David Owen's latest piece in The New Yorker has attracted much attention and rekindled interest in William Jevons and his paradox, and much ink has been spilled in support of and opposition to the article. Amidst the discussion, I'm struck that two rather obvious points haven't been made: Jevons' arguments wouldn't pass muster in any discipline other than economics, and Owen's arguments fail basic principles of logic.
The new natural gas conventional wisdom says that "shale changes everything." Access to these large volumes of relatively low-cost gas will raise U.S. natural gas prices and decrease price volatility. That's why prices are low now, and why they'll stay there in the future. Trouble is, the narrative really doesn't hold water. Maybe gas prices will stay low in the future, maybe they won't. But whichever the case, it won't be because of shale.
District energy is a big deal, and like most of our energy system, it's subject to a host of inconsistent and/or mutually contradictory regulations. Good policy would fix those inconsistencies. Problem is, lawmakers just don't understand it. So let's break it down.
If power companies have to pay for their CO2 emissions, what will happen to the price of electricity? The answer isn't as obvious as you think.
For those of you who missed my big screen debut last night in Millennium Park, it's safe to say you missed the opportunity of a lifetime.
Carbon capture and sequestration, the great hope of the coal industry, makes no economic sense under any scenario in which there's a price on carbon pollution. Here's why.
Economic activity tends to track energy use. In particular, demand for electricity is a reliable predictor of economic growth. Recent trends in electricity demand portend bad news for the economy (and the Democrats).
Suppose two factories produce and sell identical widgets at $1 each. Now, suppose a law is passed to provide one of those factories with $9 of additional revenue per widget. Clearly, this is law will distort markets. The $10 widget manufacturer will attract more investors and it will lobby hard to preserve that law. Meanwhile, the $1 manufacturer will struggle. If it survives, it will be through cost control and niche markets. After a few years of this, the $1 manufacturer may well have the better product, given their focus and discipline, while the $10 manufacturer will likely have the …
There’s some interesting new data out on recent shifts in electricity demand and consumption, courtesy of the DOE/EIA. In 2008, total U.S. power generation was 4.1 million GWh. In 2009, that fell by 4 percent, to 3.9 million. That’s a 4 percent reduction — clearly the result of the economic slowdown. Nothing surprising there. What’s interesting, though, is how generation shifted by fuel type. Over the same year, coal-fired power generation fell by 11 percent, from almost 2 million GWh to just under 1.8 million. US electricity generation, 2008-09Source: EIA Annual Carbon report, 2010 Enough numbers. The point is, generation …