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
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
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 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 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
For SmartPlanet this week, I followed up on my previous story about securitization and other financial innovations in renewable energy with a look at the emerging “green bond” market, which is bringing billions of dollars of financing to bear on climate change solutions. I also talked to a creative New York-based financing company that is packaging off-balance-sheet bonds to help cities implement self-financing energy efficiency improvements.
For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed the “capital gap” problem in financing clean energy and efficiency, and how a slew of new players and approaches aim to solve it. Move over, mortgage-backed securities, solar-backed securities are the next big thing.
For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed a slew of developments from the past two months in the grid power storage sector, including California’s new storage procurement mandate, commercial microgrids, innovative financial models, utility testing of storage systems, and the opening of the PJM capacity market to storage. It all adds up to a very exciting picture of storage finally growing into a serious grid player, which will enable more renewable energy on the U.S. grid.
Read it here: U.S. support of grid energy storage charges up
For Greentech Media last week, I explained how FuelCell Energy, the largest of the publicly traded fuel cell makers, is partnering with utility NRG Energy to market and deploy its fuel cells. This is good news, after so much contention between utilities and the makers of smart grid/microgrid/renewable energy equipment. Some utilities are finally figuring out the new business models they’ll need to survive the energy transition, and how to replace conventional baseload power with a cleaner, decentralized alternative.
For SmartPlanet this week, I observed that oil prices are still in triple digits but Big Oil is taking losses and the fracking boom is cooling down. That can only mean one thing: prices are going higher.
Read it here: Trouble in fracking paradise
For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013 from the International Energy Agency (IEA), and found a surprisingly bullish forecast for renewables, especially wind and solar. Most interesting are the phenomenal growth rates they project for the developing world.
Investor and StockTwits Executive Editor Phil Pearlman liked my article for Quartz comparing the costs of nuclear power to solar, and invited me to a Google Hangout to discuss it. You can see the video below; it’s about half an hour long. The video struggled a bit with my weak Internet connection in the UK, but the sound came through clearly. Worth a listen if you just can’t get enough of my views on solar vs. nuclear!
For Quartz this week, I ran down the data on the cost of nuclear power vs. the cost of renewables, in response to The Breakthrough Institute’s recent claim that the cost of German solar is four times the cost of Finnish nuclear power. If you want to know what nuclear power really costs, here’s the data.
Note: I would not have said we should “fight” nuclear power; the title wasn’t my choosing, and it was more in reference to a previous Quartz article on the health aspects. I just don’t think the current generation of nuclear technology makes economic sense, and the next generation has yet to prove itself…despite the claims of a loud chorus of nuclear advocates and a well-promoted film.
For SmartPlanet last week, I reviewed the recent closure of four nuclear plants in the U.S., including the San Onofre Generation Station in California, and concluded that nuclear power is headed for a long goodbye. Read it here: Nuclear’s swan SONGS
For SmartPlanet this week, I updated my outlook for oil and gas prices this year. So far my model is working beautifully, and has proved to be far more accurate than the calls made by the big-name analysts at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.
Read it here: 2013 oil and gas price forecast update
For SmartPlanet this week, I turned my attention to the UK, which is deep in the throes of shale gas fever.
Read it here: Fracking envy
Postscript: The day after I wrote this article, UK Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in New York City and said: “We are not going to be able to compete on our mineral resources, although frankly I am pretty jealous of your fracking success here in the US.”
Can’t beat that with a stick.