Allocating Energy

Many of us assume a reliable energy supply. When we switch on an electric light at home, brightness prevails. But what if nothing happens when you flip the switch? Do you think the light bulb has failed? Or perhaps you wonder if the wiring has somehow disconnected? I bet that few consider a failure in energy supply; it’s been too reliable.

Take a look at the energy allocation shown in the image below. On the left of the image are primary sources of energy supply for the USA. These feed the end-use sectors on the right. If the supply is less than demand then consumption must also be less. Now imagine you could choose which gets less. Do you select one sector? For example, do you prevent residents from lighting their houses. Or, do you prevent industry from manufacturing products and employing personnel? Or do you simply reduce energy supply and let consumers manage as best they can?

Currently, there are well known energy supply issues in the United Kingdom, China and India. Presumably in these locales many discussions seek to resolve who receives energy and who doesn’t. Are we ready and willing to plan for a civilization with reduced energy consumption? Do you want to be part of the plan or do you want to simply manage as best you can when the time comes?