Beacon Power patents idea of flywheels for frequency regulation?

Michael Giberson Can Beacon Power patent the idea of using flywheel technology for frequency regulation? Apparently the answer is yes, at least according to Beacon’s press release. “Beacon Power invented the idea of using high-energy flywheels to regulate grid frequency, so it’s appropriate that we’ve now been awarded a core patent for the idea,” said … More Beacon Power patents idea of flywheels for frequency regulation?

Whales and electricity, and sustainability

Lynne Kiesling A few weeks ago I was thrilled to speak at the inaugural Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy, organized by the University of Illinois-Chicago in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago. The students were from diverse fields and between them and the other … More Whales and electricity, and sustainability

Smart appliances and the innovation cycle

Lynne Kiesling Appliance and consumer electronics manufacturers are starting to incorporate digital technology with energy-related applications into their products … but as with most new technologies, the first commercial stage of the innovation cycle takes the form of “because we can” product differentiation rather than use-specific innovation. Take the example that Technology Review highlighted this … More Smart appliances and the innovation cycle

Bastiat, Krugman, Horwitz on earthquakes

Lynne Kiesling One quick note before I turn on my Internet-blocking software and retreat to my writing cave: yesterday’s earthquake naturally prompted a lot of snarky comment that the earthquake would at least create jobs … the absurdity of which illustrates Bastiat’s broken window fallacy (a topic of great interest to both of us at … More Bastiat, Krugman, Horwitz on earthquakes

The industrial revolution required more energy resources than provided by the annual cycle of photosynthesis

Michael Giberson Tony Wrigley’s new book is Energy and the English Industrial Revolution. He provides some flavor of the fundamental thesis of the book in a post at VoxEU.org: “Opening Pandora’s box: A new look at the industrial revolution“: The most fundamental defining feature of the industrial revolution was that it made possible exponential economic … More The industrial revolution required more energy resources than provided by the annual cycle of photosynthesis

Passage of Wisconsin’s anti-price gouging bill boosted by President Bush’s public remarks

Michael Giberson Wisconsin didn’t have an anti-price gouging law in 2001, so the state government’s response to post-9/11 reports of gasoline price gouging was pretty limited. While the Wisconsin governor called for an investigation of gasoline retailers, for all practical purposes the investigation was limited to fighting collusion in price setting and instances in which stations … More Passage of Wisconsin’s anti-price gouging bill boosted by President Bush’s public remarks

Post 9/11 gasoline price gouging in Wisconsin: two views

Michael Giberson The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, created a great deal of uncertainty and fear among Americans. In the retail gasoline market, some (but not all) consumers reacted to the uncertainty and fear by heading to a gas station to fill up their tanks. Some (but not all) gasoline retailers reacted to the … More Post 9/11 gasoline price gouging in Wisconsin: two views

FERC, NERC conclude “weather-related causes” explain most electric power and gas supply problems during February’s extreme cold in Southwest U.S.

Michael Giberson The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have issued their report on the events surrounding electric power and natural gas supply interruptions around the Southwest United States in early February, 2001. The culprit? According to the press release: “the task force found a majority of the … More FERC, NERC conclude “weather-related causes” explain most electric power and gas supply problems during February’s extreme cold in Southwest U.S.