Should we tweak our markets to keep nuclear plants alive, or forget about markets and pay for them another way… and do we really need them at all to keep the grid functioning? Is nuclear power really declining because of overzealous environmentalists, or are there other reasons? Is it possible to balance a grid with a high amount of variable renewables and no traditional baseload plants? Is cost-benefit analysis the right way to approach energy transition? How much “decoupling” can we do between the economy and energy consumption, and how can we correctly measure it? Why are we so bad at forecasting energy and economic growth, and how can we do it better? How will energy transition affect the economy?

We explore all of these questions and more, and try to separate fact from falsehoods in this wide-ranging interview. It might even change your mind about a few things.

Geek rating: 8

Guest: Dr. Jonathan Koomey is a Research Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. He is a scholar on a wide range of topics, including energy and environmental issues, and incorporating engineering, economics, public policy, and environmental science.

On Twitter: @jgkoomey

On the Web:

Recording date: July 14, 2016

Air date: August 10, 2016


Jonathan Koomey: “My webinar for DOE + EPA today: Why we can’t accurately forecast the future” (May 18, 2016)

Jonathan Koomey: “A reply to ‘Historical construction costs of global nuclear power reactors’” (Apr 14, 2016)

Chris Nelder, Quartz: “The real reason to fight nuclear power has nothing to do with health risks” (Jun 17, 2013)

Jonathan Koomey, Energy Policy: “Was the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 the main cause of US nuclear power’s woes?” (Jun 24, 2011)

Alex Gilbert, “Addressing the Plight of Existing Nuclear, Part 1” (July 14, 2016)

Jonathan Koomey: “Moving beyond benefit–cost analysis of climate change” (Dec 2, 2013)

Hirsh, Richard F., and Jonathan G. Koomey. 2015. “Electricity Consumption and Economic Growth: A New Relationship with Significant Consequences?The Electricity Journal. vol. 28, no. 9. November. pp. 72-84.

Koomey, Jonathan, and Samuel Naffziger. 2015. “Efficiency’s brief reprieve: Moore’s Law slowdown hits performance more than energy efficiency.” In IEEE Spectrum. April.

Koomey, Jonathan G. 2012. Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-Based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs. Burlingame, CA: Analytics Press.

James Hamilton: “Why no economic boost from lower oil prices?” (Apr 10, 2016)

James Hamilton: “Oil shocks and economic recessions” (Jan 15, 2011)

Chris Nelder: “Economic Theory and the Real Great Contraction” (Oct 12, 2011)

Paul Krugman: “Notes on the Floating Crap Game (Economics Inside Baseball)” (Nov 30, 2014)

Chris Nelder: “Coming soon: 100% renewable power” (Dec 12, 2012) [On overbuilding RE as a strategy]

Chris Nelder: “The Worst Way to Measure Energy Efficiency” (Mar 21, 2013)

World Coal: “Renewable generation overtakes coal in UK mix” (Aug 2, 2016)

Sophia Yan, CNN Money: “530,000 steel and coal workers are now driving for China’s Uber rival” (Jul 29, 2016)

Ian Urbina, New York Times: “Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model ‘Clean Coal’ Project” (Jul 5, 2016)

Chris Nelder: “Why carbon capture and storage will never pay off” (Mar 2013)

Matt Foster, Civil Service World: “Two perm secs for merged Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy” (Jul 27, 2016)

Tim Knauss, The Post-Standard: NY approves ratepayer subsidy to save Upstate nukes” (Aug 1, 2016)

Brad Plumer, Vox: Nuclear power and renewables don’t have to be enemies. New York just showed how.” (Aug 2, 2016)

Joe Romm, Climate Progress: Nuclear Power Is Losing Money At An Astonishing Rate” (Aug 4, 2016)

Mark Chediak and Jim Polson, Chicago Tribune: “Exelon finds a nuclear ally in New York after Illinois snub” (Aug 3, 2016)

Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0