Troy Wrigley - Managing Director of Enigin PLC

(As a company we help organisations become more efficient. We do this by helping them control, reduce and eliminate energy costs. Combining technology and insight we provide energy efficiency solutions that deliver returns from the very start of the process.)

First off, let me clarify that nobody at Enigin wishes any harm to come to Dick Cheney. In fact, following his heart transplant earlier this year, we would like to wish him a full and speedy recovery.

However, the provocative title of this blog does afford us the opportunity to express our desire to ‘kill off ‘ the outmoded and hostile belief promulgated by Cheney and other Neo-Conservatives that the future of energy is dependent on securing access to finite geological resources at any cost.

As highlighted in Al Gore’s book “The Assault on Reason” we now know that prior to the invasion of Iraq, Cheney’s Energy Task Force was scrutinizing detailed maps of the country… but these maps contained no cities or population landmarks, rather they showed in great detail the location of every single oil deposit known to exist, with additional targets for promising exploration also being highlighted.

What’s more, just two weeks after Bush’s inauguration, the National Security Council was ordered to merge its policy towards “rouge states” (like Iraq) with Cheney’s Energy Task Force’s goals regarding the “capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”.

So it seems the Iraq war, which cost the lives of nearly 5000 soldiers and over 100,000 innocent civilians, had a lot more to do with securing an antiquated energy resource than many people realized at the time.

Iraq may well have the largest oil deposits of any land on earth, but was it worth starting a war to gain control of its liquid black gold? On any humanitarian scale the answer is an obvious and definite no… but what about by purely fiscal measures? Well, although Iraq’s production capacity is steadily increasing, even when its hits the anticipated 4 million barrels a day in 2015 it will take a very long time to pay off the estimated $3 to $5 trillion of tax payers money used to fund the war.

Perhaps Cheney would privately argue that such measures were necessary to protect the USA’s energy security (or as some would put it “ensure cheap gas for voters”). There is no doubt that the United States needed to take significant action to counter the threat of energy demand outstripping supply (many countries are gripped by a similar problem). However, in simple economic terms you measure the value of something by its alternatives. So, did the USA have an alternative to war? Most definitely.

Here at Enigin, we believe that Energy Efficiency is the fastest, cleanest and cheapest way of addressing any nations immediate concerns regarding dwindling energy supplies. Cheney dismissed energy conservation as a mere “personal virtue” and not “a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy”, but this is a gross underestimation of the power of energy efficiency.

For example, the recent McKinsey Report demonstrated that an investment by the United States of around $500 billion in energy efficiency would equate to $1.2 trillion in savings by 2020. That’s real money. Plus the savings don’t run out after 2020, they keep coming. This alternative doesn’t just expose an Iraq invasion motivated by oil as morally unnecessary (you don’t need to kill anybody to secure energy savings), but fiscally unnecessary too.

Our philosophy at Enigin is that energy efficiency can bridge the gap between an oil based economy and one that is built on sustainable energy (and we’re not alone in that view). We concede that right now, alternative solutions cannot meet our energy demands. It will take time to develop the capacity of renewable technologies and reduce their capital cost. However energy efficiency can buy the time that is needed to make the transition because it enables you to get more from what you already have without necessarily compromising production or growth.

The great news is, the process does not need to be costly… it can be profitable, both for suppliers and customers. That’s why Enigin’s mantra is ‘Profit with Integrity’. Today, in over 50 countries around the world, Enigin distributors are supplying energy efficient solutions that prove the commercial viability of this approach (please feel free to browse these examples from the UK, USA, Australia & Denmark)

To its credit, Cheney’s Energy Task Force, officially the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPD), did establish some admirable goals:

  1. Modernize conservation
  2. Modernize our energy infrastructure
  3. Increase energy supplies
  4. Accelerate the protection and improvement of the environment
  5. Increase our nation ’s energy security

If only they had taken that first goal more seriously in the early 2000’s. The USA might now have $1 trillion worth of energy savings in the bank along with a significantly reduced and more manageable energy demand. Instead, it appears they spent too much time on poorly concieved methods of achieving goals three and five, which resulted in a $5 trillion war bill and a fatalities list with over 100,000 names on it (most of them soldiers and innocents).

Future administrations can learn from Cheney’s mistake and focus on achieving a sustainable energy future via energy efficiency, because, in Enigin’s opinion, the notion that it’s ok to kill people in the name of energy security should be dead on arrival.