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Columbia Energy Exchange

Columbia Energy Exchange features in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia and civil society. The program explores today’s most pressing opportunities and challenges across energy sources, financial markets, geopolitics and climate change as well as their implications for both the U.S. and the world.
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Now displaying: July, 2023
Jul 25, 2023

The Advanced Research Project Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced $100 million for its SCALEUP program, which funds start-ups and emerging companies that need support commercializing products.  

The agency serves as a research and development group for the Department of Energy. ARPA-E is often described as a venture capital fund, because of its focus on getting new technologies to market. Crucially, it garners support from both political parties because of its emphasis on innovation and national security through transformative energy tech.

Still, ARPA-E’s $450 million budget is much smaller than other research and development agencies. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense, has a $4 billion budget this year.

So, what technologies will ARPA-E focus on this year? How will it make the most of its budget? And will it continue to see bi-partisan support in the current political environment? 

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Evelyn Wang and Laurent Pilon about ARPA-E’s unique approach to developing and launching high-risk energy projects. 

Evelyn Wang is the director of ARPA-E. Prior to joining ARPA-E in 2022, she served as the Ford professor of engineering and head of the department of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Laurent Pilon is a program director at ARPA-E. His research focuses on solar, thermal, and electrical energy storage. He was previously a professor in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Jul 18, 2023

To meet net zero 2050 goals, the U.S. needs to quadruple wind and solar capacity, double the size of the grid, and increase the electric vehicle fleet 100-fold. 

Under the existing permitting process, growth at this pace and scale is nearly impossible. It takes years to secure permits for new plants, transmission lines, and mines. That’s why accelerating the regulatory permitting process is critical. 

But doing so may weaken 50 years worth of protections for communities, land, and wildlife in the United States.

What are the implications of the recent proposals for permitting reform? How should clean energy advocates navigate these tradeoffs? And how can policymakers protect American communities and ecosystems as they rush to build out clean energy?

This week host Jason Bordoff talks with Christy Goldfuss about the recent permitting reform proposals and the balance between expanding clean energy and protecting communities and ecosystems.

Christy is the chief policy impact officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) a U.S.-based environmental advocacy nonprofit. Prior to joining NRDC, she was the senior vice president for energy and environmental policy at the Center for American Progress. Christy also served in multiple senior positions during the Obama Administration, first as the deputy director of the National Parks Service, and then as the managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Jul 11, 2023

July 4th 2023 was the hottest day on earth ever recorded.

The prevalence of extreme heat, which dramatically impacts quality of life and the built environment, highlights the urgency of tackling the climate crisis. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions known to exacerbate global warming.

The EPA’s new regulations aim to further limit pollution from power plants and vehicles and avoid hundreds of millions of metric tons of C02 emissions. These regulations  would also prevent health issues and deaths. 

Even with the upsides, the EPA still faces obstacles to these proposals. Most significantly, the Supreme Courts’ West Virginia vs. EPA ruling limits the agency’s ability to impose new emissions standards. Additionally, some professionals and legislators worry the technology standards on the power sector could impact grid reliability. 

So, how will the new regulations play out in practice? Will the EPA be able to implement its agenda? And what will the impact be on industry and communities?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Michael Regan about the EPA’s proposed regulations to reduce vehicle and power plants emissions, and how the agency plans to deal with pushback. 

Michael Regan is the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Over the past two years, he has overseen the agency’s effort to curb emissions from U.S. industry and fight climate change. Prior to his nomination as administrator, he served as the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He has also held positions at the Environmental Defense Fund, including associate vice president of U.S. Climate and Energy.

Jul 4, 2023

Excitement is brewing over an Atlantic offshore wind project 15 miles east of Massachusetts. Developers of the first utility-scale project in the country have begun laying the foundations for 62 planned turbines.  

Vineyard Wind, the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm, is expected to generate 800 MW of electricity. A joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, Vineyard Wind would power 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts annually. State officials are confident this project, and others coming down the pike, will play a critical role in meeting net zero by 2050 goals. 

But challenges remain for offshore wind. Inflation is driving up costs. Complicated logistics for groundbreaking projects could cause delays. And opposition from the commercial fishing industry, which has deep roots in the area, is still strong.

So, what role will public policy play in getting this and other offshore projects across the finish line? And how will it impact the rest of the industry?

This week host Bill Loveless talks with Lars Thaaning Pedersen about the Vineyard Wind project and the policy support that has kept it moving forward. They also discuss the challenges of developing offshore wind projects in the U.S. 

Lars is co-CEO of Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP) and CEO of Vineyard Offshore. Both organizations are engaged in offshore wind development and the energy transition around the world. Prior to founding Copenhagen Offshore Partners in 2015, Lars held executive positions at DONG Energy, which is now Ørsted. He has been involved in more than 10 offshore wind projects in Europe since 2008, and is now focusing his attention on the U.S. as well as other areas of the world.

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