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.
Shale gas is no panacea but, with the right policies to protect communities where gas is produced and to harness the fuel as part of a broader climate strategy, it can play a critical role in confronting global warming, argues Michael A. Levi in a Democracy article.
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.
As supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership try to round up backers, they increasingly emphasise the geopolitical case for concluding a deal. But too often they overstate the case—and, in doing so, generate real geopolitical risks of their own, while also jeopardising the agreement they seek.
The new House budget sets a deadline of October 1 to “cut waste, eliminate redundancies and end the abuse or misuse of taxpayer dollars,” and it specifically targets the Department of Defense (DOD) for spending “part of their budget studying climate change.” Varun Sivaram highlights how the military’s broad portfolio of climate change adaptation efforts should not be considered redundant or wasteful because it bolsters American national security interests.
Benn Steil’s new Forbes op-ed examines Paul Krugman's data analysis purporting to document definitively that "austerity," defined by declines in real government purchases, damaged growth between 2010 and 2013. He shows that this finding collapses entirely when he excludes countries without independent monetary policies, such as those in the Eurozone. For countries with independent monetary policies, changes in real government purchases had no effect on growth.
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.”
In Market Madness: A Century of Oil Panics, Crises, and Crashes, stock analyst Blake C. Clayton tempers the craze surrounding oil exhaustion through a combination of historical investigation and sober, persuasive analysis. His book is a lucid, credible riposte to apocalyptic ravings about “peak oil.” Clayton examines how such panics have persisted through the decades, all unfounded, yet devastating to the market. Market Madness enjoins consumers, policymakers, and brokers to abstain from hysteria and remain informed about what the future of energy truly holds.
After three years of unusual stability around $100 a barrel, oil prices fell steeply in the second half of 2014, dropping from $115 a barrel in June to around $60 by December. With oil critical to national economies, international security and climate change, what does the apparent new world of oil mean?
While the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia may not change the course of Saudi oil policy, Meghan O'Sullivan writes that interesting changes to the Kingdom's cabinet roster and other energy policies could be closer than most realize.
CFR Senior Fellow Sebastian Mallaby reviews economic historian Barry Eichengreen's newest book Hall of Mirrors, which argues that history should have guided U.S. and European central bankers toward better decisions during the 2008 financial crisis.
Authors: Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Wall Street Journal
Benn Steil and Dinah Walker analyze the market reaction to the publication of the European Central Bank's long-awaited bank stress test results. The ECB's coddling of stress-tested banks — through the use of inflated inflation estimates and generous treatment of tax offsets against future profits which may never arise — precipitated a sell-off of bank stocks in a period when broad European indexes were up significantly. Unlike with the successful 2009 U.S. stress tests, there is no credible backstop of public funds available for Eurozone bank recapitalization, which would account for the ECB's reluctance to draw attention to the sector's undercapitalization.
The recent oil price crash came as a surprise to many observers due to several critical misconceptions about oil markets, writes Michael Levi. As for prices going forward, “only the reckless would bet with any confidence on one particular outcome.”
In Market Madness, Blake C. Clayton shows that predictions of dwindling oil supplies and a rise in prices have been empirically proven incorrect. Technological advances and geopolitical shifts have repeatedly prompted sudden, severe drops in oil prices—exactly like the one we are experiencing today.
In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy. China is now engaged in a far-flung quest, hunting around the world for resources, and deploying whatever it needs in the economic, political, and military spheres to secure them. More
In Money, Markets, and Sovereignty, the authors present a fascinating intellectual history of monetary nationalism from the ancient world to the present and explore why, in its modern incarnation, it represents the single greatest threat to globalization. More
In The Closing of the American Border, Edward Alden goes behind the scenes to tell the story of the Bush administration's struggle to balance security and openness in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More