Two EV entries in the “how cool is this?” file

Economical energy storage has long been the Holy Grail of electricity. Since 1800, when Alessandro Volta invented the electric pile (a forerunner of the modern battery), hobbyists, scientists, and engineers have experimented with chemicals and materials to create economical storage at a smaller scale than a hydroelectric dam and with a more portable technology than, … More Two EV entries in the “how cool is this?” file

How cool is this? Accelerated geologic weathering by creating rocks from carbon dioxide

Geologic weathering is an important, but slow, part of the carbon cycle in which rocks essentially absorb carbon dioxide. A research team in Iceland has invented a method of creating rocks using carbon dioxide, water, and basalt rock. A chemical reaction among them enables the basalt to absorb the carbon dioxide. A Washington Post article … More How cool is this? Accelerated geologic weathering by creating rocks from carbon dioxide

Forthcoming paper: Implications of Smart Grid Innovation for Organizational Models in Electricity Distribution

Back in 2001 I participated in a year-long forum on the future of the electricity distribution model. Convened by the Center for the Advancement of Energy Markets, the DISCO of the Future Forum brought together many stakeholders to develop several scenarios and analyze their implications (and several of those folks remain friends, playmates in the … More Forthcoming paper: Implications of Smart Grid Innovation for Organizational Models in Electricity Distribution

Technology market experimentation in regulated industries: Are administrative pilot projects bad for retail markets?

Since 2008, multiple smart grid pilot projects have been occurring in the US, funded jointly through regulated utility investments and taxpayer-funded Department of Energy cost sharing. In this bureaucratic market environment, market experimentation takes the form of the large-scale, multi-year pilot project. The regulated utility (after approval from the state public utility commission) publishes a … More Technology market experimentation in regulated industries: Are administrative pilot projects bad for retail markets?

The sharing economy and the electricity industry

In a recent essay, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Matthew Crosby asks “will there ever be an AirBnB or Uber for the electricity grid?” It’s a good question, a complicated question, and one that I have pondered myself a few times. He correctly identifies the characteristics of such platforms that have made them attractive and successful, … More The sharing economy and the electricity industry

The “utility death spiral”: The utility as a regulatory creation

Unless you follow the electricity industry you may not be aware of the past year’s discussion of the impending “utility death spiral”, ably summarized in this Clean Energy Group post: There have been several reports out recently predicting that solar + storage systems will soon reach cost parity with grid-purchased electricity, thus presenting the first … More The “utility death spiral”: The utility as a regulatory creation

The political economy of Uber’s multi-dimensional creative destruction

Over the past week it’s been hard to keep up with the news about Uber. Uber’s creative destruction is rapid, and occurring on multiple dimensions in different places. And while the focus right now is on Uber’s disruption in the shared transportation market, I suspect that more disruption will arise in other markets too. Start … More The political economy of Uber’s multi-dimensional creative destruction

Critiquing the theory of disruptive innovation

Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard and writer for the New Yorker, has written a critique of Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation that is worth thinking through. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma (the dilemma is for firms to continue making the same decisions that made them successful, which will lead to their downfall) … More Critiquing the theory of disruptive innovation

Permissionless innovation in electricity: the benefits of experimentation

Last Monday I was scheduled to participate in the Utility Industry of the Future Symposium at the NYU Law School. Risk aversion about getting back for Tuesday classes in the face of a forecast 7″ snowfall in New York kept me from attending (and the snow never materialized, which makes the cost even more bitter!), … More Permissionless innovation in electricity: the benefits of experimentation

Joel Mokyr on growth, stagnation, and technological progress

My friend and colleague Joel Mokyr talked recently with Russ Roberts in an EconTalk podcast that I cannot recommend highly enough (and the links on the show notes are great too). The general topic is this back-and-forth that’s been going on over the past year involving Joel, Bob Gordon, Tyler Cowen, and Erik Brynjolfsson, among … More Joel Mokyr on growth, stagnation, and technological progress