The Democratizing Effects of Electrifying Everything
Electricity is agnostic as to the inputs. Fossil fuels promote monopolies.
The subtext of the battle over Ukraine, the Middle East, and even fracking in America, is the monopolies they promote. When we use fossil fuels, we promote monopolies. Coal, gas, and oil are all centralized extraction industries. They are all sanctioned by the government. All monopolies require government intervention to exist. They are the antithesis of the free market.
In America, the government sells leases and charges taxes on the rents extracted from the land in the form of money made from the sale of fossil fuels. I’ve seen their tax forms and the tax codes. From the ground to our homes or power plants, fossil fuels are a vertical monopoly that everyone pays for.
Electricity doesn’t care where it gets electrons from. Electricity is everywhere. Electricity is the flow of electrons from one place to another. When electrons move, they perform work. Electricity mediates all of our senses, everything we use in our homes, and can power just about anything we use at work, to get work done.
Fossil fuels run power plants. Coal is still a huge source of power for electricity production. But renewables are encroaching. In some places, renewable power is cheaper than coal, even without subsidies. As we improve the manufacturing processes for the tools we use to generate electricity, they, in turn, become more efficient, generating more electricity per dollar spent in manufacturing.
Another element missing from the debate about fossil fuels vs renewables is that renewables pay for themselves over and over again. Fossil fuels do not. Every BTU captured from the sun is a BTU that we did not extract from the ground to burn. Every dollar spent on burning BTUs begets another monopoly dollar that is not spent on solar, wind, geothermal, or energy efficiency.
Monopolies are in the business of making money. Renewable energy is the business of saving money. Monopolies are interested in centralized power and rent extraction. Renewable energy is not interested in rent extraction, and it promotes the distribution of energy production.