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On Will the Keystone XL Pipeline Significantly Increase Carbon Emissions? The Numbers Behind the KXL Debate [UPDATED]

Thanks Geoff. Great points as always. I didn't get into the complexities of WTI vs Brent (although I thought about it; thought the post was long enough already!), but I did try to note that if WTI prices rise enough, it's likely that the price difference between the value of WCS (Canadian tar sands oil) with or without Keystone is less likely to have a substantive difference on production of tar sands (and that's the largest driver of the emissions impact).

Thanks also for the context on rail shipments. That's really helpful. I'm adding it as an update to the post (crediting you as the source).

Cheers,

Jesse

June 4, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Finance: German Solar Four Times Higher Than Finnish Nuclear Energy

Hi Alex,

In response to some of the comments here, I'd be interested if you were willing to redo your analysis to present a comparison of the estimated costs of the Olkiluoto reactor to the estimated costs of building an equivalent amount of solar PV (on an average annual energy production basis) constructed in time to come online at the same time as the reactor. Given the substantial cost decline in solar PV over the 2000-2013 time frame (pointed out by several commenters above), comparing the average costs of all panels installed in Germany from 2000-2011 versus a reactor coming online in 2016 (current Areva estimate) produces a fairly biased estimate.

Additionally, one could argue that the purpose of the German solar FiT program was not simply to purchase electricity, but rather to purchase innovation and cost declines in the technology by helping the industry mature and create markets for innovations in solar PV technology (addressing risks and spillovers associated with learning-by-doing and applied R&D for improved solar technologies). Clearly there is much debate about how effective the German FiT has been on that front, but if you agree that the purpose of the German FiT was not simply to buy kilowatt-hours, how do you account for the value of innovation/cost declines in solar technology "purchased" by the FiT program when comparing its costs to those of the Olkiluoto reactor?

Thanks,

Jesse

May 15, 2013    View Comment    

On EU Parliament Voted No, So Now What for the Emissions Trading System?

Thanks for continuing to offer your perspectives on this important set of policy developments, David. Looking forward to more of your commentary in the weeks ahead. Cheers,

Jesse Jenkins
Digital Community Strategist, TheEnergyCollective.com

April 21, 2013    View Comment    

On After Keystone: Fight Coal and Accelerate Innovation

Hi Pieter,

Thanks for the comment. 

Just a quick reply regarding the Nissan Leaf and current state of EVs. The Leaf costs roughly 2x a comparable internal combustion car (it's most comparable to the Nissan Versa hatchback which starts at $14.7k. The Leaf starts at $21.3k, and that's after a $7,500 federal tax credit, so the real cost is $28.8k, or as a said, roughly double the cost of a Versa. Then there's performance. The Versa has 122 HP versus the Leaf's 107 HP. The Leaf is MUCH heavier than the Versa thanks to the battery. The better torque of the electric drivetrain probably compensates for this somewhat, but starting at a lower HP already, it likely accelerates more slowly than the comparable Versa. And then there's the real killer: range. The Leaf gets an average of a 75 mile range, according to Nissan. I think the max range is around 90 miles but if you're running AC or the heater in the summer/winter, that range is going to plummet to closer to 50 miles. The real upside of the Leaf of course is in fuel economy -- 130/102 city/highway miles per gallon-equivalent according to the EPA versus the Versa's 28/34. 

So in upshot, you get a pretty decent car provided you drive mostly in the city and mostly less than 50-75 miles per trip. And you get it at twice the cost. If you ever drive more than 50-75 miles, then forget it.

For now, both range and cost significantly limit the market segments of customers willing to adopt something like a Leaf EV. That's largely why sales of the Leaf are modest, at 50,000 vehicles worldwide as of February 2013. In contrast, Americans bought 1.4 million light duty vehicles (cars, trucks, SUVs, etc) in 2012. So even assuming we sold all of those Leafs in the US rather than worldwide and assuming they were all sold in 2012 (the Leaf actually began sales at the end of 2010), total Leaf sales amount to 0.035% of new vehicle sales. (And as a share of on-road vehicles, it's even smaller).

As I mentioned in the post, thanks in large part to supportive public policies, the alternatives to oil are emerging. But they will require significant continued innovation and improvement before they present the same competition to oil as natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar power now provide to coal.

Cheers,
Jesse 

April 10, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Hi James, did you mean to include a link?

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Thanks Jesse. Glad you've enjoyed the series!

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Thanks Matthew. I've updated the post above, including a quote from this comment. Much obliged.

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Thanks Bob, I've updated the post above with a new section including this data. Much obliged.

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Bob, Matthew, thanks for the excellent comments. As you correctly note, and as I discussed in the article, "water consumption is a local concern really," so taking a look at national or state-wide figures only gives you part of the story. I'm now updating the post with the data from the Times story Bob helpfully provided, to add a little more context.

Cheers,

Jesse

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Hi James, 

Just saw this via the NYTimes which in part answers your question #2:

"In 2011, only about one-fifth of the water used in fracking came from recycled or brackish water, according to a recent study prepared by the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology and financed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association."

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: How Much Water Does Fracking for Shale Gas Consume?

Hi James,

Great questions/points. RE the source for the figure that about 20 percent of fracturing fluids come back up as flowback water, I got that figure from this article discussing recycling/reclamation technologies for flowback fluids: http://www.americanrecycler.com/0512/1517energy.shtml

That may be an inaccurate cite, so if you have other available citations please let me know. Thanks for the comment!

Jesse

April 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Department of Energy Launches New Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative

Thanks Adam. I'll take a look at your piece.

Yes, these Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in particular are intended to anchor clusters of public, private, and university-sector actors. Very consonant with the National Institutes of Energy concept I outlined with Breakthrough Institute and Third Way in 2009 or the Brookings Metro program's Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes proposal. The trick now of course is transforming those abstract concepts into workable, effective collaborations on the ground. Much harder task then writing a white paper! 

Cheers,
Jesse

March 26, 2013    View Comment