The primacy of price past future energy transitions in america
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The Primacy of Price: Past & Future Energy Transitions in America. Joe Pratt University of Houston. PRIMACY OF PRICE. Past energy transitions largely directed by BUSINESSES and largely determined by traditional economic concept of PRICE Environmental costs as “externalities”

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The Primacy of Price: Past & Future Energy Transitions in America

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The primacy of price past future energy transitions in america

The Primacy of Price:Past & Future Energy Transitions in America

Joe Pratt

University of Houston


Primacy of price

PRIMACY OF PRICE

  • Past energy transitions largely directed by BUSINESSES and largely determined by traditional economic concept of PRICE

  • Environmental costs as “externalities”

  • Competition among companies in each energy industry AND among different fuel sources

  • NOTE: There is not a unified market for “energy” and no single “energy industry”


The rise of coal 1850 1900

THE RISE OF COAL, 1850-1900

  • Coal helped transform agrarian American into industrial America

  • Much more than PRICE at work here—fuel quality

  • U.S. energy consumption quadrupled from 1850-1900,

    as coal-led industrialization created new markets

  • As of 1900, coal seemed poised to remain the dominant source of energy in the U.S. for a long time


The rise of oil 1900 1973

The Rise of Oil, 1900-1973

  • Oil as illumination versus oil as energy (1901-Spindletop)

  • Oil as superior to coal in numerous ways

  • Regional component to oil’s ascent

  • Government regulatory role: Antitrust

  • Government’s promotional roles: National Security rationale

  • End of “easy oil” in 1970s

  • Impact of oil price swings on alternatives to oil


The rise of natural gas 1980s forward

The Rise of Natural Gas, 1980s Forward

  • Government regulation yields national grid plus shortages

  • Recent surge in natural gas markets and supplies

    -LNG (global market for once stranded gas)

    -Shale gas (“game-changer” versus threat to groundwater)

    GAS AS BRIDGE TO A RENEWABLE ENERGY FUTURE?


Observations of an old texas historian

Observations of an Old Texas Historian

  • Oil and natural gas as the “default option”

  • DO NOT underestimate the resilience of petroleum

  • “Industrial” renewables: problems of scale

  • Political process as a major barrier to change

  • Trend toward “adaptation” instead of reduction of greenhouse gases

  • Rays of hope at regional level

  • The “LongTransition from Natural Gas and Oil to Something Else”


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