If the world is to avoid climate calamity, it needs to reduce its carbon emissions drastically by the middle of this century—a target that is simply out of reach with existing technology. Varun Sivaram and his co-author present the case for a massive investment in clean energy research and development to reach that goal.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released this statement on March 10, 2016. The leaders agreed to move forward on the Paris Agreement and support other international efforts to combat the effects of climate change. The joint statement also details U.S.-Canada cooperation on curbing emissions, integrating renewable energy into existing grids, and developing additional clean technologies.
Even though there is little fundamental linkage between oil prices and the competitiveness of solar or wind power across the developed world, newly risk-averse investors in renewable energy Yieldcos are dumping investments they suddenly consider overvalued.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Commerce Department reviewed its tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels, originally imposed in 2012 in retaliation against Chinese subsidies and below-market pricing, and opted to maintain the total tariff burden on most panels.
Authors: Varun Sivaram, Henry J. Snaith, and Samuel D. Stranks Scientific American
An upstart material—perovskite—could finally make solar cells that are cheaper and more efficient than the prevailing silicon technology. Varun Sivaram and co-authors delve into the science behind perovskites and assess the technology’s commercial prospects.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A coalition is fighting against the wind power industry that includes tea party followers, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and electrical utilities associated with President Barack Obama, and creating an intense and unpredictable lobbying fight.
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