Power Struggle

A look at how the market and governments regulate power and how the green energy industry is disrupting it via The Economist article Wind and solar power are disrupting electricity systems

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Key takeaways:

  • Solar and wind only provide 7% of global energy consumption
  • Solar and wind are growing faster than any other energy type and prices are falling to competitive levels with fossil fuels
  • Requires significant investment over the next 10 years ($20 trillion)
  • WE NEED TO RETHINK HOW CLEAN ENERGY IS PRICED
    • Government subsidies have distorted the market
    • Green power is intermittent
    • Renewable costs are negligible or zero… aka meaning that the more used, the more depressed the prices and revenues
    • Markets do not determine energy company success and failure; politicians do
    • Small, modular power plants can help with intermittent supply as well as moving network power around more efficiently

Recommendation: 

Markets should reward those willing to use less electricity to balance the grid, just as they reward those who generate more of it.

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Angela Merkel: Time Magazine Person of the Year

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Time Magazine awarded Angela Merkel the honor of person of the year. The article features her life story from growing up in East Berlin behind the wall, to seeking a science profession to the last 25 years in politics and all the ups and downs involved with that.

“No one in Europe has held office longer—or to greater effect—in a world defined by steadily receding barriers. That, after all, is the story of the E.U. and the story of globalization, both terms as colorless as the corridor of a Brussels office building. The worlds Merkel has mastered carry not a hint of the forces that have shaped Europe’s history, the primal sort a child senses, listening to a story, safe in bed.”

The Atlantic Bill Gates Interview “We need an energy miracle”

 

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It’s rare or near-impossible to find a story or interview without motives beyond sharing news and information. The Atlantic’s Bill Gates interview is no exception to that. Gates shares his opinions about climate change, environmentalists and the future of energy when he is largely invested in companies such as Shell, BP, etc. Despite this, the perspective this article shares is intriguing and sheds light on some interesting opinions on innovation in the energy market, and how government and private companies can get involved.

“People can always say, “Well, my country is such a small part of it—why should I make the sacrifice? Because I don’t know for sure that the other countries are going to do their part of it.” We don’t have a world government. Fortunately, we don’t have that many world problems—most problems can be solved locally—but this one is a world problem. Carbon is not a local pollutant. It mixes in the global atmosphere in a matter of days. So it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a coal plant in China or a coal plant in the U.S.—the heating effect for the entire globe is the same.”

Book Report: Boomerang

58905a1d444db99566542d2e8a24Everything from doomsday naysayers to eccentric millionaires that stockpile gold, Michael Lewis will take you on a compelling trip around the world into the finances of governments in dangerous and powerful positions, and how they got there. A subject that normally does not attract a wide-ranging audience, Boomerang delivers a colorful illustration of the rise and fall of economic and financial realities that shook nations and is still affecting the outcome of our world market today. I highly recommend Boomerang to anyone who enjoys a quick, entertaining read.

Book Report: If Mayors Ruled the World

barber_comp-rev-1-678x1024I enjoy studying different governing structures and was intrigued by the elusive title If Mayors Ruled the World. This book, written by Benjamin Barber, was well researched and had many fascinating anecdotes and mini-biographical accomplishments of a few selected mayors. It was thought-provoking and opened my eyes to various world-wide city executive roles, however, I feel that many of the so-called accomplishments of the mayors were credited when it was not solely a local achievement, often times with the help of local business and state, national and even international governance and leadership.

I am, however, open-minded and enjoy daydreaming about how different society would be if we had a different government structure and if politics were less important. Personally, I find that local government is the most over-looked yet the most impactful element of government for citizens’ day to day life. (This past August primary  Washington State had only a 24.37% voter turnout… yet these are the elections that arguably generate the most powerful impact on Washingtonians directly.)

The Freakonomics blog explains, “[m]ayors, Barber argues, are can-do people who inevitably cut through the inertia and partisanship that can plague state and federal governments. To that end, Barber would like to see a global “Parliament of Mayors,” to help solve the kind of big, borderless problems that national leaders aren’t so good at solving.”

Parliament of Mayors… I’d be interested to see how that goes, if it ever gets off the ground!

Private Education in Poor Countries

20150801_LDP001_0This is worth a read: today The Economist featured The $1-a-week School about the politics involved in the crumbling and seemingly unfix-able issue of viable education in poor countries.

“By and large, politicians and educationalists are unenthusiastic. Governments see education as the state’s job. Teachers’ unions dislike private schools because they pay less and are harder to organise in. NGOs tend to be ideologically opposed to the private sector. The UN special rapporteur on education, Kishore Singh, has said that “for-profit education should not be allowed in order to safeguard the noble cause of education”.

This attitude harms those whom educationalists claim to serve: children.”

Let’s Make Moves Washingtonians: Initiative 732

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CarbonWa addresses climate change by empowering ordinary citizens to make a difference for our environment. I-732 would implement a $25 per ton tax on carbon pollution which creates incentives for everyone to reduce their carbon emissions. All of the revenue raised by the tax goes to reducing existing taxes. The majority goes toward a 1 percent reduction in the sales tax for everyone! Additionally, it virtually eliminates the B&O tax for manufacturers and finally a tax rebate for low income families called the “Working Families Rebate.” By signing your name you move this initiative to the state legislature which will vote Y or N! (Washington)

EMILY’s List

I support the EMILY’s List organization because they believe that a balanced government of women and men is a better reflection of the people it serves. I agree with the sentiment that our country’s leaders should “genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent.” I recommend getting involved with this group whether it simply be subscribing to their email news letters to donating to their featured campaigns.