On this page, you can find links to our last three energy papers (2020-2022), and to three topic sections of interest: hydrogen, heat pumps and industrial electrification.
Whydrogen? That’s a good question.
Hydrogen may one day be used in natural gas pipeline blends, shipping/trucking, commercial back-up power and non-electrified rail. But we are skeptical; future hydrogen demand may bear little resemblance to hockey-stick forecasts common in renewable energy forecasts. We conduct a deep dive on alleged use cases for hydrogen, and the physical, chemical and infrastructure realities that get in the way.View PDF
Electric heat pumps and the question of grid adequacy.
Heat pumps are capable of delivering heat much more efficiently than baseboard heating, and have the potential to substantially decarbonize winter heating in homes and buildings. There are two issues to consider: (a) are transmission grids able to handle the spike in demand in communities with electrified heat on very cold days, particularly if backup thermal power systems are no longer available; and (b) what kind of subsidies will be needed when the all-in cost of heat pumps is still higher than natural gas heating alternatives.View PDF
Why is it hard to electrify industrial energy use?
Plastics, cement, steel, ammonia and other industrial materials form the building blocks of the modern world. Electricity is a small share of the energy used to create them; in the US, the electrification share has been unchanged for decades, a testament to the difficulty in increasing it. We explore the critical role of waste heat in combined heat-and-power systems, the high price of electricity per unit of energy compared to natural gas, the challenges of electrifying primary steel production and the role of raw materials as industrial feedstocks.s.View PDF