Jun 19, 2017

Study rebuts renewables-only approach to climate-friendly power

Sue Ogrocki / AP

Out today: A large team of energy experts say in a newly-published study that, from an economic and practical standpoint, achieving a nearly carbon emissions-free power system will require a wide range of energy sources, not just renewables.

Why it matters: The new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences comes amid a debate over how to eventually bring about the "deep decarbonization" needed to prevent the most dangerous levels of global warming.

"[T]he weight of the evidence suggests that a broad portfolio of energy options will help facilitate an affordable transition to a near-zero emission energy system."

The 21 authors say that while it's "theoretically possible" to build a reliable system based on wind, solar and hydropower, the reality is that a cost-effective decarbonization requires broader options including nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture.

"A policy prescription that overpromises on the benefits of relying on a narrower portfolio of technologies options could be counterproductive, seriously impeding the move to a cost effective decarbonized energy system."

Go deeper: The paper is a rebuttal to high-profile research led by Stanford's Mark Jacobson that says the U.S. could affordably achieve 100 percent carbon-free power by roughly mid-century with only renewable technologies. The new study says Jacobson's work suffers from errors and faulty assumptions, such as unrealistic projections about use of large-scale storage systems.

Striking back: Jacobson has published a response to the new study here, defending the idea of creating a reliable systems built on 100 percent renewables and alleging that the newly released study misrepresents his team's work.

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Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release women identified to have signed three nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.