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The Primacy of Price: Past & Future Energy Transitions in America Joe Pratt University of Houston.

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Presentation on theme: "The Primacy of Price: Past & Future Energy Transitions in America Joe Pratt University of Houston."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Primacy of Price: Past & Future Energy Transitions in America Joe Pratt University of Houston

2 PRIMACY OF PRICE Past energy transitions largely directed by BUSINESSES and largely determined by traditional economic concept of PRICE Environmental costs as externalities Competition among companies in each energy industry AND among different fuel sources NOTE: There is not a unified market for energy and no single energy industry

3 THE RISE OF COAL, Coal helped transform agrarian American into industrial America Much more than PRICE at work herefuel quality U.S. energy consumption quadrupled from , as coal-led industrialization created new markets As of 1900, coal seemed poised to remain the dominant source of energy in the U.S. for a long time

4 The Rise of Oil, Oil as illumination versus oil as energy (1901-Spindletop) Oil as superior to coal in numerous ways Regional component to oils ascent Government regulatory role: Antitrust Governments promotional roles: National Security rationale End of easy oil in 1970s Impact of oil price swings on alternatives to oil

5 The Rise of Natural Gas, 1980s Forward Government regulation yields national grid plus shortages Recent surge in natural gas markets and supplies -LNG (global market for once stranded gas) -Shale gas (game-changer versus threat to groundwater) GAS AS BRIDGE TO A RENEWABLE ENERGY FUTURE?

6 Observations of an Old Texas Historian Oil and natural gas as the default option DO NOT underestimate the resilience of petroleum Industrial renewables: problems of scale Political process as a major barrier to change Trend toward adaptation instead of reduction of greenhouse gases Rays of hope at regional level The Long Transition from Natural Gas and Oil to Something Else


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