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.
Making Climate Policy Work [abridged]
Why have nearly all attempts to price carbon failed, while targeted policies to achieve certain objectives, like phase out coal plants or increase wind and solar generation, succeeded? And how can we design climate policies that are truly effective?
In their new book, Making Climate Policy Work, Danny Cullenward and David Victor argue that policymakers and policy advocates rely too heavily on market forces to combat climate change, and instead should be focusing on smart, targeted industrial policy strategies aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse gases. Market-based climate policies are doing very little to reduce emissions today, they say, but with careful reforms, markets can be harnessed to help us make meaningful progress against the climate challenge.
In this episode we speak with one of the authors and try to distill a recipe for good climate policy from their book.
Methane Leakage [abridged]
Methane (natural gas) is a greenhouse gas with a much more powerful warming effect than carbon dioxide, so finding and eliminating gas leaks is an important part of addressing the climate challenge. But until now, we’ve had poor information about gas leakage within cities, as well as how to correctly attribute the leakage all along the chain from well to consumer.
In this episode we discuss a study, The Gas Index, with two of its authors. It is the first study that has provided granular estimates for life cycle methane leakage for a large number of cities, and the first to draw together recent assessments of leakage within cities, including leakage that occurs within buildings. It shows that cities’ gas systems are leaking about 72% more than had been previously estimated by the EPA.
We also consider the role of natural gas in the energy transition, and some of the tradeoffs we will have to consider as we deal with the problem of methane leakage.
In this lagniappe episode, we switch roles for the first time, with Chris as the guest and Utility Dive reporter Robert Walton as our guest host. Chris summarizes some of the insights he has gained from the past five years of research and writing about electric vehicles and vehicle-grid integration, including the various methods and speeds of charging, how we manage the loads of EV charging on utility grids, the roles that utilities can play in supporting transportation electrification, how fleet managers need to start preparing to electrify their own fleets, and what it all means for the future of utility grids.
Because it’s one of our lagniappe episodes, we’re running this show in its entirety in front of the paywall, so that non-subscribers can enjoy the whole thing as well. So listen in and learn how transportation electrification has the potential to make the largest impact of all on carbon emissions globally.
Transition in China [abridged]
China is both the greatest threat to the global climate, and, very possibly, our greatest hope for energy transition. It consumes more coal and produces more CO2 than any other nation on earth. It also has more installed capacity for wind and solar than any other nation, and the largest long-distance, high-voltage electricity transmission grid. It has more electric vehicles and more high speed rail than any other country. And it produces more steel, and cement, and housing, and just about everything else. If the energy transition is to be a success, it cannot happen without China.
But China remains opaque to non-Chinese speakers, and its conflicting information and narratives confound Western journalists. What is the actual trajectory of energy transition in China? Is it building more coal plants than anyone else… or is it leading the world in building wind and solar? What if the answer is… both? And can it meet its new target to get to net-zero emissions by 2060?
In this episode, expert Lauri Myllyvirta of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air joins us to share his extensive research on coal and air pollution in Asia, with a focus on his insights into what is really happening in China.
Energy and Climate in the Biden Administration [abridged]
What will the Biden-Harris administration mean for America’s energy transition, its relationship with the rest of the world, and for global action on climate? Beyond everybody’s policy wish lists, what’s actually likely to happen, and what do this administration’s top priorities need to be to put the U.S. back on track with climate action?
In this episode, we look at the realpolitik of the current situation, and weigh up the challenges that face us in rebuilding America, as well as what it will take to restore our relationship with the rest of the world and show leadership on climate and energy transition once again. And we consider what the staffing of the new administration can tell us about what kind of character it will have, and what the Cabinet’s policy priorities are likely to be.
In this final episode of 2020, we turn the page and look forward to putting America back on track, and getting back to some semblance of normal life again.
The Economic Superorganism [abridged]
As the energy transition proceeds and the world takes more aggressive steps to curb global warming, analysts from many disciplines are questioning how economic growth can be maintained, or if there are limits to growth—a concept first raised in the 1970s—that will also limit the progression of energy transition. Will we run into fundamental limits on resources and debt? Or can human ingenuity and technological innovation continue to overcome any limits we encounter?
These two narratives—techno-realism and techno-optimism—compete for our attention and argue for very different trajectories of energy transition. In this episode, we speak with researcher and author Carey King about his new book, The Economic Superorganism, which explores the scientific and rhetorical basis of the competing narratives both within and between energy technology and economics.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Educational and insightful
The perfect podcast for new learners in the sector as well as more experienced people as well in order to grasp the current conversations in the industry!
Be the most interesting guest at dinner parties
This podcast made me quit my cushy career and go back for a master’s degree. That is how powerful and well researched it is. The host interviews thoughtful guests who are cutting edge and prolific in their fields. His show can take you from a layman to an energy grid expert, after about 50-100 hours of listening, depending on how quickly you can pick up all of the acronyms.
I listen to this show when taking long steep hikes because it forces me to concentrate on the fascinating topics that range from basic concepts to the most far our technologies and complicated grid modeling or global fiscal planning of the grid. I download them for long drives in areas of no cell reception. I listen to it on flights. It’s my treat to myself when I want to learn, but can’t fathom to do the research myself.
It took me one whole year of free listening to the first 20 full podcasts and then abridged versions to subscribe. I’m so glad I did.
In the age of BS news and poor quality reporting in our sound byte culture, Chris Nelder gives listeners enough background and context to understand complex issues along with additional resources to take further dives.
If you are going to spend a few bucks on education this year, choose to learn about the complicated, bizarre and incredible world of energy and energy transition.
Best Podcast on Energy Transition
I’m an engineer but a novice to much of the content, so I need to look up some of the material to keep up, but boy; is it worth it! There isn’t another podcast with as much in-depth content about this subject as this one. Enjoy!