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Blog Posts: technology

  • Leading the Renewal of American Manufacturing: Ohio’s Combined Heat and Power Program

    On March 9, 2012, the Ohio Public Utility Commission hosted a workshop for the Pilot Program on Combined Heat and Power, which it has launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The workshop convened industrial companies, energy experts, and state-level policymakers to discuss the role of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology in complying with upcoming federal Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards. The CHP pilot program in Ohio is an important precedent that recognizes the potential for U.S. industry to raise its energy productivity while improving the health of workers and surrounding communities.

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  • A New Snapshot of Energy Use in Midwest Manufacturing

    Policymakers at all levels of government are focusing on getting the economy moving again. Recent economic news suggests that the manufacturing sector, which has struggled in recent decades and lost 30% of its workforce between 2000 and 2010, is leading the U.S. out of recession.

    By including industrial energy efficiency as a core component of economic development strategies, policymakers can help ensure that today’s capital investments in infrastructure and industry leave U.S. manufacturers better positioned to compete in the 21st century.

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  • For Clean Energy, Taking Risks to Reap Rewards

    This post originally appeared in the National Journal Energy & Environment Expert Blog. The question was, “Where Can Government Energy R&D Have Most Impact?”

    Innovation in breakthrough energy technologies is notoriously challenging, despite having potentially large rewards. Individual innovations are embedded in larger systems where change is very hard. These innovations often carry significant capital costs to demonstrate, commercialize, or reach economies of scale. Unlike the latest cell phone, consumers are often unwilling to pay more for a new energy innovation, especially when the rewards are in the future.

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  • 2012: A Breakthrough for Renewable Energy?

    This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    In his annual State of the Union address, President Obama declared: “I will not walk away from clean energy.”

    His words were a sharp rebuttal to critics harping on the Solyndra bankruptcy and others making dire predictions about the downfall of the renewable energy industry.

    So, who is right? Will 2012 be a breakthrough year for renewable, or will it collapse?

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  • Reflections on COP 17 in Durban

    Written with analysis from Athena Ballesteros, Louise Brown, Florence Daviet, Crystal Davis, Aarjan Dixit, Kelly Levin, Heather McGray, Remi Moncel, Clifford Polycarp, Kirsten Stasio, Fred Stolle, and Lutz Weischer

    Jennifer Morgan, Edward Cameron, and our team of climate experts look back on the key decisions from Durban and give a first take on their implications for global efforts to tackle climate change.

    As weary negotiators return home from the marathon United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in Durban, South Africa, opinion is divided on the deal that was struck.

    Some believe the package – consisting of a new “Durban Platform” to negotiate the long-term future of the regime, a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and an array of decisions designed to implement the Cancun agreements – represents a significant step forward and cause for hope. Others are more cautious, viewing these outputs as insufficient in ambition, content, and timing to tackle the far-reaching threat of climate change.

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  • Fact Sheet: The Power of Innovation: Meeting our Energy Challenges through Accelerated Innovation

    Innovation can close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high performance technologies the world needs.

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  • Want Low-Cost Clean Energy? Bank on Innovation

    In the United States, there is a heated debate about how much government should support renewable energy innovation. While you won’t find anyone who says they don’t value ‘innovation’, the U.S. federal investment in energy innovation across both fossil and renewable technology is still anemic, badly trailing China and only about one third of the amount recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That’s unfortunate, because there are compelling reasons to accelerate innovation in the energy sector, and specifically in renewable energy.

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  • Shifting Policies Stall South Africa’s Renewable Energy Growth

    Part 1: Barriers to Renewable Energy in South Africa

    This is the first post in a two part series on renewable energy policy developments in South Africa.

    Through the Open Climate Network, Idasa and partner organizations are examining the legal and institutional framework for key policies that will influence South Africa’s progress towards meeting its global climate change commitments. One such policy is the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT), drafted in 2009 to help South Africa increase the amount of electricity generated by renewable sources to 10,000 GWh by 2013.

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  • Climate Week Highlights Need for Accelerated Innovation in Clean Technology

    This piece was written with Pablo Torres, Intern at the World Resources Institute.

    During Climate Week 2011, business, government, non-profit, and civil society leaders from around the world are convening in New York City to drive a ‘clean energy revolution’. Not surprisingly, innovation in clean technologies is a common theme among many of the events.

    In most models of a low-carbon future, innovation is assumed to occur and to reduce costs over time.[^1] There has been less focus on how to ensure this innovation takes place and is most effective. That is the focus of WRI’s new working paper, Two Degrees of Innovation: How to Seize the Opportunities in Low-Carbon Power.

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  • Solyndra, Solar Power, and the Road Ahead

    This piece originally appeared on the National Journal Energy and Environment Experts Blog.

    The case of the solar company Solyndra has been getting widespread attention, but much of the current discussion misses the point. While some would like to portray the collapse of this company as the downfall of the U.S. solar industry, the larger picture tells a very different story.

    Solar power is rapidly expanding around the world, driven by opportunities for innovation and investment in low-carbon energy. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power is on a path to provide 20-25 percent of the world’s electric power by 2050. This is a huge market opportunity. And, a recent report by Ernst & Young confirms that the solar energy market has grown from less than $1 billion in 2000 to $79 billion in 2010.

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