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Time To Complete the Electrical Revolution

An old revolution:

Maybe decarboniztion is about fininshing an old revolution rather than starting a new one. Electification was the power revolution of the early 20th century. Politicians took pride in bringing electricity to every home, farm and factory. By the end of the 20th Century about a third of all the power we used was electric. Transportation and heating still relied on fossil fuels, and most electric generation relied on coal.

What his happening now? First, electricity generation using recent wind and solar technology is actually cheaper than fossil fuels. (The change-over would be underway if you took away the subsidies for fossil fuels and charged for the damages they cause.) This purely technological change has happened so fast that many are shocked and others still don’t realize that the world has changed.

Second, we are on our way to electrifying the transportation system – electric cars seem like a small part of the market at the moment, but growth rates exceed 50%. Never underestimate the power of an exponential process.

Third, many high energy industrial processes are electrifying – Electric arc furnaces now smelt steel. There are not many processes left that can’t be converted to electricity. Coal is dying. Smart investors are dumping fossil fuel stocks.

What we are seeing is is the second stage of world electrification. As they said in the old days – Electricity is cleaner, safer, and more convenient. It is the Future today, just as it was in the early 20th Century.

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