Lockdowns are being lifted, and the great mask debate is raging all over the internet. Will there be another lockdown? Do we really have to accept a “new normal”? There are so many questions that go without answers. Instead, I thought about what I’ve learned during the past few months: Diversity is good.
Diversity is a lesson we have all heard over the years in many different sayings: there can be too much of a good thing, everything in moderation, ect. Recently, I realized this lesson of diversity works for energy just as much as for everything else.
Thanks to the shale boom, America has been enjoying a season of energy independence and the national and financial security that goes along with it. Because of this independence, there was little change in prices at the pump when Saudi Arabia experienced a bombing raid at one of their oil facilities last year. Not long ago, this would have spelled disaster for us here at home, but because we are no longer dependent on their oil supply we came through quite easily. The price war that soon followed between Russia and Saudi Arabia had only just begun when the global lockdowns started hitting fast and hard.
It was this that caused the economy to shudder and crash. It took a global energy shutdown. The world didn’t stop spinning, but the billions of people on its surface all stopped moving at once. Planes, trains, ships, factories – everything – stopped. It took the world coming to a standstill to cause oil prices to drop into negative numbers for the first time.
Mike Howard, CEO of Howard Energy, is going to be on the cover of our soon to be released July/August issue of SHALE Magazine. He makes a very good point in his interview. It is the energy industry that powers all other industries. It is the essential business of all essential businesses.
We lose sight of that sometimes. Without natural-gas power plants, there would be very little power. Planes need fuel to fly; factories need power, or they won’t be employing anyone. Ambulances, emergency services, and Amazon delivery vans need fuel. Even electric cars need natural-gas powered electricity to charge up. It is a fact in front of our noses, but sometimes we don’t see it because the system works so well.
The world stopped, and gas prices fell. Some rejoiced at the thought. But in reality, those low prices are a symptom of an ill economy – a COVID economy, if you will. Fossil fuel companies tightened their proverbial belts; they shut in wells and canceled plans for new ones. Unemployment sky-rocketed everywhere.
Starting to spin again
Prices are finally rising again. Unemployment is decreasing. A coincidence? Absolutely not. We are heading in the right direction, but don’t forget that lesson learned – diversity. This pandemic and the social unrest that exploded on its very heels should have everyone expecting the unexpected.
Currently, as I said, the world runs because of fossil fuels. This is not going to change. Fossil fuels are needed to make renewable energy possible. But that doesn’t mean the young kids can’t grow up and learn to help out. That’s exactly what kids do.
The sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. So, why not have solar panels and a wind turbine? Natural gas picks up the slack like a big brother should. This is not an all or nothing world, so why have an all or nothing attitude toward energy?
Diversity in energy
Cities cannot run on renewables alone. This is not going to change until technology makes some major leaps forward. There have been many and varied examples of this. The costs and risks of renewables not producing what we need far outweigh any benefits. But that doesn’t mean a single home can’t run on renewable power. Solar and wind are often all a home needs to run comfortably. If more homes and businesses practice this diversity, it could help an overly strained grid.
It is time to shed the “us” vs. “them” mentality not only in everyday life, but also concerning where our power comes from. Fossil fuels are here to stay, and they are the reason life now is so much better than it once was, but there is room in the garden for a variety of plants. Don’t forget the other lesson learned from COVID – We’re all in this together.