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.

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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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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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Foreign Affairs Article

How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor

Authors: C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer

Thanks to high oil prices and hefty subsidies, corn-based ethanol is now all the rage in the United States. But it takes so much supply to keep ethanol production going that the price of corn -- and those of other food staples -- is shooting up around the world. To stop this trend, and prevent even more people from going hungry, Washington must conserve more and diversify ethanol's production inputs.

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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


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.

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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


A Future Vision For Energy (Audio)

Speaker: Anne Lauvergeon
Presider: Christine Todd Whitman

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of AREVA, a company that provides complete fuel cycle services, nuclear reactor design, and construction for the nuclear energy industry internationally, offers her perspective on how to satisfy growing global energy needs while decreasing carbon dioxide emissions,  protecting natural resources, and maintaining price stability and competition.

This session was part of the Corporate Program’s CEO Speaker series.

See more in Nuclear Energy; Renewable Energy; Global


A Conversation with T. Boone Pickens (Audio)

Speaker: T. Boone Pickens
Presider: Frank W. Sesno

Listen to T. Boone Pickens outline the future of U.S. energy policy and his campaign to promote the “Pickens Plan,” which calls for increased use of domestic energy products such as wind and natural gas to lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil by more than fifty percent over the next ten years.

See more in Energy Policy; Renewable Energy


Is Castro Right? The Prospects for Biofuel Development (Audio)

Speakers: David J. Rothkopf and C. Ford Runge
Presider: Julia E. Sweig

Listen to David Rothkopf, president and chief executive officer of Garten Rothkopf, and C. Ford Runge, distinguished McKnight university professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, discuss the potential impact of the increasing demand for biofuels on global energy and food security.

See more in Cuba; Renewable Energy; Biotechnology


Panacea or Pipe Dream? Energy Policy and the Search for Alternatives: Session 2: The Range of the Possible: Energy Alternatives in the Market (Audio)

Speakers: John E. Bryson and Vijay Vaitheeswaran
Presider: Sebastian Mallaby

Listen to John Bryson, chairman and CEO of Edison International, and Vijay Vaitheeswaran, correspondent for The Economist, discuss the role of the market in developing energy alternatives to oil and gas.

See more in Renewable Energy; Energy Policy; United States