46 episodes

Rolling-out a sustainable and socially just energy system.

My Energy 2050 Podcast Michael LaBelle

    • Education

Rolling-out a sustainable and socially just energy system.

    (Ep. 46) Weathering risk: The climatology of energy markets — Aaron Perry

    (Ep. 46) Weathering risk: The climatology of energy markets — Aaron Perry

    This week we speak with Aaron Perry, a senior associate in Valuation and Risk Analytics at Resurety. We discuss the role that long-term and short-term weather forecasting plays in reducing financial risks. Aaron is a climatologist and takes a long-term view on the impact weather has on renewable energy, like wind and solar.


     


    As Aaron explains, the market impact of weather in an age of weather-dependent technologies impacts the price in power markets. There is a strong need to predict the output of renewable facilities. This means the owners can ride the peaks and troughs of power markets and weather conditions. In short, there is a great need to do portfolio management of assets to ensure these are profitable.


     


    To be honest, it is a bit hard for me to summarize our discussion in some clear points. As you'll hear, as the episode progresses, we get more and more exact in the language we use to describe the impact of weather on the power markets. There is a reason for this. The complexities behind financing renewable energy is not down to just money to build, but also to ensure long-term operations are profitable. Combine the finances with the complexities of the power market, and the complexities of weather prediction, and you get into the complexities of what we discuss today. It is just very complex. But it boils down to making sure renewables are producing at maximum output, and are also able to sell this power into the market.


    Towards the end of the interview, we get into the role that hedging. Hedging, while it sounds like a risky term, as Aaron explains, actually just shifts risk exposure from those that don't want it to those that do want it. I think you'll find this informative to understand the complexities of renewable financing. In my interpretation, one of the biggest barriers to renewables, besides technological, is financial risks. This is why I find today's episode so important. If we find ways to reduce financial risks, or even lower the cost of operations for renewables, more renewables can be deployed.

    In short, the ability to ensure renewables are not-loss making means more fossil-free technologies can be deployed. Taking into account the impact of weather on the price of electricity means the energy transition can progress.


     

    • 1 hr 6 min
    (Ep. 45) The Virtual Power of a Polish Energy Entrepreneur — Bartosz Kwiatowski

    (Ep. 45) The Virtual Power of a Polish Energy Entrepreneur — Bartosz Kwiatowski

    This week we speak with Bartosz Kwiatowski the director of the Polish Liquid Gas Association. I've known Bartok for over a decade and he is always a well of knowledge on the Polish energy scene and broader developments in Europe. So why is today's episode important to listen? You'll gain a greater understanding of the role that nuclear power and hydrogen could play in the Polish energy mix. In our discussion, we provide both a historical account of why Poland is reliant on coal and how it can transition out from coal. As Bartok points out, the dramatic increase in solar PV use in the country, or the development of energy clusters in towns contrasts the national push for coal.


    Bartok has also been active in the start-up scene, trying to get a virtual power plant operating with a range of businesses. Bartok recounts the difficulty of having a small energy company - it saves energy, but it does not attract money to expand, because of its ability to save energy. Listen in, and you'll get the account of why attracting VC funding is hard at a small scale. Towards the end, we do cover the role of liquid gas fuels - this is important when we consider how we shift people cooking and heating to using gas produced from biofuels.


    In this week's episode, we take on a range of issues providing a broader perspective of developments in Poland, but also within the EU. You'll learn of the complexities of decarbonizing the energy system in both large and small scale projects.

    • 1 hr 22 min
    (Ep. 44) Beyond Oil? Carbon neutrality by 2050 — Adam Czyzewski

    (Ep. 44) Beyond Oil? Carbon neutrality by 2050 — Adam Czyzewski

    This week we speak with Adam Czyzewski, the chief economist at PKN Orlen. I'll describe PKN Orlen as a diversifying oil and gas firm.





    I got the opportunity to sit down with Adam while I was in Warsaw and I'm extremely grateful for his time and his willingness to share his thoughts on the energy transition. It is possible that some listeners may object to my conversational style sit-down with a representative of the oil and gas world. I remember a conference I attended in 2019 when the Chief Economist for Equinor got not only a frosty reception but a hostile reception from the academic and policy audience at a conference on 'Beyond Oil'.





    My approach to understanding and assisting in the energy transition is to listen to a range of opinions. In this interview, you'll learn that Adam - before he joined PKN Orlen 12 years ago, was an outsider himself. He shares his perspective and questioning of the sustainability around not just fossil fuels but global consumption of energy and materials. Even, as he points out - that plastic turned out to be too cheap and good for a consumer society. Nonetheless, the lightweight and durable properties of plastic make it useful for the energy transition.





    Adam provides a pivotal acknowledgment and voice that says, yes, our present consumption patterns are not environmentally sustainable - but he also outlines how an oil and gas firm CAN make the transition to be carbon neutral by 2050. This seems unbelievable from an oil and gas firm. At least, I was highly skeptical before speaking to him. But as you'll hear, more than what I thought, could actually be achievable. Particularly, when you consider how the firm is diversifying into wind farms and investing in developing new technologies.


    Depending on where you live and your background, you may be dismissive of what can we learn from a Polish oil and gas firm. As dedicated as the Polish government appears to be towards coal, it is important to understand the world, technology and firms are changing regardless of what is in the headlines. It may be a question of how fast we make the transition, or can we really believe fossil fuel firms will get rid of their fossil fuels? These are points for arguments. But at least from this interview, you'll gain an understanding of the market forces at work that keep fossil fuels as petrochemical feedstocks in the near - if not distant - future.


     


    One of the reasons I wanted to start a podcast was to share some of the interviews I have with experts while doing research. I've interviewed Adam in the past and I always found him very knowledgeable and holding a broad view of energy markets. In this episode, you'll get more than an insight into the workings of oil and gas markets. You'll get a thoughtful discussion on where companies are heading as they lower their carbon outputs and invest more into lower or zero-carbon technologies.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    (Ep. 43) Director of the Planet Super League — James Atkins

    (Ep. 43) Director of the Planet Super League — James Atkins

    This week we speak with James Atkins, the Chairman of Vertis Environmental Finance and Director of Planet Super League - using the power of football to inspire fans to take action on climate change.


     


    From this introduction, you might guess, James does more than just trade in carbon emissions. If there is an environmental polyglot, then James is it. From co-founding an organic farm to writing a book for football fans on climate change - he is out there working with businesses and social groups to ensure a positive impact is being made on the environment.


     


    In this episode you'll learn how James moved away from the world of corporate accounting and set up his on consultancy, which over time, became Vertis Environmental Finance - an early pioneer in emission credits trading.


     


    Within this interview you'll learn the softer side of why and how a business makes adjustments based on changing needs and regulations. Essentially, we have a story of a start-up learning and then copying how to break into the world of global emissions trading - learning by doing.


     


    James is a true environmental leader. As you'll hear his message and activities span from the UK all the way to Romania. And as you'll learn, he's got a range of projects going on, like a certification scheme for rewilding solar farms in the UK to a cellulose collective in Romania. 


     


    The intent of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to spread the knowledge about how the energy system can assist our transition towards a greener future. The interview with James delivers on this point.

    • 57 min
    (Ep. 42) Prepare for Impact: The EU‘s Energy Transition — Miroslav Lopour

    (Ep. 42) Prepare for Impact: The EU‘s Energy Transition — Miroslav Lopour

    This week we speak with Miroslav Lopour, he is a Senior Manager of the Energy and Resources team at Deloitte Czech Republic.


     


    We have a wide-ranging discussion about how the Czech Republic is preparing for the energy transition.  What you'll learn from our conversation is a unique perspective on the EU's Eastern Member States. I found Miroslav has the ability to express in a precise manner both the social and political resistance and reluctance to participate in an energy transition. As you'll hear in our discussion about the coming electric car revolution, Miroslav articulates why there is reluctance in the country, to move away from the internal combustion engine, and even coal.


     


    He discusses an inherent conservatism in former communist countries which makes politicians and society reluctant to fully participate in a clean energy transition. I think our conversation provides an in-depth understanding of this reluctance to change, not just in the Czech Republic but in the broader region of Eastern Europe.


     


    If I can think of one reason you should listen to our discussion today, it is to understand why certain countries are slow on the uptake and deployment of policies and technologies that deliver a clean energy. There is justifications for why countries move slow. Understanding the reasons can assist in developing policies and help us all transition to a cleaner future - not just a few countries.


     


    As I mentioned we discuss a range of topics, but threaded through our conversation is the difficulty to change industry and technologies. Regardless of the reluctance, as Miroslav points out, the money from the EU is here - and ready to fund the transition. Therefore the Czech Republic is about to ramp up their activities and join the transition.


     


    I think our conversation is an important milestone. We need to revisit the expectations expressed in this interview in a few years. Let's see if what the EU is promising in retooling industry and assisting people and regions, to move away from coal, does have a positive impact.


     

    • 49 min
    (Ep. 41) Fighting the Cold: Seeking a just energy system — Ana Stojilovska

    (Ep. 41) Fighting the Cold: Seeking a just energy system — Ana Stojilovska

    This week we speak with Ana Stojilovska, an energy poverty researcher, who just received her PhD from Central European University, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy.


     


    And full disclosure before we get going. Michael was Ana's PhD supervisor.


     


    Ana's research really goes to the heart of the divisions in Europe around energy poverty. Her thesis, 'Synergies between heating and energy poverty - the injustice of heat' tackles how people attempt and afford to heat their homes in North Macedonia and Austria. Her research shows two widely different approaches to assisting - or not - people to heat their homes. She really underscores the role that state institutions play in setting the price of heat, but also assisting homeowners to pay their bills.


    As you'll her from our discussion, the right to heat emerges as a fundamental human right. We first get into Ana's questioning why her family only heated one room when she was growing up in Skopje. This may sound odd to some, but for many families in former Communist countries, this is still a common practice today.


     


    She decided to pursue a PhD after she was spurred on by her NGO experience and after receiving a Masters in European Studies. Seven years ago, she applied to CEU's PhD program. And, as they say, the rest is history. For the past six years, Michael and Ana have been working together. 


     


    Ana has been a great inspiration for learning new research methods - like phoning up thousands of people in Vienna. As you'll hear, Ana has a sincere dedication to her research. And for anyone that reads one of her five or six articles she's published while doing her thesis, there is great depth to her data collection. The outcome of her research is: Energy poverty is representative of deeper misalignments in state institutions and it is the people who bear the social and economic cost of state failures.

    • 1 hr

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