Energy Policy

OPEC Says To Biden: If You Want More Oil, Pump It Yourself

November 9, 2021

OPEC and its oil-producing partners have rebuffed President Joe Biden’s calls for increased production amidst rising fuel prices, retorting that if the United States believes the world’s economy needs more energy, then it has the capability to increase production itself. The OPEC+ alliance, made up of OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia and non-member top producers guided by Russia, approved an increase in production of 400,000 barrels per day for the month of December.

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Biden’s Good COP/Bad COP on Climate is Not Enough

November 2, 2021

President Joe Biden is in Glasgow, on the second phase of a trip abroad which began with the 2021 G20 summit in Rome. Joining him in Scotland is an outsized American delegation for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), including not only Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Climate Envoy John Kerry, but six members of cabinet. To avoid meeting Biden – and international criticism – China’s leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin do not participate in Glasgow.

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COP26 And WTO Ministerial Bring Tough Questions For Emerging Economies

October 29, 2021

Ministers from twenty-four developing nations – including China, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan – released a statement ahead of the United Nations Climate Change summit (COP26) denouncing new net-zero standards as discriminatory. The plan asks for all countries to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Climate negotiations have long been shaped by equity concerns; this makes sense. The recognition that different countries have different responsibilities for, and capabilities to, address climate change is at the heart of the U.N. negotiation process. More advanced countries not only have greater resources to devote towards the greening of their economies relative to emerging economies, they also benefitted from unlimited cheap fossil fuels throughout the 20th century to get where they are today. Many argue that is unfair for these advanced economies to “pull the ladder up behind them” now that they have reached a sufficient level of development. Not all countries can afford to make the same expensive energy transitions as their already developed neighbors.

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China’s Space Mining Industry Is Prepping For Launch – But What About The US?

October 26, 2021

A slew of activities amongst China’s private and state-owned aerospace companies this year are a testament to China’s growing ambitions for economic and military domination of space. On October 19, the Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology (AASPT) – which belongs to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) – test fired “the most powerful solid rocket motor with the largest thrust in the world so far.” The 500 tons of thrust is designed to propel the next iteration of China’s heavy-lift rockets, which would meet various demands for space missions like crewed Moon landings, deep space exploration, and off-world resource extraction.

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Europe’s Self-Inflicted Energy Crisis

October 14, 2021

Europe is in the throes of an unprecedented energy crunch. Some call it a crisis, which, if not addressed, may be comparable to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s – with dire economic, social and political consequences. Brent crude is at a 5 year high of $84 per barrel while spot natural gas prices are up more than 500% year-over-year, forcing highly polluting gas-to-coal switching and putting the brakes on the EU’s green energy transition. Resurgent energy demand post-Covid, extreme weather events (unprecedented heatwaves and prolonged winters), supply chain disruptions, and poor regional and global stockpiling have all contributed to Europe’s current crisis. Russia’s supremo Vladimir Putin may have a reason to pop a champagne bottle in view of the EU’s sanctions on the Kremlin. He says that Europe had created a self-inflicted wound. He may be right.

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FinTech Can Help Fill Climate Resilience Gaps In Emerging Markets

September 30, 2021

The fuel crisis spreading across Europe and Asia highlights the weather-related vulnerabilities faced by global energy systems. As wind and solar falter under intermittency, power generation has defaulted to gas, where demand is being squeezed by early-autumn heating and late-summer electric cooling needs across Eurasia. The reverberations of February’s polar vortex in Texas—which froze gas output—continue to be felt as resulting low reserves run dry and Gazprom dithers. The resiliency of energy supply chains is being put to the test—and failing.

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AUKUS Sub Deal Could Sink Relations With France, Buoy Nuclear Tech Advances

September 27, 2021

As an exhausted, internally divided America proclaims its return and promises a new era of diplomatic leadership, its global partners are rightfully skeptical. Year one of the Biden era has seen the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, casting doubts about the president’s foreign policy judgment. So long as the disgraced President Donald J. Trump remains the Republicans’ current frontrunner for 2024, the world cannot expect fidelity and competence to emerge from the loyal opposition. For now, at least, it is on President Biden to provide leadership, course-correct away from the lack of reliability, and contain Chinese aggrandizement before its merry band of fellow autocrats from Moscow to Kabul and from Tehran to Pyongyang supplants the US-led world order. Biden’s recent work to transform Australia into an Indo-Pacific bulwark against China, however, has worryingly offended a critical ally — France — and exposed some serious bungling in the U.S. Government.

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Tesla Flexes Innovative Muscle By Manufacturing Own Chips During Supply Crunch

September 22, 2021

COVID-19’s impact on the global economy introduced major supply chain shortages, hitting silicon wafer manufacturers particularly hard. Silicon wafers chips are a small slice of semi-conductors, a vital tech component inside all complex electronics from cell phones to cruise missiles. They also require critical minerals and advanced processing techniques to produce, two areas where the United States is lagging behind China and other Asian competitors. Today, the gap between semiconductor chip order and delivery times range between 18 weeks and 6 months, whereas pre-pandemic wait times hovered around 12 weeks.

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Big Money For Solar, As Biden Targets Half Of U.S. Electricity From The Sun By 2050

September 13, 2021

A Solar Futures Study released by the Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday projected that solar energy generation could reach 40% of the nation’s electricity consumption by 2035 and achieve nearly 50% by 2050, contingent on large federal government infrastructure investments such as those proposed by the Biden Administration. The study found that to reach 40% solar in the next 15 years, the US must double capacity each year until 2025, and then double it again from 2025 to 2030. The question is whether it is realistic — both technologically and economically.

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Hurricane Ida Puts America’s Energy Security To The Test

September 1, 2021

Hurricane Ida, the worst storm since Katrina, knocked out an estimated 94% of offshore Gulf oil production, as well as power to one million homes across Louisiana and Mississippi this past weekend. Some 10% of gas stations in the Baton Rouge area were out of fuel — as were 7.5% around New Orleans — leaving thousands lined up for gas to fuel home generators. Gasoline shortages are expected to worsen sharply as Ida passes.

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Dual-Sided Solar Panel Breakthrough Means Massive Efficiency Gains

August 30, 2021

Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have created the world’s first “truly bifacial solar cell”. These panels are dual sided, with both the front and the back of the solar module capable of generating power. Place a mirror behind these cells, and incoming sunlight can be absorbed twice.

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As U.S. Retreats, China Looks To Back Taliban With Afghan Mining Investments

August 17, 2021

The U.S. defeat in Afghanistan threatens to undermine already limited U.S. credibility and geostrategic leverage. With the ascendance of the Taliban, the energy infrastructure and natural resources of the region are now more in jeopardy than ever since 2001, the year the U.S. chased out the Taliban regime.

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What’s Next For Historic Infrastructure Bill And Green Energy?

August 12, 2021

After months of negotiation, the Senate voted in a filibuster-proof 69-30 to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure framework. The bill orders repairs to crumbling physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, expansions to broadband internet access, replacement of lead water pipes, financial support for clean energy projects, and improving the weatherization and cybersecurity of vulnerable infrastructure.

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Inferno: Mediterranean Fires Highlight The Need For International Solutions

August 10, 2021

Thousands across Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon are fleeing their homes as historic wildfires whip through the region. This is climate change in its manic phase. And it is getting worse.

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Iran’s Suspected Energy Terrorism: Persian Gulf Tanker Hijacking

August 4, 2021

On Tuesday, August 3, the Panama-flagged tanker Asphalt Princess was reportedly seized in the Gulf of Oman by Iranian-backed forces, maritime sources said, and is now being towed into Iranian waters. The story is still developing.

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General Motors Moves To Secure Its Own Critical Mineral Supply Chains

July 26, 2021

General Motors (GM) recently announced a strategic partnership with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources (CRT) to secure “local and low-cost lithium,” for its Ultium battery packs. GM’s Ultium is a modular system wherein cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally, allowing up to 400 miles + range in its vehicles regardless of chassis design.

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German Floods Will Mean Big Things For Europe’s Climate Politics

July 19, 2021

Record-breaking floods have devastated Western Europe, leaving at least 170 people dead and over 1,300 unaccounted for. This catastrophe will have long-lasting implications on European – and global – politics and policies, including an impact on the forthcoming German general elections in September, and the rollout of the EU radical energy policy package that was unveiled on July 14. This includes commitments to be the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

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Why The Green Transition Can’t Happen Without Natural Gas

July 8, 2021

Just as natural gas has competed with coal as the prime fuel for electricity in the last decades, renewables are putting pressure on the blue, clean-burning source of energy. The competition is fierce and will likely get worse. Yet, it is still too early to discount gas. This was the message at the 36th  International Gas Congress in Croatia, where I spoke on Joe Biden’s plan to stop drilling on federal lands.

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Central Asia To Green Its Economies

June 28, 2021

Soviet dominance left Central Asia’s environment in shambles. From hundreds of nuclear blasts in the testing grounds of Semey (Semipalatinsk) in Kazakhstan to barbaric destruction of water management in the drying-up Aral Sea, these environmental disasters left the land-locked five countries to deal with destroyed human lives, ruined ecosystems, and pollution.

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California Legislators Push $300 Million Hydrogen Plan

June 17, 2021

California’s policymakers are lobbying for hydrogen fuel to play a larger role in the state’s economy. A bipartisan group of 20 legislators penned a letter to assembly leaders requesting that $300 million of a $500 million executive order on emission reductions be set aside for hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Such a significant sum shows that California may be getting serious about hydrogen’s applications in the energy transition.

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U.S. Loses, Russia And China Win With Keystone XL Closure

June 10, 2021

The Canadian effort to sway President Biden to license for the Keystone XL pipeline has failed, leaving TransCanada (TC) Energy to formally scrap the contentious $9 billion project. While doubtless appealing to environmental activists, this is a massive geopolitical blunder by the Biden Administration, putting politics and ideology in front of national interests.

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Apple Seeks To Bite Into Self-Driving Electric Vehicle Market

May 26, 2021

The scramble for the $5 trillion car market is afoot. The leaders in self-driving tech and electric mobility will be the winners. Apple is one of many tech companies planning to revolutionize the staid, 130 year-old industry. This is a sign of how cars will be joining cell phones in morphing into personal computers.

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Are Vertical Turbines The Future Of Offshore Wind Power?

May 20, 2021

What makes renewable energy so exciting is the immense economic potential of groundbreaking technology advancements.

A recent discovery by engineers of Oxford Brookes University’s School of Engineering, Computing, and Mathematics could change the design of offshore wind farms forever. The study, led by Professor Iakovos Tzanakis, demonstrates that deep sea and coastal wind turbines could achieve a 15% increase in power output if traditional horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) are replaced by a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) design. While classic HAWT windmills produce energy with a standard three-blade “pinwheel” design, VAWT utilizes a more cylindrical shape with blades rotating around a central shaft.

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The Global Take | Cyber Attack against the Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline

May 19, 2021

In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. The discussion in this video will focus on the cyber attack against the Alpharetta-based Colonial pipeline.

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Flow battery manufacturer ESS goes public via SPAC acquisition

May 13, 2021

As the renewable energy sector is growing amid dropping prices and policy incentives, energy storage startups are also seeking their share of the market. In the last year, zinc battery maker Eos Energy Storage, Stem and recycler Li-Cycle have all entered the marketplace via SPAC, as have electric vehicle startups Fisker and Nikola. The results have been mixed — Stem stock, for instance, has fallen since peaking in February — but the interest shows the level of growth for the storage sector, said Sam Wilkinson, director of solar and energy storage research for IHS Markit.

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