Monday May 02, 2022
Monday May 02, 2022
This week we speak with Sam Raszewski, a senior lecturer and Programme Director for the Oil and Gas Management program at the University of East London Royal Docks Business School. Sam has published widely on energy security and particularly about security in the European gas sector. He regularly appears on a range of international media outlets and this week we are fortunate enough to have him on our podcast. The interview took place in early April before Russia cut off the flow of gas to Poland and Bulgaria. Nonetheless, in the intervening weeks, we can see that Sam's analysis still holds water and is even more spot-on, as the European Union and the countries in the EU, are rapidly shifting away from Russian oil and gas. An important takeaway Sam arrives at is the role of nuclear power. What is clear, and is reflected throughout our discussion is the economic necessity of rebuilding a more robust energy system that is less dependent on imports into Europe. The interview is valuable both in how Sam frames energy security but also in how to fix the current security of supply failures that are dominating and restricting Europe's energy market.
Saturday Apr 23, 2022
Saturday Apr 23, 2022
This week I'm discussing another wave of the Carbon Storm. I define this more in episode 39. In this episode I update what this means in a time of war. If you are looking for hope, this may not be the episode for you. This recording was done for a recruitment event I did for the EMBA program at Central European University. It has a nice live feel to it. The presentation was a great opportunity to revisit this topic of increasing high energy prices as the world attempts to shift towards a low carbon economy. These periods of high prices will only continue to plague our future. So hold on tight.
Friday Apr 15, 2022
Friday Apr 15, 2022
On this episode, we speak with Rod Janssen, the man behind the Energy in Demand weekly newsletter and website. He is also the president of Energy Efficiency in Industrial Process. But more aptly, Rod is a true expert in energy efficiency. As you'll hear in this episode Rod's pool of knowledge goes back to the aftermath of the 1970s oil crisis. He shares his experience from then and the renewed focus on energy efficiency to survive another energy crisis. But as we learn from this conversation, good energy efficiency takes years to be built and can't be done just by hooking up a heat pump. However, as we discuss Europe does have a good foundation on energy efficiency, if it and member states decide to actually get serious about energy efficiency. Rod shares his experience consulting SMEs in Turkey impliment and comply with EU regulations on energy efficiency. These may be EU directives and rules, but as Rod tells us, these are just good and practical policies. You can also learn why Rod loves heat pumps. I'll give you a hint, his living room in Canada holds 100 people where it gets down to minus 25 degrees. The second half of the interview we go into details about the interplay between energy efficiency and government policies. This includes how Germany became too dependent on Russian energy and companies to provide gas while also overlooking the security benefits of energy efficiency. As Rod emphasizes, energy efficiency is the 'first fuel', that is you have to look at the demand side before you expand and change the supply side of the energy system. Why build bigger power plants when investing in reducing energy demand is more cost-effective and secure? Overall, we have a lively - and entertaining - discussion on a better design to energy security - which is investing into reducing the demand for energy. He also appeared on a previous podcast episode. The link is here.
Saturday Apr 02, 2022
Saturday Apr 02, 2022
This week we speak with Professor Cristina Corchero, who is the Serra Hunter Professor at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. She is the founder and Chief Technology Officer at Bamboo Energy. We begin our discussion about her experience taking research and placing it within a start-up company. Christina is a great example of a reluctant but dedicated entrepreneur. Her company, Bamboo Energy is a key component of making the smart energy system work. It is a software platform that communicates with devices in the home or factories and interfaces with the grid to ensure things like the time of day pricing can be accomplished to save users money - and help balance the grid. Cristina's story is special because she is originally a statistician, who found love in the energy sector (ok, that's my adlib) but what she found was the ability to use statics in the energy sector to solve problems. She's taken her research and brought it out from the academic environment and is now working to scale it up in a commercial environment. We go into detail of why and how she decided to make this change. This is a double episode in one, because you get to learn about how the smart grid works - why energy communities are essential for a sustainable energy system to develop, and you'll hear an entrepreneurial story of Christina and her bold move to transfer her research to the real world. If you are interested to know what it is taking to make a smart energy system work, then this episode with Cristina delivers. Because it is going to take a lot of innovation and entrepreneurs to bring new technologies into the energy sector. And as we discussed in the last episode with Gerard Reid, there are lots of technologies out there that can make a huge difference. Just some of the obstacles to deployment - including the big companies - need to get out of the way. For me this episode is special because Cristina really represents the people that I like to have on the podcast. She is breaking out from her day job and seeking to do a bit more with her knowledge and experience. People like Christina are the people creating a better energy system. I want to thank our mutual friend Bartek Kwiatkowski, who was a guest on episode 45. For both episodes, we talk about virtual power plants, which serve to balance supply and demand. And in both these episodes, you'll hear firsthand the benefits of a decentralized and cooperative energy system. Overall, after speaking with Cristina I'm more optimistic that we do have the right people and technologies to go zero-carbon, but we do need to unleash the pent-up innovation that is ready to go.
Saturday Mar 19, 2022
Saturday Mar 19, 2022
This week we speak with Gerard Reid, who has put out 'The 1,600 TWh Challenge: How Europe can survive without Russian Gas'. Besides outlining other routes for gas to be imported into Europe, this deeper thinking on this, is a fundamental shift for energy-intensive businesses and support for households. As you'll hear in this interview, Gerard is both practical from his financial perspective and forward-leaning on innovation and the benefits for rapid deployment of renewables. Gerard is a Co-founder and Partner at Alexa Capital. He is also a Fellow at the Institute of the Environment at the University of Minnesota. He is also a podcaster. Gerard is the co-host of the “REDEFINING ENERGY” podcast. Along with his blog posts, Alexa Capital also publishes forward leaning analysis of innovation in the energy sector. I've been a fan since a 2012 report that was risky in its thinking of how the energy system will evolve with a mix of smart systems, distributed generation and a reworking of the power grid. What stood out to me most in this interview, was how we delve into the topics he raised in the 1,600 TWh Challenge8. Alexa Capital acts as a middleman in consultancy and financial transactions in the energy space. As you'll hear, this provides a voice that emphasizes the ability for industry to roll out new technologies to meet our demand for cleaner energy. BUT the incumbents and the current highly regulatory structure of the energy system is preventing the deployment of innovative solutions to the current dysfunctional energy market. We get into why it is dysfunctional - a reflection on the current prices indicates the tip of the iceberg. Gerard delivers a well-articulated call for a holistic change to the energy system. From his perspective, Russia's war in Ukraine demonstrates the risks of relying on fossil fuels - and this was long in the making. Politicians and businesses failed to do their job to reduce their energy risks. Where does this leave us? Industry must become better managed (not giving subsidies to inefficient companies). As Gerard describes, the well-operated companies will survive the price hikes because they were cautious, so the current energy crisis should be used to reform our energy regulations and market to incentives and enable new energy technology to come into the market. Listen in, and you'll hear how Jerard's 1600 TWh Challenge can be done. And just a final note, until the end of May 2022, I'll be an Open Society University Network Senior Fellow, at Chatham House, at The Royal Institute of International Affairs. So the episodes between now and then will be part of my research on the shifting energy landscape in Europe.
Saturday Mar 12, 2022
Saturday Mar 12, 2022
This week we speak with Professor Kacper Szulecki, who is a research professor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Kacper is at the forefront of research in the broad area of energy transitions, geopolitics, and the social implications of the transition. I highly recommend any of his publications as they are strong in analysis and well-grounded research pieces. As you'll hear, we have a wide-ranging discussion on the lead-up to Russia's war with Ukraine and then we turn to the impact an EU energy system without Russia looks like. This episode is great for giving you a background to the development and integration of Russia's energy system with the Western and Central European systems. We come around to the topic of energy security and how the Polish perspective may be a smart one to adopt for the rest of Europe. Yes, more LNG, more pipeline gas to Norway but also a recognition that Russia is not a dependable supplier. That is, the energy as a means to push foreign policy needs to be countered by diversification in both supply sources, but also other technologies that can deliver heating for households. Through in the mix an urgency for energy efficiency, then we begin to fill-in what needs to be done to transition our economies away from Russian energy resources. What I find so interesting about Kacper's perspective is his ability to frame the energy transition as an ongoing project that can't be derailed by war. That is, our current efforts to build a non-fossil fuel energy system should move forward, but not be derailed or distracted from War and the imposition of sanctions on Russia. Yes, the flow of gas can be disrupted, but by following the playbook laid down by Brussels, like filling up gas reserves in the summer, then excluding Russian gas from the EU holds potential. We also delve into the topic of nuclear power and the role biomass can play as a replacement for gas. Overall, Kasper doesn't provide predictions (which is smart) but he provides both a historical account of these energy relations and then the emergence of a new energy order that was broken when Russia invaded Ukraine. As Kacper describes the relations built over the past 60 plus years were just destroyed by Russia's war in Ukraine. This includes the sinking of Rosatom nuclear projects around the globe.
Friday Mar 04, 2022
Friday Mar 04, 2022
My fifteen-year-old daughter sent me a text message the other night. She asked if Ukraine joins the European Union will Russia stop its attack. Sadly, I couldn't comfort her that peace would soon be restored in Europe. Rather, I told her this is the new status for Europe and probably for years to come. The future sits in stark contrast to when I was fifteen and took a school trip from Michigan to the Soviet Union in the spring of 1989. Little did I (or anyone!) know the quick and dramatic changes that would unfold through the summer and fall. For more than three decades the peace and economic growth has transformed the world, and most dramatically the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe - including Ukraine. I now call Hungary home and see daily the challenges the region still struggles to shift to a market-based economy and attempts to protect democracy. Sadly, until recently, there was little assistance from the United States and the European Union to ensure democratic norms were respected throughout the region. Now we begin to write of a new militarized era rather than one marked by crumbling walls and peaceful and competitive economic growth. This past week when the German Chancellor pledged an initial 100 billion Euros for the country's military. Add in the European Union taking up arms to send to Ukraine, then we have a new unified militarized order in Europe against Russia. This is preciously what decades of politicians and average people worked to stop since the ending of the Second World War. An isolated and militarized Russia is literally the deranged and angry caged bear that we do need to fear. Certainly, the Ukrainians are getting the first dose of this wrath and anger for plotting a democratic path and westward integration. This democratic path, where people vote in free and fair elections, with an open media landscape demonstrates the threat that an informed and educated populace can have for leaders who are more concerned by power and wealth. It is no coincidence that we see Russian oligarchs profiting from the autocratic Putin. It is also no coincidence that Russia continues its reliance on fossil fuels selling these abroad. As we know from the middle east, oil and gas are not the seeds of peace and prosperity, and democratic representation. This brings me to framing the new energy order. We now have a militarized petrol state in Europe and Asia that is waging a war over territory and preventing a sovereign state from choosing the path its people have chosen. Of course, Africa and the Middle East know this experience well (even with war waged by democracies), but this threat in Europe now alters the calculations to rely on Russian resources while the energy transition slowly unfolds. Europe and the United States are now directly threatened by this petrol state. The energy interdependence with Russia, which was once a means to ensure peace, is now fueling war. The injustice of a just transition is in full display in this war. The connection is direct. Russian oil and gas fuel the Russian state and its actions. If Europe wants to build a just energy transition - as it is described in its many energy policies, including Fit-for-55, then moving away from fossil fuels holds a moral imperative for Europe. Of course, climate change and attempting to save the planet should be enough, but now we have war within Europe. There is a clear need to stop using oil and gas and embrace other technologies and resources. Diversification from Russian supplies still enables these supplies to go to other buyers - although with gas at not such large quantities. The current high prices for oil and gas need to prompt a shift to other energy production and efficiency efforts. There are three ways to reframe the energy transition to ensure a just transition unfolds by limiting dependency on Russian resources, including rare Earth minerals.
Saturday Feb 26, 2022
Saturday Feb 26, 2022
This week we speak with Jesson Bradshaw, CEO at Energy Ogre, a Texas-based consumer energy company. They help consumers save money by choosing the best energy company that can deliver their electricity or gas at the least cost. It was a real honor to have Jesson on the podcast, as you'll hear, he is a true energy entrepreneur. Our discussion really delves into the opportunities he has been able to leverage from an open and competitive market in Texas and also across the United States. In my book, Jesson is a true energy pioneer, able to find market niches where special skills assist his clients. From large financial institutions to average families, he delivers solutions because of his deep insight into how the market works. I want to emphasize the importance of 'the market' and 'regulations' because to learn from this episode you need to understand that when a business works with minimal regulations new and radically innovative technologies and services can develop. This episode is a case study of how Texas unleashed new technologies and kept prices low by reducing the power of monopolies and assisting the entrance of new generation technologies. And we are talking about renewables and gas-fired generation. These replaced the aging coal fleet that was limping along before deregulation. As Jesson states, Texas is now the fifth biggest wind production in the world. It produces more power from wind than 25 other states combined - a quarter of all US wind power. How did this happen? Listen to the episode and you'll learn what markets - with low regulatory barriers can unleash. Jesson embraces a low regulatory burden for enabling the electricity market to really develop into one based on renewables and gas that is cost-competitive. He pays the same as twenty years ago, but from more renewables in the system. This is a great episode to reflect on, and for those that know the European market - a great chance to compare and contrast Jesson's perspective on the benefits of a low regulatory barrier. But this is interesting to contrast with a more boom and bust cycle of capital that is acceptable. Unleashing the power of capital can be done in the energy sector, but there is a demonstrable balance that needs to be struck between regulation - including financial regulation, and investments that modernize and advance the energy system - without wasting too much money. But then, I think we would never have the railroads if we didn't have boom and bust cycles. Whatever your taste level is for regulation and bankruptcy this episode delivers a real inside perspective on how markets work over more than twenty years in Jesson's experience. To cap this boom and bust cycle, Jesson had Enron as a competitor but he couldn't figure out how they made so much money.. Well, for those that know Enron, they went bankrupt and gave market liberalization a pretty bad name. A lot of people lost a lot of money. And finally, we learn about Jesson's entrepreneurial ventures in the United States gas and electricity markets. He saw an opportunity, particularly in how to manage generation assets and he and a partner set up their first firm that quickly took on some of the assets that were going bankrupt. By operating them together, they could utilize the facilities better and deliver value for the new owners. And what I like best about Jesson's story - and maybe he doesn't, but that as the market matured, there came to be less demand for his services as generation ownership became consolidated. So it is also a story of evolution from when the market is freed from regulation how it develops and grows, and then over time, the players become more entrenched and can come to hold strong positions once again in the sector. Now we have Energy Ogre as a retail company offering customers new ways to manage and reduce their energy bills. The company gives new meaning to consumer-facing businesses. Are you too busy to find the best deal and compare deals? Because that is what you get to do in Texas, choose your utility provider. Well, Energy Ogre is set up with a power data system to crunch and compare the packages that consumers benefit the most from. By creating consumer profiles, they can offer the best package for their customers - and switch them when there is a better offer. Overall, it is these entrepreneurial stories that Jesson describes which really show he did not take the easy path to set up businesses that had a strong market niche. That is, he took a highly complex landscape and he and his partner had the knowledge to navigate and build two successful businesses. What he is doing is beyond rocket sciences, because he needs to deliver a retail product to consumers, and at the same time engage with the complexities and dominance of established utilities. These are not businesses for risk-averse people (I feel even better about my job now).
This is the description area. You can write an introduction or add anything you want to tell your audience. This can help potential listeners better understand and become interested in your podcast. Think about what will motivate them to hit the play button. What is your podcast about? What makes it unique? This is your chance to introduce your podcast and grab their attention.