The United States is the second-largest energy consumer on
the planet. Over the past dozen years, domestic production of oil and natural
gas has grown thanks in part to the innovation of shale extraction. The surge
in energy production has been further advanced by lower costs of renewable
sources, such as wind and solar power. As a result of the increased supply of natural
gas and renewable energy, the coal industry has declined significantly, and more
than 200 plants have closed.1
Today, renewable sources account for more than 10% of U.S.
energy production.2 According to the Institute for Energy Economics
and Financial Analysis, the United States is expected to generate more power
from renewable energy than from coal starting next year, in 2021. Texas has
already passed that threshold: Wind energy represents 22% of Texas’ overall
power generation compared to 21% from coal.3
One of the lessons we can take from this shift is that
innovation requires us to adapt to new ideas. For a while we may cling to past
solutions. However, when innovation begins to provide cost-effective solutions
that offer other benefits — both for humans and the environment — it can make
economic sense to embrace the changes.
The same could be said for one’s personal insurance outlook.
If you have older insurance policies that do not offer some of today’s newer
features and benefits, it may be worth exploring what is now available. This is
an opportunity for you to evaluate your current strategy and make sure you are working
toward your long-term goals and objectives. Let us know if you’d like help
reviewing your insurance policies.
It’s funny, though. With innovation, there are always new
problems and challenges. We tend to accept new technology when we recognize that
the negatives of the previous option are more onerous than the drawbacks of the
new solutions. For one case in point, consider electric vehicles, which are
touted for their advantages of mileage economy and eliminating exhaust
emissions. However, there is growing concern about the disposal of the
vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries after their 15- to 20-year lifespans. Lithium-ion
batteries cannot be buried in landfills because they are flammable and could
release toxic chemicals into the environment.4
One solution to this problem could be yet another innovation,
an alternative to lithium-ion batteries: molecular thermal solar storage systems.
While still in the early stages of development, this concept takes a liquid
molecule made up of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen that, when exposed to
sunlight, draws in the sun’s energy and holds it and then can be triggered to
release that energy as heat. This innovation conceivably could store energy for
smaller enterprises, such as homes and automobiles, for a much longer period
than that of lithium-ion batteries. Developers are focused on heating; it
remains to be seen whether such a system could generate electricity.5
Perhaps the good news about America’s energy challenge is
that many traditional energy companies are motivated and well-positioned to
help address these issues, seeking new solutions to address demand.
prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 BP. CNN. 2019. “America’s role in the dual energy
challenge.” http://advertisementfeature.cnn.com/2019/bp-america/. Accessed Dec. 15, 2019.
3 Matt Egan. CNN. Nov. 26, 2019. “Solar, wind and hydro
power could soon surpass coal.” https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/26/business/renewable-energy-coal/index.html. Accessed Dec. 15, 2019.
4 Katie Hunt. CNN. Nov. 6 2019. “The rapid rise of
electric vehicles could lead to a mountain of battery waste.” https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/06/business/electric-vehicles-battery-waste-scn/index.html. Accessed Dec. 15, 2019.
5 Adam Popescu. Bloomberg. Nov. 3, 2019. “An Energy
Breakthrough Could Store Solar Power for Decades.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-04/moth-poulsen-s-energy-trapping-molecule-could-solve-solar-storage. Accessed Dec. 15, 2019.
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