Renewable Energy


Ensuring Tesla Doesn't Crowd Out the Batteries of the Future

Author: Varun Sivaram

Tesla is planning to scale up production of its lithium-ion batteries, which today power electric vehicles but tomorrow could back up the electricity grid, by building a massive “Gigafactory” in Nevada. Varun Sivaram argues that while positive in the short run, Tesla’s mediocre battery could crowd out more promising, advanced battery technologies in the long run, impeding long-term progress on climate change.

See more in Global; Renewable Energy


Why Moore's Law Doesn't Apply to Clean Energy Technologies

Author: Varun Sivaram
Greentech Media

For fifty years, Moore’s Law has governed the startling pace of innovation in the computer chip industry. That Moore’s Law is an extraordinary phenomenon, unique to a single industry, is often forgotten by clean energy commentators who misappropriate it for predicting the progress of technologies like solar panels and batteries. Varun Sivaram argues that this sort of analogy is misleading, and that the clean energy sector should aspire to Moore-esque advances.

See more in Global; Renewable Energy; Clean Technology


"Do India's Renewable Energy Targets Make Sense?"

Author: Varun Sivaram
CFR Blog: Energy, Security, and Climate

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government recently set a target of 100 GW of solar panels in India by 2022, a target that would leapfrog India over all developed countries. Varun Sivaram critically examines how realistic the Modi Government’s ambition is for India to become the “renewable energy capital of the world.”

See more in India; Renewable Energy

Foreign Affairs Article

Solar Power Comes of Age

Authors: Dickon Pinner and Matt Rogers

Solar power has been declared a winner before, only to flounder. But these days it is expanding faster than any other power source, with momentum that has become unstoppable. The potential benefits—both economic and environmental—could be profound.

See more in United States; Renewable Energy

Foreign Affairs Article

Battery Powered

Author: Steve LeVine

When it comes to energy, new technologies can upend the status quo almost overnight, surprising everyone. And just as the shale revolution, unleashed by fracking, has largely triggered the current oil upheaval, so progress in improving batteries could roil geopolitics and business in major ways.

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Primary Sources

U.S.-India Joint Statement: "Shared Effort; Progress for All"

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian President Narendra Modi made this joint statement on January 26, 2015. They discussed clean energy and climate change, civil nuclear cooperation, and defense and economic cooperation. Both administrations also discussed their visions to strengthen ties in the Asia-Pacific region. Defense secretaries from both countires met in June 2015 and released the U.S.-India Defense Framework.

See more in United States; India; Renewable Energy; Emerging Markets

Foreign Affairs Article

Powering the Pentagon

Author: Sharon E. Burke

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the U.S. naval aviator Thomas Moorer questioned Takeo Kurita, a former vice admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, as part of the U.S. military's postwar interrogation of Japanese commanders. Kurita told Moorer that one of the most significant reversals of fortune Japan had suffered during the war was the loss of fuel supplies.

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Los Angeles and Connecticut: A Continent Apart, Similar Paths to Clean Energy

Authors: Varun Sivaram and Daniel C. Esty
EnergyBiz Magazine

Both Connecticut and Los Angeles are pursuing cheaper, cleaner and more reliable renewable power generation during a decline in federal funding for clean energy projects. Along with Energy Commissioner Dan Esty, Varun Sivaram explains how this state and city are each leading the way to offer creative new approaches to financing clean energy initiatives and pursing a more reliable energy future.

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Powering Los Angeles with Renewable Energy

Authors: Varun Sivaram, Antonio R. Villaraigosa, and R. Nichols
Nature Climate Change

The City of Los Angeles is nearly two thirds of the way towards its goal of generating a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.  Cities around the world can glean valuable technical, economic and political lessons from its experience, writes Varun Sivaram.

See more in United States; Renewable Energy

Ask CFR Experts

With renewable energy sources in countries like Brazil and Bolivia, will U.S. energy policy shift toward South America?

Asked by Fagner Dantas, from Universidade Federal da Bahia

The global energy map is being redrawn at an accelerated pace. All signs point to the United States becoming part of an increasingly hemispheric energy trade, both for oil as well as for biofuels like ethanol. The Middle East will still loom large in U.S. energy policy given its crucial role in the world oil market, but U.S. energy officials and companies are forging deeper ties with their counterparts elsewhere in the Americas.

Read full answer

See more in United States; Energy Policy; Renewable Energy