Amid the chaos and tragedy of the Russia-Ukraine war, a new silver lining narrative has begun to emerge: That, at the very least, supply disruptions will catalyze a true new energy revolution in the US and Europe. That sounds great. The problem is that the money isn’t there to back it up. The emerging energy revolution matters, critically – for the climate, geopolitical competition, and global security. But while the US, and the West more broadly, are happy to do lip service to that reality, they are failing at the major industrial investments necessary to spark and to lead real change – and to win the competition for tomorrow’s energy.
Competing for the new energy revolution requires deliberate, and extensive, capital investments in the real economy: Minerals have to be mined and processed, technologies developed and matured, products manufactured and deployed. Throughout the process, we need new infrastructure systems – think electric vehicle charging stations — which themselves demand material inputs, new technologies, and large-scale construction. In other words, this energy revolution is expensive.
But investment in it promises to pay off, in spades. The green economy constitutes an enormous, growing, and largely untapped market opportunity – to the tune of trillions of dollars. It’s also an opportunity for geo-economic power: A new global energy, and with it industrial, landscape is taking shape. With appropriate and sufficient investments, a country can maneuver to control tomorrow’s supply chains and manufacturing capacity, and therefore to project influence internationally.