A BusinessWeek article titled Putin $14 Billion Nuclear Deal Wins Over Russia Critic Orban recognizes the importance of recent Russian power deals to supply gas, oil, and nuclear energy facilities.
There is widespread confusion about energy versus power. Conversations about the business of selling hydrocarbons or electricity are described as being about energy, but the factor that is actually important to customers is the speed with which the energy can be delivered.
The engineering definition of the word “power” is energy per unit time.
No one wants to wait for hours, days or weeks to collect enough energy to complete required tasks. Customers, especially large scale customers like countries, want to complete tasks quickly, so they are actually interested in purchasing power, not energy.
Russia’s current leaders recognize that they can quickly deliver vast quantities of energy. Their wealth in what most observers call “energy” sources can thus be converted into expanded power in the economic and political spheres. Their recent mega-deals establish relationships that are not enforced by military occupation, but by economic ties that bind countries together by shared interests.
In contrast, the United States has spent the past 40 years forgetting the lessons about power that it learned and applied during the period from about 1865-1973. We were once the world’s leading fuel supplier and we effectively used the economic and political power associated with that capability. We made the world a more prosperous place and served as a beacon of hope for freedom loving people.
As our hydrocarbon fuels depleted, we collectively decided to stop expanding the next logical source of power. Instead of continuing to grow our nuclear energy capabilities, a number of sly thought leaders — often supported with hydrocarbon industry resources — promoted the idea that we should “conserve” energy, make do with our depleting hydrocarbons, and pursue a soft energy path supplied by weaker alternatives that have little or no export value.
That decision to protect the hydrocarbon industry from a potent newcomer has led to predictably unsatisfying results. Instead of constructively expanding our wealth and using our resources to build strong ties, we have engaged in a series of incredibly expensive, deadly and destructive military engagements.
We need to review fundamentals, expand our power system production, and stop frittering away our children’s inheritance.