Business & Technology

Green jobs: debunking the debunkers

Energy markets are neither free nor efficient, so traditional economic arguments against regulation and other government interventions do not apply.  In response to my recent article digging into green jobs, a reader sent me a copy of a March paper by Andrew Morriss et al at University of Illinois that attempts to debunk green jobs myths.  While I see major flaws in most green jobs papers I read, many of the myths cited by this paper are irrelevant to what I consider the most important questions: Can government intervention to clean up the energy sector create jobs and boost the …

Sun Worshippers Descend on Bay Area

Intersolar gathering

Fifteen thousand solar devotees from around the world are expected to meet in San Francisco this week in an event that organizers hope will “create strong global relationships.” Actually, the sun worshippers will be fully-clothed (many in suits, no doubt). These movers and shakers, metaphorically speaking, will be attending the continent’s largest business-to-business solar trade conference and exhibition, called Intersolar, from July 14-16 at the Moscone Center. Intersolar has been holding similar gatherings in Germany for eight years, helping businesses from across the solar supply chain meet, network and cut deals. The first North American Intersolar event was organized last …

Sun city

Washington state may soon be home to world’s largest PV solar project

About four miles from the town of Cle Elum, Wash., there is a large, flat piece of land surrounded by a ring of 50-foot-tall Ponderosa Pines. The area has been repeatedly logged over the last few decades and is now relatively treeless. But it may soon be home to an entirely different sort of renewable resource. The land has been purchased by investors who want to build a 400-acre solar park that would generate 75 megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power 45,000 homes — making it the largest solar photovoltaic facility in the world. The world’s largest solar …

From ProPublica

Energy industry sways Congress with misleading data

This story was written by ProPublica’s Adam Lustgarten. The two key arguments that the oil and gas industry is using to fight federal regulation of the natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing — that the costs would cripple their business and that state regulations are already strong — are challenged by the same data and reports the industry is using to bolster its position. One widely-referenced study (PDF) estimated that complying with regulations would cost the oil and gas industry more than $100,000 per gas well. But the figures are based on 10-year-old estimates and list expensive procedures that …

Yes, we Kahn

Carbon trading: Worthy of Feinstein’s ire?

“Deregulation shifts the major burden of consumer protection to the competitive market, and therefore, in important measure, to the enforcement of antitrust laws.” – Alfred E. Kahn, Lessons for Deregulation: Telecommunications and Airlines after the Crunch. I’ve always found the above to be one of the wiser quotes about deregulation. (Kahn, for those who don’t know him, was at the helm of the Civil Aviation Board when airlines were deregulated, and has since written some of the more insightful pieces on deregulatory processes in multiple industries.) What does this have to do with commodities and Senator Feinstein? Recently, she announced …

No continent left behind

Climate talks should not focus on China and India at Africa’s expense

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has already failed Africa, some observers believe, so why bother post-2012 when the existing CDM framework established under the Kyoto Protocol expires? But as the international community prepares to negotiate a new climate pact, we should care about extending the CDM, and care a great deal. After all, the CDM was created with the dual goals of promoting sustainable development in developing countries and reducing costs of compliance in regards to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rich countries. In the early years of the CDM, the market rewarded the lowest hanging fruit — reductions in …

Why Don’t Gas and Coal Love (Some) Climate Solutions?

Coal-nundrum and Ex-gas-peration

Recently, I met with the CEO of a utility to discuss how to get at carbon reduction goals. He asked two insightful questions. The first was, “Why doesn’t the natural gas industry support climate legislation?” One of the key points turned up in the utility’s analysis of future supply is that we’re going to have to switch massively from coal to natural gas in the next fifty years to address climate change.  Because of that, the natural gas industry can’t lose: it’s a key transition fuel because its carbon intensity is half that of coal, and it’s a proven source …

Not all green jobs are created equal

The stimulus package and the climate bill recently passed by the US House and now being considered in the Senate will create jobs while delivering a boost to our economy. A “green” stimulus will create approximately three times as many jobs as the same amount of spending in traditional energy industries. But clean energy is too diverse to consider a single industry. What are the differential jobs creation effects of different types of clean energy and are the most effective sectors getting the most money? In my next Greener Money column for Smart Energy Living Magazine, I look into the …

A tale of two emissions factors

How much CO2 do our nation’s coal and gas plants actually produce?

It was the best of half-centuries, it was the worst of half-centuries … Broadly speaking, there are only three things we can do to lower CO2 emissions: switch fuels, use energy more efficiently, or use less energy (conserve). Our CO2 conversations too often focus on one of those three in isolation: Coal bad. Recycled waste heat good. Conservation isn’t an energy policy. Each assertion is both narrowly true and broadly incorrect, to the extent that each simplifies three prongs into one. To understand why, try to answer a simple question: if we shifted our power generation fleet to preferentially dispatch …