Happy Friday! Tomorrow will mark the 32nd anniversary of Paul Simon's album "Graceland," so let's lose these walking blues...
A recent paper from Carnegie Mellon University didn't get much attention, but it tackles a huge topic: the challenge of cutting carbon emissions from the energy-hungry trucking sector.
One takeaway is that trains can play a big role, but that would require a reversal of freight industry trends worldwide that favor highways.
Why it matters: Moving freight around uses lots of oil and spews lots of greenhouse gases.
The big picture: Several strategies in concert are needed to cut carbon from heavy trucking — greater efficiency, electrification, lower-CO2 fuels, changes in supply chain management and more, the paper finds.
Where it stands: It's a tough problem, and the paper points to a couple reasons why: current battery technology and economics aren't well-suited to long-haul routes and very low-carbon liquid fuel replacements for diesel aren't yet mature.
What's next: It finds a "clear need for a systematic assessment" of the worldwide potential for shifting freight movement back towards rail, and the cost and emissions cuts associated with it.
The bottom line: "Cost-effective GHG emissions reductions for the transportation sector may be available but in today's markets will likely not lead to the levels of decarbonization that are needed to slow climate change," the paper states.
Go deeper: Trucks are fueling the world's oil demand.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
My Axios colleague Joe Uchill has some vital reporting about fears of a cyberattack that plunges the country into a massive blackout. Take it away...
Reality check: The people tasked with protecting the U.S. electric infrastructure say the scenario where hackers take down the entire grid — the one that's also the plot of the "Die Hard" movie where Bruce Willis blows up a helicopter by launching a car at it — is not a realistic threat.
And focusing on the wrong problem means we’re not focusing on the right ones.
So, why can't you hack the grid? Here's one big reason: "The thing called the grid does not exist," said a Department of Homeland Security official involved in securing the U.S. power structure.
Think of the grid like the internet. We refer to the collective mess of servers, software, users and equipment that routes internet traffic as "the internet." The internet is a singular noun, but it’s not a singular thing.
Why it matters: The news that the Wall Street powerhouse is advising Musk in his personal capacity fills in a missing piece of the puzzle.
Where it stands: Musk is also working with Goldman Sachs on the controversial take-private plan. More from Bloomberg...
Speaking of Tesla...
A wide-ranging new Energy Department report on wind industry trends has some eye-catching price data.
"After topping out at 7¢/kWh for power purchase agreements (PPAs) executed in 2009, the national average price of wind PPAs has dropped to around 2¢/kWh," a summary from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes.
Between the lines: The Berkeley Lab cautions that this nationwide average is "dominated" by projects in low-cost interior states.
"These prices, which are possible in part due to federal tax support, compare favorably to the projected future fuel costs of gas-fired generation."
Why it matters: The report underscores the competitiveness of renewables in power markets and the growth of the wind sector, which last year provided over 6% of nationwide electricity and over 30% in four states.
The Saudis' next move: The Financial Times looks at the fallout now that it's becoming increasingly clear that Saudi Aramco's IPO plan is in a deep freeze.
Speaking of Aramco, With the IPO apparently shelved (though the Saudis maintain it's not), the Wall Street Journal reports that the idea of selling a stake in the company to the Chinese companies could be revived.
"[S]ome sort of Aramco stake sale will likely resurface eventually. The reason: Saudi Arabia is struggling to defend its share of the world’s two biggest oil markets. Locking down strategic investments from Chinese oil heavyweights, in particular, still makes plenty of sense," Nathaniel Taplin writes.
Divestment (or not): Per Reuters, "Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund should continue to invest in oil and gas companies, a government-appointed commission recommended on Friday, contradicting earlier advice from the central bank."
Over in our Expert Voices section, Joshua Rhodes lays out why EPA's newly proposed replacement for Obama-era carbon regs "might strengthen the hand of a few coal-fired power plants, but won’t fundamentally change where the market is heading."
Where things stand: His piece on EPA's "Affordable Clean Energy" draft rule says the only plants it might affect are currently profitable facilities that need capital investment to keep running. Here's why...
Yes, but: Because coal is seen as a risky investment, few financial institutions are likely to extend credit to invest in coal plants. Instead, the capital would likely have to come from utilities in areas where they can rate-base — i.e., include the costs of upgrades directly into rate-payer’s bills — their investment.
Rhodes is a research associate in the Webber Energy Group and the Energy Institute at UT-Austin.