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Life After the Energy Crisis - Barış Sanlı

Every energy crisis has an ending. What is left behind are losses and wins. The high prices of 2007-2008 fostered the electric cars, batteries, and solar boom. It didn’t end up with the efficiency we expected, but LED lighting has ended the reign of filaments. LED screens replace CRT tubes. More technological developments have arrived. But as Daniel Yergin says, these were the technologies available in the last 50 years. We are seeing technologies taking off now. Heat pumps or hydrogen or both? Floating wind turbines, small modular reactors, maybe fusion, and practically that is it. Electric cars have already taken off. Electric trucks may need some way to go.

There is also a philosophical change during these crises. Like the market structures, new intelligent systems… After every major US power blackout, there is a new trend of systems to avoid blackouts. On the commodities side, the 2007-2008 energy crisis has increased scrutiny of the financial markets’ role in commodities. The famous “decoupling of gas prices from electricity prices in this crisis.” Also, just like in the Nixon years, price caps. The problem with these proposals is that they serve as a façade to save the desperateness of policymakers. There is a tool; how it will work is unknown, but it will save the future. Or the claim is such.

So what will the energy world look like after this winter? First and foremost, technological innovation will speed up. AI, 3D printing, and automation powered various technologies, and their manufacturing will improve faster. The permitting processes will definitely drop and will morph into more e-permitting systems. The satellite photos and integration of big data may ease a lot.

Environmental movements are always wounded in high-price environments. So, do not think this is the end of environmental or climate change policies. Climate emergency will probably be replaced with more rational and sangfroid terms. Environmental policy will lose its mandate over other policies, but it will survive. Air quality, a clean environment, and water are necessary rights, and they will have a longer life.

Markets, on the other hand, may evolve for better or worse. One example is the California power market. The basic problem was data invisibility, which created big problems. In every energy crisis, the data returns with a vengeance. The current philosophy is about price controls, not market needs. It is a trial for consumer-centric design. For a true consumer-centric design, the consumer side's technology must change, including meters, bills, appliances, and interaction. Ever-optimizing markets have to penetrate the consumer side. Electric cars are already part of the discussion of the interactive consumer model. There is a need for more.


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