Benjamin Sovacool talks about how he didn’t want to get involved in energy, but Professor Richard hearse kidnapped him into the field, but only after Benjamin’s car was broken into and all of his research stolen. He also goes into detail about the benefits and challenges of scholarly multidisciplinary collaboration and ongoing training for researchers.
About the AuthorDr. Michael LaBelle is an associate professor at Central European University. He holds a joint appointment between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and the Department of Economics and Business. He founded the MyEnergy2050 website to change how we communicate and implement the energy transition.
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By Michael LaBelle — 3 months ago
This week we speak with Ana Stojilovska, an energy poverty researcher, who just received her PhD from Central European University, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy.
And full disclosure before we get going. Michael was Ana’s PhD supervisor.
Ana’s research really goes to the heart of the divisions in Europe around energy poverty. Her thesis, ‘Synergies between heating and energy poverty – the injustice of heat’ tackles how people attempt and afford to heat their homes in North Macedonia and Austria. Her research shows two widely different approaches to assisting – or not – people to heat their homes. She really underscores the role that state institutions play in setting the price of heat, but also assisting homeowners to pay their bills.
As you’ll her from our discussion, the right to heat emerges as a fundamental human right. We first get into Ana’s questioning why her family only heated one room when she was growing up in Skopje. This may sound odd to some, but for many families in former Communist countries, this is still a common practice today.
She decided to pursue a PhD after she was spurred on by her NGO experience and after receiving a Masters in European Studies. Seven years ago, she applied to CEU’s PhD program. And, as they say, the rest is history. For the past six years, Michael and Ana have been working together.
Ana has been a great inspiration for learning new research methods – like phoning up thousands of people in Vienna. As you’ll hear, Ana has a sincere dedication to her research. And for anyone that reads one of her five or six articles she’s published while doing her thesis, there is great depth to her data collection. The outcome of her research is: Energy poverty is representative of deeper misalignments in state institutions and it is the people who bear the social and economic cost of state failures.
By Michael LaBelle — 10 months ago
This week we speak with Ed Vine, who made his career at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working on assessing and improving energy efficiency policies, technologies and programs.
He is an early pioneer in the area of improving how people use energy. He received his PhD from the University of California Davis. Ed provides us with a big picture of change over time.
In fact, we have a wide-ranging discussion on many topics with lots of twists and turns. But as you’ll hear is a fascinating discussion we have on how energy technologies and policies have changed over time.
One of the areas we discussed is when solar was just getting its feet in California, and being experimented with by hobbyists and the challenges of integrating it into buildings and the electricity system itself.
Now in California, solar is mandated into new buildings, we discussed the shift from producing energy, like solar or wind to technologies that save and prevent energy from being used.
As long career provides us with an exciting look at how we move from policies to build nuclear power plants, up and down the Pacific Coast, to phasing out coal power plants and promoting high energy efficiency standards around the world.
Ed’s PhD is in ecology, and we discussed the benefits of a multidisciplinary perspective and bringing together a multidisciplinary team. This includes tackling problems highlighted by the Sustainable Development Goals, and was also part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
We discuss energy cultures, which includes how we design homes, how people use their homes, and how social norms influence consumption habits. We discussed the impact women have on improving air quality, which results in fewer people going to the hospital. By understanding the impact of gender in the energy system, lives can be saved and improved. As you will hear, we do cover a lot of ground.
By Michael LaBelle — 2 months ago
This week we speak with Jan Rosenow, the Director of European Programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project. The word, ‘project’ as Jan tells us, was meant to be a project to assistant regulators to build better utility regulation. The project operates in China, Europe, India, and the United States.
From this episode, you’ll learn about the importance of regulation in the energy transition. Markets are not free, but depend on good (and bad) regulation to create market conditions that deliver outcomes that society wants. Of course, there is a heavy dose of politics in this mix, but the main thrust is to protect the consumer.
As Jan tells us, regulation is not just regulation implemented by energy regulators, but also comprises policies that shape the markets.
From a personal point of view, I love regulation. This will sound very odd, but one of the joys of living in the EU is we have so much regulation to study and understand the impact of both a multilateral institution, like the EU, but also the actions of governments and how they implement regulation is such diverse actions.
I was really excited when Jan agreed to come onto the podcast to discuss what the Regulatory Assistance Project does, and to focus on regulation’s role in the energy transition. This episode delivers with both a general discussion on regulation in the first half and by the second half, we work our way through the role of regulation in the EU and the new Fit for 55 and Green Deal directives that are coming out.
However, I want to emphasize the eloquent way that Jan answers all my questions on regulation. Jan has a rare and true skill to be able to express the role of regulation plays in both abstract terms but also through examples. And I think what I’m saying here, doesn’t do justice to how he explains the importance and differences regulation plays in the energy transition.
The energy transition requires forward-leaning regulations that both push and pull new technologies in the marketplace. In this episode, you’ll learn both how this is done and why it is done.