What does the recent news of natural gas luring manufacturing back to the United States portend for renewable energy? Once seen as the bridge to renewables, natural gas may well divert investment from renewable energy installations. The expiration of the Production Tax Credit only further cripples renewable energy expansion in the United States.
In order for natural gas to truly be the bridge, there needs to be a concerted investment in renewable energy technologies. For this to happen, full accounting of externalities must be taken into consideration. Until life cycle analyses are conducted on natural gas explorations that include hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking), renewable energy will be unable to compete on a dollar for dollar basis.
In large part, the promise of renewables is a sustainable energy source, one that will provide for us into the future without concern of overexploitation. As Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and Hunter Lovins point out in Natural Capitalism, the term “resource” comes from the Latin word resurgere meaning to “rise again.” Natural gas is not a resource in this paradigm. It is a false prophet delaying the inevitable rise of renewable energy, a resource in the truest sense of the term.
Post provided by – Eric Wilson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado Denver and co-founder of 2nd Green Revolution, LLC.