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The Energy Transition Story Has Become Self-Defeating

The Energy Transition Story Has Become Self-Defeating

We need another kind of transformation more than ever

A place and time for magical thinking. Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

There is still a widespread belief that it is possible to transition away from fossil fuels, a myth which is contradicted by an ever growing body of evidence. Not that the previous model — based on coal, oil and gas — was even a slight bit more sustainable: we are talking about finite resources after all. However, the “energy transition” was a far more easier sell, than admitting that we have reached the end of growth, and that a long winding road back to a much simpler life is what awaits. Meanwhile, the real crisis (climate change), has proved to be a far more complex topic than what could be “tackled” by turning a few coal fired power plants off, and wishing for the magic unicorn of the Hydrogen economy to materialize… Where did it all go wrong? What kind of transition is possible then?

Let’s start by making a simple statement first: There has been no energy transition ever taking place in human history. Neither in the 19th century, when coal came into the picture, nor in the 20th with the advent of nuclear, or in the 21st, for that matter, with the widespread adoption of wind and solar. As the term implies, it would’ve required us to abandon a viable energy source in favour of another, ramping down the old one in advantage of the new. That would’ve meant leaving vast reserves of the old energy source out there, untapped. That has never happened, and never will, for a simple reason: the Maximum Power Principle.

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