Is it possible that renewable energy will have a major and lasting effect on the fossil fuel industry? The International Energy Agency certainly thinks so. In their recent report, they claim the oil and natural gas industry cannot rely on fossil fuels to keep driving returns. The industry, they say, needs to direct more, much more, toward low-carbon business.
But isn’t the oil and gas industry already doing this by reducing overall emissions in the United States while at the same time increasing production? Why isn’t this ever touted in the media? Our exports of LNG to India and Asia are actively improving air quality in those areas by reducing their dependence on the burning of coal. It’s a shame we don’t hear more about that either.
What we seem to hear the loudest and most often is that solar and wind power are not only here to stay, but they are going to take over energy production for the world. Demand for these renewables is indeed increasing, but taking over - it’s unlikely. According to theU.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation in the United States in 2018 was 63.5% from fossil fuels, 19.3% from nuclear energy, and 17.1% from renewable energy sources.Among renewable energy, the main sources were 7% hydropower, 6.6% wind, and 1.6% solar power.
Amidst the great clamor for 100% “clean” energy, why is it always overlooked that without fossil fuels there would be no renewables at all? Solar panels and wind turbines cannot be built without them. What would a carbon-free world look like? Wait until dark, turn out the lights, put on a blindfold, and take a look around. A fossil-fuel-free world would have no energy source at all. No fossil fuels, no solar power, wind power, or any power. Everything we depend on has fossil fuels somewhere in its past, making their existence possible.
Renewable energy will most likely continue taking a larger piece of the pie, but with technology and battery storage the way they are today, and with the abundance of natural gas providing affordable energy security, it is unlikely the piece renewables take will be in any way a threat to the industry. It would like a dog biting off the hand feeding it - everyone would come out a loser.