Category Archives: energy

Research Paper “On the Threshold to a New Energy Age” and Survey Results

As part of the research for my research paper “On the Threshold to a New Energy Age“, I conducted a survey in order to find out how “prepared” people are for the transition to a new age of energy generation and use as well as to gather opinions on current trends in energy issues.

In the coming days I will publish the results of the question-by-question analysis. The questionnaire contained 14 questions. 73 people took part in my survey. More than three quarters of participants came from the United States. I interviewed the remaining quarter in Japan, Singapore, Germany and Portugal.

All questionnaires had been distributed and returned between April 2009 and September 2009.

You can find the survey results on the Main Menu page “Energy Survey”:

Check out the  ‘RP: New Energy Age’ Category for the downloadable version of my 50-page research paper and further commentary on the survey results:


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debt, oil and renewables [by Maximilian Staedtler]

download U.S. debt chart:

In recent years, the U.S. turned to cash-rich China to finance its enormous budget deficit. Few believe that China made a good investment. And yet, China keeps lending money to America for one simple reason: if it refused to do so, the U.S. dollar would nosedive and wipe out the value of Chinese currency reserves. Moreover, the U.S. consumer is vital to China’s economic growth. Therefore, China will continue to lend America billions of dollars until the Chinese consumer is ready to step in and drive domestic consumption. But that will take quite some time. The Chinese have the world’s highest personal savings rate and this won’t change unless the Chinese government manages to establish a reliable social security and insurance system.

The obvious reason why the U.S. will never pay back its debt to China is that it’d be impossible for a U.S. president to explain to Americans why he wouldn’t use the money to invest in the American education system, rebuild the ailing infrastructure or prop up the broken health care system.
As I said before, reducing the total amount of debt is illusory, but that doesn’t mean that debt as percentage of GDP can’t be reduced. As you can see on the chart above, gross national debt accounted for roughly 94% of gross domestic product in 1950, but while the total amount of debt more than tripled from $257.4 billion in 1950 to $909 billion in 1980, the percentage of GDP went down to 33.3%. How come this is possible?
Well, GDP was growing  faster than debt.
Rather than worrying about how to pay back mounting debt, we should think about how to grow the U.S. economy.
To achieve the growth rates we need to get the debt level under control again, we need a new key industry, something similar to the IT revolution.
Fortunately there is an industry which has the potential of becoming the driver of a new period of high growth rates: clean energy technologies.
Energy is the biggest business in the world. According to Fortune magazine, America’s five largest corporations are ExxonMobil (1), Wal Mart (2), Chevron (3), Conoco Phillips (4) and General Electric (5). 
Have you noticed something? Yes, 3 of the top 5 largest corporations in the U.S. are oil companies. Probably that doesn’t come as a surprise for you.
Since global oil production is close to its peak, western oil companies are falling behind state-run oil giants from the Middle East and South America and because of the harmful effects on the environment, the U.S. will be forced to shift to alternative sources of energy. This should be reason enough for Big Oil to invest in alternatives, even if just to remain a big player in the energy business.
Gradually we’re becoming more sensitive to the true cost of oil. America’s addiction to oil is not only harmful for Mother Earth but also for our security and the well-being of our economy. Domestically produced energy from both conventional and new sources of energy are keeping money locally and creating jobs instead of funding petro dictators and global jihad.
Too often I hear concerns about whether renewable energies can be scaled up fast enough to replace ever more expensive and dirty fossil fuels. The point is that once the development and production of clean energy and energy-efficient cars, homes, etc.. is getting kicked off, the American market will take charge of growing that business to a scale we need and at the same time bringing down costs.
The great thing about a green energy revolution is that it will help the U.S. economy regain strength (and solve our problem number one) and at the same time counteract climate change which is our second major problem. 
In addition, once the U.S. and much of the developed and developing world can effectively reduce oil consumption, this will reduce the threat of terrorism and radical religious groups which depend primarily on Saudi and Iranian oil income. As oil revenues go down, populist leaders from Venezuela to Iran will be forced to become more humble and reform their countries rather than distribute oil wealth.
Contrary to James Quinn’s predictions, I am convinced that there are reasons to be optimistic. As bleak as the outlook may be, one may not underestimate the innovative potential of the American market. Since there are enormous opportunities for profit, it won’t take long until creative entrepreneurs come up with countless ideas of how to generate energy more sustainably and how to use it more efficiently and earn a fortune along the way. The next Google or Microsoft will likely come from the energy tech sector. Let’s do everything we can to make sure that this  industry takes off and sparks a revolution that puts America back on track.
The profit potential in that market will be unprecedented. A strong energy tech sector is bound to drive up exports as global demand will be mind-boggling. Especially energy-thirsty China which is struggling with its spoiled environment will import whatever technologies it can get to satisfy its economy’s energy demand while keeping the impact on its environment as small as possible. Remember, this is not about CO2 emissions, it is about meeting future energy demand at a reasonable price without jeopardizing security and the environment.
Last but not least, alternative energies will not just be needed to replace fossil fuels but also to make up for unavoidable oil supply shortages. The availability and the cost of renewable energies will be increasing forever while at the same time the availability of crude oil is falling and the cost will be sky-rocketing.
Energy tech is America’s and the world’s best bet for the future. It is America’s turn to take action for two reasons:
#1: the U.S. consumes one quarter of the world’s oil though it just has 4% of the world’s population.
#2: America is the only country that can invent the technologies needed and bring them to the market quickly enough with its unequaled network of research universities, venture capitalist industry and millions of creative entrepreneurs willing to take on these challenges.
This article was originally published on on October 22nd 2009.
(C) 2009 by Maximilian Staedtler – WHAT MATTERS WEBLOG
(C) 2009 by Maximilian Städtler –
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why oil prices are bound to rise

->>> read the full article  “Crude Oil Price Chart 1998 – 2009: Facing the inevitable – oil prices are bound to rise” on my new blog or download the oil price chart.

CRUDE OIL PRICES by the WHAT MATTERS WEBLOG, 1998 - 2009, monthly averages, data by the EIA, updated may 16,2009

  • Growing industrialization in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations has pushed energy demand to record levels. Future growth in emerging countries will continue to drive up global energy demand.
  • The price mechanism doesn’t work for oil. High oil prices don’t necessarily curb demand.
  • Peak Oil is ahead
  • 95% of oil reserves are controlled by state-owned, inefficient oil companies

for further reading:

IEA: Oil supply crunch and mega-recession by 2013

it’s time to become energy independent, overhaul the entire economy and infrastructure

Oil & Gas NEWS mixed天上的馅饼 – Free Lunch

The Post-American World, China and the global economy

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hybrid power plant in Germany

The world’s first hybrid power plant under construction in Germany

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Abu Dhabi’s green ambitions

Abu Dhabi – the capital of the United Arab Emirates – is trying to reduce its dependence on oil exports by diversifiying its economy. Part of the emirate’s strategy is to become a leader in clean energy. The eco-city Masdar is one example which shows Abu Dhabi’s determination to become a greener place.

Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJSC bought a  9.1% stake of the German car maker Daimler last week. The cooperation between the emirate and the auto company should create jobs and accelerte the development of electric cars. For more information, check out my new blog: Abu Dhabi and Daimler teaming up: oil, electric cars, eco-cities and lots of money

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Solar Islands, a smart concept – but is it feasible?

Read the entire post on my new blog: Solar Islands, a smart concept – but is it feasible?

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The Battery Revolution


MIT researchers unveiled a new invention yesterday that would allow to charge lithium-ion batteries about 100 times quicker than at present. The new batteries could be used in cell phones, laptops, …  and electric cars.

This breakthrough in battery technology can finally remove the last hindrance to the success of electric cars by eliminating the perception of the limited driving. Owners of electric cars will soon be able to recharge their car within a few minutes when they run out of power.

read the entire post: The Battery Breakthrough

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