I saw this cartoon on Facebook last week and it made me giggle. Then it made me think.

While it is primarily a pop at the conservative instincts of the traditional energy sector, the more I thought about it, the more it resonated with deeper issues such as:

1. Renewable energy is completely different from other forms of energy as it is intrinsically democratic - supply of fuel cannot be exclusively auctioned off to the highest bidder by Governments - which means anyone can take part.

2. This is a massive threat to the traditional sector as their strengths in economies of scale and economic/political heft do not confer the advantages they used to.

3. It also means the barrier to entry is much lower - hence as all those individual householders claiming Feed In Tariff on their solar energy elbowing their way into the energy business. Move over EDF, Mrs Miggins of Acacia Avenue is selling these electrons.

4. Without their aces, can Big Energy compete in the unfolding new energy world? Or will they become the fossilised energy industry as I have predicted?

5. This is very exciting. This is Energy 2.0 which opens up masses of possibilities just as Web 2.0 did.

6. But, without that economic firepower, who is going to invest in the infrastructure such as the smart grid and storage facilities required to manage a new democratic system? How will they earn a return on that investment? Who will police it?



Cartoon © Mike Peters - reproduced under "fair use"

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