481 episodes

Bi-weekly discussions on the latest trends in energy, cleantech, renewables, and the environment from Wood Mackenzie. Hosted by Ed Crooks.

The Energy Gang Wood Mackenzie

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 1.2K Ratings

Bi-weekly discussions on the latest trends in energy, cleantech, renewables, and the environment from Wood Mackenzie. Hosted by Ed Crooks.

    Rising electricity demand in Texas: the canary in the coalmine for the rest of the US? | Bonus Episode

    Rising electricity demand in Texas: the canary in the coalmine for the rest of the US? | Bonus Episode

    Conversations from the Gulf Coast Power Association conference. 

    This bonus episode of the Energy Gang was recorded live during the spring meeting of the Gulf Coast Power Association in Houston, Texas. Host Ed Crooks is joined by Beth Garza, President of the Gulf Coast Power Association, Frank O'Sullivan, Managing Director for Clean Energy at S2G Ventures, and Ken Medlock, Senior Director at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University. The GCPA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a strong energy industry in the Texas and Gulf Coast region.

    First up Ed speaks with Beth about the increase in electricity demand in the region. Unlike most of the US, the Gulf of Mexico coastal region has already been seeing growth in demand for electricity over past couple of decades. But now there are signs that this growth is being kicked into a higher gear as a result of a wave of new data centers, manufacturing facilities and LNG plants. We discuss the challenges and opportunities in this new era.

    Increasing strain on the Texas grid is one problem. The catastrophic consequences of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, in part caused by failures in natural gas supply and gas-fired generation, exposed how the system was unprepared for such an event. Beth Garza discusses the changes that have been made in the three years since then, and how the industry can tackle the new challenges facing the grid.

    Plus, Frank O’Sullivan and Ken Medlock join Ed on stage for a panel discussion on strategies for integrating new technologies as the demand for power rises. They debate the key trends in electricity demand growth, and the ability of Texas as a deregulated competitive market to respond to these new opportunities and difficulties.

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    2024 is a year of elections. What will they mean for clean energy?

    2024 is a year of elections. What will they mean for clean energy?

    As half the world heads to the polls, how important will the results be for efforts to cut emissions?

    Over half the world lives in a country that will be holding an election this year. The votes come at a time when resistance to the energy transition is building in many parts of the world, as concerns around energy security grow and some of the challenges of decarbonization come into focus. In the US, a finely-balanced election offers voters two sharply differing visions of the energy future. But there are other places around the world where elections could also shape the direction of energy policy, including the EU, where parties that are skeptical of climate action are on course to win an increased number of seats in the European Parliament.

    To explore the ramifications of these key elections around the world, host Ed Crooks is joined by Energy Gang regular Amy Myers Jaffe, director of New York University’s Energy, Climate Justice, and Sustainability Lab, and by Vijay Vaitheeswaran, global energy & climate innovation editor at The Economist. The show is recorded live from NYU, as the gang take part in discussions on the outlook for elections and energy policy in 2024.

    Together they debate the potential consequences of the US election for issues including permitting reform clean energy tax credits, and look at some other significant votes around the world, in India, Mexico, the European parliament among others.

    While other countries are arguing over the right course for energy policy, China is betting big on low-carbon technologies, adding a huge amount of manufacturing capacity in solar, EVs and lithium ion batteries. Those are what the Chinese government calls “the new three” sectors, intended to drive export growth, and they are having a far-reaching impacts on energy all around the world.

    The Biden administration has pinned its climate policy on using support for low-carbon energy to incentivize manufacturing investment and create well-paying jobs. But with China adding so much capacity in key sectors, sending prices for products such as solar panels tumbling, the challenges facing that strategy are growing. That is an issue that will play out in elections in the US and elsewhere this year: what does it mean for clean energy globally if China continues to dominate the competition?

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    • 54 min
    Everyone is worrying about rising demand for electricity. Do Microsoft and Google have an answer?

    Everyone is worrying about rising demand for electricity. Do Microsoft and Google have an answer?

    Big power users are getting together to accelerate the development of advanced clean energy technologies.

    The hottest topic in energy right now is the expected surge in demand for electricity. Data centers for AI, new factories, and electric vehicles are driving power consumption higher in the US, after about 15 years of stagnation. Solar and wind power can meet some of that increased demand, but many users, including data centers, want clean electricity round the clock. So there is a new urgency in the need for new clean energy technologies, including advanced nuclear, next-generation geothermal, low-carbon hydrogen, and long duration storage.

    Unlike wind and solar, these emerging technologies have not yet been deployed at scale, and they are generally have much higher costs. There is a chicken-and-egg problem: costs will only come down as these technologies scale up, but companies are reluctant to deploy them because they are too expensive.

    Now Google, Microsoft and Nucor have come up with an idea that could be at least part of the solution. They are collaborating on new commercial structures to help new clean energy technologies scale up and reduce the risk for investors.

    To discuss that plan, host Ed Crooks is joined by regular guest Dr Melissa Lott, professor at the climate school at Columbia University, and Michael Webber of the University of Texas at Austin. Michael is also chief technology officer at Energy Impact Partners, which is a $3 billion venture fund that invests in some of these emerging technologies. Together they debate the consequences of that surging demand for electricity, and the role of new technologies in avoiding disastrous outcomes for our international climate goals.

    They also talk about another promising source of clean energy: natural hydrogen, which is found in geologic reservoirs rather than being made from water or from methane. The US Geological Survey estimates there could be 5 trillion tons of natural hydrogen in rocks around the world; a vast, untapped energy reserve that could significantly contribute to meeting global low carbon hydrogen needs.

    Given that a world with net zero emissions could use about 500 million tons of low-carbon hydrogen a year, that is a very exciting resource base. But is it really plausible that natural hydrogen could be viable as a significant contribution to clean energy supplies? The energy gang has some answers.

    There’s an urgent need for innovative solutions to tackle rising energy demand. Join the discussion on X – we’re @theenergygang

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    • 1 hr 3 min
    How will utilities meet surging power demand?

    How will utilities meet surging power demand?

    AI isn’t just threatening to take our jobs, it’s also draining our electricity.

    Data centres centers used to have power demand measured in the tens of megawatts. Now they are in the hundreds of megawatts, and the new ones that are being proposed have demand in the thousands of megawatts: gigawatts. At the Distributech conference in Feburary, Harry Sideris of Duke Energy said it used to be a big deal when they had a customer wanting to add 10MW or 20MW of load. Now they have several planned data centers for AI needing 1000MW each. How is this additional demand being met?  

    The good news, from a climate point of view, is that part of the answer is going to be a lot more solar and wind power, and energy storage. The bad news is that, according to the plans that US utilities are setting out, there are going to be more gas-fired power plants, too. US gas-fired generation capacity is on course to rise by 25% over the next 15 years, and although those plants will increasingly be used mainly to back up variable solar and wind power, they still mean that the chances of achieving net zero emissions from electricity by 2035 look slim. 

    On this episode of Wood Mackenzie's The Energy Gang, Ed Crooks is joined by Amy Myers-Jaffe, Director of NYU’s Energy, Climate Justice and Sustainability Lab, who returns to the show to explore the feasible paths to net zero in light of increased energy demand. Also joining this week is Samantha Gross, Director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution. Together they debate the outlook for electricity demand, and take stock of the implications for theclimate goals of the Paris Agreement.

    One big question: Is it time to give up on the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C? The world looks like crossing that threshold soon. In fact, on one measure, we have already crossed it. The 1.5 degrees C limit has been seen as essential to avoid the worst effects of climate change. But John Kerry, who just stepped down as President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, said recently that the world was on course for more like 2.5 degrees of warming. Many businesses still have alignment with a 1.5 degree scenario as one of their climate goals. Ed, Amy and Samantha discuss whether it’s time to face reality and set new goals that are more likely to be achievable. 

    And finally, more evidence that despite all the negative commentary around EVs, on a global scale the industry is doing just fine. In China, sales are surging and prices are falling. Sales of what China calls “new energy vehicles” – that is, battery electrics, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles – were up 37.5% in the first two months of 2024 compared with the same period of 2023. In that period – January and February of 2024 – those New Energy Vehicles took 33.5% of the car market. The prices are on the way down too. Reuters has calculated that BYD has cut the prices of its EVs by an average of 17%. This seems like great news for cutting emissions and eventually decarbonizing road transport. But what does it mean for the car industries in other countries?

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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Bonus interviews from Distributech

    Bonus interviews from Distributech

    This bonus episode of Wood Mackenzie’s The Energy Gang is our third from the Distributech conference in Orlando.

    Distributech is the leading event for the electricity transmission and distribution industry in North America. It gave our host Ed Crooks a fantastic opportunity to talk to many of the leading figures from the industry, including those who provide technology for moving and managing electricity, and those who use that technology to serve their customers.

    In this episode, Ed is joined by Ali Ipakchi, Executive VP of Smart Grids and Green Power at OATI, a grid technology company. Ali was at Dtech in 2014, and some of the issues he was talking about then seem familiar still today. So what has really changed in technology for the power industry since then? Ali talks about how ideas and technologies that were cutting-edge and radical a decade ago are now becoming mainstream.

    Ed also sat down with Don McPhail, who’s Business Manager for energy and decarbonisation at Uplight, a software company that serves utilities. They talked about the importance of demand management, the integration of distributed energy resources, and the automation of customer engagement processes as examples of key factors for developing a more flexible and resilient power grid. 

    Finally, Ed talked to two of Wood Mackensie’s delegates at Distributech: Fahimeh Kazempour, head of grid modernisation, and Elham Akhavan, senior research analyst specialising in grid edge and microgrids. They share their impressions of the events, highlight some of the ideas and innovations they found most interesting, and explore the implications for the wider questions of the energy transition. 

    They also address a critical question in the hectic, exciting conversation about the power industry: how much of it is hype, and how much reflects real change? Fahimeh asks the question: whatever happened to the Blockchain?




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    • 1 hr 4 min
    How can we develop new energy technologies and get them deployed at scale?

    How can we develop new energy technologies and get them deployed at scale?

    On this episode of Wood Mackenzie's The Energy Gang: what the history of innovation in solar power and batteries can teach us about the right ways to support clean energy breakthroughs.

    As the world moves towards a more sustainable energy future, government support is essential for research to develop new technologies, and for investment to deploy them at scale. But policymakers often seem to be blundering in the dark, grasping for policies that they hope will have the outcomes they want. So how do we know which strategies will be most effective for encouraging the progress we need, both to bring down the costs of existing technologies such as solar and wind power, and to create new breakthroughs in areas such as long-duration battery storage and nuclear power.

    On today’s episode, host Ed Crooks and regular guest Melissa Lott are joined by newcomer Jessika Trancik, a professor of energy studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to discuss the progress of clean energy technologies.

    Jessika explains what we can learn from the success stories of the past half-century, such as solar panels and lithium ion batteries. Her work shows that a combination of government backing for R&D and market incentives for investment has been critical in driving innovation. In industries such as solar panels and batteries, where costs have plummeted, support for research and market signals such as feed-in tariffs have complemented each other, fostering competitive innovation in the private sector and delivering rapid progress in critical technologies.

    The gang discuss electric vehicles as one example of a technology that is receiving plenty of government support. Melissa discusses some new data on US emissions, showing that while there was a decline overall last year, the transport sector saw an increase. Even so, there are plenty of positive signs for the transition in the data, she says. While the shift to EVs may slow, it is still moving forward. Jessika wrote recently that “switching to an electric vehicle is one of the most impactful changes that an individual can make to reduce their personal contribution to climate change, and she explains that view.

    The costs of clean energy technologies aren’t limited to the price of the hardware. Soft costs, encompassing such items as labour, planning, permitting and logistics, can constitute a significant portion of the total expense. Inefficiencies in regulatory processes and in information-sharing can amplify these costs and contribute to delays in the adoption of new technologies.

    Jessika has been researching into soft technologies, which can include things like software, process knowledge and project management methods, to see how they can contribute to cost reduction and project acceleration. She talks about her work, which you can find out more about on the MIT website at news.MIT.edu.

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.2K Ratings

1.2K Ratings

Bill Loveless ,

Timely COP28 Updates!

Daily shows from Dubai so helpful in providing perspective on COP28 developments. And entertaining, too! Tnx!

tjsfan67 ,

Hard to listen to now

With the new hosts, it’s a rough go. So much repetition and weak analysis. It used to be one of my favorite podcasts, but I often can’t make it through an episode any longer. Shame.

user77iguess ,

Fell off

I understand they started getting bad reviews from LNG related topics, but having a highschool level conversation with those two professors from Colombia and Notre Dame that only know policy was out of touch. We need conversations with people that understand financial feasibility. Stop with green banks and get the forces that exist on the side of the climate transition, it’s historically what has actually worked.

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