If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting, it’s because I have moved to Boulder, Colorado to take a full-time job with the Rocky Mountain Institute where I’m working on transition in the electricity sector. I am not really writing anymore, other than the very occasional piece (and some of those pieces aren’t even public). So if you want to keep up with my latest thoughts on energy, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast: www.energytransitionshow.com But it’s fun (if I do say so myself) and I think you’ll enjoy it. And if you have comments or suggestions for the show, don’t be shy – drop me a note!
I’m very pleased to announce that I have recently launched a weekly podcast, “The Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder.” In it, I seek out independent and knowledgeable experts on all aspects of energy transition for in-depth, data-filled interviews, and toss in some of my own observations and comments on recent energy-related news stories…plus some topically appropriate music clips. Please check it out and send us your feedback on what you like, don’t like, or would like to see covered in a future episode!
On the Web: www.energytransitionshow.com
On Twitter: @TransitionShow
I made a guest appearance on The Energy Gang podcast today (a production of Greentech Media), to talk about peak oil and the challenges of energy and transportation transition. My segment runs for about the first half an hour. You can listen to it here or via your favorite podcast player, or just play it below.
My thanks to host Stephen Lacey for having me on the show!
Belatedly, I thought I’d update my readers on what I’ve been up to for the past 18 months in my work at the Global Footprint Network, which is now concluded.
I created, launched and managed an innovative cost-benefit analysis methodology called NPV+, which internalizes real costs and benefits that are often externalized in budget decisions, and uses scenarios to set more a realistic context for future resource availability and prices. The pilot of the project was conducted under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, with the cooperation of the Maryland state government and the personal support of Governor O’Malley, and was featured in Governing Magazine and Fast Company magazine.
As more decision-makers look for ways to identify capital projects that produce sustainable and resilient outcomes, and to start pricing in carbon emissions, I expect this sort of analysis to become much more common. I encourage my readers to explore it and welcome comments and questions about it.
I have a new short piece in Petroleum Economist surveying the growth of wind and solar around the world, and the outlook for fossil fuels on the grid. The first few paragraphs are free to read, but the rest is behind a paywall.
Read it here: Taking over the grid
Oil is back above the fold as prices continue to crash, but most of the coverage has been overly focused on geopolitical narratives and missing the point, which is written in the data as plain as day. So I wrote a short explainer about what’s going on. Read it here: Drilling Down on the Oil Price Slide
I am no longer writing regularly for anyone, as my full-time job has kept me quite busy. But this week I wrote up a huge (308 page) new report by geoscientist J. David Hughes for the Post Carbon Institute, which offers the most detailed and transparent data to date on U.S. tight oil and shale gas fields. Its conclusions are in sharp contrast to the EIA’s projection. Rather than seeing production from these fracking operations remaining large for decades into the future, as EIA does, Hughes’ analysis sees both tight oil and shale gas peaking before 2020, then declining at a far faster rate than EIA does.
This is important, careful work and should be examined closely. Remember, five months after Hughes’ analysis of the Monterey Shale was published in December 2013, EIA slashed its estimate for the Monterey by 95% (indeed, I believe Hughes’ report forced them to re-evaluate).
My article for Petroleum Economist is behind a paywall, although you can sign up for a free 7-day trial if you want to read it: Sceptics see the boom about to bust.
But there’s nothing like reading Hughes’ report for yourself, which is freely available on Post Carbon’s site: Drilling Deeper
For my final article for SmartPlanet, which is closing down as an independent publication, I take an in-depth look at the research to date on stranded carbon assets, and offer my own thoughts on the subject. I believe that the risks of stranded assets are far larger than has been contemplated thus far.
(Note: The title at SmartPlanet wasn’t mine. As my article details, estimates of the size of the “carbon bubble” vary from $1.1 trillion to $28 trillion, and I think even the latter estimate is too low.)
Back in early April, I had the pleasure of attending the Bloomberg New Energy Finance “Future of Energy Summit 2014” conference in New York City, where I heard from a large number of decidedly upbeat executives in the sector, who were very optimistic indeed about the future of renewable energy and cleantech in general. The buzz in the finance and insurance space was particularly interesting.
Here’s my report for SmartPlanet: Cleantech investments are sexy again, here’s why
For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed a few (of many) echoes to my recent piece on the energy transition tipping point, and explained why I have decided to emphasize the progress renewable energy and efficiency are making, rather than the risks of peak oil and economic collapse.
I wrote a short piece for Petroleum Economist about why the next growth region for solar power may be the Middle East. Most of it is behind a paywall, but if you’re a subscriber you can read it here: Place in the sun
I wrote a review of Russell Gold’s new book on fracking, The Boom, for the scientific journal Nature. It’s behind a paywall, but if you’re a subscriber, you can find it here: Energy: The new oil era
The Boom is a very thorough and interesting read, and I liked it a lot more than I expected to! Highly recommended.
I have a short new article at GreenBiz.com on several financial innovations that are opening up new sources of capital for renewable energy and energy transition.
Read it here: 5 finance models bringing clean power to the people
If you’d rather listen to my thoughts than read them, I have made three recent guest appearances on some podcasts.
– On the Extraenvironmentalist podcast with Seth and Justin: Episode 76 (I last appeared on the Extraenvironmentalist podcast in August 2012.)
Update June 2, 2014: Thanks to Scott Bohachyk, an amazingly dedicated Extraenvironmentalist listener who transcribed my whole segment, you can read it as well:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
– On the KunstlerCast podcast with James Howard Kunstler: Episode 251
– On the Wall St. for Main St. podcast
As always, you can find all my media appearances on my media page.
For SmartPlanet this week, I explained common energy measurement units, and how to convert and compare them, including ever-befuddling capacity factors.
For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed the trends I have explored over the past several years and updated them with fresh data, and concluded that the world has reached a tipping point in energy transition from which there will be no going back.
Read it here: The energy transition tipping point is here
For SmartPlanet last week, I reported on my trip to the 2014 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, and the slow progress United Arab Emirates appears to be making on its goals to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels and build Masdar City.
Read it here: The UAE’s slow march to sustainability
For SmartPlanet this week, I explored the debate over whether the US should lift its ban on exporting crude oil. But whereas most of the opposition to lifting the ban has focused on jobs and prices, I see another even more important angle: the long-term energy security of the United States. In the 1980s, Britain went all-out on producing its North Sea oil and gas for export, and now it is paying punishingly high prices for imports of both, as well as for gas-fueled grid power. Do we really want to make the same mistake in this country, considering that several good, transparent models show US tight oil peaking and going into decline within the next 7 years?
Read it here: Why the US should not export oil
For my final SmartPlanet post of the year, I graded my 2013 oil and gas price forecast as “close enough” and issued my forecast for 2014.
Read it here: Oil and gas price forecast for 2014
For SmartPlanet this week, I featured a new report by geoscientist David Hughes, which is the first publicly available empirical analysis of actual oil production data from the Monterey shale formation in California. Widely touted as the next big play in fracking, the Monterey looks to be a dud.
Read it here: Monterey Shale isn’t all it’s fracked up to be