Comments by Michael Davidson Subscribe

On Energy Access in Space: The Final Frontier in an Electrification Debate

Hey Zak, nice article.

Isn't Bill/Bjorn making the big assumption that dirty indoor fuels will be replaced with electricity and not cleaner indoor fuels and stoves (natural gas, LPG, pellets, biogas...list goes on)? There are economies of scale (pipelines) in urban areas just as electricity and at least fewer diseconomies of dispersion than electricity in some rural areas. I mention this because although your post is on electrification, the goal of "meeting energy needs in rural areas" seems to be incongruous with solely looking at grid solutions. Has there been any research on pathways from distributed, cleaner non-electric solutions for cooking/heating to future "modern" fuels?


February 16, 2015    View Comment    

On China's Electricity Sector at a Glance: 2013


The official generation stats for 2013 from CEC have not come out yet (will post when they do). For Jan-Nov 2013, you may consult:

(for plants > 6 MW):

Thermal: 3,813 TWh

Hydro: 713 TWh

Wind: 125 TWh

Nuclear: 100 TWh

Total: 4,741 TWh






February 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Why UN Climate Talks Are Still Relevant: Report from COP 19 in Warsaw

I am glad you find the scientific assessment conducted by the IPCC as a quality piece of scientific research. It is unfortunate, though, you have not actually read the IPCC report. Your quotes are taken out of context and in some cases wrong (350ppm, not 250ppm, in your first example). I suggest you reread chapter 5 (in particular, 5-3). Scientists do acknowledge uncertainty in climate change impacts. Unfortunately, the uncertainty is heavily "right-skewed", meaning that it is more likely to be much worse than benign compared to the central tendency.

For those interested, the IPCC AR5 Working Group I report can be found here:

November 23, 2013    View Comment    

On Why UN Climate Talks Are Still Relevant: Report from COP 19 in Warsaw

More or less. This time, the developing countries thought "more", and developed thought "less". It looks like early 2015 is real "go-time", though.

November 23, 2013    View Comment    

On Transforming China's Grid: Integrating Wind Energy Before It Blows Away

China tends to lump pumped hydro and hydropower together in its hydro target, but separately, pumped hydro has a 30 GW target in 2015 and 70 GW target in 2020.

August 12, 2013    View Comment    

On Transforming China's Grid: Integrating Wind Energy Before It Blows Away


Thanks for the note. I will have to dive into hydro in a future post. Hydro capacity saw a bumper year in 2012, surpassing wind because Three Gorges and others completely came online. But the trend – again, just looking at the targets – will see wind have slightly larger annual increases through 2015 (14.4 vs 13.7 GW annually) and even larger in the 2nd half of this decade (19 vs 2 GW). Note that the 2015 wind target is actually 104 GW, according to the 12FYP for Wind Development ( [Chinese], Table 1, Page 14). I listed all the targets here: (fyi the solar target is now 35 GW).

Diving into the actual as opposed to targets, the difference in 2015 may be even more visible. While offshore wind is unlikely to make the 5 GW mark, at the end of 2012 wind already had 107 GW approved and permitted (, so many are predicting that both 2015 and 2020 capacity targets will be exceeded.

August 12, 2013    View Comment    

On Transforming China’s Grid: Will Coal Remain King in China’s Energy Mix?

Nathan, thanks for reading.

I would be curious if Germany's coal is balancing all of its wind. In general, Germany is a difficult comparison to make for China, because it is effectively balancing over all of Europe. The same logic also applies to Denmark, which can accommodate 50%+ of wind without significant curtailment. 

Also, vis-a-vis marginal costs: renewables have marginal costs of effectively zero (it costs the same amount to keep the turbines spinning as to feather or stop them). So once they're built (e.g., with the help of subsidies), the market should accept as much of this free resource as it can. Hence, a true wholesale market -- lacking in China -- does help to push the limits of coal plants. By how much is unclear.



July 24, 2013    View Comment