Explaining the Energy Evolution

Our student journalists are reading studies, consulting experts and running models so you can make your deals with that much more confidence in your terms and frames. Rely on us, and suggest a topic here

A coal-fired power plant can't coexist with a safe climate, but securitization can help retire it.

(Photo by Sam LaRussa via Flickr.) This coal-fired power plant outside Austin, Texas, is one of thousands across the country that owners will have to finance out of service. 

Explainer: How Can Securitization Retire Coal Plants?

Imagine that you are a utility owner. You anticipated your plant would last 40 years and invested accordingly. Now you see the value of coal plummeting, but you can't strand your assets. Someone mentions securitization. You wonder: What's that?
How does your clean grid grow?

On an unspoiled site or an unloved one, a renewable-energy installation navigates tricky economics. 

Explainer: How Do Developers Choose New or Remediated Project Sites?

Solar and wind projects are essential to the energy evolution, but most of them take up a lot of space. This story looks at the two main sorts of land developers can use and walks through economics, strategies, and public policies that can foster solar and wind while attending to...
These sure look trustworthy. Or antiquated. Or both.

(Photo by Oran Viriyincy via Flickr Creative Commons.) Where can the 20th Century grid consistently carry 21st Century energy across regional lines? 

Explainer: What Are Grid Interconnections And What Complicates Them?

To someone facing a wildfire in California or bunking in a shelter after a flood in Louisiana, what does power supply from a far corner of the country have to do with survival? Quite a bit, as this tale of grid interconnection, will show. Connections of supply from one electric...
A house in Peoria, IL, behind a flag heralding its public space (photo by Patsy Wooters via Flickr Creative Commons).

Swapping this home's systems for clean electric ones is a delicate proposition. (Photo of Peoria, IL by Patsy Wooters.) 

Explainer: How Do Owners and Policymakers Electrify Buildings? (Part One)

Every building in any community tells its own story. To run each story first on electricity, and later on clean electricity, requires coordinated and flexible policies - and a range of financial techniques to meet a series of cost and timing challenges.
Can Clean Peak Standards brighten the view in this part of Brooklyn?

Activists in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood have explored whether Clean Peak Standards can address air quality and energy inequity. (Photo by Victoria Belanger via Flickr Creative Commons.) 

Explainer: Can Clean Peak Standards Make Energy Economics Meet Energy Justice?

One state has tried requiring power at peak demand periods to come from clean sources. This mandate can improve air quality in low-income communities. Critics question its effect on emissions, though, and its optimal design as clean-energy storage for utilities evolves.
Can you see what this company is doing?

(Photo by Greg Dunlap, via Flickr Creative Commons.) Ratings of Chevron, and other companies whose fortunes float on the energy transition, can leave asset managers feeling lost at sea. 

Explainer: When Agencies Rate Companies' ESG Scores, What Are They Actually Rating?

As ESG becomes an increasingly popular investing strategy, questions about better standardization arise. Ideally, ratings agencies would use objective criteria. Some frameworks are emerging that emphasize transparency and context.
A steel factory (photo by Billy Wilson) in sunset. Will hydrogen bring a new dawn?

This steel factory in Michigan, captured at sunset, reflects one industry where hydrogen may promise a sort of new dawn. (Photo by Billy Wilson via Flickr Creative Commons.) 

Explainer: How Is Green Hydrogen Emerging As a Renewable Answer?

Not every analysis concludes that the scale-up costs of hydrogen make it more bankable than wind, solar and hydropower. But since hydrogen production requires less land, and since it can reach hard-to-decarbonize sectors, many investors are giving it a long look. Now you can too.

Explainer: How Do Public Policies Reinforce Building Electrification Financing (Part Two)?

Each building owner, with a team of investors, needs to work out a particular electrification schedule. Broad public policies, though, can advance new technologies or marketing strategies that can help more buildings go electric sooner. This sequel to our earlier explainer sets out some scalable policies from across the United...
Climate tech these days extends to produce preservation

Apeel, a startup that's recently drawn venture investment, makes an edible coating to extend produce's shelf life. (Photo courtesy apeel.com .) 

Explainer: The "Valley of Death" and the Challenges of Scaling Climate Tech

Financing through each stage of a venture's growth is possible - and increasingly available for climate-related startups. How do startups keep gaining investors as they grow into commercial companies and build their emissions-reduction bonafides at the same time?