Bi-weekly discussions on the latest trends in energy, cleantech, renewables, and the environment from Wood Mackenzie. Hosted by Ed Crooks.
Thanksgiving Special: a family debate about energy
Thanksgiving is a special time in America when families across the country get together and argue. In honor of that tradition, host Ed Crooks and regular Amy Myers-Jaffe are joined by Danny and Toby Rice, two brothers who have both had very successful careers in energy but have gone in somewhat different directions.
Toby Rice is president and chief executive of EQT, the largest producer of natural gas in the US. He is an advocate for the benefits of exporting liquefied natural gas, and makes the case for its importance in strengthening energy security, creating jobs, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Danny Rice is chief executive of NET Power, which is developing utility-scale power plants with its proprietary technology that uses natural gas while capturing more than 97% of its emissions.
With Ed and Amy, they debate the case for gas as a climate solution. Is gas really any better than coal when full life-cycle emissions are counted? And even if it can reduce emissions, how much good is that when what we need is not lower carbon but zero carbon? How much does the case for gas rely on carbon capture and storage, which has no clear path to large-scale deployment?
Join us at the Energy Gang table for a Thanksgiving debate on family, energy, and what we should be thankful for.
Will oil, gas and coal peak by 2030?
The International Energy Agency last week published its World Energy Outlook, which is its big annual review of everything that is going on in the world of energy.
One of the headlines that has been attracting a lot of attention is the forecast that, on current trends, demand for all three fossil fuels – that is, oil, gas and goal – will peak before 2030. The IEA’s report states that the pathway to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the objective the world set in the Paris Agreement, is still open. Although if we carry on as we are, by 2030 it won’t be.
Joining Ed Crooks to discuss the IEA’s views and progress in the transition away from fossil fuels are Dr Melissa Lott and Amy Myers-Jaffe. Regular Energy Gang guests, Melissa is Director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Amy heads up NYU’s Energy, Climate Justice and Sustainability Lab.
They debate whether this decade might witness the arrival of peak fossil fuel demand. What are the forecasts saying, and are they believable? The gang weigh up the recent tide of bad news about electric vehicles. Should we be preparing for an abrupt turn away from EVs? What could it mean for oil demand if it happened? And how should we interpret the two recent mega-deals in the US oil industry?
Plus: offshore wind is in trouble. Rising interest rates and supply chain issues are driving up costs, and big projects in the US are being cancelled. Can the industry find a way out of its predicament?
And finally, China’s share of global production of spherical graphite, used in battery anodes, is over 99%, putting it in a strong position in global supply chains. Now China has announced new export restrictions on several forms of graphite, raising questions about whether a new vulnerability has been exposed for US and European battery and EV manufacturers.
It’s a packed show, and as always we are keen to hear your thoughts and comments. You can find us on most platforms as @theenergygang. Subscribe to the show so you don’t miss the next one, out every second Friday at 7am ET.
Fifty years since the first Oil Shock: how much has changed?
This week marks 50 years, almost to the day, since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo on the US, which led to global oil prices soaring. Oil’s potential role as a political weapon was thrown into sharp relief, and the world woke up to a new awareness of the vital importance of energy security.
On the Energy Gang this week, Ed Crooks hosts Robbie Orvis and Amy Myers Jaffe, to explore the parallels between that first great oil shock and the economic and political issues arising from the conflict in the Middle East today. Robbie is Senior Director of Modeling and Analysis at the think-tank Energy Innovation, and Amy is Director of NYU’s Energy, Climate Justice and Sustainability Lab. Together they discuss the implications for energy security in the US, and around the world, of the fighting that began with the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.
This month US oil production has hit a new all-time record high, at 13.2 million barrels a day. This surge in production means the US will be a net exporter of crude and oil products this year, to the tune of almost 2 million barrels a day. That sounds like it should help US energy security, but does it really? Despite surging production, US consumers remain vulnerable to fluctuations in fuel prices. Reducing oil consumption, as the gang discuss, could be the best way to strengthen energy security.
Electric vehicles play a critical role in helping to break our addiction to oil. There have been some big changes in that industry this year, with most leading auto-makers, including Hyundai, Kia, Ford, GM, and others, adopting the North American Charging Standard developed by Tesla. That is a big win for Elon Musk, but more importantly it’s a big win for customers, who won’t have to worry about getting an EV with the right connection ports to find public chargers. It’s like Lightning cables versus USB-C, but with much more at stake.
Finally, we look once again at the ever-evolving hydrogen sector. The Biden administration last week announced the seven Hydrogen Hubs selected to share $7 billion in government funding to accelerate the domestic market for clean hydrogen. The hubs are spread around the country, from the Pacific Northwest to south Texas, and are intended to catalyse more than $40 billion of private sector investment.
The idea behind the hubs is that developing the industry in a few locations will make it easier to share infrastructure and a skilled workforce, helping to bring costs down faster. But questions still remain about how big a role hydrogen can play in the energy transition.
It’s a packed show, and as usual we are keen to hear thoughts and comments. You can find us on most platforms – we’re @theenergygang. Subscribe to the show so you don’t miss the next one, out every second Friday at 7am ET.
The energy transition needs minerals. Is deep sea mining the best way to get them?
The International Energy Agency last month held its first ever summit to discuss Critical Minerals and Clean Energy. It was attended by more than 50 countries, which came together to discuss ways to secure the critical minerals that are needed to make the transition to low-carbon energy.
Whether it’s copper wiring in electricity systems, steel in a wind turbine, or lithium in an EV battery, metals are vital for low-carbon technologies, and demand is only going to increase over the next decade. New mines for these metals can take a long time to bring into production, raising fears about whether supplies can keep up. One solution to this problem that’s been getting a lot of attention recently is sea-bed mining.
It is a potentially significant new source of supply for some of these critical metals, but it’s also highly controversial because of the damage it could do to deep water ocean ecosystems.
On the Energy Gang this week, Ed Crooks is back in the host’s chair, and joined by regular Amy Harder, Executive Editor of Cipher, a news outlet supported by Breakthrough Energy.
Amy recently interviewed the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, in New York, and she details the main takeaways from that conversation on the show today. Some Norwegian lawmakers have called for a 10-year delay to the country’s plans to allow deep sea mining so that the environmental impacts can be studied.
Dr Melissa Lott, Director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, is also on the show and she outlines some of those environmental impacts.
The demand for critical minerals could necessitate offshore mining, but it is not the only possible option.
Recycling can be another source of increased supply. A study from the International Council on Clean Transportation said that at the end of last year, US plants had the capacity to produce about 100,000 tons a year of recycled battery materials. Total capacity for proposed new plants that have been announced is about 650,000 tons a year.
Even that is still only enough for about 1.3 million EVs a year, which might be roughly the number that will be sold in the US this year. So as the market grows, we are going to need more.
Plus, the IEA published a report last week called the ‘Net Zero Roadmap’, which said the road was still open to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But is it really feasible? Is it time to call it, admit that that goal is out of reach, and concentrate on a more achievable target? Could carbon capture now be our only hope of reaching that goal?
Subscribe to the show so you don’t miss an episode, out every second Friday, and follow the conversation on X – we’re @theenergygang.
The Energy Gang at the London Hydrogen Conference – Part 2
Host Ed Crooks brings you the second of two special episodes recorded live from Wood Mackenzie’s Hydrogen Conference.
In the rapidly changing energy landscape, hydrogen has become a hot topic. For some, it represents a beacon of potential for meeting global net-zero ambitions. For others, it is a costly and ineffective blind alley. As the clean energy transition advances, hydrogen has seen a surge in interest and investment around the world. This episode delves into different facets of the hydrogen revolution, examining its transformative potential from various perspectives.
The episode starts off with Will Lochhead, Deputy Director and Head of Hydrogen Production and Storage Business Models at the UK government’s Department For Energy Security and Net Zero. The UK government has firmly set its sight on reducing uncertainties and mitigating risks associated with the hydrogen economy, to open up new opportunities for potential market participants. The British government has set an ambition of reaching up to 10 gigawatts of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. Will Lochhead discusses a key tool for achieving that goal: the Low Carbon Hydrogen Agreement, the contract designed to underpin hydrogen production business models.
One promising use for low-carbon hydrogen, that could play an important role in the energy transition, is for making low-carbon ammonia. Today, ammonia is predominantly used in the production of fertilizers. In the future, we might see a more wider use of low-carbon ammonia, expanding into power generation and industrial processes.
A leading producer of ammonia, OCI Global, is pioneering sustainable ammonia production, viewing it as a viable solution in the decarbonisation journey. With projects around the world, OCI sees the potential for low-carbon ammonia as a versatile product: a fuel for sectors including power and shipping, and potentially as a vector for transporting hydrogen around the world. Akshay Bhardwaj, head of commercial business development for global ammonia at OCI Global, joins us to discuss the potential transformation of the industry.
Low-carbon ammonia could also play a role in cutting emissions from agriculture. Laura Cross, Director of Market Intelligence at the International Fertiliser Association, shares insights on the key issues in the industry, including the cost implications. The industry faces some significant challenge in building a substantial market for low-carbon fertilisers.
Lastly we hear from David Burns, Vice President of Clean Energy at Linde, on how hydrogen and carbon capture fit together. He argues that as we strive for a net-zero future, long-term decisions must strike a balance between today's capabilities and future technology developments. “Blue” hydrogen, while not entirely emissions-free, is cost-effective, easily scalable, and plays a key role in most current large-scale low-carbon projects.
By contrast, “green” hydrogen, while producing minimal emissions, faces significant challenges in terms of cost, scalability, and technological readiness. Betting only on green hydrogen and ignoring the potential of blue could mean missing out on substantial opportunities to cut emissions in the shorter term. So what’s the answer?
Follow the conversation on X, the platform we know as Twitter – we’re @theenergygang. And subscribe to the show so you don’t miss an episode.
The Energy Gang at the London Hydrogen Conference – Part 1
Host Ed Crooks brings you the first of two special episodes recorded live from Wood Mackenzie’s Hydrogen Conference
Industry leaders and energy analysts gathered recently for the second annual Wood Mackenzie Hydrogen Conference, where they debated the potential of hydrogen in the global energy mix. Join host Ed Crooks in the first of two special episodes from the conference, with part two coming out tomorrow.
The conference provided a forum to discuss how hydrogen, with all its potential and challenges, can help to shape the course of the energy industry. Hydrogen, long considered the energy carrier of the future, is finally claiming its position in the present reality of decarbonised energy systems. As the world debates how best to meet the challenge of climate change, low-carbon hydrogen is becoming a central part of the conversation about the clean energy transition.
The shift towards hydrogen presents both challenges and opportunities for energy companies around the globe. The rising prominence of hydrogen will require concerted efforts to surmount obstacles related to safety, emissions, social acceptability, and above all, cost.
Andy Lane, the Vice President of Hydrogen and Carbon capture in the UK for BP, spoke on a panel at the event and discussed the importance of China for the future of clean energy and the fight to limit climate change.
In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed last year, is intended to establish the nation as one of the world leaders in low-carbon hydrogen. Rick Beuttel from Bloom Energy and Mona Bagat of KBR Consulting talk about the impact of those government incentives, and how the US is positioned in the low-carbon hydrogen race. They also debate the relative advantages and drawbacks of “green” hydrogen, made by electrolysing water using renewable energy, and “blue” hydrogen, made from natural gas and with the carbon emissions captured and stored.
This conference also provided insight into technology leaders navigating the challenges of a rapidly-evolving energy market. Ines Kraft from German electrolyser company, Sunfire, explained how they recently installed the world's first multi-megawatt high temperature electrolyser for green hydrogen production. She discusses the daunting challenge the EU faces in meeting its 2030 goal for developing a new low-carbon hydrogen industry.
Finally, we wrap up part 1 from the conference with Andre Pina from EDP Renewables discussing opportunities for an international market in hydrogen and its derivatives traded around the world.
Don’t forget part 2 from the conference is out tomorrow, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!
Clean and crisp conversations on the energy transition
Clean and crisp conversations on the unwinding energy transition. Americans can be smart.