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 SmartPlanet this week, I debunked the anti-renewable energy narrative that has become all too common in major news media coverage of Germany’s energy transition.
Read it here: Myth-busting Germany’s energy transition
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 responded to a reader asking how to prepare herself for an age of declining and increasingly unaffordable oil.
Read it here: 10 ways to get ready for the end of oil
For SmartPlanet this week, I discussed how most official forecasts project anywhere from 8.3 billion to 10.9 billion people on the planet by 2050, while resource-based models suggest the planet’s capacity will be far less. Exploring the charts from various models, I show how fertility rates, policy choices, and the remaining endowment of global oil could determine the curve of global population through the rest of this century. The actual population in 2050 might not be much more than it is today — and could be considerably less.
Read it here: The 21st century population crash
For Greentech Media this week, I reported from the Energy in Western Australia conference, where a capacity market for grid power has resulted in excess capacity and high prices even as rooftop solar power is growing rapidly. The experience of Western Australia offers a cautionary tale for markets like Texas, which are currently eyeing capacity markets as a way to provide sufficient power generation capacity in the future at lower than spot market prices.
For SmartPlanet this week, I took on America’s addiction to oil as one might any other addiction intervention, but with more data (naturally) and a little hat tip to Robert Palmer. It’s time to kick the habit and start down the long road to recovery.
Read it here: Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed a new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the installed cost of U.S. solar PV systems since 1998. The good news is that costs are still falling. But further cost reductions will depend largely on policymakers.
I appeared on WBUR/Boston’s “Here and Now” today, to talk about solar on the grid. To listen to it today, you can find NPR stations that syndicate the show here (it has already aired on the East Coast but check local listings for re-broadcasts). The full audio of the interview will be posted here later today.
Here are some articles I’ve written on the subject, some of which were referenced in the interview:
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 summarized some new research from NREL and JISEA which suggested that natural gas could be the cheapest way to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets for power generation until 2030. After that, wind would be.
For SmartPlanet this week, I fired back at the latest batch of fact-free commentary claiming that peak oil is dead.
Read it here: Peak oil isn’t dead; it just smells that way
For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed a new study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers which found that where wind and solar do the most good isn’t necessarily where they are the most productive. One implication is that we could get more bang for the buck if incentives for wind and solar were targeted to displace coal power.
For SmartPlanet this week, I wrote a tribute to my friend and mentor Randy Udall, who left this world two weeks ago at the age of 61.
Read it here: Randy Udall: An energy hero’s journey
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.
For SmartPlanet this week, I put President Obama’s new climate plan into context of the data on U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. I concluded that it offers some steps in the right direction, but doesn’t come close to what we really need to do to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Read it here: Obama’s new climate plan isn’t nearly enough
For Greentech Media this week, I continued my series of articles on the evolution of the utility business by covering a recent closed-door forum, in which various stakeholders in the grid power business discussed ways to adopt green power and new technologies more quickly. It turns out they’re not all just digging in their heels against change.
I’m very pleased to announce my op-ed for Nature, one of the world’s most respected international scientific journals. You can read the final version in the June 20, 2013 edition in print, or online here:
- Nature 498, 293–295,
- By permission of Nature, an earlier version of the text of the article appears below.