6 episodes

To slow climate change, we need to transform our homes, buildings, cars, and economy quickly. "The Big Switch" explains how to rebuild the energy systems all around us. Dr. Melissa Lott of Columbia University brings together historical examples, current events, and incisive analysis to give listeners a deep understanding of the solutions to climate change.

The Big Switch Dr. Melissa Lott

    • Education
    • 4.9 • 71 Ratings

To slow climate change, we need to transform our homes, buildings, cars, and economy quickly. "The Big Switch" explains how to rebuild the energy systems all around us. Dr. Melissa Lott of Columbia University brings together historical examples, current events, and incisive analysis to give listeners a deep understanding of the solutions to climate change.

    Regulation: Why the Rules Matter

    Regulation: Why the Rules Matter

    How do you build a championship zero-carbon “team” on the grid? We could have the best players in the world — rooftop solar, batteries, net metering, demand response, high-voltage transmission, and so many others — but if the rules prevent these technologies from playing ball, then we won’t be able to decarbonize fast enough.

    In our fifth episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores how the rules of the grid impact the clean energy transition.

    • 37 min
    Balancing: The High-Wire Act of the Distributed Grid

    Balancing: The High-Wire Act of the Distributed Grid

    Matching electricity supply and demand is a high-wire balancing act. As we add more solar, wind and batteries, and shut down thermal generation, it shifts the balance. New kinds of distributed resources can help to balance things out -- but they also make grid management more complex.

    In our fourth episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the new ways to manage the zero-carbon grid.

    • 30 min
    Transmission: Connecting the Zero-Carbon Grid

    Transmission: Connecting the Zero-Carbon Grid

    We need a dramatic build-out of the transmission system to connect renewable energy to the places that need it, while managing a wider range of local resources. How do we build it quickly, cheaply, and in a respectful way?

    In our third episode of season 3, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the role of transmission in decarbonizing the grid system.

    • 34 min
    Generation: Building a Zero-Carbon Sports Team

    Generation: Building a Zero-Carbon Sports Team

    Building a low-carbon grid is like building a sports team with star players and supporting players. Or, more accurately, it’s like re-building a sports team, where you have to go from underdogs to world champs. 

    In our second episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the shifting power plant mix through sports metaphor.

    • 29 min
    The Grid: The Zero-Carbon Backbone

    The Grid: The Zero-Carbon Backbone

    The electric grid is the vast machine that powers everything around us. It’s also the part of the energy system where we're seeing the most dramatic changes as we address climate change.

    So what are the stakes, solutions and tradeoffs as we move to a net-zero energy system?

    In our first episode of season 1, Dr. Melissa Lott explores the intricacies of how the grid runs everything around us — and why it’s so vital to decarbonizing our economy.

    • 37 min
    Introducing: The Big Switch

    Introducing: The Big Switch

    Welcome to our first season of "The Big Switch." It's a five-part series that explores how the power grid works, how it's changing, and how those changes can benefit society.

    Your host is Dr. Melissa Lott of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.

    To slow climate change, we need to transform our buildings, our homes, cars, and the economy as quickly as possible. But how do we do it right? 

    Subscribe to "The Big Switch" everywhere you find podcasts.

    • 3 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
71 Ratings

71 Ratings

The Cryptwriters Podcast ,

Peter

As a energy pr person this is fascinating listening. Content and host compelling. Recommended.

R in Texas ,

Tell the whole story!

Love the idea of trying bring esoteric details of our coming energy transition to a wider audience and make the wonky details relatable. More of the public needs to understand how important this is and get engaged.

In practice the first season seemed to miss the mark weaving in the Texas story without ever actually explaining why any of this happened. 100% of the blame needs to go to the decades long campaign by TXOGA and the O & G industry to resist regulation, resist weatherization or anything that would increase costs even marginally. And yes the TX legislature that happily played along. Weatherization and requirements to store gas reserves were nonexistent in TX compared with other states. In any other state the 2011 freeze would have resulted in actual changes not suggestions. Louisiana and NM had massive ice storms that same week but virtually no blackouts. The post-blackout Leg session very nearly saw TXOGA defeat weatherization again. The governor ordered wind generators to pay for a problem it didn’t create.

I get that some of the experts interviewed aren’t in a position professionally to point fingers at politicians, but you need to have guests on that can actually explain why decision makers made these decisions. These things didn’t just happen because the grid is complicated. Decision makers made them happen.

Piero dF ,

Fascinating podcast

Very interesting and informative. Clear and relatable explanations of renewable energy and grids to support it.

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