The solar sector is among the most hated on Wall Street. Many names in the solar sector that are heavily shorted, in spite of it being the fastest growing energy sector in the U.S. Meanwhile, the world is using oil faster than it’s being pumped, which is economically dangerous, because oil price spikes have preceded all recessions since 1970. More renewables could serve to lessen our ridiculous economic vulnerability to oil prices.
The clean energy sector is entering a phase of dramatic change in which business models are being transformed against a backdrop of regulatory uncertainty, as the industry emerges from a challenging period caused by the global economic downtown. Technologies and business structures that were once abandoned, are now being revived in several key sectors.
In the race for the title of the world’s greenest data center a lot of perhaps overly optimistic PUE claims have been made. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a measure of how efficiently a computer data center uses its power. While it is a step in the right direction it still fails to capture the complete picture of the data center’s energy and resource efficiency. It goes on to point out ten areas that are not being captured; some of which have significant implications.
This post looks at fifteen kinds of utility or grid scale energy storage solutions that are either in wide use or have significant potential to supply the energy storage capacity that will help make the grid both more efficient and more robust. These range from pumped hydro, which is by far the most prevalent form of energy storage at this scale to compressed air, thermal storage, advanced batteries, fuel cells and purely electric storage systems.
Energy systems need to also be measured according to the potential risks associated with them in the advent of failure. And the actuarial costs of these risks need to be better understood and included into the market price for the energy that these systems produce. This post examines this catastrophic downside risk of nuclear and fossil energy focusing on the recent events in Japan and on the BP oil spill as two recent examples of hugely expensive catastrophes. It poses the question why should the taxpayers and the public bear the burden of these costs in this manner artificially lowering the price these energy sectors are thus able to charge for their products.
The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant has highlighted the importance of nuclear energy to Japan and the power long wielded by the nuclear sector. But that influence now is sure to wane, to the relief of opponents who have fought for years to check nuclear’s rapid growth.
The nuclear crisis in Japan is a wake up call demonstrating that nuclear power is not the silver bullet against climate change that governments and advocates have claimed. Much more effort, resources and political will has to be directed toward alternative sources of energy: energy saving, renewable, and changing of life styles.
China’s domination of the rare earth metals market potentially leaves almost every component of renewable energy vulnerable. There is speculation about the country’s reliability that it could decide to decrease or halt exports, and use the advantage to dominate the global market and choke off competitors.
The Cancun conference is being credited with keeping international climate talks alive. But the real potential for bringing emissions under control may lie in a Plan B, with nations acting on their own in moving toward a low-carbon economy.