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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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