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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! 


March 26, 2013    View Comment    

On Growth in China Wind Energy Production Exceeds Coal For First Time Ever

Fair point Søren. Thanks.

March 22, 2013    View Comment    

On Growth in China Wind Energy Production Exceeds Coal For First Time Ever

Thanks to Ronald, Paul and others for catching this headline. It was copied from the original post at Climate Progress, but it was our fault for not catching and correcting it here.

You are all correct to note that it was the annual growth in wind energy output that exceeded the annual growth in coal output in China for the first time. Now as my comments below note, there are also some contributing circumstances that may make this less noteworthy than it first appears... 

Thanks for the keen eye from our readers here. Nothing slips past you all! And we're all better for it. 


Jesse Jenkins

Digital Community Strategist,

March 22, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy Facts: Is the U.S. Shift from Coal to Natural Gas Stalling Out?

That's exactly right John. The coal-gas price spread is the main driver of this shift. And it's not trending back towards coal's favor. 2012 natural gas prices were unsustainably low, as they fell below the marginal production costs for a lot of shale gas wells. Drillers pulled out of any dry gas wells (focusing only on "wet" gas wells with a petroleum co-product) and supply contracted. Exactly what economics would expect. 

March 22, 2013    View Comment    

On Growth in China Wind Energy Production Exceeds Coal For First Time Ever

Indeed, China and the US both installed more than 13 GW of wind in 2012 (with China grabbing the #1 slot by a mere 76 MW). That implies an average capacity factor of about 23% for China's new wind generators.

March 21, 2013    View Comment    

On Growth in China Wind Energy Production Exceeds Coal For First Time Ever

Actually John, this story quotes energy production (in TWh) not capacity additions. So it already accounts for differing capacity factors of wind and coal.

"Thermal power use, which is predominantly coal, grew by only about 0.3 percent in China during 2012, an addition of roughly 12 terawatt hours (TWh) more electricity. In contrast, wind power production expanded by about 26 TWh."

However, it's somewhat mislead for another reason: the reason coal output grew so little this year is because coal output was very high in China in 2011. That's because 2011 was a low precipitation year in China, and hydropower output (which supplies a big slug of China's power) was very low, with coal plants making up the shortfall. Rainfall and hydro generation rebounded substantially in 2012, up 196 TWh year-on-year, versus about 26 TWh for wind. 

So yes, growth in actual wind generation exceeded coal-fired generation this year. But that's less a sign of wind's rise than the yearly fluctuations of hydro and coal output driven by precipitation patterns.

Wind is growing fast in China, but has not yet eclipsed coal. And as you say, hopefully these trends do not lose momentum in the near future.

For more on China, see this "2012 energy report card" from Trevor Houser at Rhodium Group. A hat tip to Trevor and Robert Wilson for explaining these trends to me on Twitter yesterday.



March 21, 2013    View Comment    

On US Pacific Commander: Climate Change is the Top Threat

Great post. Thanks Adam for sharing a national security perspective on these challenges.

March 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Jesse Jenkins Leading the Charge for The Energy Collective

Thanks Robin for the warm welcome! I'm looking forward to working with all of the top-notch bloggers and readers of the Energy Collective community. Cheers!

March 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Secretary of Energy for a Leaner DOE?

We're sad to lose Ernie at MIT and there's much to do around here about who will end up taking over the reigns at the Energy Initiative, hub to much of the energy research that goes on at MIT. But I agree with Geoff that Ernie is an excellent choice to head the Department of Energy, and I hope he meets a straightforward confirmation. 

March 6, 2013    View Comment    

On Strengthening Beijing Air Pollution Control and Regulations

I read recently that Beijing had just four days last year where air pollution levels were considered "safe" by World Health Organization standards.

It's impossible for me to fathom what living in those conditions might be like. I mean I've been to Los Angeles and lived in the Bay Area on "red days," but this is orders of magnitude worse.

Thanks for sharing the news RE new steps in China to get a hold of this horrendous pollution challenge.


March 4, 2013    View Comment    

On Scaling Solar and Wind: A Hard Look At Energy Innovation Priorities

Thanks for the comment other-Jesse! Glad you appreciated the steady stream of tweets yesterday.

Conference panelists largely presented the boom of US shale gas as complementary to variable wind and solar, as the flexibility of natural gas-fired plants is currently the best way to integrate the intermittent output of these renewable sources. However, panelists also acnowledged that cheap gas-fired power was presenting new price pressures that demanded continued cost reductions from both wind and solar.

January 30, 2013    View Comment    

On Avoiding a Natural Gas Bridge to Nowhere

Hi Geoff,

You make a fair point. I look forward to talking with you about this in next week's webinar, "The Future of Oil and Gas." 


January 20, 2012    View Comment