Grave New World Of Energy

Energy and You - A CNBC Special Report
Energy and You - A CNBC Special Report

Energy used to be something we took for granted in the U.S.; it was cheap, accessible and plentiful. Now, energy seems precious, complicated and fractious, a chip in the high-stakes game of geopolitics.

These days, there's so much noise around energy: the post-9/11 terror premium; speculators distorting prices in the futures market; OPEC playing games with supply; and politicians preaching about energy independence.

Energy is now integral to the wealth of a nation. Its transformational powers can be seen in Norway to Angola, where crude oil is a recent blessing.

In the U.S., energy is a case of vanishing riches, missed opportunities — yet endless potential. Energy policy drifts, subject to short-term, not long-term considerations.

At the same time, multi-nationals and entrepreneurs are scrambling to make the most out of alternative fuels and energy-efficient technology, from hydrogen-powered autosto coal-based ethanol to energy storage. Companies from retailers to semiconductor manufacturers are embracing conservation and sustainability.

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Others are trying to reshape consumer behavior with products such as solar roofs, super-efficient appliancesand high-mileage vehicles.

The payoffs are many, whether it is saving money on everyday energy consumption and redirecting it into investment, or creating well-paying, high-skill green jobsand exportable technology.

Our special report, "Energy & You",covers all this ground and more.