2013 Energy News Roundup

2013 was a relatively calm year for energy and climate policy, but there has been a number of significant advances and setbacks around the globe. Overall, the progress is seen at individual policy or technology levels, but the world is in desperate need of political leadership to set stringent targets and develop a comprehensive policy package amid rising worldwide GHG emissions.

* The news roundup below is completely based on my personal interests and selection, with focus on the news in Japan and the US due to my limited time and expertise.

LED Post-Top Lighting
(Source: USDOE, SSL Program)

Thumbs up:

Thumbs down:

  • The world continues to make very little progress toward legally-binding GHG reduction reduction target or policy.
  • (US) Congressional gridlock continued on almost anything. The Obama administration suggested incremental, patch-work policy approach in its Climate Action Plan, but ultimate solutions such as a carbon tax require congressional approval.
  • (US) Cellulosic ethanol continues to be unsuccessful in commercial production, clouding the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • (US) High-speed rail projects continued to face difficulties, most notably in California. It is time for the government to focus on supportive roles and let private developers build the system as in Japan's maglev train and Florida's All Aboard Florida.
  • (Japan) The Abe administration lowered its GHG reduction target based on the assumption that no nuclear power will be available and energy demand will decline only by a small margin in 2020. However, the previous target of 25% reduction from the 1990 levels is still achievable in my view, as both assumptions are flawed. 
  • (Japan) TEPCO's answer to the nuclear accident and subsequent power shortage is to build more coal power plants, while electricity demand continued to fall and renewable energy development accelerates.
  • (Japan) National GHG emissions continued to rise. Electric sector sans nuclear power is to be blamed, offsetting reductions in other emission sources.
  • (China) China became the largest GHG emitter in the world in 2007 (or 2010), and the emissions just kept rising. In addition to the notorious dependency on coal for power generation, the inefficient and ever-growing steel industry is becoming more problematic.
  • Electric vehicle sales are yet to catch fire. While Tesla is thriving, other ventures such as Fisker struggled and filed for bankruptcy. Let's see how things turn out over the next several years.


* I labeled nuclear-related news neutral, as it is good from climate policy perspectives, but not so good from general policy perspectives. 

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