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[Episode #21] – The Role of Development Banks in Energy Transition

Full Episode

Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) like the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank are publicly committed to ending energy poverty and enabling energy access to the developing world. But their conventional processes and approaches to risk management make it difficult for them to invest in the decentralized renewable energy solutions that have the best chance of lifting people out of energy poverty. So what can be done about it? To find out, we talk with a pioneer in the energy investment and energy access space and ask her some pointed questions about how development bank funding works, and how it needs to be changed.

Geek rating: 5

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Guest:

Christine Eibs-Singer is the Director of Global Advocacy at Power for All, an organization that advances renewable, decentralized electrification solutions as the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable approach to universal energy access. She also serves as Senior Advisor to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, with a focus on energy access finance. Christine has been in the energy access space for 20+ years, starting as the co-founder of E+Co in the mid-90s, the pioneer energy enterprise investment company.

On Twitter: @Power4All2025

On the Web: www.powerforall.org

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[Episode #20] – Grid evolution

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Utilities face a host of rapid changes in a what used to be a staid business: new business models, changing supply and demand forecasts, new distributed architectures, new types of resources, new participants in the power grid that they don't control…yet they still must maintain a highly reliable power grid that operates within fairly narrow parameters.

Meanwhile, difficult questions remain to be solved, about how we’re going to manage our grid power transition, who the winners and losers will be, what destination we’re headed for, what role consumers and “prosumers” will play in the future, and what our reasons are for executing transition the way we do.

We tackle all of these issues in this wide-ranging, very geeky conversation about the “blocks and squiggles” of the grid of the future. Grid power transition, the rebound effect, energy efficiency, utility business models, cutting-edge grid power management considerations, regulation and rate design, electric vehicles as distributed energy resources… they’re all here.

Geek rating: 10

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Guest:

Eric Gimon is an active researcher and policy adviser on the power sector transformation to a clean, reliable and affordable low-carbon future. His career path has spanned 15 years of researching quantum gravity and high energy physics at some of the world’s top research institutions, to work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, to an AAAS fellowship with the Department of Energy, and finally to a personal transition to climate and energy policy. Eric is currently a Senior Fellow with Energy Innovation: an energy and environmental consulting NGO. His interests and writing cover everything from residential energy management systems to large grids and wholesale electricity markets.

On Twitter: @EricGimon

On the Web: Eric’s writing on Power Sector Transformation at Energy Innovation

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[Episode #19] – Distributed renewables in Latin America and beyond

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Finance geeks, this episode is for you! Latin America has had one of the fastest-growing renewable energy markets on the planet for the past several years, but nobody ever talks about it. We aim to correct that in this wide-ranging interview with Adam James, Deputy Director of Global Strategy and Policy with SolarCity.  Who’s got the hottest auction design? Who’s growing at eye-popping rates?  Who screwed up their incentive program so badly that nobody wants to invest there anymore? And what are some outside-the-box ideas about how to get capital flowing into distributed energy systems in the developing world? Plus: oblique Prince references! (RIP)

Geek rating: 8

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Guest:

Adam James, Deputy Director of Global Strategy and Policy at SolarCity, former global demand analyst for Greentech Media, and the founder and CEO of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI), an organization devoted to providing young people with the tools they need to impact clean energy policy.

On Twitter:  @Adam_S_James

On the Web: Articles by Adam James at Greentech Media

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[Episode #18] – The Collapse of Coal

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The last of the big-time U.S. coal companies has gone bankrupt, and in the hills of Appalachia, they’re looking for their next move. How will the former coal miners find new careers and build new industries? How will the liabilities of coal companies ever get paid? And how did we get into this situation in the first place? We talk with one of the best coal reporters in the business (and a West Virginian native) to find out.

Geek rating: 5

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Guest:

Taylor Kuykendall, coal reporter based in Charlottesville, Virginia for S&P Global Market Intelligence

On Twitter: @taykuy

On the Web: S&P Global Market Intelligence articles by Taylor Kuykendall

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[Episode #17] – Denmark’s Energy Transition

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In percentage terms, Denmark is the world leader in energy transition, as well as the king of wind power. Wind now supplies 42% of all Denmark’s electricity, and by 2020, the country plants to get fully half of its power from wind. It’s also the only developed country in the world with a serious plan to achieve 100% of its energy – just not electricity, but all energy – from renewables, and plans to do it by 2050. In this episode we talk with energy journalist Justin Gerdes about his new e-book on Denmark’s energy transition, Quitting Carbon: How Denmark Is Leading the Clean Energy Transition and Winning the Race to the Low-Carbon Future.

Geek rating: 2

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Guest:

 Justin Gerdes, independent journalist specializing in energy issues based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared at Forbes.com, the Guardian, Yale Environment 360, MotherJones.com, Smithsonian.com, and Ensia, among others.

On Twitter: @JustinGerdes

On the Web:
Forbes

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[Episode #16] – Energy Efficiency Markets

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Improving efficiency is almost always easier and cheaper than generating new power, so efficiency should be our first target in energy transition. But it’s usually the last. And while there are very effective incentives for renewable energy, the incentives and programs for efficiency have been far less effective. In this episode we talk with efficiency guru and innovator Matt Golden about how to get away from efficiency incentive programs, and switch to performance-based markets for energy efficiency, plus how to standardize efficiency projects so that they are easier to understand, trust, and finance. Thanks to ideas like these, energy efficiency may be about to hit the big time.

Geek rating: 9

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Guest:

 Matt Golden, CEO of Open Energy Efficiency, and Director of the Investor Confidence Project

On Twitter: @GoldenMatt

On the Web:
http://www.openeemeter.org/
http://www.eeperformance.org/

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[Episode #15] – The Outlook for Electric Vehicles

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Electric vehicles are all the rage right now, and hopes are high that we might finally be able to transition off of oil and on to electric cars…preferably, cars powered by clean renewable electricity and not by coal-fired grid power. But they’re still less than 1% of the new vehicle market, and they still face real challenges in consumer acceptance, a lack of charging infrastructure, and a dearth of options at the dealership. So what should we really expect from EVs in the near- and medium-term, and how realistic are the high hopes for switching a nation like the US, with nearly 260 million conventional light vehicles on the road today, over to EVs? We talk to EV expert Matthew Klippenstein to find out.

Geek rating: 2

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Guest:

Matthew Klippenstein, an engineer with a renewable energy consultancy, a writer for Green Car Reports and co-host of the EV-centric Cleantech Talk podcast.

On Twitter: @EclecticLip

On the Web:
tinyurl.com/CanadaEVSales
greencarreports.com/writer/10039832_matthew-klippenstein

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[Episode #14] – China’s Energy Future

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China is always a bit of an enigma to the West: It is the world’s largest user of coal and the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide; the world’s largest car market; it has the world’s largest shale gas resources; and it has been building entire “ghost cities” with no one living in them. But it is also the world leader in energy transition, with more wind and solar deployment than any other nation; it has a massive grid construction program and the world’s largest and most rapid high-speed rail construction program; and before long, it will probably have the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.

To understand the trajectory of the world’s energy transition effort, we have to understand what’s happening in China. But its official data are unreliable, and official statements can vary wildly from the facts on the ground. That’s why in this episode we talk with James West, a senior digital editor for Mother Jones and former senior producer for Climate Desk, who has traveled to China to get those stories firsthand.

Geek rating: 2

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Guest:

 James West, senior digital editor for Mother Jones, former senior producer for Climate Desk, and the author of Beijing Blur.

On Twitter: @jameswest2010

On the Web:
http://www.motherjones.com/authors/james-west
http://www.james-west.net/

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[Episode #13] – The Oracle of Oil

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Many have heard of peak oil, but few seem to understand what it really means, and fewer still know much of anything about the father of the idea, M. King Hubbert. In this episode we interview science journalist Mason Inman, who has written the first biography of Hubbert: The Oracle of Oil: A Maverick Geologist's Quest for a Sustainable Future, which hits the shelves April 11. Deeply researched and rich with detail about the debates over our energy future (and energy transition) from the 1940s through the 1980s, the book is a terrific read for anyone interested in peak oil theory, what it is about, and what it is not about (for example, oil prices!). Today’s debates about the future of energy aren’t too dissimilar from the debates of 60-70 years ago…and that should make us think hard about where we’re going.

Check out the interview that critics are calling “way too long!” with the author of the book that Publisher’s Weekly called “tedious!”

No, seriously: Check it out. It just may be the best material you’ll ever find on what “peak oil” really is.

Plus: I explain why I’m skeptical about IEA’s new report on the decoupling of carbon emissions and economic growth.

Geek rating: 8

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[Episode #12] – Energy Access for the Developing World

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What’s the best way to bring energy to those in the developing world who lack it? Why do forecasts by agencies like IEA always seem to overstate the cost of solutions in the developing world? Why do big expensive programs run by NGOs and the World Bank so often fail to achieve their aims of alleviating energy poverty? Why do those programs always seem to favor big coal plants, nuclear plants, CCS projects, and other big-ticket items that never seem to get built? And what’s actually getting the job done, right now, in places like sub-Saharan Africa? What are the prospects for those efforts in the future? We answer these questions and more…like where Bill Gates goes wrong with his zero-carbon equation.

Geek rating: 2

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Guest:

 Justin Guay, Program Officer on Climate for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

On Twitter: @Guay_JG

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