Stories by David Livingston

Expert Voices

How blockchain falls short for energy transactions

wind turbines in a field with red dollar signs on the ground
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

More sophisticated energy systems will be needed for the diversified, intelligent electric grids of the future, but blockchain technology — one widely promoted solution — may require a long list of difficult tradeoffs.

Why it matters: The power sector is becoming more distributed and decarbonized, with increasing amounts of intermittent renewables, energy storage and other smart technologies deployed across the grid. If new energy markets can't make a symphony of these varied assets, the result could be a dysfunctional cacophony.

Expert Voices

U.S. minerals strategy aims to safeguard vital technologies

lab scientist coating a glass slide with indium
A glass slide being coated with indium tin oxide for use in a nanoparticle solar cell. Photo: Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Commerce Department released on Tuesday an interagency report that identifies a list of minerals deemed critical to U.S. strategic interests and outlines an action plan to ensure their supply.

Why it matters: Securing these minerals and their supply chains is essential to leading the way on technologies that will enable the global energy transition, including cobalt and lithium for batteries, graphite and scandium for fuel cells, and indium and tellurium for solar panels.

Expert Voices

Carbon "tariffs" could trigger a collision of climate and trade policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

In a recent speech, French President Emmanuel Macron raised a proposal for an EU–wide carbon “tariff” on goods coming into the bloc from countries without a price on carbon — a way to lead by example on climate while still leading through advantage for industry.

Why it matters: The plan could prompt other countries to adopt carbon pricing in part to avoid disadvantaging their goods and services. In the best case, it could lead to a rapid increase in the amount of global emissions exposed to a carbon price, without creating excessively harmful economic distortions.