technology that is under constant threat of cyber attack.
Remember the 2003 blackout on the East Coast?
It plunged 45 million Americans in eight states into darkness. And 10 million Canadians in Ontario, the province that includes Toronto and the capital Ottawa.
Canada too? A software glitch in Akron Ohio took out Toronto? How is that energy independence?
It’s time to realize what true energy independence looks like. It looks like solar panels on your roof and a Tesla in the driveway.
The ultimate micro-grid – self-reliant, renewable, clean.
Beyond gas, the car not needing antifreeze or oil changes. The house becomes a micro production plant consuming its own product, giving excess back to the system, or the car or a battery system storing the excess.
My home of about 1800 square feet would cost about $25,000 to equip with a solar system. I’ve had it estimated.
Let’s say a Tesla Model 3 cost about $40,000. Now there are far cheaper electric cars than a Tesla Model 3. The reason I’m picking this one is because of it’s far superior range than its competitors which aids in adoption, the fact that it is an American company and the car is made in California, and why not have some style.
It’s a little sugar to help the medicine go down. But in reality, most people could get a used Nissan Leaf for $10,000 and be pretty solid.
Let’s not even talk about the fact that I’ve put 500 miles on my car since February during the pandemic, mostly making runs that I now do on my eBike.
Ok. So that’s about $65,000 for a house to achieve a large degree of energy independence – the real one. Not the switching from one drug dealer to another one.
And that’s at retail, not the prices that could be achieved if we did this at scale – and please don’t talk to me about the subsidies. I think we all know that the oil and gas industry is attached to the government teet as much as anyone.
I don’t think it would take too much back-of-the envelope math to see that the long term effects of massive solar and electric car rollout would pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time.
Not to mention that the costs would plummet.
Clean Air. No Noise.
One of the funny things about the pandemic was how people noticed something funny happening in those first few months of lockdown.
Mountains were seen for the first time from cities across the world. Satellite imagery showed pollution levels drop.
Empty highways and roads meant homes near infrastructure were quiet for the first time. Animals were seen creeping through cities and neighborhoods.
Electric infrastructure gives us these things without the solitude and economic destruction.
We can have it all.