The energy transition is a necessary transition that the whole world is in right now. It means that societies are slowly switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Instead of heating your house by burning gas, you’ll use renewable electricity, to name one example. We need to do this to combat climate change and make sure we don’t heat up the globe too much. However, I think there are more benefits to the energy transition. Today I will tell you my view on one of them. I think that the energy transition decentralizes power.
Right now, energy is centralized
Since the industrial revolution in the 18th century people have used fossil fuels to do just about anything. This has resulted in all of us being very dependent on these fossil fuels. However, most people don’t have direct access to fossil fuels. Most people can’t withdraw oil or gas from their yard. There’s just no way they can be self-sufficient when it comes to fossil fuels. If you want to heat your home, the only option you used to have is to buy gas at an energy supplier. And since everybody needs energy, everybody is dependent on these suppliers
In The Netherlands the government does not intervene with these companies. It’s a free market due to neoliberalism. These suppliers can therefore do whatever they want. They make huge profits over the backs of people working their ass off in our capitalistic system, as they have no choice than to buy the products that these energy suppliers offer.
The energy transition decentralizes that power
In the energy transition we’ll slowly but surely switch to sustainable, renewable energy sources. And we’ll switch to products that can process these sustainable energy sources. We’ll have our own solar panels and maybe wind mills. In some cases we’ll even generate our own renewable energy using movement (like these energy-generating products can). And the systems we’ll use will be able to proces that energy that we’ve generated ourselves. Instead of heating our home with a CV-installation that runs on gas, we’ll have a heat pump which runs on electricity. And instead of riding our cars with patrol, we’ll charge them with electricity (but preferably we’ll switch to public transportation). We’ll cook using electricity and save that energy for later. And the list goes on.
So, where we first relied on suppliers for our energy (companies), we can now generate and process our own sustainable energy. And that means we can become more self-sufficient. Eventually, hopefully, we’ll all go off-grid.
Consequences for capitalism
I believe that if humans were more self-sufficient they’d have a happier life. Right now, most people have a full-time job because they have no choice. They have a mortgage to pay. And an energy bill to pay. It’s hard to estimate, but as far as I can find the average Dutch household spends between 5 and 10% on energy costs. If you generate your own energy, you’ll no longer have those costs. That’s direct freedom. If you reduce your costs by 10%, you could work 10% less. If you work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, you can then buy half a day of freedom each week. You become the owner of that part of your life again. Right now, you have no choice than to work for that energy bill.
Of course everybody first has to save money in the first place to make all these investment in their home (this argument I’m making only goes for home-owners), before they can generate and use their own energy and become more free. And there are of course new dependencies. You don’t need an energy supplier anymore, but you do need the installations. Most people can’t built their own solar panels or heat pump. So you are still dependent on those suppliers. And you also need technical assistance for maintenance and reparations sometimes.
But still, this is much better than the situation most people are in right now (and don’t forget the subtle fact that we’re destroying our comfortable climate on planet earth right now). Solar panels are still getting cheaper each year and most solar panels still have a efficiency of 85% after 30 years. That’s amazing! So, you need to only invest once or twice in your life. And I think this will get even better in the future. If we make all systems circular and long-lasting, I think we’re where we want to be.
Investment are a necessary evil
Most houses need good insolation before they can use the new systems I just listed. They need renovations. But I think we’re slowly but surely phasing those out as well. New houses that are built right now are already climate neutral and have very good insolation. If we built circular homes, these resources can last practically forever. So yes, we’re doing some hard work right now, but I think it’s a necessary evil, as it is a transition.
Even lower energy-use
I am very optimistic about this whole transition. I think we’ll lower our energy use the coming years. And I mean the direct energy we use. I think we’ll design houses that can simply be heated by the sun. We can already do so by using the right materials and placing the house in the right position. Our appliances are also using less and less energy each year. But we can also choose appliances that don’t use energy at all, like this fridge. And I honestly believe we should therefore change our lifestyles and make better choices too. Like air-drying our laundry and watching less television.
But I’m deviating from the subject haha! As I said, I think the energy transition decentralizes power. Simply put: I think it will make us more self-sufficient and less reliant on capitalism. What do you think?