Just in case you are in the mood for a little hilarity, take a look as Mike Fell explores, photographically on Twitter, how heat pumps resemble George Clooney. 

ENERGY

ENERGY

Harnessing fossil fuels to generate energy –for electricity, transportation, heating and cooling– has enabled our huge growth over the past 250 years. Simultaneously, burning those fossil fuels has released, and continues to release, the CO2 that is the major cause of global warming and all its consequences.

We need both energy experts and environmental experts to collaborate in shifting from a fossil-fuel-based energy system to one based on renewables. Stanford University released one such plan.   

There are a wide variety of energy-related topics that we need to understand and acknowledge in our quest to preserve a livable planet. They include the development of renewables, of course, and the quest for safer nuclear (a clean energy source as far as CO2 is concerned).  Natural gas, which burns “cleaner” than coal or oil (and cheaper), has become a major player but, if safety measures aren’t carefully in place, it also releases methane (among other things), a powerful greenhouse gas, making it no kind of real solution.

This ENERGY section intends to explain the way energy currently works (explaining the sources, the role of utilities and transmission, and its uses, such as transportation, electricity, cooling and heating). It also explores the way a transition to renewables could look as we modify the grid, create energy storage through new battery technology and more exotic techniques, shift to electricity as our primary form of energy and, of course, find ways to conserve, one of the most important “sources” of energy-needs reduction — from light bulbs to smart thermostats and just plain reduction of use.

There are various emerging “drawdown” techniques, which promise to reduce the CO2 load, but also involve capturing and storing carbon. Many of these NEW TECHNOLOGIES are covered here.

Every year, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy produce Sankey flow diagrams showing where energy in the U.S. comes from and where it’s going….The first thing that grabs attention every year is how much of this energy consumption is “rejected energy.” That’s what is wasted as heat going up the chimney or out the exhaust pipe. ..The most obvious and disturbing number on the chart is the total of petroleum, coal, and natural gas….Our biggest problems are fossil fuel-powered cars, cars, and cars. They are grossly inefficient, and our world is designed around them. When we electrify them, the total energy going to them is only a quarter of what it is now.

The 2021 energy flow chart released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory details the sources of energy production, how Americans are using energy and how much waste exists. (click image to enlarge or download a PDF version).

CREDIT: FLOWCHARTS

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Short-term Energy Outlook

10/12/22
Many households across the United States are likely to spend more on energy in the winter of 2022–23 compared with recent winters. Higher forecast energy expenditures are the result of higher fuel prices, combined with…

World Energy Outlook 2021

10/29/21
Against the backdrop of turbulent markets and a crucial meeting of the COP26 conference on climate change in Glasgow, the 2021 World Energy Outlook (WEO) provides an indispensable guide to the opportunities, benefits and risks…

Let us find the best electricity & natural gas rates for you

10/18/21
Enter your ZIP code to see prices

Reports and Publications

10/08/21
The Future of Clean Hydrogen in the United States: Views from Industry, Market Innovators, and Investors

Stone Edge Farm

06/14/21
Imagine a lush, self-sustaining island that generates clean electricity, grows organic food and wine grapes, re-uses water, and creates fuel for zero emission vehicles.

US Energy Consumption Dropped 7.3 Quads in 2020

06/03/21
The single most important number here is the total estimated energy consumption of 92.9 quads. A quad is a quadrillion BTUs (1015) and is equivalent to the energy in 8,007,000,000 gallons of gasoline–it's big. In…

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer

05/21/21
The Data Explorer is an interactive tool that provides access to data from the EPA's annual Inventory of the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. You can use the tool to create customized graphs, examine…

Energy Explained

05/18/21
Your guide to understanding energy

U.S. Energy in the 21stCentury: A Primer

04/08/21
Since the start of the 21stcentury, the U.S. energy system has changedtremendously. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a net importer of…

Clean Air Act: ElectricitySector and Greenhouse Gas Standards

03/21/21
Congress may continue to examine Clean Air Act (CAA)authorities and climate change issues as it deliberates on legislation and conducts oversightof the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Biden Administration has committed to reducing greenhouse…

Testimony Before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate

03/20/21
Climate Change Is Expected to Have Far-reaching Effects and DOE and FERC Should Take Action.

Transition Towards a Decarbonised Electricity Sector

10/01/20
A Framework of Analysis for Power System Transformation.

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System

10/01/20
Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions.

Taking Charge: Decisionmakers shaping the future of the power sector

09/04/20
The electric power industry is engaged in a massive transition toward resilient infrastructure and lower emissions. In a recurring series, Utility Dive talks to top regulators, executives and other decisionmakers to share new perspectives on…

2020 U.S. Energy &Employment Report

08/20/20
The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) a nonprofit association representing the 56 energy offices of the states, territories, and District of Columbia, and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), a nonprofit think tank based…

Rewiring America

08/07/20
A handbook for winning the climate fight. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world the dire consequences of ignoring science and its predictions of global crises. But the pandemic was just a rehearsal for the climate…
Vox

How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly

08/06/20
The US has everything it needs to decarbonize by 2035.

LIPA board OKs allowing municipalities to procure own energy

06/09/20
LIPA trustees on Wednesday approved a rule change that will bring a level of competition to electricity supply on Long Island by allowing local towns and villages to make wholesale energy purchases through contracts with…

2018 Case Study Report

02/20/20
Cities are ready for 100% clean energy.

Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know

02/10/20
Building a climate strategy won’t be quick or easy—but waiting is not an option.

U.S. Emissions Dropped in 2019: Here’s Why in 6 Charts

01/31/20
Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States dropped last year after a sharp increase in 2018, new data released Tuesday show. The drop resumed a long-term downward trend driven chiefly by a shift away from…

Our Energy Policy

11/09/18
The mission of OurEnergyPolicy is to facilitate substantive, responsible dialogue on energy policy issues, and provide this dialogue as a resource for the American people, policymakers, and the media. OurEnergyPolicy does not have or endorse…

Carbonfund

08/01/19
Carbonfund.org is leading the fight against global warming, making it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce & offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future.…

MORE NEWS

Vermont digs in on incentives to boost geothermal heat pumps

By David Thill  Photo: Erin Anderson , NREL   09/01/21  
Vermont this summer launched an initiative to spur a challenging but potentially crucial market in the state’s decarbonization goals: ground-source heat pumps.

Tesla plan to sell electricity in Texas would cut out the ‘middleman’

By Jason Plautz  Photo: Brian Tucker , Utilitydive   09/01/21  
The Public Utility Commission of Texas has until November 15 to decide on Tesla's application to sell electricity in the state's deregulated market.

Now Will Infrastructure Investors Finally View Microgrids As Resiliency?

By Rob Day  Photo: Steve Helber/AP   08/30/21  
As the damage from Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast is still being surveyed, it’s already clear that this is going to be a major infrastructure crisis. And in particular, power and water infrastructure. They’re…

Tesla has applied to sell electricity in Texas

By Caitlin Cosper   08/30/21  
Tesla has applied to become a retail electric provider (REP) in Texas. The company filed an application with the Texas Public Utility Commission on August 16, 2021. If approved, Tesla will sell electricity to Texans…

California Looks to Bigger, More Complex Microgrids as It Faces Capacity Shortfalls

By Ethan Howland   08/20/21  
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) made two big moves on microgrids this week, opening a proceeding to tackle the thorny issue of multiproperty microgrids, while also launching a fast-track investigation into how microgrids can…

Clash of the Titans: Wind Power vs Coal Power

By Geoffery Pohanka   08/19/21  
The headlines are clear: renewable energy is on the rise as a source of electricity for America and coal power is headed for the door. President Biden has set a goal 30,000MW of offshore wind…

Rep. Sean Casten on Hot FERC Summer and how to prepare the US grid for rapid decarbonization

By David Roberts  Photo: Tom Williams , Getty Images   08/18/21  
As regular readers of my work are well aware, the fastest way to decarbonize the U.S. economy is through clean electrification — decarbonizing the electricity sector and shifting energy use in other sectors like transportation…

California greenlights first-of-its-kind energy code to encourage electrified buildings

By Kavya Balaraman  Photo: Mario Tama via Getty Images   08/12/21  
The California Energy Commission (CEC) on Wednesday adopted energy efficiency standards for newly constructed and renovated buildings that stakeholders say are the country's first statewide building code that strongly incentivizes all-electric construction.  

Duke Energy’s renewable portfolio hits 10,000 MW as utility reports Q2 earnings

By Scott Van Voorhis  Photo: Davis Turner , Getty Images   08/06/21  
Duke Energy now has 10,000 MW of renewable energy in its portfolio and is on track to reach 16,000 MW of renewable energy by 2025, the company said Thursday in its second quarter earnings report.

Entergy touts hydrogen as tool to meet industrial customers’ green goals

By Jason Plautz  Photo: Adeline Kon   08/06/21  
Entergy Corporation touted its steps to help its commercial and industrial customers meet their sustainability goals in its second quarter earnings call on Wednesday, including plans for a new natural gas and hydrogen facility in Texas and…

California’s biggest utility plans to bury 10,000 miles of power lines. How much will that cost residents?

By Elizabeth McCarthy   08/06/21  
Three days after Pacific Gas & Electric revealed that its equipment had likely ignited another major wildfire, the California utility announced that it will shift an unprecedented 10,000 miles of overhead wires underground in the…

The Fight to Change US Building Codes

By Emma Foehringer Merchant  Photo: Michael Short , Getty Images   08/02/21  
On Sept. 9, 2020, California Energy Commission Chair David Hochschild opened a scheduled meeting with a somber observation. That morning, Bay Area residents woke to darkness, as wildfire smoke blotted out the sun and an…

Towns Trying to Ban Natural Gas Face Resistance in Their Push for All-Electric Homes

By Katherine Blunt  Photo: Lane Turner , Getty Images   07/31/21  
Massachusetts is emerging as a key battleground in the U.S. fight over whether to phase out natural gas for home cooking and heating, with fears of unknown costs and unfamiliar technologies fueling much of the opposition to…

Americans Support Federal Action to Reach a 100% Clean Energy Grid

By Carly Berke and Others   07/21/21  
Voters across the country in both blue and red states support the federal government moving the country to 100% clean electricity, according to new polling from Third Way, in partnership with University of California, Santa…

Granholm announces new building energy codes

By Zack Budryk  Photo: Getty Images   07/21/21  
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday announced a series of new building energy code determinations that the Energy Department says will save $138 billion over three decades.

Climate Crisis Catches Power Companies Unprepared

By Brad Plumer and Ivan Penn  Photo: John G. Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock   07/21/21  
The phone call to the Eugene Water & Electric Board was startling. A group of homeowners, fearing a storm could knock down nearby power lines and ignite wildfires, was asking the Oregon utility to turn…

FERC launches proceeding to reform transmission policy

By Catherine Morehouse  Photo: Flickr user doug_wertman   07/16/21  
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday opened a proceeding to begin examining how it can overhaul federal transmission policy, something experts say will be critical to bringing the U.S. power grid to 100% clean…

Senate committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill

By Rachel Frazin  Photo: Getty Images   07/14/21  
Legislation that's expected to be a key piece of the bipartisan infrastructure package moved forward on Wednesday as Democrats separately fleshed out their reconciliation infrastructure bill.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday…

The world’s electricity systems must be ready to counter the growing climate threat

By Fatih Birol  Photo: Getty Images   07/11/21  
Recent extreme weather events across the globe highlight the energy security risks that climate change brings. Summer has just officially begun in the northern hemisphere, and yet we are already seeing electricity systems around the…

Heat Pumps Are Ready to Have a Moment

By Brian Kahn  Photos: Getty Images   07/07/21  
It took nearly 170 years, but geothermal heat pumps are finally ready to have a moment. The poorly named appliance—they heat and cool buildings—could be the key to ensuring our homes are more comfortable and…

The grid’s big looming problem: Getting power to where it’s needed

By Will Englund  Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post   06/29/21  
In the punishing heat wave that has struck the Pacific Northwest, about 17,000 electricity customers were without power in Washington state on Monday evening. Nearly 20,000 more were in blackouts in Idaho, Oregon, California and…

Volts podcast: Saul Griffith and Arch Rao on electrifying your house

By David Roberts   06/28/21  
Those of you who have been reading or listening to Volts for a while know that I am fairly obsessed with clean electrification, which involves shifting all the things we do now with fossil fuels…

As US aims to boost clean energy supply chain, critical minerals gap largely human-caused, analysts say

By Emma Penrod  Photo: Sean Gallup , Getty Images   06/17/21  
For many American businesses — and consumers — the onset of COVID-19 was an unexpected wake-up call as supply chains collapsed and store shelves emptied. But potential for supply-chain logjams existed before the pandemic.

Your Next Car and Clothes Dryer Could Help Save Our Planet

By Martin Heinrich  Photo: Getty Images   06/08/21  
Our future depends on our acting now to confront the climate crisis by enacting policies to convert our economy from fossil fuels to clean energy. By making this switch, we will also create millions of…

Lithium is abundant, so extraction economics and culture matter

By Michael Barnard  Photo: USGS   06/06/21  
Lithium was once used to treat perceived mental health challenges, and now its availability or lack thereof is making markets swing. In the 1950s, Canada was a player in the international lithium market, with a…

‘An unlikely alliance’: US investor-owned utilities and NGOs partner to advance new carbon-free tech

By Ben Fowke and Armond Cohen  Photo: Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images   06/04/21  
The stakes for taking decisive action to slow and reverse climate change have never been greater. President Joe Biden clearly recognizes the urgency, which is why he wants to slash U.S. carbon emissions in the…

Mark Jacobson on the clean energy transition

By Adam Aron and Mark Jacobson   06/01/21  
I’m interested in what you have to say about demand reduction. There’s been a rapid rise of renewable energy and it’s going to accelerate even more, but total energy use for the world accelerates much…

Where Wind and Solar Power Need to Grow for America to Meet Its Goals

By Veronica Penney   05/28/21  
President Biden has promised to sharply reduce America’s planet-warming carbon emissions, which means changes to the country’s energy system may reshape landscapes and coastlines around the country.

An Australian inventor wants to stop global warming by electrifying everything

By Rachel Pannett  Photo: Helynn Ospina   05/28/21  
The 47-year-old, who won the MacArthur “genius” award in 2007 for his prodigious inventions “in the global public interest,” has spent the past decade working to solve climate change through technology.

Ethanol: The fuel behind the “dot-corn bubble”

By Parker Hughes   05/28/21  
Progress: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established in 2005 by the Energy Policy Act and upgraded via the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In a nutshell, the RFS, which is administered by…

The International Energy Agency Issues a Landmark Statement About Fossil Fuels

By Bill McKibben  Photo: Erin Scott/Reuters   05/18/21  
Our hope for a livable world rests on a series of crucial sentences.

For Clean Energy, Buy American or Buy It Quick and Cheap?

By Jessica Murray  Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images   05/16/21  
US climate envoy says people will not have to give up quality of life to achieve some of net zero goals

With solar sale, PSEG doubles down on offshore wind and nuclear

By Scott Voorhis   05/14/21  
The sale of Public Service Enterprise Group's (PSEG) solar portfolio is part of a larger strategy, one that has the New Jersey-based power company betting big on another source of renewable energy – offshore wind…

For Clean Energy, Buy American or Buy It Quick and Cheap?

By Noam Scheiber  Photo: Theophile Trossat   05/11/21  
President Biden says slowing climate change will create jobs. Tension between unions and environmentalists shows it’s not so simple.

Electrification, not efficiency, should be climate policy focus for buildings

By Michael Barnard   05/09/21  
For well over a year, I’ve been pulling on a specific thread of CO2e emissions reductions related to existing building stock. Back in September of 2019, I did an assessment of efficiency vs electrification gains…

Report offers Biden framework for a clean energy standard

By Peter Behr  Photo: Claudine Hellmuth   05/04/21  
Over a quarter-century, proposals for a clean energy standard (CES) have flared up and sputtered out, done in by political indifference or opposition to mandatory federal controls to shrink power plant carbon emissions.

US is halfway to a carbon-free power sector

By Energy Monitor Staff  Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images   04/15/21  
The US is halfway to a carbon-free power sector, says a study published in April 2021 by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. A review of historical trends shows the US power sector is making good progress…

Large consumers blame renewables for 2020 declines in C&I power reliability

By Robert Walton   03/31/21  
A new report on the state of commercial and industrial (C&I) power reliability reveals a "dramatic" increase in outages, particularly in short-term interruptions which utilities may not be required to track or report to regulators.

Hold on to your seats. FERC just hit the fast forward button on the clean energy transition.

By Allison Bates Wannop and Jon Wellinghoff  Photo: Elizabeth Regan , Industry Dive   03/30/21  
Federal regulators removed a major speedbump on the road to a clean energy future March 18 when FERC clarified that its landmark Order 2222 granted demand response (DR, aka flexible load) unimpeded access to wholesale…

Dominion, Berkshire Hathaway push better transmission siting as Biden turns focus to infrastructure

By Emma Penrod  Photo: Herman K. Trabish   03/12/21  
With customer demand already driving the rapid growth of renewable energy, a climate-focused infrastructure bill should focus on transmission and research, according to experts on a Thursday panel hosted by the American Council on Renewable…

The Navajo Nation generates a ton of power — but 14,000 homes don’t have electricity

By Cameron Oglesby  Photo: Sam Wasson   03/05/21  
In a year characterized by extreme weather, avid handwashing, and increasingly remote interactions, access to electricity is more important than ever. But 12 months into the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a basic right on which…

The Texas Power Grid and the Failure of Deregulation

By Steve Cohen  Photo: John Cummings/Wikimedia Commons   02/22/21  
By now, the early message that the electricity blackout in Texas was a failure of renewable energy has been replaced by the far more complex reality of a grid not prepared for extreme weather. Texas…

FERC examining ‘wrongdoing’ in power markets during cold snap

By James Osborne  Photo: Ryan Holeywell   02/22/21  
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced Monday it would be examining power market activity over the last week for incidents of market manipulation as cold weather ravaged power grids in Texas and other states.

A Plan to Future-Proof the Texas Power Grid

By Jesse Jenkins  Photo: Samuel Corum   02/18/21  
As the power crisis in Texas stretches into its fifth day, the blame game is well underway. Frozen wind turbines, unsubstantiated allegations of nefarious power plant outages, the state’s libertarian approach to electricity markets and…

Texas, Land of Wind and Lies

By Paul Krugman  Photo: Aaron M Sprecher   02/18/21  
Politicians are neither gods nor saints. Because they aren’t gods, they often make bad policy decisions. Because they aren’t saints, they often try to evade responsibility for their failures, asserting either that they did as…

No, wind farms aren’t the main cause of the texas blackouts

By Dionne Searcey  Photo: Sacco/Caller-Times, via Reuters   02/17/21  
As his state was racked by an electricity crisis that left millions of people without heat in frigid temperatures, the governor of Texas took to television to start placing blame.

A Glimpse Of America’s Future: Climate Change Means Trouble For Power Grids

By Brad Plumer  Photo: Tamir Kalifa   02/16/21  
Huge winter storms plunged large parts of the central and southern United States into an energy crisis this week, with frigid blasts of Arctic weather crippling electric grids and leaving millions of Americans without power…

The Dirty Truth About the Climate Crisis and Your Electric Company

02/05/21  
Have you ever wondered what powers your home? The truth is, the energy we use mostly comes from dirty fossil fuels. Our electric companies could switch to clean, affordable energy. But so far, they've spent…
VOX

This popular and proven climate policy should be at the top of Congress’s to-do list

By Leah Stokes and Sam Ricketts  Photo: Cate Dingley   02/04/21  
Last year, presidential candidate Joe Biden campaigned on a bold climate plan that included cleaning up America’s electricity system by 2035 with a federal Clean Electricity Standard (CES). A national CES, which would require utilities…

‘No compelling reason not to’: Former FERC chairs, commissioners call for federal transmission overhaul

By Catherine Morehouse   01/28/21  
Federal regulators must tackle interregional transmission planning in order to maximize the capacity of wind and solar power on the U.S. power grid, a bipartisan group of former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners and Chairs agreed…