I have a new article out at Slate arguing that even though many energy companies and government agencies like to use simple “energy intensity” to measure the energy efficiency of the economy, it’s a misleading metric that, among other things, fails to recognize the embedded energy (and carbon emissions) in goods imported from other countries.
Read it here: The Worst Way to Measure Energy Efficiency
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For SmartPlanet this week, I detailed the woefully inaccurate past forecasts of the oil majors and contrasted their bullish outlooks with their actual production,which has been declining since 1999 despite massive investment. Be sure to check out the links to the posts by Matt Mushalik and Matthieu Auzanneau.
Read it here: Oil majors are whistling past the graveyard
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For SmartPlanet this week, I explored the cost data (such as it is) on carbon capture and storage (CCS), and concluded that it will never pay off. Renewables have simply gotten too cheap, and the public subsidies that would be required to get CCS to the point where it’s economically viable are just too huge.
Read it here: Why carbon capture and storage will never pay off
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I appeared as a guest today on Warren Olney’s radio show “To The Point,” which is syndicated on Public Radio International (PRI). We discussed why gasoline prices are so high right now, in which I referred to my column this week, “America’s oil choice: Pay up, or get off.”
To listen to my short segment, go here: To The Point, February 21, 2013, and click the Listen button. Then in the new window, at the bottom of the main frame under the title “Can We Map The Brain?” click the box labeled “Is $4 Ga…”
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For SmartPlanet this week, I surveyed the latest message from the American oil and gas industry: We either need to pay more for oil to sustain the boom in unconventional production (from tight oil and tar sands), or find ways to do without it.
Read it here: America’s oil choice: Pay up, or get off
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For SmartPlanet this week, I dug into the data on water supply and demand in Abu Dhabi and surrounding emirates and nations, and the energy consumed by desalination. They have a serious problem in the making with their water supply, and it should surprise no one that they’re looking to renewables to make fresh water out of saltwater instead of burning precious oil and gas to do it.
Read it here: Ground zero in the energy-water nexus
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For SmartPlanet this week, I filed my first report from my trip to Abu Dhabi last week, where I attended the World Future Energy Summit. What I found there was remarkable: Two of the world’s top oil and gas producers transitioning to renewables.
Read it here: Sunrise in the desert
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For SmartPlanet this week, I took a break from my usual data-oriented work and offered some musings about the memes of collapse, peak oil, the debt overhang, and climate change. As a cultural phenomenon, I think collapse may have jumped the shark, but it certainly hasn’t gone away.
Read it here: Waiting for the punchline
For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed some of my calls for 2012, and offered my oil and gas price forecast for 2013.
Read it here: Oil and gas price forecast for 2013
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For SmartPlanet this week, I discussed a recent research paper from the University of Delaware which explored how a major grid in the Northeast could be 99.9% powered exclusively by renewables (wind and solar), and how doing so would cost about the same as what we pay today for grid power. I also pointed out some new reports about the rapidly falling cost of solar PV power and the rapidly growing installation of solar in the U.S. A new white paper out of Australia about how that country can mostly power its grid from renewables by 2050 also merited a mention.
Read it here: Coming soon: 100% renewable power
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John Kingston at Platts has a piece out today, citing Bernstein Research, which took a very similar tack on debunking the IEA’s assertion that the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia in “oil” production to the one I took last month at SmartPlanet and at Slate: When you count actual crude vs. natural gas liquids production, there’s no comparison. Bernstein makes the additional point that U.S. natural gas liquids cannot offset crude imports, which I’m kicking myself for not making. Read it here: Why a potential role for the US as oil production king needs an asterisk
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Belatedly, here’s the link to a piece I did for Quartz last month on storage technologies, in which I argue that intermittent sources of renewable power like wind and solar could revolutionize our grid power if we had better ways to store it. I think we’ll crack that nut by the end of the decade.
Saving the sun’s shine: Storage technology could revolutionize the power grid
I have a short post up at Slate today, elaborating on the natural gas liquids aspect of the IEA’s widely-reported assertion that the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer.
Read it here: The U.S. Will Not Actually Produce More Oil Than Saudi Arabia in 2020
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For SmartPlanet this week, I debunked the hottest story in energy for the last two weeks: The IEA’s assertion that the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2020. After exploring the data, I found that not only will the U.S. not surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production, but it won’t become self-sufficient in oil or become a net oil exporter, either.
Read it here: U.S. will not surpass Saudi Arabia’s oil production by 2020
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For SmartPlanet this week, I offered a crazy idea: Instead of carbon policy, we could pursue a national feed-in tariff for renewable energy. It might be possible that President Obama could even implement the idea through FERC without needing the approval of Congress, but some legal opinions would be needed to confirm that.
Read it here: Beyond carbon policy: A national feed-in tariff
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I was interviewed last week by Susan Phillips for a show about the new “energy independence” meme, featured on NPR affiliate WHYY in Philadelphia. You can read her article and listen to the show here:
Energy independence more rhetoric than reality
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I’m pleased to have written my first article for Quartz, a new online publication of Atlantic Media. My original title was “Scarcity training.” I argue that Sandy is a glimpse into a future in which scarcity is more frequent, and that people need to build resilience and self-sufficiency into their lives.
Read it here: Sandy as a glimpse into the future: Americans should prepare for a scarcity of resources and a fight for survival
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For SmartPlanet this week, I speculated that it’s going to be as hard to find a climate change denier in the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy as it is to find an atheist in a foxhole. I expect a significant uptick in rooftop solar, battery backup, and fuel cell installations in the wake of this disaster, along with renewed interest in disaster response gear and microgrids. Read it here: Resilience lessons from Hurricane Sandy
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I have a new piece published in Scientific American today about the resurgence in freight rail and its potential to permanently cut U.S. oil consumption by moving traffic away from long-haul trucking. I am very bullish on the sector and hope to publish more articles on the subject as soon as I can place them. Read it here: Rising Energy Costs May Usher in U.S. Freight Rail Revival
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