The Alternative Energy Economy

Energy Change: It's Coming

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted October 27, 2008 at 8:00PM

You're well aware of all the green catchphrases by now.

Almost any slogan or jingle that can contain anything green has now been used.

We know what greenwashing is. We're all in favor of energy independence.

We're familiar with green building, energy audits, and carbon footprints.

But a new age of green buzzwords is emerging that carry even more meaning than their predecessors.

Instead of representing one angle or aspect of going green, these new phrases encompass the entire idea, including economic and societal implications.

Specifically, the phrase I'm referring to is Alternative Energy Economy.

Alternative Energy Economy

In prior articles, I've referred to this notion as the new energy economy. But since alternative and renewable energy is going to play such a large role going forward, Alternative Energy Economy seems now to be more correct.

Either way, those terms have come to represent a paradigm shift in how the world sees and uses energy.

They're all-encompassing terms, synonymous with energy revolution, moonshot, and the Manhattan Project.

Some are calling it the Apollo Project for a new century.

Here's what it means, in a nutshell.

First off, decreasing our reliance on oil—both foreign and domestic—could start to inject some of the $1 trillion or more we spend on the stuff every year. Much more if you count the security costs.

Of course, we won't become oil independent overnight, but every barrel saved is a deposit in the collective domestic piggy bank.

Then, the money we save oil, coupled with copious government and private investment, can be funneled to facilitate the deployment of alternative energy resources.

This is the first pillar of an alternative energy economy: energy conservation and renewed investment.

From there, we can look forward to direct, tangible benefits to the real economy.

To get into them, we need a starting point, a base case.

With the election a week away, and most critical state polls heavily favoring the democratic candidate, let's use Barack Obama's alternative energy plan as a springboard.

(Please note: This is not an endorsement of Obama or a counting-the-chickens-before-they-hatch scenario, but rather an objective reference based on the available poll data and the likely outcome of the election at this writing.)

An Obama-Based Alternative Energy Economy

Obama's plan is indeed an Apollo project for alternative energy.

The plan seeks to rapidly accelerate the world's transition to renewable fuels, while turbocharging the economy and weaning us off our dependency for cheap credit at the same time.

Here's what Time Magazine had to say about his plan in relation to the current economic problems:

He wants to launch an "Apollo project" to build a new alternative energy economy. His rationale for doing so includes some hard truths about the current economic mess: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit." But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, "because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt." A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office.

So what exactly would an Apollo Project for energy look like?

According to the Apollo Alliance, which Obama supports, a rigorous program channeling $500 billion over 10 years to alternative energy projects is needed. That money would be dedicated to:

  • Generate clean power (25% from renewable sources by 2025)

  • Improve energy conservation and efficiency

  • Cut energy bills

  • Improve US technological and industrial capabilities

  • Create 5 million green-collar jobs

Compared to what we're currently facing, each one of those bullets would be a welcomed change.

25% renewable power compared to today's 6%.

Improved energy conservation and efficiency instead of complacent energy waste and misuse.

Reduced energy bills compared to the current high and volatile prices.

A renewed dedication to science and math, from childhood on up, that puts America back on top of today's information-based economy and allows us to export energy technology to the rest of the world.

The creation of 5 million new well-paid and secure green jobs instead of the 760,000 we've lost so far this year.

Such is the second pillar of an alternative energy economy: initiating programs from the top down that facilitate a culture change in which the country makes solving the energy crisis a priority and an opportunity.

Realizing an Alternative Energy Economy

The third pillar of an alternative energy economy is this: migrating from ideas to action and seeing real change, progress, and results.

Once the policies have been implemented and the strategy is in place, action will commence.

Free market initiative combined with government oversite and support will lead to renewed and sustained investment, the creation of jobs, and the deployment of voluminous amounts of renewable energy projects and capacity in the form of new wind farms, solar installations, geothermal and tidal use, electric vehicles, and new electricity transmission.

The government will have new tax revenue to support energy projects, the real economy will benefit from newfound jobs and savings from stable energy prices for home and auto, and American society will benefit from private and corporate re-investment in our education system and communities.

That's how I see the fundamentals of an alternative energy economy.

Of course, there will be long-term, unquantifiable, and unforeseen benefits as well—cleaner air, increased productivity, national pride, and a sense of unity to name few.

And, along with new new investment at the government and private early round levels, will come new green investment opportunities for us and increased profits from the already established renewable energy companies.

It's going to be a great thing.

Call it like you see it,

nick hodge


P.S. Big Oil already knows about the new energy economy, and now they're quickly trying to change gears so they can get a piece of the action. But it's not going to happen. They're simply too late. It's going to be the companies already in the game and the new green companies making a name for themselves now that will get the lion's share of the renewable energy profits. Savvy investors like you have the chance to profit, too! Read this full report on why Big Oil will fail in its pursuit of renewable energy and how you can profit from the companies that will succeed.