Longtime energy expert Chris Nelder interviews some of the smartest and most knowledgeable people in energy, exploring global infrastructure and markets during the ongoing transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. Designed to stimulate discussion about the difficult questions rather than reinforce preconceived answers, the Energy Transition Show covers oil, gas, coal, solar, wind, emerging renewables, nuclear, grid power, transportation systems, macroeconomics, and more, including the latest news and research, policy developments, and market events.
Hydrogen Innovations and Applications [abridged]
Hydrogen projects are under way around the world, and some of them are aiming to achieve real commercial scale. But tracking this rapidly-evolving sector is challenging, because it’s happening everywhere at once. So in this episode we build on the foundation we laid in Episodes #142 and #143, in which we surveyed the entire hydrogen sector, to focus in on some of the notable commercial projects that aim to expand hydrogen production and bring down its costs, as well as some potential applications for hydrogen. We also try to identify a bit more specifically where it has any clear advantages over other technologies.
With the help of senior hydrogen advisor Gniewomir Flis of Agora Energiewende, a German energy transition think-tank, this episode offers a look at some significant projects that are underway to expand green hydrogen production capacity, especially in Europe and the Middle East, as well as projects that aim to deploy hydrogen in everything from shipping to power generation.
Why Local Solar Costs Less [abridged]
Conventional wisdom in the energy transition has long held that public investment should be directed toward utility-scale projects, because they’re cheaper than rooftop solar systems, kilowatt for kilowatt. Being cheaper, utility-scale systems would clearly deliver more bang for the buck.
Our returning guest in this episode, energy modeler Christopher Clack, says according to his recent modeling, the opposite is actually true — that investing more into local solar will deliver more public benefits than investing in utility-scale projects. And even more surprisingly, he says that building rooftop solar and distributed storage systems will actually result in more utility-scale solar as well, plus bring greater societal benefits such as more jobs, increased economic development, increased resilience, and more equitable access to the benefits of renewables. By modeling a dizzying set of factors simultaneously, Clack is able to show that combining many factors leads to synergistic effects that have been heretofore undiscovered in the literature… factors that we will attempt to describe in this extremely deep dive into energy modeling.
A Slow Take on the Texas Blackout [abridged]
In the middle of February 2021, an Arctic cold front wreaked havoc on Texas, causing a blackout that plunged more than 4 million customers into darkness and cold during single-digit temperatures. The crisis led to the deaths of nearly 200 people and an estimated $50 billion changed hands, saddling millions of customers, including ones in neighboring states, with unexpected excess costs.
What happened in Texas is an incredibly complex story involving many factors, from a simple lack of weatherization, to flaws in the state’s electricity market structure, to failed governance. And untangling that story, and identifying ways to prevent such a crisis from ever happening again, is a complex task. To help us with it, we invited several Energy Transition Show alumni—journalist Russell Gold of the Wall Street Journal, professor Emily Grubert of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and legal scholar Ari Peskoe of Harvard Law School—to join us in a four-way conversation that explores all the angles.
Investing in Energy Transition [abridged]
We have a very special guest for you in this episode: Jeremy Grantham, the legendary investor who co-founded GMO, a Boston-based institutional money management firm, more than 40 years ago. With more than $60 billion in assets under management, GMO has produced steady returns for its investors through market booms and busts, largely thanks to the steady hand of Grantham and his investing philosophy, which holds that sooner or later, most valuations return to the mean.
In this interview, we talked about Grantham’s investing philosophy; the history of investment bubbles; how he values investments; what’s happening in the markets as new retail traders using the Robinhood app and participating in Reddit-based trading groups drive stocks like Game Stop wild; what the Fed should do as the world recovers from the pandemic; his views on the massive expansion of the US national debt; how the world’s governments are responding to the challenge of climate change; the role of venture capital in energy transition; and his outlook for energy transition in general.
Hydrogen Economy 2.0 Part 2 [abridged]
This is part two of our three-hour interview with Dr. Simon Evans of Carbon Brief about their extensive survey of the developing hydrogen economy.
In part one of this interview, which we featured in Episode #142, we discussed the current expectations for the hydrogen economy, the various projections for hydrogen production and use; the different methods of producing hydrogen and the names we use to refer to them; the state of the global hydrogen business today; the potential roles that hydrogen might play in tackling climate change; and the questions around what hydrogen costs today and may cost in the future.
In this second part, we’ll talk about the various potential applications of hydrogen sector by sector and by use, and attempt to start sorting out where hydrogen might really have an edge, and where it might be just a potential application that might never become a commercial reality.
Hydrogen Economy 2.0 Part 1 [abridged]
Everyone seems to be excited about hydrogen lately, pointing out its many potential applications and claiming that a global hydrogen economy is a key strategy in energy transition. But how much of what we’re hearing is real, and how much of it is hype? What are all the ways that hydrogen is being produced, what is the global capacity for producing it now, what kind of investment would be needed to its production up to the needed levels, and where does hydrogen have a clear and tangible edge over competing technologies or energy sources?
In this episode, we present part one of a two-part, three-hour interview with Dr. Simon Evans, the deputy editor and policy editor for Carbon Brief, in which he shares their findings from dozens of interviews they conducted with experts who are knowledgeable about hydrogen’s potential, as well as from dozens of research reports and other resources.
In this first part of the interview, we’ll talk about the expectations for Hydrogen Economy 2.0; the various projections for hydrogen production and use; the different methods of producing hydrogen and the names we use to refer to them; the state of the global hydrogen business today; the potential roles that hydrogen might play in tackling climate change; and the questions around what hydrogen costs today and may cost in the future.
In part 2 of this interview, which will run as Episode #143, we’ll talk about the various potential applications of hydrogen sector by sector and use by use, and attempt to start sorting out where hydrogen might really have an edge, and where it might be just a potential application that might never become a commercial reality. So stay tuned for that!