What is an “energy strategy”?  Erb Faculty Director, Joe Arvai published in Issues in Science and Technology

There’s been a lot of interest lately in an American “energy strategy”, which begs the question: What is an energy strategy? Unlike most efforts now under way in the United States, a national energy strategy is not about exploiting the country’s vast resource riches. A national energy strategy is not about promoting specific actions, such as developing shale oil deposits or pipelines. It’s not even about expanding development of renewable energy sources or advancing efficiency standards. Overall, an energy strategy is not about what can be done or – in the eyes of some observers – should be done. Instead, an energy strategy is a long-term and adaptive framework for guiding decisions about energy development and delivery. It is a deliberative process that encourages involvement from all key stakeholders and gives each a legitimate role in addressing the tradeoffs that are key to the decisions at hand. It is a way to organize information and dialogue about energy options and consequences. And it is a way to structure choices about energy in a manner that facilitates, and more efficiently incorporates, learning.

A good analogy for an energy strategy is that of an individual’s financial investments. Different people have different objectives and tolerances for risks. So it makes sense that investment strategies will differ across individuals. Likewise, it’s likely – and perfectly normal – that a target for investment today may not necessarily be one tomorrow.

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