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Topic: Wind

[Episode #213] – Offshore Wind in the UK

It’s been a difficult year for the offshore wind sector, with numerous projects and power purchase agreements getting canceled. Contracts and incentives simply haven’t kept pace with rising costs, forcing developers to shelve money-losing projects.

So is the offshore wind sector hitting a wall, or merely some temporary speed bumps on the path to a bright future?

We're think it's the latter, as do industry and government insiders.

In this episode, we take stock of the offshore wind sector, with a focus on the UK. This is our second show based on Chris’ travels to the UK in the Autumn of 2023. The first was Episode #212, about the energy transition on the Isle of Eigg. In this episode, Chris interviews two key players in the UK’s offshore wind industry, and tours a Scottish port, witnessing firsthand the foundations for a new offshore wind project being readied for installation. We also discuss the failure of the UK’s Contract for Difference (CfD) incentive auction for offshore wind this year, and its impact on the offshore wind supply chain. And we conclude with a look at what the government is doing to ensure the next auction is a success.

Geek rating: 3

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[Episode #212] – Transition in Eigg

Twenty-six years ago, on a wee island with just 65 residents off the west coast of Scotland, the seeds of a fascinating energy transition project were planted. That began a long process which ultimately made it possible for the island’s inhabitants to become the world’s first community to launch an off-grid electric system powered by wind, water and solar.

In the Autumn of 2023, Chris traveled to that island—the Isle of Eigg—to see it for himself, and interview some of the key people who were involved in making it happen. You’ll learn all about how it happened and what the island’s residents plan to do next in their pursuit of greater self-determination and self-sufficiency.

This is our second show in the new, place-based format we piloted in Episodes #186 and #187. Instead of exploring a particular topic with one guest who has a noncommercial perspective, as most of our shows have done so far, this new format aims to tell the stories about how the energy transition is proceeding in some of the places Chris is visiting in his ongoing travels as a peripatetic podcaster. There will be more episodes in this format to come, and we hope you enjoy them.

Geek rating: 4

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[Episode #203] – The Case for Climate Optimism

Why does so much media coverage of climate change emphasize the worst-case scenarios and the slow speed of the energy transition? Why don't more stories highlight how the energy transition is working and accelerating, reducing expected increases in carbon emissions and rendering the worst-case warming scenarios increasingly unlikely?

These are important questions, because reporting about the climate and the energy transition can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the media constantly asserts that climate change is unstoppable and that we’re doomed, people will feel discouraged and give up during a critical time in which we must make progress. Whereas by showing people how they can be part of the solution, they will do what they can and support leaders committed to addressing the problem.

It’s also important that we understand what’s real and likely, and what isn’t. An unfortunate number of stories about climate change have emphasized vague “tipping points” and “feedback loops” that might accelerate warming in the future. But those are unquantified and undefined terms referring to highly uncertain possibilities. Meanwhile, highly probable outcomes that would result from existing climate policies are barely mentioned.

So why is there so much media focus on the worst-case scenarios? A shred of uncertainty isn't a sufficient reason to emphasize the worst case above all else. Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on the likely outcomes of our existing policies?

In this episode, we're joined by a climate researcher and data analyst who finds reason for optimism on climate change. Hannah Ritchie is a Senior Researcher in the Programme for Global Development at the University of Oxford. She is also Deputy Editor and Lead Researcher at the online publication Our World in Data, which brings together the latest data and research on the world's largest problems and makes it accessible for a general audience. Her forthcoming book, Not the End of the World, will be published in January 2024.

In today’s conversation, Hannah explains what converted her from a climate pessimist to an optimist, and shares her insights into why stories of climate doom seem to be more popular. We explore a number of her data analyses that support her optimistic outlook. And we discuss why it’s important to give people hope that we can address the climate challenge successfully—not by merely adopting a pollyannish attitude, but by really looking at the facts, and understanding the progress that we’re actually making.

Geek rating: 5

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[Episode #202] – UK’s Green Day

On March 30th, in what some have dubbed its ‘Green Day,” the UK government released a package of plans to advance its action on climate and the energy transition. A centerpiece of the package detailed how the government’s plans will achieve the emissions reductions required in its sixth carbon budget.

In this episode, Dr. Simon Evans, Deputy Editor and Senior Policy Editor of Carbon Brief, rejoins us to review the highlights of the new policy package. Comprising over 3,000 pages across some 50 documents, the plans covered a wide range of incentives and objectives, including a new energy security strategy, guidelines for funding carbon capture and hydrogen projects, a revised green finance strategy, carbon border taxes, sustainable aviation fuels, mandates for clean cars and clean heat, major infrastructure projects, and much more.

After listening to this two-hour interview, you’ll know just about all there is to know about the state of climate and energy transition policy in the UK!

Geek rating: 6

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[Episode #201] – India Update Part 2

This is part two of our interview with Mohua Mukherjee, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Previously, she was a development economist and project manager with the World Bank, working in over 40 countries.

In this second part, we dive into India’s use of oil and natural gas, and why it has continued to purchase these fuels from Russia, even as the West has implemented trade restrictions. We go on to explore India’s unique approach to transitioning mobility to vehicles that run on electricity and CNG. We highlight India's strategy for developing domestic industries in battery manufacturing, solar energy, hydrogen electrolyzers, and other clean technologies. We also take a closer look at India's astonishing progress in expanding electricity access to its vast population. We examine the challenges faced by electricity distribution utilities in the country, and their efforts to enhance efficiency. Finally, we address India's progress on its climate initiatives and the importance of ensuring a "just transition" as the nation reduces its reliance on coal-fired power.

Be sure to check out part one of this interview in Episode #199 for a review of India’s overall energy mix, including a close look at its use of coal, solar, and wind.

Geek rating: 5

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[Episode #200] – ETS Retrospective

To mark the milestone of our 200th episode, we’re taking a look back at how the energy transition has progressed since we launched this podcast in 2015. We revisit the “war on coal”, the concept of the “energy transition,” advances in wind and solar power, changing perspectives about the future of natural gas, “baseload” power’s fading role, the astonishingly rapid uptake of EVs, evolving views on nuclear power, and more!

We also take a moment to reflect on the Energy Transition Show over the last seven and a half years, and take stock of what we have learned. We consider how the media landscape has changed for podcasts in general, and why we are feeling more confident than ever about our focus and our business strategy.

And since this landmark episode is presented from our point of view, we’re turning the tables so that Chris is the guest, interviewed by Jeff St. John, one of our favorite energy journalists. Jeff is currently the Director of News and Special Projects at Canary Media, and he has been following and writing about the energy transition for about as long as Chris has, so he also has a broad perspective on how the energy transition has progressed.

So join us for this special retrospective episode with two seasoned energy transition observers!

Geek rating: 4

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[Episode #199] – India Update Part 1

This is part one of our interview with Mohua Mukherjee, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Previously, she was a development economist and project manager with the World Bank, working in over 40 countries.

In this episode, we discuss the overall energy mix in India, and explore the dynamics of the coal power sector. We then take a deep dive into the solar power sector, including India’s innovative financing strategy leveraging a World Bank loan. Finally, we wrap it up with a look at the wind power sector.

In the second part, which will run as Episode #201, we’ll talk about India’s use of oil and natural gas, including why they are using gas for transportation. We’ll explore India’s investments into manufacturing clean technologies. We’ll review how their distribution utilities are improving access to grid power and improving efficiency. And we’ll end with a discussion about how India is taking a “just transition” approach to winding down its dependence on coal-fired power.

Geek rating: 5

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[Episode #188] – Getting to a 100% Clean Grid

How much of a role might wind, solar, nuclear, transmission, power plants equipped with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, or direct air capture of CO2 play on a 100% clean power grid? Which mix of those technologies would provide the cheapest pathways to a clean grid?

And once we have met 90% of the need for grid power with clean generation, what will we need to meet the last 10% of the demand for grid power? Will it be ‘overbuilt’ wind and solar? Dispatchable geothermal, hydropower, and bioenergy generators? Seasonal storage using hydrogen or batteries? Conventional fossil-fueled plants with CO2 capture? Or might it be some mix of flexible demand technologies? Or some or all of the above?

For that matter, how certain can we even be about modeling the possible solutions years or even decades ahead? Are there solutions that might play a large role in the future but that we can’t yet model very well? How confident should we be that whatever the solutions turn out to be, we will end up with not only a grid that is completely free of carbon emissions but also one that is fully reliable?

In this episode, we speak with a senior researcher at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) who has been researching and modeling grid power for many years. In this quite technical discussion, we review two new NREL reports that address these questions and show that producing a 100% clean power grid is not only technically feasible by a variety of pathways but also commercially feasible and ultimately, cheaper than continuing to run the fossil-fueled power grid we have today.

Geek rating: 9

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[Episode #187] – Transition in Vermont, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the first series in a new format we are piloting for the Energy Transition Show. Instead of exploring a particular topic with one guest who has a non-commercial perspective, as most of our shows so far have done, this new format aims to tell the stories about how the energy transition is proceeding in some of the places Chris visits in his travels. Through interviews with multiple local experts, including those who are working in the energy sector, we hope this new format will help to demonstrate how the unique challenges and opportunities in every place will determine its particular path through the energy transition.

We are kicking off this new show format with some stories about Vermont for a simple reason: When it comes to the energy transition, Vermont stands out as a place that punches way above its weight. It has innovated numerous policies and mechanisms to reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions that have been emulated by other US states. And it continues to serve as a model to the rest of the country for effective energy transition strategies.

You’ll learn more about all of these accomplishments, as well as what makes Vermont such an exemplar in the energy transition, in this two-part miniseries based on interviews with eight local experts.

Part 1 was in Episode #186, in which we discussed the supply side of Vermont’s energy picture. In this second part, we look at the demand side.

Interviews with guests featured in this episode were recorded from October 11-15, 2021.

Geek rating: 4

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[Episode #186] – Transition in Vermont, Part 1

This is the first show in a new format we are piloting for the Energy Transition Show. Instead of exploring a particular topic with one guest who has a non-commercial perspective, as most of our shows so far have done, this new format aims to tell stories about how the energy transition is proceeding in some of the places Chris visits in his travels. Through interviews with multiple local experts, including those who are working in the energy sector, we hope this new format will help to demonstrate how the unique challenges and opportunities in every place will determine its particular path through the energy transition.

We are kicking off this new show format with some stories about Vermont for a simple reason: When it comes to the energy transition, Vermont stands out as a place that punches way above its weight. It has innovated numerous policies and mechanisms to reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions that have been emulated by other US states. And it continues to serve as a model to the rest of the country for effective energy transition strategies.

You’ll learn more about all of these accomplishments, as well as what makes Vermont such an exemplar in the energy transition, in this two-part miniseries based on interviews with eight local experts.

In this first part, we talk about the supply side of Vermont’s energy picture. In the second part, we’ll look at the demand side.

Interviews with guests featured in this episode were recorded from October 11-15, 2021.

Geek rating: 4

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