Filter by:
Order by:
Order:
Display:
Miniseries:
Topic:

Free Complete Shows

[Episode #211] – Doomers vs. Transitionistas

Full Episode

Should our response to global warming focus on technologies that reduce emissions, or on embracing simpler lifestyles? Why do some believe that deploying more renewables and accelerating the energy transition is essential, while others advocate for ‘degrowth’ instead, and claim that switching to renewables is counterproductive?

Today’s conversation explores a recent paper by lifecycle assessment researcher Marco Raugei of Oxford Brookes University, in which he describes an ongoing debate between “systemic pessimists” who focus on humanity’s demands for resources and dismiss renewable technologies, and “technological optimists” who focus on the technologies of the energy transition but do not address other planetary boundaries. We describe these two tribes and their beliefs, identify their points of disagreement, and try to suggest a way forward.

We’ll also discuss another recent paper Marco co-authored exploring whether there are important material limits to the energy transition. And to wrap it up, Chris offers his longest monologue yet, in which he draws a distinction between “techno-optimists” and energy transition advocates, and suggests some ways that we might advance the debate beyond its current unhelpful framing.

Ultimately, we hope this episode will persuade some “systemic pessimists” to consider shifting their narrative from doom and to refocus on actively solving problems, including the problem of global warming.

Geek rating: 9

(more…)

[Episode #197] – Virtual Power Plants (VPPs)

Full Episode

The time may have arrived for Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) to fully realize their potential. In a VPP, groups of distributed energy resources (DERs) like EVs, batteries, and heat pumps can be managed to consume power when it is inexpensive, avoid consuming power when it is expensive, and even provide power back to the grid when supplies are limited.

While VPPs have been around for many years, operating commercially in places like Australia, the US power grid has not seen wide-scale integration. This is now changing because VPPs can help the grid do more with less - supporting new loads without requiring expensive new investments in grid expansion.

In this episode, Jigar Shah, Director of the Loan Programs Office at the US Department of Energy, joins us to share his vision of a much-expanded role for VPPs on the power grid and why he thinks the sector is ready to scale up. You’ll hear how a handful of VPPs and programs to support them have been launched in the US. You’ll also hear how the US Department of Energy is exploring ways to accelerate the development and integration of VPPs, including making financing available through Jigar’s office to support the adoption of VPP-enabled DERs under the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing program.

And because Jigar is with the Department of Energy, sharing information that should be accessible to everyone, we decided to make this one of our occasional lagniappe shows and put it in front of the paywall so that premium and free listeners alike can enjoy it. Hey free listeners, now you can see what you’ve been missing!

Geek rating: 8

(more…)

[Episode #182] – 7th Anniversary Show

Full Episode

For our Seventh Anniversary show, energy researcher Jonathan Koomey rejoins us to review major stories over the past year, and to take stock of how the energy transition has progressed.

We talk about how the global energy crunch we covered in 2021, in Episode #158, has evolved into a full-fledged global energy crisis in 2022. We reflect on the theme of Episode #181, “Command Capitalism,” and consider the increasing interventions governments are making in energy markets to manage the crisis. We muse on the episodes we did over the past year on the trajectory and speed of the energy transition. We consider the outlook for storage systems, in light of the episodes we did on that subject. We discuss how incumbents have resisted the energy transition, as we covered in our episode on utility corruption, and ask whether incumbents are gaining or losing ground. We review the highlights of our shows on the latest IPCC report and on climate modeling. And Jon shares some of his latest work in energy modeling.

It's a smörgåsbord of energy transition goodness, so strap on a napkin and join us!

Geek rating: 8

(more…)

[Episode #180] – Transition in Alberta

Full Episode

Alberta is the seat of the Canadian oil & gas industry, as well as a major coal producer, so it has historically struggled to align with the energy transition - focusing more on pipelines than turbines. But Alberta is changing. Now, the province has implemented numerous policies designed to support the transition, installing a significant amount of wind and solar power generation capacity. According to the Alberta Electric System Operator, 14% of the province’s electricity generation in 2020 was from renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar.

In this episode, we are joined by energy expert Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon to discuss the challenges and opportunities for energy transition in Alberta. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, where she directs the Masters of Sustainable Energy Development program. She is an expert in energy, innovation, and climate policy, and her work is focused on understanding how energy and industrial transitions happen within different sectors of the economy, and how policy responses can improve outcomes. She is also the co-host of the Energy vs. Climate podcast, which will run this conversation on their podcast feed as well.

We talk about the recent history of the various efforts to build pipelines and LNG facilities to export more Canadian oil and gas; the outlook for exports of hydropower; the progress of Canada’s coal phase-out; and the potential for expanding renewable generation in the province, including geothermal. Sara also shares her perspective on how Canada’s carbon tax regime has played out.

Geek rating: 5

(more…)

[Episode #151] – Best of ETS Vol. 1

Full Episode

We are taking a break from our usual podcast production schedule in July 2021 while Chris prepares to focus on Energy Transition Show full-time. In lieu of a regular interview, we are offering this lagniappe episode. Episode #151 is a compilation of nearly three hours of material that was previously available only to our paid subscribers, excerpted from five of our most popular conversations during the past two years.

We look forward to resuming our regular interview schedule in August, with a refreshed brand and some exciting new features for our members!

Guest #1: Dr. Glen Peters has been a Senior Researcher at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway, for nearly ten years. His current research focuses on the causes of recent changes in carbon dioxide emission trends at the global and country level, and how these changes link to future emission pathways consistent with global climate objectives. He is particularly interested in how emission scenarios are created, interpreted, and used, and how this relates to ongoing policy discussions. He has a background in mathematics and physics.

On Twitter: @Peters_Glen
On the Web:

CICERO home page
Google Scholar page
Blog at CICERO

Guest #2: Dmitrii Bogdanov is a researcher and doctoral student at the Solar Economy Laboratory at LUT – the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland. For the past 5 years he has worked on renewable energy systems and energy transition. His focus is on optimal transition pathways and the role of the emerging technologies (PtX, battery storage, HVDC, electric vehicles) and new concepts (prosumers, vehicle-to-grid) in energy transition. At the Solar Economy Laboratory, he is responsible for study methodology and model development, regional studies, and global studies along with his colleagues and their professor, Christian Breyer.

On the Web: Dmitrii’s page on ResearchGate

Guest #3: Mark Lewis is Head of Climate Change Investment Research at BNP Paribas Asset Management. Previously, he was Head of Research and Managing Director at Carbon Tracker, a non-profit company based in London which publishes research on the financial aspects of climate risk. Prior to Carbon Tracker, Mark was Managing Director and Head of European Utilities Research at Barclays (2015-18), Chief Energy Economist at Kepler Cheuvreux (2014-15), and Managing Director and Global Head of Energy Research at Deutsche Bank, where he worked for 14 years until 2013. In addition to his experience as a sell-side financial analyst, Mark spent one year as Deputy Head of investor relations at E.ON at the beginning of the Energiewende, and two years as a credit analyst covering the European utility sector at Standard & Poor’s. In total, Mark has over 20 years’ experience as a financial analyst covering global energy and environmental markets.

On Twitter: @MCL1965
On the Web: Mark’s page at BNP Paribas

Guest #4: Kingsmill Bond is the Energy Strategist for Carbon Tracker, a London-based clean energy think tank. He believes that the energy transition is the most important driver of financial markets and geopolitics in the modern era. Over a 25 year career as an equity analyst and strategist at institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Sberbank and Citibank, he has researched emerging markets, the shale revolution and the impact of US energy independence. At Carbon Tracker, he has written about the impact of the energy transition on financial markets, domestic politics and geopolitics, and authored a series of reports on the myths of the energy transition, looking at the many arguments made by incumbents to deny the reality of change.

On Twitter: @KingsmillBond

On the Web: Kingsmill’s page at Carbon Tracker

Guest #5: Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development. He has been advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

On the Web: jeffsachs.org

Geek rating: 5

(more…)

[Episode #139] – Vehicle-Grid Integration

Full Episode

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.

Geek rating: 7

(more…)

[Episode #118] – Open and Answered Questions

Full Episode

In this lagniappe episode, we ask: what are some unanswered questions about the energy transition from five years ago, but that seem answered today? And what are the new questions that have emerged over the past five years which remain unanswered today? Those are the topics of this first-ever joint production of the Energy Transition Show and the Interchange podcast, which is being delivered to the audience of both shows. And because it’s one of our two annual Energy Transition Show lagniappe episodes, we’re running the full show in front of the paywall, so that all of our free listeners can enjoy the whole thing as well!


Energy Transition Show C19 Response: At this time where more of our listeners are working from home, The Energy Transition Show is offering a C19 Response special offer: a free month for new annual subscribers, only $2 per month for students and 10% off for new group subscriptions. Please visit this link for more details and stay safe! https://energytransitionshow.com/c19-response


Geek rating: 7

(more…)

[Episode #100] – Teaching Energy Transition

Full Episode

For our 100th episode, we thought we’d do a little something special: Interview professors from four US universities who are using the Energy Transition Show as coursework, and make the full show available to everyone, including non-subscribers. We ask these teachers about the specific topics they’re teaching, how they’re using the show in their classes, what concepts students find difficult, what misconceptions students have about energy, and how students are reacting to having study materials in podcast form. We also talk with two of the professors about their new energy transition textbooks, which are being published this year.

Guest #1:

Dr. Adam Warren is the co-director of the newly formed Advanced Energy Systems graduate program, a joint effort between NREL and CSM.  Adam is a Center Director within NREL’s Energy Systems Integration directorate.  His Center’s mission is to help partners meet ambitious energy goals while informing technology and policy research at NREL.  Prior to joining NREL, Adam supported PepsiCo’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in North America.

On Twitter: @CSMenergy

Guest #2:

Dr. Constantine “Costa” Samaras is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He directs the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation and his research spans energy, climate change, automation, and defense analysis. Samaras analyzes how energy technology and infrastructure system designs affect energy use and national security, resiliency to climate change impacts, and life cycle environmental externalities. He is an affiliated faculty member in Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, the College of Engineering’s Energy Science, Technology and Policy Program, and by courtesy, a faculty member in the H. John Heinz III College. Samaras is also an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation. He has published numerous studies examining electric and autonomous vehicles, renewable electricity, transitions in the energy sector, conventional and low-carbon fuels, and was one of the Lead Author contributors to the Global Energy Assessment.

On Twitter:  @CostaSamaras

On the Web:

Costa’s faculty page at Carnegie Mellon

Costa’s research on Google Scholar

Guest #3:

Dr. David Murphy is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University. His scholarship examines the intersection of energy, the environment and economics with a focus on energy transition – broadly defined. His past work has included energy and environmental policy work for various agencies within the federal government, as well as net energy analysis work within academia. Much of Dr. Murphy’s recent research is focused on the energy transition, with a forthcoming textbook called “Renewable Energy in the 21st Century.” Dr. Murphy was previously a faculty member at Northern Illinois University and a research associate with Argonne National Laboratory.

On Twitter:  @djmurphy04

On the Web:
Dave’s page at St. Lawrence University

Renewable Energy in the 21st Century (Online textbook)

Guest #4:

Dr. Dustin Mulvaney is a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at San Jose State University, one of the first six interdisciplinary environmental studies programs in the USA, founded as a result of the first Earth Day 1970.  His research focuses on the social and environmental dimensions of food and energy systems where looks at questions at the intersection of innovation, emerging technologies and environmental change. His research on solar energy commodity chains is synthesized in a new book entitled Solar Power, Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice with the University of California Press. Dustin has a PhD from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies, and a masters of science in environmental policy studies and bachelors degree in chemical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

On Twitter: @DustinMulvaney

Dustin Mulvaney’s Researchgate page

Dustin’s website

Guest #5:

Dr. Sridhar Seetharaman is the director of the Advanced Energy Systems graduate program at Mines.  Sridhar is the Professor and Associate VP for Research at Colorado School of Mines, and served, most recently, with the US DOE as a Senior Technical Advisor as an EWQ (merit based Exceptionally Well Qualified Candidate) and was responsible for Clean Water and Next Generation Electric Machines. He was until 2016 the Tata Steel / RAEng Joint Chair for Research Into Low Carbon Materials Technology and Director of Materials strategy for the HMV Catapult at WMG . He was prior to that the POSCO Professor of Steelmaking at Carnegie Mellon University and the co-director of the Industry-University Consortium, Center for Iron and Steelmaking Research (CISR). He was also an NETL Faculty Fellow.

Geek rating: 1

(more…)

[Episode #58] – Solar with Storage

Full Episode

Historically, thermal concentrating solar plants were the only type of solar power equipped with storage. But as cheaper PV systems became dominant, thermal solar plants fell into disfavor. Now solar PV systems are beginning to integrate storage based on lithium-ion batteries, and this storage isn't just used to supply power when the sun is down; it is providing grid stabilization services too, which only adds complexity to an already-complicated picture for the future of storage - confounding attempts to model how much storage we’ll need, and of what kind, and when will we need it. Is a large amount of seasonal storage required on a high-RE grid, as some analysts have suggested? Or will other technologies reduce the amount of storage we’ll need? And can we even forecast that need, years or decades in advance? We’ll delve into all those questions and more in this deep dive into combined solar and storage systems.

Geek rating: 7

(more…)

[Episode #49] – Climate Science Part 5 – Business As Usual

Full Episode

When we hear about the emissions scenarios used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, do we really understand what they’re assuming about future fossil fuel combustion? And what do these emissions scenarios imply about the steps needed to achieve climate policy goals and decarbonize our energy system? For example, when you hear about the worst-case warming scenario known as RCP8.5, do you know that it is based on projections for a 10-fold increase in global coal consumption through the end of this century? Or that many of the estimates of future fossil fuel combustion in these scenarios are based on very old assumptions about how the energy system could develop in the future? And how can we square scenarios like these with our contemporary reality, in which coal is in decline and the world is turning to renewables because they have become the cheapest options for generating power? How should we actually think about the influence that the global energy system will have on the climate over the next century? In this fifth part of our mini-series on climate science, researcher (and Energy Transition Show producer) Justin Ritchie helps us understand what the IPCC scenarios really mean, and how they can be improved to offer better policy guidance.

Geek rating: 5

(more…)