NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Energy: What's Sustainable?

June 7, 2011

The claim is made that sustainable energy needs to be available for the day when we run out of oil and gas.  But when will that day arrive?  A fascinating thing about oil and gas is that the more we learn about the subsurface, and the better we become at drilling and completing wells and extracting fluids through them, the more oil and gas we find to be technically and economically producible, says Bob Tippee, editor of Oil & Gas Journal.

  • The fear of imminent depletion of oil and gas should not be a factor in our thinking about sustainability.
  • In fact, we will produce much more energy from supposedly finite resources than we will gather from renewable sources for many decades.
  • But costs will begin to converge.
  • As oil and gas become costlier, they will need higher prices in order to be economic.
  • And higher prices for oil and gas will help renewable energy compete.

As a taxpayer, Tippee says he does not want to have to pay for a futile effort to make sustainable energy happen on a political schedule inevitably at variance with what markets will allow.  Governments do have a role in this process, especially governments of developed countries.  But that role shouldn't be fuel selection.  Markets should handle that, says Tippee.

Source: Bob Tippee, "Energy: What's Sustainable?" Vital Speeches of the Day, May 2011.

For text:

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. 77, Issue 5, May 2011.


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