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Power after Carbon

Building a Clean, Resilient Grid

Peter Fox-Penner

As the damaging and costly impacts of climate change increase, the rapid development of sustainable energy has taken on great urgency. The electricity industry has responded with necessary but wrenching shifts toward renewables, even as it faces unprecedented challenges and disruption brought on by new technologies, new competitors, and policy changes. The result is a collision course between a grid that must provide abundant, secure, flexible, and affordable power, and an industry facing enormous demands for power and rapid, systemic change.

The fashionable solution is to think small: smart buildings, small-scale renewables, and locally distributed green energy. But Peter Fox-Penner makes clear that these will not be enough to meet our increasing needs for electricity. He points instead to the indispensability of large power systems, battery storage, and scalable carbon-free power technologies, along with the grids and markets that will integrate them. The electric power industry and its regulators will have to provide all of these, even as they grapple with changing business models for local electric utilities, political instability, and technological change. Power after Carbon makes sense of all the moving parts, providing actionable recommendations for anyone involved with or relying on the electric power system.

Peter Fox-Penner is Director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and Professor in BU’s Questrom School of Business; Chief Strategy Officer for Energy Impact Partners, and an advisor and former chairman of the Brattle Group. He previously served as a senior official in the United States Department of Energy and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His published works include the widely acclaimed Smart Power.

Reviews

Power after Carbon calls to attention the dramatic changes in the electric power sector over the last decade. Fox-Penner leads us on a serious exploration of the various technologies, fuels, and system designs that transcend easy fixes to today’s challenges and opportunities: the drive for net zero carbon emissions; the rise of wind and solar; and the emphasis on both reliability and resilience.”—Ernest Moniz, former US Secretary of Energy

“In Power after Carbon, Fox-Penner uses his options framework to address the energy industry’s advances over the last decade. This excellent book will be particularly valuable to industry leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders as we design the paths forward for our companies, and the customers and communities we serve.” —Robert Rowe, President and CEO, Northwestern Energy

“Peter Fox-Penner is among the world’s most respected and admired electricity experts—deeply informed, astute, wise, and balanced. This clear and engaging distillation of his insights will enlighten and stimulate readers in all sectors and at all levels.” —Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus, Rocky Mountain Institute

Power after Carbon

Harvard University Press, May 19, 2020