For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed the failure of utility deregulation and pondered what’s next for the utility sector: Capacity markets? Re-regulation? Transformation to a new business model? Creating a renewably-powered grid will be easy compared to crafting a new regulatory framework that will make utility investors whole during the transition.
Read it here: The next big utility transformation
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For Greentech Media this week, I discussed how private utilities must either adapt to distributed renewable energy generation or risk being transformed back into public utilities.
Brad Plumer at the Washington Post interviewed me about my views on peak oil. He did a nice job of editing down a long interview into a pithy transcript, and used a few charts by my friend Gregor Macdonald from his Peak Fish site.
Read it here: Peak oil isn’t dead: An interview with Chris Nelder
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In stark contrast to the Zeitgeist here in America, where it’s all the rage to declare that peak oil is dead and energy independence is right around the corner, there is a very different attitude in the Middle Eastern countries that produce most of the world’s oil exports. For those countries, which are heavily dependent on revenue from their exports, denial about peak oil is simply not an option. I discussed how UAE is preparing for the decline of oil and gas back in January: “Sunrise in the desert.”
A first-of-its-kind conference on peak oil recently took place in Qatar, organized by Forum of Arab and International Relations in cooperation with Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute. The Qatar Tribune offered some brief coverage of the event, and longtime energy analyst and peak oil author Robert Hirsch compiled some notes. There should also be some notes forthcoming from conference speaker Kjell Aleklett on his blog.
It’s worth pondering the cultural differences that inform such stunning difference of attitude: The world’s top exporters are preparing for the inevitable decline of oil and gas, while the world’s top importer is pretending it’s nowhere in sight.
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For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed a new white paper from the Edison Electric Institute which details the many “disruptive challenges” facing private utility companies as the energy transition to a renewably-powered grid progresses.
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I have a new article for Scientific American out today, about a new type of flywheel-based electricity storage device. I have long been hopeful for flywheel storage technology, so when I learned of the Kickstarter campaign for this device, I had to find out more about it. (The Kickstarter campaign ended, fully funded, between the time I wrote the article and its publication today.)
Read it here: Turn Up the Juice: New Flywheel Raises Hopes for Energy Storage Breakthrough
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For SmartPlanet this week, I noted that U.S. natural gas prices have already hit my end-of-year target, while wind and solar are growing rapidly around the world. I summarized some excellent work by Giles Parkison at Renew Economy in which he reviewed recent global forecasts for renewables and grid power by a handful of global investment banks, and looked at some other global trends, to conclude that the global transition to mostly renewable grid power may now be unstoppable.
Read it here: The ‘unstoppable’ renewable grid
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My first article for Greentech Media is out this week, in which I review the problems of the “energy intensity” metric; recap the global outlook for carbon emissions and the outlooks of top oil companies, investment banks, IMF, OECD, IEA, the IPCC, and the Energy Watch Group; and argue that since renewable power is expected to be cheaper than fossil-fueled power by 2020, there’s no excuse left for delaying energy transition.
At Greentech Media, it’s here: The 2020 Deadline: No Excuse Left for Delaying the Energy Transition
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German-language readers may want to check out the current issue (2/2013) of The European, a print quarterly magazine, in which I have an essay on Germany’s energy transition (“Energiewende“) from an American perspective titled “Auf geht’s, Deutschland!” [Let’s go, Germany!]. The cover story is “Vollendung – Der Kampf um den Menschen” [Completion – The fight for the people], and it’s on newsstands now in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland, as well as being available worldwide as a digital download for iPad and Android tablet via the Apple App Store and Google Play. I believe this is the first time my work has appeared in a print journal, and the second time my work has been translated into German. See their Web site for details: http://www.theeuropean.de/abo
Postscript May 31, 2013: My article is now available for free online in English here and in German here.
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