The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Technology management sophomore Ashley Mendoza and communication junior Madeline Sturm work at the MSC Help Desk on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
University classes canceled due to IT outage
An error released in an update to Windows devices has shut down A&M’s technology network
J. M. Wise, News Reporter • July 19, 2024
Texas A&M LB Taurean York (21) speaks during the 2024 SEC Media Day at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas on Thursday July 18, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
A&M predicted to finish ninth in SEC football media poll, three Aggies earn preseason honors
Luke White, Sports Editor • July 19, 2024

Texas A&M football is expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference this season, per the SEC football preseason media poll...

Bob Rogers, holding a special edition of The Battalion.
Lyle Lovett, other past students remember Bob Rogers
Shalina Sabih July 15, 2024

In his various positions, Professor Emeritus Bob Rogers laid down the stepping stones that student journalists at Texas A&M walk today, carving...

Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
Analysis: Chancellor Sharp’s retirement comes with new dilemmas
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 2, 2024

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced Monday he will be retiring on June 30, 2025.  A figure notorious in state politics,...

Guest Column: The future of energy


Drill baby drill. That’s my response to the question, “What will be the future of energy?” Considering my field of research this response may be perplexing, but it’s really all in the way you pose the question.
The immediate future in energy will be much of the same. And why shouldn’t it be? The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal and natural gas.
However, if you ask me what the future should be, my response is vastly different. Whether the operative verb phrase is “should be” or “will be,” the issue is really about the question’s time horizon.
Many people love to answer the “will be” question by painting visions of electric cars and high-speed electric trains. In that world, wind and solar provide all your electrical energy needs. Petroleum is used only for jet propulsion — until the mini-nuclear reactors can take care of that, too. Oh, and nuclear fuel is infinitely reusable. No need for waste disposal in Yucca Mountain.
It’s actually a pretty nice future when you start to think about it.
But then reality creeps in and obstacles arise, and our road to the energy future doesn’t look as smooth any more. So we resort back to drill baby drill.
I was born in Odessa, Texas, and am the son of a rough neck. I get drill baby drill. It’s comfortable. It’s known. But unfortunately, as an engineer, I have a nagging conceptual understanding of the fossil fuel cycle. And when we hit peak production, simple economics says that the decrease in supply coupled with unyielding demand will result in a spike in energy prices.
So who is taking care of that energy future? Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens says the U.S. is the only develoed country without an energy policy. I disagree. The market is our policy.
I love the market. Before I was an engineer, I was an economist. So I find reassurance that the right price signals will emerge from the market and the Jetsons-like future of energy will in fact come to fruition.
What I don’t find comfort in is the divergence of capitalism and nationalism. When the U.S. was the only player in the game, the success of capitalism equaled the success seen domestically. In fluid markets pertaining to energy, that’s not the case anymore.
By no means am I advocating protectionism but I am advocating for advanced thinking and investment. Governmental interference in the market can be very anti-capitalistic but can prove very pro-nationalistic. Just ask China. From currency manipulations to extremely large subsidies, these anti-capitalistic policies have proven very fruitful for the Chinese in many industrial markets. In the energy realm, China went from a non-existent wind turbine component industry to the leader in global production in five years using anti-capitalistic tactics like local content regulations.
I’m not picking on China. I’m praising the country — not for anti-capitalist policies but for pro-nationalistic ones.
In the electricity industry, HPL (now Reliant) and TXU made anti-competitive maneuvers to profit in California and Texas in the advent of electrical deregulation. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is notorious for such measures in the oil industry. The market holds them as responsible as it did Wall Street bankers with large compensation packages during the financial crisis.
Government shouldn’t have to live by a double standard. Policies that are considered “visionary” and “ahead of the curve” by the private sector shouldn’t be scrutinized as “anticompetitive” and “intrusions” by the public sector. Wayne Gretzky was once asked why he was so dominant in his time. He responded that he never tried to get to where the puck was, but rather where it was going to be. Positioning is, in fact, going to be what overcomes the energy obstacles of the future.
Energy is going to be drill baby drill for the near term, no doubt. And after a certain time horizon, it will look very Jetson-esque. We are the ones who get to decide how long that time horizon is.
The rock wall is coming. We can start building an incline now or wait for the market to send us a signal that we have a serious wall to claim. Ponder that.
Until then, drill baby drill.
Omar Urquidez is an electrical engineering doctoral student

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *