“Harnessing low-energy fuels is an entirely different challenge, as we’re finding out, and Germany is finding out the hard way; look, everywhere it’s tried it ends up with a more expensive grid, a dirtier grid, and a less reliable grid.”
Doomberg is an anonymous collective producing the world’s most popular financial substack. In this interview, we discuss the roots of the 2022 energy crisis, why nuclear power needs to be the basis of our energy needs, and how pragmatic decision-making is needed if we’re to best fulfil our energy needs.
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Just a few years ago energy was abundant and cheap. The oil crisis of the 1970s was a historical anomaly. The assumed understanding was that between governments, major energy companies and the markets, energy provision was becoming more reliable and cost-effective. The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed how paper-thin this impression of the energy sector was.
Systemic underinvestment in energy infrastructure, particularly nuclear, has left the industry vulnerable to shocks. And Ukraine has been a heck of a shock. Long-term political strategies for energy provision have had to be rewritten in real-time. The market, unsurprisingly, has been volatile to the upside. One in three UK families are expected to be in fuel poverty in 2023.
But, obviously, energy is not a discretionary spend. We all need a minimum material quantum just to survive. It is clear, now we’re self-rationing energy, how vital it is to our way of life. Humans flourish with access to energy. The flipside is a retardation of civilisation. So, whilst limitless cheap energy is still decades away, can we supply sufficient energy for our society to prosper?
Fundamentally, are we making the right decisions to facilitate the best use of resources? Nuclear power is both reliable, efficient, safe and direct power generation that is carbon-free. Why has investment been curtailed? Material bottlenecks mean we can’t produce enough batteries for EVs. So why aren’t we maximising the benefits of battery tech through use of hybrids?
Ideology and nimbyism have counterproductive effects: serious harm is outsourced to the poorer areas of the world whilst leaving us with insufficient infrastructure at home. Clearly, decisions need to remove dogma and deal with the world as it is. The frustration is that we have the skills and knowledge to resolve this situation. We just need to bring pragmatism out of the dark.
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