Michael Hoexter

Michael Hoexter works in marketing energy-efficiency projects and renewable energy in California. He writes a blog on EE/RE, climate and energy policy, and climate ethics. Later this year, Elsevier will be publishing a book in which he contributed a chapter on energy conservation and energy efficiency.

Bill & TED's excellent adventure

Bill Gates and our innovation addiction: A recipe for climate inaction

Bill Gates’ recent entry into the discussion about climate action and technology is welcome. Not only is Gates a very smart guy and one of the world’s leading philanthropists, but he also has at least the reputation of knowing what he is talking about when it comes to technology and innovation. That being said, his opening moves in this discussion — his speech at the TED conference and a post on his blog — are not beyond criticism. Though by no means his intention, Gates is encouraging a peculiar type of 21st century passivity by government officials, investors, and activists …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 15

Passing the buck or paying the piper

We have just gone through a period in the U.S. when very little new public infrastructure was built (with the exception of wired and wireless telecommunications infrastructure). Led by a generation and a half of politicians and economic theorists — as well as our own inclinations — Americans have become used to believing that a cheaper, more convenient option is always within reach through reliance on increasingly globalized markets. Our national specialization has become consumption, holding up the export economies of countries with lower labor costs by consuming ever more cheap goods, taking on increasing levels of debt in the …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 14

Renewable energy promotion policies: transparent

The previously discussed finance mechanisms tend to hide the costs of building renewable generators by concealing the actual cost per unit of electricity and costs for the ratepayers or taxpayers as a whole. In an era when so much is hanging on energy policy, it makes more sense to consider policies that do not pull punches when it comes to costs and benefits. Renewable Energy Payments A more transparent approach to spurring the market for renewable energy technologies are Renewable Energy Payments, a.k.a. feed-in tariffs. REPs name and guarantee a feasible price for renewable power from supported technologies under a …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 13

Renewable energy promotion policies: non-transparent or hidden

Tax credit policies One of the ways the gap between market price and feasible price of renewable energy plants has been bridged is through tax benefits to investors. Just as the oil and gas industries have enjoyed various tax benefits to encourage investment in drilling, exploration, and production facilities, in the last couple decades investors in renewable generators have enjoyed either production or investment tax credits that contribute about 3 cents to the value of a kilowatt hour of renewably generated electricity for the producer. While these subsidies are set to expire at the end of 2008, most plans for …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 12

How do we build (energy) infrastructure?

The enthusiasm for unregulated markets in the last 30 years of American public policy has obscured how large pieces of infrastructure get built. Unregulated markets, to work according to their ideal, require economic actors to be able to create competing offers which are judged by consumers or buyers according to the total value they represent. Infrastructure, by its nature, involves building structures so massive that competition is considered economically inefficient, if not socially undesirable (two roads or bridges that “compete” with each other would be an eyesore and end up being much more expensive for society). Power plants, inclusive of …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 10

Renewables and the ‘Cheap Energy Contract’

Earlier in this series, we established that electric-driven transport can fairly rapidly substitute for petroleum in most ground transport applications and that renewable electric generators will be the most quickly deployable and functional of the available energy alternatives. However, there are challenges and barriers to overcome in order to move quickly toward the clean energy economy of the near future, as we have not yet seen a strong, spontaneous market for such a solution emerge on its own. This is where policy and the structure of our financing system for infrastructure and energy are key. The next few installments will …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 6

Why electricity is the energy carrier of choice

Our already substantial 120-year investment in an electric infrastructure in industrial countries, makes the transition to a electricity based energy economy less expensive. There are sound physical reasons why the three main contenders for the energy supply for transport turn out to be the three electron economies: renewables, nuclear, and coal CCS. We have determined there that electric drive vehicles either attached to the grid or powered by some version of a battery can do most of the on-land transport tasks now dependent on oil supplies. There are other reasons why electricity is valuable for driving stationary machinery as well, …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 5

More ideas for a post-oil society

This is the fifth in a series on how we can build an energy future based on our best science and no longer critically dependent upon exhaustible and polluting fossil fuels. Promoting battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles Governments can play a key role in promoting electric vehicles by buying electric vehicles en masse and helping develop battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric fleets and fleet systems. With current technology, battery electric trucks could already function as postal delivery trucks. Beyond the gasoline hybrid, government service vehicles should be mandated to be electric or PHEV/EREVs with few exceptions. As is …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 2

The five transport energy solutions and one imperative

This is the second in a series on how we can build an energy future based on our best science and no longer critically dependent upon exhaustible and polluting fossil fuels. The Five Transport Energy Solutions and One Imperative There are five fundamental options to move into a post-oil, post-natural gas energy world and one imperative: Imperative A: End-use energy efficiency and conservation. We will have to invest less in new energy supply if we get more from the energy we use (efficiency) as well as act and plan in a way that recognizes the limited nature of natural resources …

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