Skip to comments.10 Big Changes In Energy Since The 2013 MIT Energy Conference
Posted on 02/15/2014 7:30:03 PM PST by ckilmer
Around MIT, we’re used to “drinking from a fire hose,” but the pace of change can still be dizzying—particularly for those of us involved in energy. Less than 12 months ago, the MIT Energy Club hosted its premier event, the MIT Energy Conference, and in that time, a great deal has changed.
As students prepare for the 2014 MIT Energy Conference, we thought we’d compile a few of the big changes in the energy sector we’ve seen over the past year and connect those to themes in the upcoming Conference. We hope you’ll share your own top energy stories in the comments, on Twitter, and during the Conference on February 21st and 22nd.
Just hours after the 2013 Conference closed, the campus celebrated the nomination of MIT’s Ernest Moniz, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative, as Secretary of Energy. In his first speech after being sworn in, Moniz pledged that energy efficiency would be “a big focus going forward.”
After reaching historic lows in 2012, natural gas prices were bound to rise. The question was, “How much?” In late January, we got an answer as gas prices surged over $5 per 1,000 cubic feet. Past years’ low prices created more demand for gas, and this year’s frigid winter has sent prices soaring. These fluctuations are bound to be a big topic of discussion during the February 22 session on the Natural Gas Boom.
The North Dakota oil boom was big news this year, sparking a National Geographic cover story and many more on the rapid rise in U.S. oil production through hydraulic fracturing. In November, North Dakota’s oil production fell just shy of the 1 million barrels per day mark. Look for discussion on the U.S.’s expanded oil production in the Power of Energy panel.
Wall Street warmed up to the solar industry in 2013, sending SunPower and SolarCity shares rocketing upward. Shares of both companies more than quadrupled year-over-year as both financial conditions and investor confidence in the sector improved. And, for the first time, the U.S. installed more solar capacity than Germany did in 2013. SolarCity staff will be on hand for the Expanding the Solar Frontier session on Friday.
But even with solar’s U.S. success, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that global clean energy investment fell for the second straight year. What will 2014 hold? The Cleantech Finance panel may answer that question.
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants in the U.S. The standards will affect both coal- and natural gas-fired generators and could help to turn around Bloomberg’s clean energy investment figures in future years. Saturday’s Policy and Economics of Carbon session will explore new models for limiting emissions.
After a rocky review in the New York Times, Tesla gave the electric vehicles sector some much-needed momentum when it was given Consumer Reports’ highest rating ever in May. That news coupled with surging consumer demand has sent the company’s stock soaring. Can biofuels catch up? The auto industry will weigh in during a Friday afternoon panel.
A few years ago, Google attempted to break into the energy space with its now-defunct PowerMeter project. But with the $3.2 billion acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest, the search giant again seems serious about understanding home energy use. Friday’s Intelligent Efficiency panel will survey the efficiency competition in the new market for smarter energy use.
The role of nuclear power has long been a subject of debate in academic circles, but in 2013, this energy source got its Hollywood moment with the documentary “Pandora’s Promise.” In the wake of Fukushima, the film may give some of my colleagues in Nuclear Science and Engineering the boost they need to bring their technologies to the marketplace. At the Conference, you’ll hear about what’s moving from the Lab to Market, and how nuclear can compete (or cooperate) with renewable energy.
NRG’s David Crane was one of last year’s keynote speakers. In 2013, his firm launched NRG Yield, Inc., a so-called “yield co,” a publicly-traded company formed to own operating assets that produce cash flow (like power plants) and distribute that cash to investors as dividends. Yield cos can reduce the cost of capital for energy projects, and if NRG Yield’s performance is any indication, they may be the next way to finance new generation. To see what other revolutionary ideas are on tap during this year’s Conference, a full list of this year’s keynote spearks is available here.
You’ll hear about these stories and much more at the 2014 MIT Energy Conference. For more information about the Conference or to register, please visit: http://mitenergyconference.org.
What? No LENR or other forms of cold fusion??? I am shocked. Shocked I tell you
Bump for later
Here's the POF run-down of what all this really means to you...
1. Moniz Appointed To Head DOE, pledged that energy efficiency would be a big focus going forward. -- IOW, more appliances that don't work, more products shoved down our throats we don't want.
2. Natural Gas Sees Price Pressure -- Obama still hasn't found a way to stop tracking.
3. Bakken Oil Production Nears 1 Million Barrels/Day -- Obama continues to take credit for private sector innovation on private lands.
4. Solar Soars -- Birds fried. No cost-effective night-time storage. Economics continue to ignore the fact we need power at night. Solar still WAY to expensive. Needs another 50 years of federal subsidies for R&D; maybe another $500 billion will do it.
5. But Clean Energy Investment Falls -- the Market is waking up to the scam of "green" this and that.
6. Carbon Pollution Standards Introduced -- EPA set requirements so strict that no coal technology can meet them. Coal plants are essentially outlawed by regulations. Congress refuses to rein in the tyrants at EPA.
7. Telsa Gives EVs A Jolt -- If Tesla produces 100k cars/year, they will exhaust the ENTIRE GLOBAL SUPPLY of lithium. You want to power your iPhone and laptop with cheap batteries? Ha! Fugged About It.
8. Google Buys Into Home Energy -- They will now know even more about you, when you're home and away, how you use energy, when you use energy, and eventually what you are using energy for. But don't worry. Your data is safe with Google.
9. Nuclear Rekindles Debate -- No discussion of LENR? Give me a break.
10. The Rise of Energy Yield Cos -- Energy Companies have always had a stellar track record of paying dividends. This is new?
I love solar energy if it is cost effective.
I love wind power if it is cost effective.
I love all alternative sources of power if cost effective.
They are not cost effective. As soon as they are cost effective private enterprise will develop them with the rapacious motive of profit. The rapacious motive of profit is called the market place. This market place has given our great nation the highest standard of living in the history of the world.
Greed is good so long as monopolies are held in check. The greedy benefit by their vision and their choice to take risk with their own capital. The people benefit by the fact that the greedy deliver a product at a lower price than their competitors that are also the greedy but came in second or last.
I would much rather deal with a greedy businessman than a government that wants to do what they think is right for the people. What they really think is “what is right for them as a ruling class.”
When the ruling class which is government and lobbyist determine the law and most importantly spending, the people and most importantly those that pay taxes are those that have their money legally stolen and squandered.
Our tax code and lobbyist have created a corrupt system that favors those that lobby and pay big bucks to our Congress. The companies that utilize this are not inherently evil or bad. They are reacting in a perfectly logical manner to a totally corrupt system of legislation and the tax code that was written by a corrupt legislature in Washington DC
If you want to know how this works just google “how much tax did General Electric pay”
The greed-virtue dichotomy that pits the private sector against public interest is greatest fraud perpetrated on the public.
Corruption is the thread that binds govt and big business not unlike the fascism that propelled the 3rd Reich. And its corruption that taints the alternative energy efforts.
I’m also interested in the potential of new energy sources, but not the way the Marxists want it to happen — by iron-fisted force at any and all costs.
There’s a role for govt in the evolution of energy and sciences, but given the level of its current involvement, I’m having difficulty considering any role it deserves at the moment.
I used to believe in the role of government funding basic research, but after the Global Warming scam of the last 40 years, I don’t even believe in that any more. The only reason GW is still around is it has turned into a multi-billion dollar “industry.” Tens of thousands of profs are churning out hundreds of thousands of grad students and all are getting the same “correct” results that lead to more research contracts. Basic science has been thoroughly corrupted by government funding and is now totally rotten.
>> Basic science has been thoroughly corrupted by government funding
Throughout history, it’s been shown that that even the purest of all disciplines, mathematics, has suffered the political wants of ideals and dogma.
It cannot be said that science is not political; and its centralization through regulations, funding, and sponsorship makes it a proof awaiting a theory.
If that project is successful, it could mean a new, very safe form of nuclear power using thorium-232 dissolved in molten fluoride salts as nuclear fuel. Given how common thorium-232 is (it's found anywhere there is rare Earth mining--minerals containing thorium-232 used to be dumped as waste), we may be talking a fuel source that could potentially last thousands of years! (And that's not including potentially gigantic deposits of thorium-232 on the Moon.)
OK!! Everybody pay attention!
Lesson for today:
1. The sun is 1,300,000 times as big as the earth.
2. The sun is a ball of fire that controls the climates of all its planets.
3. The earth is one of the suns planets.
4. The earth is a speck in comparison to the size of the sun.
5. Inhabitants of the earth are less than specks.
Study Question: How do less-than-specks in congress plan to control the sun?
A big game-changer here is a test reactor now under construction in China (a joint project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
It is a measure of how both arrogant and incompetent that Oak Ridge has become that this work is being done in China. It is not a joint project. The Chinese wholly own it. All Oak Ridge is doing is advising. The Chinese will get all the IP rights and all the know how to anything that is successfully developed.