The very hungry energy industry

clock • 2 min read

Michael Liebreich presents an energy-themed take on classic children's book 'The very hungry caterpillar'

It always struck me there must be some deeper meaning to 'The very hungry caterpillar'. One evening, reading it to my kids for the 10,527th time, I figured it out: it's about the rebirth of the energy industry!

Here goes:

In the light of the moon, a pre-industrial economy munched on a leaf.

One Sunday morning, the industrial revolution came about and — pop! — out of the economy came a tiny and very hungry energy industry.

It started to look for some fuel.

  • On Monday, it mined one coal seam, but it was still hungry.
  • On Tuesday, it drilled two oil wells, but it was still hungry.
  • On Wednesday it built three hydroelectric dams, but it was still hungry.
  • On Thursday, it designed four nuclear power stations, but it was still hungry.
  • On Friday, it laid five gas pipelines, but it was still hungry.
  • On Saturday it caused one major oil spill, one nuclear melt-down, one polluted watershed, one pipeline leak, one regional war, one smog emergency, one mine collapse, one gas explosion, one dictatorship and one degree of global warming.
  • That night it made a dividend payment.

The next day was Sunday again and the energy industry ate through one nice green subsidy, and after that it felt much better.

Now it wasn't hungry any more — and it wasn't little any more. It was a big fat energy industry.

It started to build a small cocoon around itself, called a regulator. It stayed inside for more than fifty years!

Then, one day, some new technologies nibbled a hole in the cocoon and forced it to come out, and…

It was a beautiful clean energy industry!

Michael Liebreich is a leading energy analyst and public speaker. This article first appeared on his Medium page

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