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Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Showing posts for "Clean Energy"

Is Solar Really “Cost-Competitive” with Fossil Fuels?

by Michael Levi
REUTERS/Carlos Barria REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A finding last week by a Minnesota judge that a proposed solar project is a better way to meet the state’s electricity demand than several competing natural gas facilities has been making news. The decision has been reported as a “landmark” declaration that solar is “cost-competitive” with fossil fuels. Read more »

How David Stockman Explains Irrational Hatred of Clean Energy Spending

by Michael Levi

Skeptics of government spending on clean energy have reasonable grounds to question whether Washington is capable of effectively investing in efforts to commercialize new technologies. The last few weeks, though, have reinforced a far deeper and more problematic hostility toward government spending on clean energy innovation that makes pragmatic compromise all but impossible. Read more »

State of the Union Hints at Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Old and New Energy

by Michael Levi

The State of the Union address last night was notable for the prominent placement of energy and climate and for its recommencement to what President Obama has called an all of the above strategy. I was particularly struck by the inclusion of two new efforts that would aim to concretely bridge the gap between fossil fuel backers and clean energy enthusiasts: the Energy Security Trust Fund and a new prize for development of natural gas with carbon capture and storage. Read more »

Next Steps on Clean Energy Trade

by Michael Levi

Earlier this week, at a meeting in Russia, the leaders of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) agreed to reduce tariffs on fifty-four different types of environmentally friendly goods.  The countries, which include the United States and China, agreed to specific maximum tariffs and to a deadline for the changes. This is great news. The World Bank has estimated that eliminating barriers to trade in clean energy technologies could boost that trade by fourteen percent.  And as my colleagues and I argued in an in-depth study two years ago, cross-border trade and investment is essential to accelerating not only deployment but also innovation in clean energy. Read more »

Why We Fail to Correctly Project Renewable Energy Growth

by Michael Levi

There’s an interesting discussion going on in the blogosphere over why energy experts “failed to predict” massive growth in renewable energy over the past decade. David Roberts speculates that it’s because renewable energy is technologically dynamic and often distributed – two things that, he says, we’re bad at modeling. Paul Krugman sees something much uglier at work: capture (“both crude and subtle”) of energy experts by fossil fuel interests. Read more »

Could Expensive Oil Rescue Carbon Capture?

by Michael Levi

What a difference a few years makes. Not long ago, power plants with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) seemed to be the key to a low carbon future. Today, with no large-scale pilot plants operating, no appetite for big government subsidies, and no price on carbon in the offing, CCS barely registers in most low-carbon energy conversations. Read more »

Energy and U.S. Manufacturing: Five Things to Think About

by Michael Levi

The boom in U.S. oil and gas production has sparked talk of a manufacturing renaissance. I mentioned that somewhat skeptically last week in the context of a much broader piece on the excitement surrounding surging U.S. oil and gas output. I want to drill down on five important issues here. Some of this thinking is preliminary, so as always, feedback is most welcome. Read more »

The Clean Energy Ministerial: What I Learned about Solar PV and Global Governance

by Michael Levi

On April 25 and 26, I had the good fortune to participate in parts of the third annual Clean Energy Ministerial (known informally as the CEM), a forum launched by U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu in 2010. The initiative brings together energy ministers from most G20 countries, along with a handful of others, to learn lessons from each others’ clean energy efforts, and, critically, to identify places where intergovernmental initiatives could boost the odds of success. One thing that distinguishes the forum from other international initiatives is the integral role that the private sector has played from day one. The first afternoon of the CEM was spent in a series of small public-private dialogues that brought together ministers, regulators, operators, investors, and experts in science and technology to discuss areas ranging from smart financing tools to support energy efficiency investment to integration of variable renewable sources in the grid. Read more »

Why Do Green Jobs Pay Better Than Other Jobs?

by Michael Levi

I’ve always been skeptical of the oft-heard claim that “green jobs” are “good jobs” – that is, that green jobs somehow pay better than other ones. A recent Brookings Institution study, though, takes a rather thorough look at the “clean economy”, and concludes quite emphatically that green jobs do in fact pay better than the typical U.S. job. That invites an obvious question: Why? Read more »