These remarks were delivered by Samuel Bodman at the 60th annual conference in November, 2006.
MEI Annual Conference - Keynote Address
November 13, 2006
U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman
In his keynote address at the Middle East Institute's 60th Annual Conference, US Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman discussed the need for diversifying energy sources in order to sustain global growth. Without diversification, developing nations will struggle to access increasingly costly fuel and environmental degradation will worsen. The private sector and government play a critical role in providing new energy solutions. In addition, states must transcend their narrow national interests and create cooperative solutions to overcome today's energy challenges.
In recent years, high oil prices have made the US and the world acutely aware of their dependence on energy, and more specifically on hydrocarbons. According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), with the rapid growth of the Indian and Chinese economies and the West’s rising energy demands, global energy consumption is expected to increase by 70% by 2030. In addition, global demand for oil is expected to reach 118 million barrels per day in twenty-five years.
Bodman emphasized that increased energy demand is a positive sign, indicating economic development and improved living conditions. However, he noted that increased demand cannot be met by hydrocarbons alone. Private sector and governmental initiatives, as well as international cooperation, are essential to the development of new energy sources necessary for continued and affordable growth.
Private sector investment in new energy sources demonstrates how critical alternatives to hydrocarbons will be in the globalizing economy. Venture capitalists now invest in promising new sources and the companies BP and DuPont have launched a program to develop the bio-fuel bio-butanol. Although the private sector shows interest in developing new fuels, continuing distortion of the oil market in the form of rationing supply, cutting production, and implementing price restrictions hinders accurate perception of global energy needs.
The US and other governments have a role to play in encouraging research into new fuels, as well as curbing overall energy consumption. Bodman noted that the current administration acted to increase the Department of Energy’s research budget for new fuels, both in the short and long term. The Department will focus on innovation in solar and wind energy, hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid vehicle technology and other technologies. To reduce consumption, the US Department of Energy advises Americans on ways to decrease their energy usage and provides information to other nations regarding ways to increase energy efficiency.
Secretary Bodman highlighted that international cooperation is critical to solving this global problem. He underscored the importance of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) as a means of exploiting nuclear energy more safely. The GNEP promises not only to increase energy supply, but also to help solve the problems of toxic waste and proliferation by augmenting the capacity to recycle spent nuclear fuel. This framework is crucial as the international community seeks a resolution that would enable Iran to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program.
Finally, Bodman stressed that the development of new fuels should not be perceived as a challenge to the world’s suppliers of hydrocarbons. To the contrary, the move to diversify energy sources will allow supplier countries’ reserves to last further into the future. Moreover, the shift towards alternative energy sources is a slow process and has been announced well in advance, allowing producer states to adapt.
About this Event
Samuel W. Bodman offered these remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on November 13, 2006.
This event summary was written by Rosalind Piggot, who studied International Relations at the London School of Economics. She is currently an intern at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center and a research intern for Scholar in Residence Dr. Marvin Weinbaum. Alex Maass, who is currently interning in the Publications Department, peer edited this summary. Alex graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Middle Eastern History and French Language and Literature.