In recent years, renewable energy has seen dramatic cost declines and large annual growth rates. While the share of renewable energy in the global fuel mix has grown, the total volume of energy produced from fossil fuels has increased as well. Are downward trends in cost enough on their own to spur more rapid growth of clean energy? What is the role for public policy, financing models, and innovation efforts across the renewable energy landscape?
On a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Adnan Amin, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, to discuss these and other questions. IRENA supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as a platform for international cooperation. Adnan has more than 25 years of experience in renewable energy, sustainable development, and environmental policy. He joined the Agency in 2010 as Interim Director General and in 2011 was elected as IRENA’s first Director General.
Adnan and Jason caught up to discuss IRENA’s mission and the future of renewables on the global market. Adnan discusses why policy still has an important role to play in the energy transition and provides his thoughts on 100% clean energy, EVs, and the role that renewables can play in emerging markets.
Other topics discussed include the continued threat of geopolitics, how utilities will need to adapt their business models to a low-cost electricity world, and the sustainability of China’s growth model.
Innovation has resulted in remarkable advances in clean energy technology with solar and wind energy systems becoming increasingly competitive in the U.S. And more breakthroughs are in the pipeline, as ambitious scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs make headway on products and services that will change the way we produce, use and save energy.
But getting a good head start on innovation is challenging for pioneers, who often lack the execution capacity to design, build and test their inventions on their own. That’s where institutions like Greentown Labs can play a big role.
On this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless visits Greentown Labs in Somerville, MA, and meets with its CEO, Dr. Emily Reichert, to talk about the outlook for clean technology in the U.S. and what programs like hers can do to help entrepreneurs get off the ground. They discuss the pace and scale of clean energy innovation today as well as the investment climate for clean tech and some government programs that aim to help stimulate breakthroughs.
Greentown Labs bills itself as the largest clean tech incubator in the U.S., with 100,000 square feet of space and more than 70 startup companies housed in a renovated century-old industrial complex just outside Boston. There, budding companies are building prototypes, developing business plans and taking other steps necessary for commercial success. Areas of focus among the companies include energy generation, distribution and storage; energy-efficient buildings; transportation, agriculture and robotics.
Since the discovery of rich oil and gas deposits in the North Sea over 50 year ago, Norway has become one of the leading producers and exporters of petroleum products. A company that has been central to the development of Norway’s natural resources is Equinor, formally known as Statoil.
On a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff talks with Eldar Saetre, President and CEO of Equinor. They spoke in Stavanger, Norway, on the sidelines of the recent ONS Conference. Eldar joined Equinor nearly forty years ago and has held numerous roles including CFO and Executive Vice President for Marketing, Processing & Renewable Energy.
Jason and Eldar discuss a range of topics including the key innovations and trends impacting the energy industry and the clean energy transition. Other topics include Eldar’s thoughts on global oil and gas markets, the role of geopolitics, and how Equinor thinks about risk. They also discuss the company’s recent name change and the motivations behind that decision.
Hurricane Maria was one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the United States, leaving a path of death and destruction across Puerto Rico last September. The electric grid faced extensive damage that put virtually the entire population without power for weeks and months.
On this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless talks to Carlos Torres, a former official with Consolidated Edison in New York, and the man assigned by the Governor of Puerto Rico with the difficult task of coordinating the restoration of electricity for the island. Carlos spent more than 30 years at Con Ed managing emergency management and storm restoration efforts, including overseeing the utility’s response to major storms like Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, and emergencies like the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center and the 2003 Northeast Blackout.
But putting the lights back on in Puerto Rico was the most challenging mission of his career, Carlos says. In fact, he told a congressional committee that the damage caused by Hurricane Maria on the island was unlike anything he and others in the industry had ever seen on the U.S mainland.
Bill and Carlos met recently in Washington, D.C. at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association for investor-owned utilities in the United States where Carlos has worked as a consultant since October. With electricity now nearly restored in Puerto Rico after a year, Carlos talks about the difficulties of achieving that goal, and lessons learned regarding making electric grids resilient to Mother Nature in Puerto Rico and other parts of the United States. He and Bill also touched on the role public policy plays in promoting such resilience, especially now as we find ourselves in the midst of another hurricane season.