Just about every day, in just about every media outlet, you will likely find some article or opinion about energy. Depending on what you read, you may come away with the opinion that renewables are good, or maybe they’re bad, or maybe we should simply ignore them. There are very few people that can insightfully comment about energy policy, because it is a very complex subject. There are no shortage of energy options, each with their own set of benefits. Also, there is no shortage of energy organizations, each with a certain amount of self-interest. So how can someone really learn about the intricacies of the global market?
I’d like to offer a recommendation to gain some clarity, in the form of a book: Daniel Yergin’s recently released hardcover called The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. This is a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning work The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power from 1991. Be forewarned, the Quest is about 800 pages long so you need to be dedicated (I personally went with the e-book version on my Kindle which makes this volume a bit more portable). Once you commit, I think you won’t regret your efforts.
I found it up to date and impartial about the multitude of options and drivers for energy. Mr. Yergin begins with a thorough history of oil development. For instance, did you know that Pennsylvania was home to the first major global oil field and that not long ago, America was a net exporter of oil? He also explores oil company consolidation and provides a good macro perspective as to why countries behave as they do. He also delves into renewables, alternative fuels, the drive toward electric cars, and why the world needs to look at energy efficiency. With the recent industrial energy announcements at Emerson Exchange focused on efficiency, his comments really hit home. His bottom line is that there is no one answer, rather, there must be a portfolio of sources to meet global needs.
I certainly recommend this book for everyone from senior leaders through managers that deal with the energy business. Like I said, it’s a commitment, but in the end, you will have some great perspective about opportunities and some future changes that may be in store in the ever-changing global energy market.