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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Clean Energy"

An Important Report on Energy RD&D

by Michael Levi

Now that Cancun is done, it’s time to start thinking hard again about the nitty-gritty of low-carbon development. Harvard’s Energy Technology Innovation Program (ETIP) has a big new report (along with a shorter policy brief) on government investment in energy RD&D in what they call “the BRIMCS”: Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China, and South Africa. The report’s headline is that government investment is greater in the BRIMCS than in the OECD. My preliminary read of the report is that the most interesting stuff is elsewhere. Read more »

Misunderstanding High-Tech Trade

by Michael Levi

While the climate talks continue in Cancun, the most important developments in climate policy are still happening at the national level.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave a speech on Monday arguing that the United States is at risk of losing to China in a clean energy race. The most striking graph — and Chu emphasized it in his presentation — came near the start of his talk: Read more »

Two Roads for Energy Innovation

by Michael Levi

Shifting the focus of climate policy to investment in energy innovation has long been touted as a way to cut through international bickering over who should shoulder the cost of cutting emissions. Recent squabbling between the United States and China over whether Chinese government support for clean energy technology violates trade rules, though, should wake us up to the fact that life is not so simple. Read more »

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 »