Q: What does it mean for a nation to be energy independent? Is it realistic and if so how should that be achieved?
Simply defining energy independence as an ability to meet all domestic demand from domestic supply is almost certain to lead to high cost outcomes that will fall short of their objective.
Within the current scope of technology and environmental issues such as rising CO2 levels there is possibly no such thing as true energy independence, but nations can take steps to manage energy more productively. In the first instance this means managing demand, supply and footprint.
In globally integrated energy and capital markets the most independent nation is not the one with the highest national energy supply to demand ratio, but the one with the lowest energy use per GDP (at least when comparing broadly similar economies in terms of industrial capacity and development) combined with the smallest environmental footprint from the production and use of the energy. For an economy such as the USA, energy efficiency becomes a primary consideration.
Of course, making best use of domestic resources is also essential, particularly when they offer supply options that are both efficient to produce and environmentally sound. Natural gas and wind are two such possibilities in the USA today.
Posted by: fabco | April 5, 2010 1:13 PM
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