[The following is the second part of my chat with Jonathan. First part is here.]
hmm, i need to find back eric‘s question
what is a reasonable number for how much of the american electrical grid could become renewable in the next 15-20 years. with existing technology, and with technology we might hope to develop in that time.
Giving specific numbers is a mug’s game. But what I do see in looking at trends is that both the US and the world have been lagging behind estimates of progress on energy efficiency (specifically the energy intensity of the economy) but have been beating most estimates of how quickly they would reduce the carbon intensity of the energy supply. The rapid reduction of US carbon intensity has allowed GHG emissions to drop a good deal from 2010-2017 or so, but increased driving raised the 2018 emissions, so we really need to address transportation as well as the electricity supply.
Innovation studies makes me very pessimistic about being able to forecast technological development or deployment, so I don’t think policy should be driven too much by forecasting where it will go, and should instead look at what we do know about what can influence it over a wide range of possible technology futures.
We do see many electrical utilities, such as TVA, struggling with unforeseen drops in electricity demand (despite my previous statement that nationwide energy intensity of the economy has not been dropping so fast) and this creates both opportunities and obstacles.
TVA has a lot of debt and invested heavily in ensuring capacity for demand that did not materialize, and that affects their attitude toward either encouraging additional conservation and efficiency and also toward building out lots of renewable power.
Tennessee Valley Authority. A strange hybrid public-private energy company that controls electrical generation for Tennessee and a lot of Georgia, Alabama, and other states in the Southeastern US.
Relevant to my comments about trends in energy-related GHG emissions
That last plot was for the World. The first was for USA
Sarah mentioned a similar corp
they really look like scoundrels
Yeah. She mentioned Duke Energy which is more of a traditional electrical utility company.
ok, we need to get near GCAM 2.6
Honestly, I think GCAM 2.6/RCP 2.6 is not very likely. I think we will be fighting to get from RCP 6.0 to RCP 4.5.
Back to my private governance work: Big companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have been putting pressure on utilities like Duke Energy to adopt renewable energy. It goes over very differently in the South when a company says, “We’ll build a billion-dollar data center in your state, but only if you change the utility regulations to make it easier for us to build massive renewable generation capacity and connect it to the grid” than if a bunch of political activists who look like liberal treehuggers demand renewable power. The big data companies have done a lot to open regulations up to renewable power in the Southeast.
i thought the line meant we were closing in and going down
The line is an equal-emissions line: All points along the line are combinations of reduced energy intensity and reduced carbon intensity that follow the same trend.
Anything below the line is reducing emissions faster than points on the line and anything above the line is reducing emissions more slowly.. Anything below the line is reducing emission intensity faster than points on the line and anything above the line is reducing emission intensity more slowly.
oh, we’re not onto 4.5
Thus, the US is reducing emissions faster than RCP 4.5 but slower than RCP 2.6, while the world is reducing emissions slightly more slowly than RCP 4.5.Thus, the US is reducing the emission intensity of the economy faster than RCP 4.5 but slower than RCP 2.6, while the world is reducing its emission intensity slightly more slowly than RCP 4.5,
harder for the third world to do better than that, i guess
they have loads of infrastructure to build
Developing nations need energy and it can be very difficult to jump right into renewables and clean energy. There’s an idea in environmental economics of the Kuznets curve, which says that as economies develop they begin by becoming dirtier (more pollution of all sorts) but after they cross some threshold of prosperity, they invest surplus wealth in cleaning up their industries so emissions go down. This holds in some economies, but my colleague Patrick Greiner has critically examined this in developing (and especially formerly colonized) nations and finds that it’s far from universally applicable
China currently consumes roughly half the world’s coal, but also is building more nuclear power plants and installing more renewable energy than any other nation. I recently read that they’ve got well over half of the world’s lithium battery production, and are selling half of the world’s electric cars.
One hope, that came to naught, was that the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism and the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund would funnel money from highly developed nations to help less developed nations develop using cleaner energy. In principle it should be cheaper for US companies to subsidize installing efficient grids and clean energy in nations that don’t have existing infrastructure instead of shutting down our existing infrastructure and replacing it, but there hasn’t been political will to do that.
impressive – do you worry about us running out of rare metals
That’s a potential concern, but I tend to be a bit more on Julian Simon’s side of things until proven otherwise. Mark Jacobson did some detailed calculations of the requirements for lithium, niobium, etc., and concluded that it would be tight to match supplies to demand in a fully carbon-free energy economy, but that it could be done with close attention to recycling. However, there have been enough demonstrated problems with many of Jacobson’s other calculations that I am not sure how reliable those calculations are, and it’s too far outside my expertise for me to have an independent opinion.
Also, I’ll note that “rare earths” is a misnomer: Most of those elements are plentiful, but they are mostly present at low concentrations so the real tradeoff is how expensive they become and what environmental damage is caused by extracting and purifying them.
i was asking as an investor, btw
canada is mostly mining and banking
Anyone who takes investment advice from me is a fool. However, I know my own foolishness and therefore only invest in low-load index funds.
pfft, i was about to ask you about your interest rates eight ball
we have access to a product here that has no fees, but with a long period
but i noticed your point – they were selling a new environmentally-minded product
A growing number of large funds are starting to become activist investors on climate.
here’s an example
i don’t think the public has enough money to do all the things that needs to be done
anywho, onto the last thing
to the question “Who are the best three American bands” you once said
Willie Colon and Ruben Blades
The Thelonious Monk Quintet with Sonny Rollins.
you still stand by that?
I do, but I’m waffling to put the Wondaland collective (Janelle Monae, Jidenna, Deep Cotton, etc.) on the list. There are also strong cases to be made for the Clifford Brown/Max Roach band and a number of Miles’s lineups.
hit me with your best video
i had miles in my list
Elvis Presley with Scotty Moore and Bill Black.
Miles Davis & John Coltrane.
Metallica or the Stooges, whom I’d replace by Tycho, but let’s be real.
that’s more than enough
i may need to cut it in two
It’s been fun.
it was fun, i really like doing this
No worries. Feel free to ask any follow-up questions.
enjoy your evening, and thank you for your time
It was my pleasure.