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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Clean Energy"

Digging into the “Post-Partisan Power” Study

by Michael Levi

The new Brookings/AEI/Breakthrough “Post-Partisan Power” study, which calls on policymakers to focus on energy innovation rather than carbon pricing, has been generating a lot of debate over the last day. I symphathize with those who have criticized the study for pretending to be more “bipartisan” than it actually is, and for overselling the potential of energy innovation absent government incentives that increase demand. But set that aside: what’s being missed in this debate is that most of the paper is actually a smart and thoughtful discussion of how to do energy innovation policy right. Read more »

Overselling Energy Innovation

by Michael Levi

David Leonhardt has a column in today’s New York Times which looks at at the potential for government-sponsored innovation to drive U.S. climate policy. I’m sympathetic to the argument that carbon pricing (and other demand-side policy) isn’t enough alone to transform how we produce and consume energy. But Leonhardt indulges in some bad logic that’s common enough to deserve rebutting: Read more »

The Problem With Chinese Clean Energy Subsidies

by Michael Levi

I wrote last week about how Chinese gains in solar energy could help, rather than hurt, U.S. businesses. My argument was that if China focused on those parts of the value chain where it had a natural edge, and the United States focused on those parts where it was most suited, they could together bring down the cost of solar. That would increase the market for solar, and they would both win. In particular, I argued that Chinese strength in the later stages of solar manufacturing wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Read more »

The Downside to Made in the USA

by Michael Levi

Keith Bradsher has a largely excellent article in Wednesday’s Times that’s focused on the (possibly illegal) advantages that the Chinese government is providing its clean energy firms. In reporting the piece, though, he falls prey to a deceptive story about the success of Chinese solar at the expense of U.S. industry. Since it’s a story that regularly shows up in one form or another, it’s important to understand why there’s less than meets the eye. (I’ll have more to say on the broader trade issues in several upcoming articles and posts.) Read more »

Does Yingli Solar Really Belong at the World Cup?

by Michael Levi

Yingli Solar, the Chinese rooftop solar photovoltaic company, has been making waves with its prominent sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Times picked up the story yesterday, quoting a Yingli spokesperson who said that the company “pondered” its decision “profoundly, deeply”. My colleague Liz Economy flagged the sponsorship last week. Noting that Yingli’s ads were running next to ones from McDonalds, she worried that China was embracing the future while U.S. companies were stuck representing the past. Read more »

Do We Have Any Clue Where Renewable Energy Is Heading?

by Michael Levi

There is a persistent debate over whether forecasters are excessively optimistic or pessimistic in projecting trends in pretty much anything, including energy. A new World Bank working paper looks at 116 projections over a period of 36 years to try and answer the question. One of the more interesting findings is that projections of future renewable energy production are pretty much random. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in any of the projections we’re working off today. Read more »

Kerry-Lieberman is Looking Like a Nuclear Energy Jobs Bill

by Michael Levi

Trevor Houser and his colleagues at the Peterson Institute have a sharp economic analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman energy and climate bill out this morning. Take a look here. (There’s a lot more in it – on emissions, oil consumption, and energy prices – than I discuss here.) This is the first analysis of any climate bill I’ve seen that actually tells a plausible story of the “green jobs” front. Their conclusion is that the bill would add modestly to job growth during the next decade, while depressing it slightly in the decade after, but still leaving a (tiny) net gain over the two-decade period. This is a big deal if it holds up. Read more »

Carbon Pricing or R&D? A New Economics Paper Says Both

by Michael Levi

Daron Acemoglu, Philippe Aghion, and two of their colleagues (MIT and Harvard) posted a fascinating working paper last October that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves in the policy world. (After I wrote this, I spotted a blog post on it over at the World Bank, which apparently hosted one of its authors for a talk last month.) It’s a fairly technical piece of economics (though the summary is nice and clear), so I’ll try to explain a bit about what it says. Read more »