Pipelines are bad economics: invest in renewable energy instead –Harvard

Let’s stop wasting money on the slide-rule technology of Keystone XL or Sabal Trail: they’re both bad investments, either short-term or long-term.

Andrew Winston wrote for Harvard Business Review 30 January 2015, Why the Keystone Pipeline Is the Wrong U.S. Energy Debate,

In the short run, with oil at $50 per barrel, Keystone will connect refineries to oil that may be unprofitable to extract. In the long run, as the world turns away from fossil fuels aggressively, the pipeline will be moot — a relic of the past.

Either way it’s a poor investment.

What, then?

So the real question is, what kind of infrastructure do we want to build? Do we approach every project as a one-off way to create some temporary jobs, or do we have a strategy in place that improves our long-term competitiveness? Imagine if we were thinking today of building our education infrastructure by investing in blackboards and slide rules. Instead, many school districts, including my son’s, are wisely handing out Chromebooks and iPads to every child.

Similarly, why would we invest in yesterday’s energy technologies when we have smarter options? Our investment choices should make our country more resilient, healthy, and prosperous. By that logic, the pipeline is a bad investment choice. That’s just simple arithmetic and economics. Given the challenging future facing unconventional, expensive fossil fuels, the Keystone XL is literally a pipeline to nowhere.

The Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, like the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, is a bad investment, both short-term and long-term. No more money-pit fossil fuel pipelines (or nukes). Let’s get on with what actually is profitable: renewable energy to fix climate change.