America: Awash in sunlight and oil
The Wall Street Journal isn’t the most environmentally friendly news outlet. (For example.) (And, also: It frequently chops down thousands of trees, turns them into pulp, crushes soybeans into ink, and combines all of this into a product that is dumped directly into landfills. Can you imagine?)
You should not, therefore, be surprised to read its triumphant proclamation of the imminent end of foreign oil.
America will halve its reliance on Middle East oil by the end of this decade and could end it completely by 2035 due to declining demand and the rapid growth of new petroleum sources in the Western Hemisphere, energy analysts now anticipate.
Hooray! First paragraph! Oh, also:
By 2035, oil shipments from the Middle East to North America “could almost be nonexistent,” the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries recently predicted, partly because more efficient car engines and a growing supply of renewable fuel will help curb demand.
Bottom of the third paragraph. If they could have whispered it, they probably would have.
A reduced reliance on importing oil is indeed good. But primarily if it’s because we’re reducing oil use. That’s not a runner-up.
We’re also cranking out another energy source: solar. From Forbes.com:
Solar panel makers are on track to deliver 59 gigawatts of their products worldwide this year when demand will likely hit 30 gigawatts, according to a report released by GTM Research Wednesday. To re-establish a healthy balance of supply and demand, an estimated 21 gigawatts of existing factories will close by 2015, said Shyam Mehta, author of the report.
The oversupply problem began to surface in early 2011 and led to a near 50% drop in wholesale solar panel prices last year. Lower government subsidies and worries about the financial health of Europe – the largest solar market – tempered demand for solar equipment last year. Emerging markets such as the Japan, China and India should see a big jump in solar panel installations this year. The U.S. also could experience a 75% growth in 2012. But all these increases aren’t going to be enough to make use of most of the solar panels that will be rolling off assembly lines, especially when some manufacturers have built new factories over the past year and a half or plan to add more production lines in the next few years.
I can’t vouch for the figures here (I’m not sure, for example, what “21 gigawatts of existing factories” means), but the core claim is correct: supply of solar is rising dramatically. This has negative ramifications for the businesses involved, hence the Forbes writer’s hand-wringing. Market saturation and competition from China was one of the things that kneecapped Solyndra. But for customers? This is good news.
Maybe someday we’ll read that in the newspaper.