In America at 160 US$ a barrel gas guzzling cars were passing out of favour. Now that we are back to 40 US$ a barrel, will the US consumer regress back to the school of thought that all is ok and business as usual? How long will 40 US$ a barrel last. Some would argue that it could be a couple of years! Will this save the miss managed American car industry. Will this remove the pressure on industry as a whole to adopt more optimum (energy efficient & renewable) methodologies. Will ‘survival mode’ eliminate / reduce the uptake of the new low carbon technologies?

Ford, GM and Chrysler might not have to learn from their mistakes, thus they will not be forced to develop more efficient technologies. (At this point i will also recognise that the Health care packages that Ford and the US automotive industry are somewhat forced to sustain by the Unions is also a major contributor to their predicament.)
If you compare Ford Europe with Ford America, it is interesting to note that Ford Europe is running at a profit and developing its Global export business on the back of well built, cost effective and energy efficient engines. Ford US however lost 6 Billion in the last Quarter. Does this not suggest that energy efficiency can lead to a profitable business.

The bailout of 25 Billion US$ which the automotive sector will receive will help i am sure, but i don’t think it is going to address the problem. Merely postpone action. I do hope there are conditions tied to this Bailout which will commit the industry to delivering products in a set time frame, not just researching ideas!! Almost a public procurement order.

Larry Burns of GM has said in the past of developing a hydrogen infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles: “to assure availability within two miles from anywhere in the city for the 100 largest cities in the U.S. … and we connected all the cities with stations on the freeway with stations every 25 miles, that would add up to 12,000 stations. Out of the 170,000 total in the U.S. Even if every station cost $1 million for hydrogen, that’s $12 billion.”
That would only be 2.4% of the nearly $500 billion dollars that has already been spent on the Iraq War.
What i would be interested to know is the effect on the economy of this government spending on war supplies, against what could have been created in the renewable energy & fuels industry. Which in my opinion would have lead to greater national security than has been achieved.

Another instance of an apparent reluctance to adopt change was demonstrated nicely by E.On when they were promoting Nuclear in Scotland. The said its all about energy security and it being the only alternative to the 35 gigawatt (GW) shortfall in energy when the existing coal and nuclear power stations are decommissioned. They said the most realistic non-nuclear way of filling that gap would be to build a number of gas-fired power stations! What about distributed generation of power utilising Anaerobic digester gas (ADG) to support the intermittent renewable possibilities. This being a solution supported by the Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative. Which hope will get greater backing by those with political clout as legislation is hindering progress. Buying in gas / oil does not lead to energy security. One could also question the apparent security offered by nuclear power. Self sufficiency through renewables boosts local knowledge, employment, fuel poverty, business growth and national GDP.

In conclusion i believe there are two prevalent schools of thought. Those that believe that these new low carbon energy efficient technologies offer a competitive edge, and employment prospects, and then there are those that believe it is too costly, risky and too much effort, so business should stay as it is until the global economy is back to normal.
A friend of mine has a saying. “evolve or die”. I feel this is quite fitting in the current climate.