Intro / Preface / Extra Words
So after a growing streak of back to back weekly issues we felt we needed to give you just a little bit of space lest you tire of our company. But not too much space...
This isn't a themed issue, per se, but it has a little bit of a lean towards the topic of environmental stewardship.
We want to provide your synapses with content that is interesting, diverse, cerebral, and surprising. We want to give you things we disagree with or that you disagree with but that are well thought out. We want to engage in a way that is empathetic and charitable. That challenges. That doesn't thicken the soap walls of our bubbles. And maybe we like to try to make each other laugh from time to time.
Hopefully we can meander in that direction this week.
Feel free to forward us along to your smart and good looking friends. And as always, we want to hear your opinions; hit us up via that Reply button. Also please note we've got a lot of text in this issue. If your email client clips off the back end you can find an online, gloriously un-clipped version here.
You Fancy, Huh
Sweet Meteor of Death 2020
Editor's Note: Since Brian tends to overconfidently shoot his mouth off about stuff, we've asked someone who actually knows something about these things, technically, to chime in with a "counterweight". Welcome guest author 'Wes B'.
I'm going to start with the bullet about developing the developing world. Because I wholeheartedly agree. But the thing is, the whole world is developing all the time, places are just at different points on that curve. Here in the US, we are on the cusp of an explosion in renewables and storage (batteries). Prices for Solar PV panels and Li-ion batteries are projected to fall precipitously in the next 10-15 years. That is in large part because we have subsidized the heck out of them for a decade or more. They're all grown up now and are ready to stand on their own.
So if I were making long-term planning decisions for electric utilities, I would put a ton of value on retiring old, uneconomic generating units and replacing them with solar and storage in that 10-15 year horizon. I would not want to be making 40-60 year decisions today. A Nuclear plant will provide you with cheap, carbon-free energy for at least 60 years. The upfront price tag for nuclear is HUUUUUUUGE and they take about 10-15 years to site, permit, and build. For me, that's just off the table. If I was making capital investment decisions today, and renewables and storage were just a little too uneconomical, then I would be making short-term (10-15 year), low-cost bets. Either that's retrofitting old coal units to burn gas, or dumping more money into existing nukes to get a few more years, or buying existing investor-owned assets at a discount that are nearing the end of their lives, or whatever I can do to get to that future where renewables and storage are economic.
Today is the time to be reaping what you sowed with all those subsidies on renewables and storage. It is not the time to double down on new versions of old technology, and it's not the time to be making big bets on the next big thing (advanced nuclear, direct air capture, hydrogen fuel). There's a future for nuclear and DAC and CCS and H2, but we have to develop those technologies more. They're 10-15 heavily-subsidized years behind renewables and batteries. If we play our cards right, we'll be ready for those problems that start popping up 20-30 years from now because we over-built renewables. -Wes
All Geek To Me
We have not had to resort to writing in nothing but a shawl yet, but I almost had to go there this week in order to get this issue out the door. Here's to hoping the next issue requires less gumption.
Also let's be honest, Brian really had everything dialed in and there was very little for me to do. I hope y'all enjoyed reading the content and commentary as much as I did. What were your biggest takeaways?