Without a doubt 2012 forever changed the way I think about energy. Coming from an economics and finance background over to the world of energy, my initial expectations lacked the complexities that are a reality, most specifically in the realms of international economics and geopolitics of energy. Upon moving to New York City in late 2011, I expected to find work fast, especially in the energy sector. After all, I wasn’t looking for a job on Wall St. and everybody is crazy about renewables right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After struggling to find work I enrolled at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University in order to pursue another Masters, this time in Global Affairs with a concentration in Energy. Almost instantly my knowledge of energy was expanded beyond technology portfolios, energy efficiency and most of all renewables. I was immediately provided with a network and institutional support that lifted me to a world I didn’t know existed 3 months before.
While I continue to strongly advocate the expansion of renewables and most of all clean technology, I have also grown to appreciate the importance, significance and power that hydrocarbons like oil, coal and natural gas have on the planet and the majority of its inhabitants.
Through my travels and work in China this past summer to my work at the CGA over the last year, if I learned anything its that energy is about infrastructure and transitional stability. It is not about the impacts of one source of energy on an economy and society but the way all of the energy sources work together to meet demand and in many cases, booming demand.
The biggest mistake that the media makes and perhaps extreme environmentalists is the belief that we can leapfrog into the next generation of non-GHG emitting energy sources and avoid the economic and geopolitical hurdles that come with them. Developing countries simply can’t afford newer technologies and its just not cost effective for developed countries suffering from economic crises such as the US.
Solution? As many of you probably have realized by now, in the case of the US (and many others) the solution is down the road of natural gas and shale gas. A cheap energy source that can provide jobs and perhaps decrease carbon emissions. That is if it is able to substantially replace coal in the energy mix. Of course fracking has its concerns but with proper regulation (or regulation period) they can be eliminated or at least minimized. After all it can’t be worse on the environment than coal can it?
The Presidential Debates and initial shale gas reserve estimates made 2012 ‘The Year of Natural Gas Part One.’ Without a doubt, I predict that 2013 will bring us ‘The year of natural gas Part Deux’ although oil will continue to grow, remain king and be the global driver in economics and geopolitics.
Despite my beliefs in hydrocarbons as the drivers of the world’s energy infrastructure for decades to come, I strongly believe cleantech will have the highest growth in terms of impact on societies and economies such as the US and other developed countries. After all, I work in cleantech, I love cleantech and have complete faith in cleantech to help meet the growing global demand of energy, and perhaps with the help of natural gas as a transition fuel, reduce emissions growth.
Thanks for reading my last post of 2012 and stay posted for my next post on why NYC will not only be THE PLACE in 2013 for cleantech startups in the US but also globally.
In an article responding to this MarketWatch story, GigaOM Pro cleantech analyst Adam Lesser argues that Tesla's Model S sales and momentum could reasonably make it profitable in 2013, and the company isn't likely to be as strapped for cash as MarketWatch columnist John Shinal claims.
MarketWatch's Shinal says that Tesla:
”will rank among the top candidates in Silicon Valley for a 2013 stock collapse, unless it receives significantly more cash next year.”
One of the main reasons that China decided to emphasize wind power in it’s 11th Five Year Plan is that wind power’s energy capacity as a technology is more advanced and cost effective than solar power. However, while the use of solar PV has taken a long time to grow, the capacity of solar PV is growing and new and improved developments in solar power technology such as thin film and concentrated solar are debuting.
Solar installer and financier SolarCity has set the terms of its planned IPO, and says in a filing on Tuesday that it intends to sell 10,065,012 shares at between $13 and $15 per share. At the midpoint of that range SolarCity would raise $141 million, and would have a market value of $1.2 billion. At the high range, SolarCity would raise $151 million.
Wind power development in China has received a lot of support, going from initial demonstration in 1986 to deploying policy trials of tariffs and cost sharing in an early industrialization stage in 1994. In 2003, China established a Renewable Energy law that provided regulations and feed-in tariffs that led to scale development and localization. Perhaps the largest part of the 11th Five Year Plan’s energy and environmental strategy involved even larger-scale development and in 2009 China alone nearly doubled its capacity from 2008 (Figure 4), surpassing the U.S.
While China could vamp up its efforts to decrease its energy demand, it has done a great job of increasing its energy supply, regardless if it primarily comes from fossil fuels. However, when looking at solving China’s energy demand and supply problems, the area that can contribute the most is technology. Whether by increasing solar PV capacity with concentrated solar and thin film technology or improving the grid and energy storage measures, improvements in these technologies could solve all of China’s environmental and energy security concerns.