An old energy debate gets a new solar shine.
Let's start with a basic correlation: Rich countries use a lot more energy than poor countries on a per capita basis. Is this an accident? What kind of causal relationship exists between wealth and energy, if any? Does a strong economy require massive amounts of per-capita energy consumption? Many green tech advocates have taken the view that this is not the case. They think that energy use and economic output can be decoupled.
All kinds of studies have been done trying to prove that this is (im)possible. Take this one from Korea, for example, which showed no causal relationship at short time scales and the arrow of that causation running from higher GDP to more energy consumption at longer ones. Other studies have looked at the G-7 and China and found a very complex relationship between a country's economy and energy consumption. In some countries or time periods, there appears to be a causal relationship running one way, the other way, or in both directions. And sometimes that is not the case. The list of studies and counterstudies could go on and on. It's complicated.
But most energy people I've met tend to have a hunch one way or the other. CEO Siva Sivaram of Twin Creeks Technologies is on the team that has the arrow running from energy to GDP. "Don't make power to meet the need," Sivaram tells me in the video above. "Make power available and then the needs will come."