To any Senators on the fence who’ll listen

Image for post
Image for post

Dear Senator,

I’m writing, respectfully, to urge you to abolish the filibuster.

I’m a mostly-moderate Democrat living in South Portland, Maine. I value the rule of law, compromise, and policy that takes competing interests into account. Most of all, I value democracy (with a small ‘d’) guarded by equal rights & civil liberties.

I desperately hope you’ll give me a few paragraphs of your time, because I’m afraid the filibuster now stands in the way of all those values — potentially, this time, for good — as the forces of anti-democracy are…

An energy transition in three acts

Image for post
Image for post
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

The first act of the energy transition was powered mostly by incremental progress on decades-old technology.

The second act, which we’re entering now, will be a period of furious innovation to overcome three daunting obstacles to deep decarbonization that incrementalism can’t fix.

The third act will most likely begin in the early 2030s, as the winners emerging from Act II simultaneously begin to form alliances and draw battle lines — engaging in fierce “coopetition” (apologies for the business jargon)— to determine their places in the energy system of the future.

Iteration

First came triple-bladed, horizontal-axis wind turbines; then, polycrystalline-silicon solar panels…

Image for post
Image for post
Nancy & Jack Katz

I’ve heard it’s better to be lucky then smart. My grandma Nancy didn’t have to choose.

Family lore has it she tested at ‘genius levels’ in high school. That fateful test led Nanette Stearns to set off — “trembling” (she wrote in a letter to me, decades later) — to Northwestern University. She was the first in her family to attend college. Her parents, poor jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, were by all accounts similarly smart and resourceful, but were not quite so lucky.

Grandma Nancy was lucky in other ways, too. In fact, her life story was defined by…

A primer on the next thirty years of the energy transition

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research at Energy Impact Partners

This article is one of a five-part series examining the technology we’ll need to fully decarbonize our energy system, relying on as few technology “moonshots” as possible. Here are the five parts:

I. The Electric Future We Need
II.
Two Storage Technology Revolutions
III.
Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind
IV.
Clean Heat
V.
The Grid of the Future

V. The Grid of the Future

Image for post
Image for post
Fantasy Flight Games, “Android: Netrunner” art

Choose almost any definition for the word “complex”, and you’ll find that the most complex machine ever designed and operated by…

A primer on the next three decades of the energy transition

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research at Energy Impact Partners

This article is one of a five-part series examining the technology we’ll need to fully decarbonize our energy system, relying on as few technology “moonshots” as possible. Here are the five parts:

I. The Electric Future We Need
II.
Two Storage Technology Revolutions
III.
Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind
IV.
Clean Heat
V.
The Grid of the Future

IV. Clean Heat

Image for post
Image for post
Google image search results: “Hygge”

Wind and solar power are essentially substitutes for heat — for example, the heat we produce by burning coal, which we…

A primer on the next three decades of the energy transition

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research at Energy Impact Partners

This article is one of a five-part series examining the technology we’ll need to fully decarbonize our energy system, relying on as few technology “moonshots” as possible. Here are the five parts:

I. The Electric Future We Need
II.
Two Storage Technology Revolutions
III.
Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind
IV.
Clean Heat
V.
The Grid of the Future

III. Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind: completing our renewable resource portfolio

Here’s a map of population density in the US:

Image for post
Image for post
Source: US Census, some awesome Reddit user

Here’s a map of wind energy resources (wind speed at 100 meters…

A primer on the next three decades of the energy transition

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research at Energy Impact Partners

This article is one of a five-part series examining the technology we’ll need to fully decarbonize our energy system, relying on as few technology “moonshots” as possible. Here are the five parts:

I. The Electric Future We Need
II.
Two Storage Technology Revolutions
III.
Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind
IV.
Clean Heat
V.
The Grid of the Future

II. Two Storage Technology Revolutions

Image for post
Image for post
Source: The Matrix, 1999 (Duh…)

If the movie “The Graduate” were produced today, the most famous lines of dialogue would be:

Mr. McGuire: I want to…

A primer on the next three decades of the energy transition

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research at Energy Impact Partners

This article is one of a five-part series examining the technology we’ll need to fully decarbonize our energy system, relying on as few technology “moonshots” as possible. Here are the five parts:

I. The Electric Future We Need
II.
Two Storage Technology Revolutions
III.
Cheaper, Deeper Offshore Wind
IV.
Clean Heat
V.
The Grid of the Future

Part I: The Electric Future We Need

Image for post
Image for post
Google image search: “Wind farm”

A little historical context

Put yourself in your own shoes, a little over a decade ago, in 2009. At that time…

By Andy Lubershane, Senior Director of Research, Energy Impact Partners

“Historically, we have forecast demand for power, and dispatched supply. In the future, those roles will reverse.”

I overheard this quote last summer at the market symposium for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. It perfectly captures what I believe to be the most realistic vision for a decarbonized power system: lots of large-scale solar and wind generation, balanced by a mix of large-scale storage and myriad flexible, distributed energy resources (or ‘DERs’). After roughly a decade of technology evolution, large-scale wind and solar have now proven themselves ready to play…

Andy Lubershane

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store