Volume 6, Issue 6
November 11, 2018 – November 17, 2018
Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Neha Chauhan '21 | Joseph Kawalec '21 | Amy Amatya '21 | Melanie Porras ‘21 | Patrick Huang ‘21


  Tesla Faces a Challenger in the Home Solar Business   October 28, 2018 | NYTimes | Ivan Penn  In recent years, Tesla’s grip on the residential solar system market has diminished, while its competitors have gained significant traction. Sunrun, based in San Francisco, has been one of the main benefactors, having made 9.0 percent of the nation’s residential solar installations this year, compared with Tesla’s 9.3 percent. These trends can be partially attributed to differences in business strategy: following SolarCity’s merger with Tesla, changes were made to accommodate the new vertically integrated business model with electric vehicles, solar panels, and energy storage. On the other hand, Sunrun’s focus on financing and installing solar panels, rather than manufacturing the products themselves, has led to its recent expansion. Both economic incentives in states such as California and greater overall demand for renewable energy will nevertheless see both companies continue to grow. -PH

Tesla Faces a Challenger in the Home Solar Business
October 28, 2018 | NYTimes | Ivan Penn
In recent years, Tesla’s grip on the residential solar system market has diminished, while its competitors have gained significant traction. Sunrun, based in San Francisco, has been one of the main benefactors, having made 9.0 percent of the nation’s residential solar installations this year, compared with Tesla’s 9.3 percent. These trends can be partially attributed to differences in business strategy: following SolarCity’s merger with Tesla, changes were made to accommodate the new vertically integrated business model with electric vehicles, solar panels, and energy storage. On the other hand, Sunrun’s focus on financing and installing solar panels, rather than manufacturing the products themselves, has led to its recent expansion. Both economic incentives in states such as California and greater overall demand for renewable energy will nevertheless see both companies continue to grow. -PH


  Algal Biofuels Dead? ‘Not So Fast’, Says Algal Biofuels Researcher   November 2, 2018 | Forbes | Robert Rapier  Despite the well-publicized failures of numerous start-ups in the algal biofuel industry, the existing biofuel industry is actually thriving and being supported by both public and private funds. Startups that were built around the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of algal biofuels fell short of making credible claims about how much research and development (R&D) they would achieve in the field of biofuels, but succeeded in harvesting algae for other products. Dr. John Benemann, CEO of MicroBio Engineering Inc., has been working with algal strains and cultivation methods for years and is himself a skeptic of the current biofuel field, but would not call it “dead.” According to Dr. Benemann and the author of the article, the eventual success of the algal biofuel industry (turning algal biofuel into a commercial reality) is contingent on how many long-term R&D investments they receive in the next few years. So although the algal biofuel industry may not be “dead,” plenty of research still remains to be done before companies will have the right to claim to produce it on a wider scale. -JK

Algal Biofuels Dead? ‘Not So Fast’, Says Algal Biofuels Researcher
November 2, 2018 | Forbes | Robert Rapier
Despite the well-publicized failures of numerous start-ups in the algal biofuel industry, the existing biofuel industry is actually thriving and being supported by both public and private funds. Startups that were built around the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of algal biofuels fell short of making credible claims about how much research and development (R&D) they would achieve in the field of biofuels, but succeeded in harvesting algae for other products. Dr. John Benemann, CEO of MicroBio Engineering Inc., has been working with algal strains and cultivation methods for years and is himself a skeptic of the current biofuel field, but would not call it “dead.” According to Dr. Benemann and the author of the article, the eventual success of the algal biofuel industry (turning algal biofuel into a commercial reality) is contingent on how many long-term R&D investments they receive in the next few years. So although the algal biofuel industry may not be “dead,” plenty of research still remains to be done before companies will have the right to claim to produce it on a wider scale. -JK


  Towering Gravity-Based 'Batteries' Are Coming to India   November 7, 2018 | Popular Mechanics | David Grossman  Energy Vault, a small Swiss energy storage company, recently announced agreements with the Indian utility giant Tata Power Company and the Mexican building materials company Cemex to purchase its “gravity towers.” These structures work on a similar principle to hydroelectric power but use cement blocks in the place of water. A single system can reportedly deliver between 10 and 35MWh with 95 percent efficiency. -AD

Towering Gravity-Based 'Batteries' Are Coming to India
November 7, 2018 | Popular Mechanics | David Grossman
Energy Vault, a small Swiss energy storage company, recently announced agreements with the Indian utility giant Tata Power Company and the Mexican building materials company Cemex to purchase its “gravity towers.” These structures work on a similar principle to hydroelectric power but use cement blocks in the place of water. A single system can reportedly deliver between 10 and 35MWh with 95 percent efficiency. -AD


  Toshiba's failure shows business can't deliver a nuclear future   November 8, 2018 | The Guardian | Phillip Inman  Toshiba has recently abandoned plans to build new nuclear power plants in the U.K. This decision comes after the company overran projected costs for building new nuclear power plants in the United States last year. These power plants were the first were built in the U.S. in 30 years; development of new nuclear power plants was halted by many governments after the meltdown of a nuclear plant at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Now, the U.K. government is encouraging the nuclear power industry. Despite this, Toshiba faced shortages in time and resources in its undertaking of building a nuclear power plant. According to the author of this article, Toshiba’s unfamiliarity with the political system of the U.K. was another barrier to its success in carrying out these plans. -NC

Toshiba's failure shows business can't deliver a nuclear future
November 8, 2018 | The Guardian | Phillip Inman
Toshiba has recently abandoned plans to build new nuclear power plants in the U.K. This decision comes after the company overran projected costs for building new nuclear power plants in the United States last year. These power plants were the first were built in the U.S. in 30 years; development of new nuclear power plants was halted by many governments after the meltdown of a nuclear plant at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Now, the U.K. government is encouraging the nuclear power industry. Despite this, Toshiba faced shortages in time and resources in its undertaking of building a nuclear power plant. According to the author of this article, Toshiba’s unfamiliarity with the political system of the U.K. was another barrier to its success in carrying out these plans. -NC


  Midterm Results: Climate and Energy Score Brilliant Wins And Stunning Losses In The States   November 7, 2018 | Forbes | Jeff McMahon  Because the Trump administration heavily favors the coal, oil and gas, and nuclear industries in its approach to federal energy policy, any significant renewables-friendly or climate-forward energy legislation implemented during the next two years will likely take place at the state level. However, the results of the midterm elections show that public support for such legislation differs widely from state to state. An initiative to keep certain areas off-limits to fracking companies was defeated in Colorado, and Arizona’s Proposition 127, which would have required its utilities to be 50 percent renewable by 2050, was also struck down. A similar proposition passed in Nevada, and governors who have proposed increased renewables and energy efficiency standards were elected in states including Michigan, lllinois, and New Mexico. -AD

Midterm Results: Climate and Energy Score Brilliant Wins And Stunning Losses In The States
November 7, 2018 | Forbes | Jeff McMahon
Because the Trump administration heavily favors the coal, oil and gas, and nuclear industries in its approach to federal energy policy, any significant renewables-friendly or climate-forward energy legislation implemented during the next two years will likely take place at the state level. However, the results of the midterm elections show that public support for such legislation differs widely from state to state. An initiative to keep certain areas off-limits to fracking companies was defeated in Colorado, and Arizona’s Proposition 127, which would have required its utilities to be 50 percent renewable by 2050, was also struck down. A similar proposition passed in Nevada, and governors who have proposed increased renewables and energy efficiency standards were elected in states including Michigan, lllinois, and New Mexico. -AD


  Iran Sanctions and Oil Prices: Who’ll Feel the Pain?   November 5, 2018 | New York Times | Clifford Krauss   Last Monday, President Trump renewed sanctions against Iranian oil in an attempt to pressure their political power in the Middle East, reminiscent of Obama’s efforts to curb Iranian nuclear which resulted in oil prices skyrocketing. So far, oil prices have not seen a similar increase, and have in fact been  decreasing in the US - meanwhile, Iran’s neighboring states like Azerbaijan and Georgia feel the brunt of the sanctions. While Washington aims to bring Iranian exports to zero (resulting in a 2% decrease in global oil supplies), this lost oil is instead being replaced by sources in the US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Analysts have projected that world oil supplies are high enough that Iran can’t leverage sea passage blockades against the sanctions, but others are skeptical that the world can scrounge up enough oil in a day that global prices won’t take a hit. - AA

Iran Sanctions and Oil Prices: Who’ll Feel the Pain?
November 5, 2018 | New York Times | Clifford Krauss
Last Monday, President Trump renewed sanctions against Iranian oil in an attempt to pressure their political power in the Middle East, reminiscent of Obama’s efforts to curb Iranian nuclear which resulted in oil prices skyrocketing. So far, oil prices have not seen a similar increase, and have in fact been decreasingin the US - meanwhile, Iran’s neighboring states like Azerbaijan and Georgia feel the brunt of the sanctions. While Washington aims to bring Iranian exports to zero (resulting in a 2% decrease in global oil supplies), this lost oil is instead being replaced by sources in the US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Analysts have projected that world oil supplies are high enough that Iran can’t leverage sea passage blockades against the sanctions, but others are skeptical that the world can scrounge up enough oil in a day that global prices won’t take a hit. - AA