chapter  5
14 Pages

Productive fantasy: Energy change as an economic imperative

As our power supply system is based on conventional energy, the entire business management sector sees the energy problem only from the perspective of the conventional power industry. What the conventional power industry defines as efficient, cost-effective or feasible has become the generally accepted definition of the terms efficiency, cost effectiveness and feasibility – and not just within the energy industry itself. The traditional power industry’s systemic economic terms have become general economic terms and its claim to omnicompetence part of its self-image. When the environmental movement of the 1970s made nuclear and fossil power supply a social issue for the first time, the traditional power industry reacted by demanding a “return to energy consensus”, by which they meant taking the politics out of energy. “Energy consensus” involved prohibiting political intervention and making all forms of criticism taboo. For decades both political institutions and “the economy” have respected, and accepted, the power industry’s self-appointed position of authority. This has led to society’s division of roles between energy providers and energy consumers, and an economic division of labour between energy suppliers on the one hand and the producers of commodities and services on the other, divisions which exist right through to the present day. As a result, it is difficult for many companies to perceive the opportunities

that energy change opens up to them. Instead of staring, transfixed, at constantly increasing energy prices, they ought to be considering their own future role as producers and users. Renewables-based power generation relies primarily on new technologies; it has increasingly less – and sometimes nothing at all – to do with energy distribution. Only once this has been understood does it become clear that renewable energy is of economic importance to all sectors of the economy, and it is the technology companies themselves who can, and must, take the leading role. The development and production of renewable energy technologies will spark off a new economic revival. Yet in contrast to past boom times, the boom initiated by energy change will bring about a fundamental qualitative change. The real economy will no longer have to deal with the limits and consequences of conventional energy growth. When decentralization has made regional resource cycles a

matter of course, no longer can anyone be deprived of the fundamental commodity – energy. Renewable energy differentiates the debate on growth. Economic

growth will be linked to environmental protection and natural growth – and thus to Earth’s only true growth process: that which is driven by the sun. Biosynthesis, i.e. the growth of vegetation, turns entropy (the law of the degradation of energy) into negative entropy; pollutants (at least in power supply, although not necessarily in the processing of other industrial raw materials) are converted into productive growth. Independent calculations of increased profits, achieved at the cost of the natural environment (i.e. the increased damage and destruction of resources) then truly become added economic and social value. The contradiction between ecology and economy is eradicated; the more so as economy can simply become a subcategory of ecology. Ecology describes the environment available to us. This means the economy, in its true sense, its efficient and provident use. The true contradiction we face here is that between an ecologically-damaging, and thus ruinous, economy, and an environmentally-friendly economy that benefits both our natural surroundings and society.