The New York Times reported today that geologists have â€śsharply cutâ€ť their estimate of how much natural gas exists in the rock formation called the Marcellus Shale. They now guess it holds 84 trillion cubic feet, down 80% from the Energy Information Agencyâ€™s estimate just this year.
Seeing this headline got me thinking about some of the benefits of renewables, and what weâ€™re unlikely to see reported in the futureâ€¦
- Meteorologists Sharply Cut Estimate of Amount of Sun Hitting Earth
- Off-shore Wind Farm Explodes, Massive Wind Spill Coats Coast of Gulf
- Algae Mine Collapses Burying 33 Chilean BioFuel Farmers
- Heat Source for Geothermal Plants Drying Up
- Tides Seem to be Slowing Down
- Troop Deployment Begins to Defend Vast Sun Fields Abroad
- Scientists Concerned That Weâ€™ve Reached Peak Sun and Peak Wind
Kidding aside, it seems clear that our days of relying on fossil fuels are numbered. Thatâ€™s not a political or moral statement â€“ itâ€™s a scientific one. The 84 trillion cubic feet is still a lot, but getting to it is fairly difficult. Easy oil and easy gas are almost oxymoronic at this point. Getting our traditional energy will be expensive and dangerous â€“ think digging a mile under the ocean â€“ from now on.
Iâ€™m sure the snarky will point out that renewables have their problems â€“ intermittency being the big one. But the challenge of how to store energy that comes and goes is solvable â€“ more and better battery technology, for example. Or millions of electric vehicles acting as a massive, mobile power storage unitâ€¦one that is parked and plugged in at night when the wind blows on the grid.
But more importantly, I can guarantee that weâ€™ll never run out of the heat of the earth, the sun beating down on the planet (ok, in 5 billion years we will), or the wind driven by the sunâ€™s heat. These sources will not be harder to get to tomorrow than today. They will only get cheaper in comparison to the buried kind of energy, with a variable cost of about zero.
Those seem like some pretty solid business reasons to invest and switch our economy quickly.
(Andrew Winston is the author of Green Recovery and a business consultant who advocates for sustainability. See more about him at his website.)