Oil Not Lasting Answer to Growing World Energy Needs

"Present mode of power production and consumption using only the supply-and-demand model in North America is unsustainable"

Published: 26-Aug-2003

even rising amounts of it, is not going to be a lasting answer to the ever-rising energy needs of a growing economy and population.

This is the lesson developing countries must learn in order to avoid the same dangerous trend that caused untold damage to the U.S. and Canadian economies in days of power failure blamed on conspicuous consumption.

"The present mode of power production and consumption using only the supply-and-demand model in North America is unsustainable," said Silvio Borraccino, managing director of E-Solar, based in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

"If this energy disaster caught up with the most powerful and technologically advanced nation in the world, shouldn't we take a hint?" said Borraccino, an Italian energy expert. "It's just absurd that in the UAE, hotels, households and most people use power to cool down their living environment and use power again to heat up the water."

Dubai, which dubs itself the city of the future, also expends electricity on bulbs which go back nearly 100 years, he charged.

Borraccino said the crippling blackouts that have affected eight states and over 50 million people are just a warning shot ahead of more troubles to come, if future energy policy is simply more of the same.

Greens, specially in Europe, have in the past blamed what they say is a flawed supply-and-demand concept that underpins power consumption and production in North America.

"The U.S. has set a dangerous trend, and that is to produce whatever the people can consume irrespective of the consequences - not just consequences to them but to the world at large," said Borraccino.

The widespread power failures in countries that are also top producers of power generating systems have revealed a glaring need to reassess energy production and consumption patterns.

Borraccino charged that it was "short-sightedness" by the Bush administration that led them to create an energy policy which vehemently opposes the Rio and Kyoto agreements on emissions.

Instead, the U.S. offered to pay countries that emit less toxic air in exchange for the right to continue or raise its present carbondioxide emissions. He stressed that the U.S. administration's approach of "we don't care what everybody else thinks" does not seem to help them now.

"I am sure someone will jump on these questions saying that the problem was just a technical one and that it is not an issue of consumption and capacity," he said.

Power stations in Ohio, U.S. energy officials admit, were overstretched. But more importantly, the financial losses sustained by businesses during the power outages are higher than any five-year energy conservation programme.

Germany, on the other hand, is an example of a country with a forward-looking energy policy. The German government pays for every kilowatt produced through solar and wind energy not just to the monopoly-bound utility company but to factories, households and investors.

"This is not exactly the case on the other side of the Atlantic. The opening of the Alaska oil fields is not going to prevent another massive power failure. There's no way. And they know it," said Borraccino.

"Despite all the recurrent costly examples, it seems we are not yet convinced that the problem is not in the supply and demand of energy but instead on the way we perceive it as it relates to the bigger picture and the consequences whether in the short or long term."

"If we just concentrate on capacity and demand, which is the main culprit of these disastrous blackouts, it would be enough to take a few past examples of a practical approach and see how the problem could have been minimised, if not avoided altogether," he said.

He cited China as an example of a country that has adopted a better lighting system. "In the last few years, China has embraced new lighting technology. They figured that billions of such lights will have to be powered everyday. So instead of retaining the old incandescent bulb technology, they replaced them with new compact fluorescent lights."

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