Tag Archives: technology

Brewed with Renewable Energy- Best Beers for the Green Consumer

As microbreweries and craft beers have really blown up in recent years, it’s easy to forget that the beer brewing process goes back millennia.  Archaeologists have noted that nomads may have made beer before making bread, ancient Babylonian’s kept beer recipes on clay tablets, and European monasteries in the Middle Ages took beer brewing out of the home and into centralized production.

All of this ancient brewing was fairly unstandardized, relying on fermentation and chemical reactions and, when needed, cooking by fire.  It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that the production of beer scaled up massively, inventions came along to ensure the consistency of brewing, and the energy required to brew beer became substantial, powered by the revolutionary steam engine. Since that time, the energy intensity of brewing beer became substantial– today’s breweries typically use 50-66 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per barrel of beer. With a barrel of beer containing 2 kegs of beer and an average U.S. home using 10,812 kWh  per year in 2015, that means that it takes  less than 400 kegs of beer production to account for an entire household’s annual energy use– while places like Boardy Barn in Hamptons Bay, Long Island can sell up to 600 kegs in a single day!



All this lead up is to get to the question– why do you care? Well at the time that craft brewing has come out of the niche to become mainstream, so has personal responsibility to be energy and environmentally conscious. So at the intersection of these two pushes is the trend of breweries to utilize renewable energy in their production process. This post is meant to not only call out and give props to all the breweries that are incorporating green practices into their fuel mix, but to show you the best tasting beers you can buy that are ALSO incorporating the most renewable energy production.

In short– green beer appears to be a brewery cultural movement (and not just with food coloring you put in one day a year)!

Methodology

As stated in the introduction, the goal of this fun exercise is to cross-list breweries who have publicly available their power generation from renewable energy or their total renewable energy generation capacity with a rating of the most popular beer brewed at that brewery. As such, the methodology can be broken out by energy and by beer:

Energy

Many breweries today are installing renewable energy generation, and luckily for this exercise they also love to talk about it. And why shouldn’t they? Making publicly available your renewable energy generation is not only great PR for a brand, but it can also lead to other breweries making the energy conscious decisions as they follow the leaders in the industry. As such, you can usually count on breweries to advertise their use of renewable energy:

Source

With this in mind, the data collected all came from publicly available sources– a section on a brewery’s website about sustainability, a news article announcing a new solar system install, etc. Based on what data was and was not available, it made the most sense to collect and rate based on total capacity of renewable energy used at the brewery. As a result, the following factors were not considered:

  • The percentage of energy use at a brewery that is accounted for by renewable energy (apologies to the smaller breweries that have a large percentage, or even all, of their energy use come from renewable energy– obviously the larger breweries have more energy use overall and thus have a higher ceiling for total installed capacity, but this analysis is only counting the raw total capacity);
  • Commitments to switch to renewable energy in the future (though there will be a list of ‘honorable mention’ breweries with such initiatives at the end);
  • The installation of renewable energy sources without the listing of capacity or energy generated (sorry to these breweries, you’ll be in the honorable mentions as well); and
  • Energy savings, energy efficiency initiates, and sustainable practices that don’t include installation of renewable energy (these will also be included in ‘honorable mentions’ to give credit where credit is due).

Beer

After assembling the list of breweries with renewable energy capacity, it sounded fun to cross-list those capacities with the rating of the most popular beer at that brewery to find the ultimate beer to reach for at the bar or grocery story that tastes great and contributes to the world’s renewable energy supply. BeerAdvocate.com was used as the repository for information on beer ratings, as it had the most extensive and widely available information for this process.

For each brewery identified on the below list, the beer with the most ratings on BeerAdvocate.com was identified as the most popular beer. The most popular beer was chosen to ensure a high sample size of ratings and to best represent the beer made at that brewery. So while there may be beers more highly regarded at the breweries identified, the chosen most popular beer is more likely to be that brewery’s flagship beer and accounts for the highest portion of the brewery’s production energy compared with any other beer.

Results

Below is a table of the 57 breweries found with advertised renewable energy capacity, with the greatest capacity at the top.  After a quick glance at this table, a few tidbits jump out:

  • Renewable capacities found on this list starts at 10 kilowatts (kW) and goes all the way up to 3,733 kW (or 3.7 megawatts). This wide range shows how varied the efforts are to incorporate renewable energy, from a small solar system that only has minor contributions to overall operations to a massive renewable energy installation that contributes most (if not all) of a brewery’s power needs.
  • Solar power is by far the most prevalent form of renewable energy found at breweries. This may seem striking, but it actually makes sense because solar systems are the easiest and most feasible system to install on a building basis. Other forms of renewable energy (wind power, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass) are not as well suited for individual building complexes to harness.
  • Heineken, as a parent company, appears several times towards the top of the list. Many of these breweries existed for many years before Heineken bought them, but it does appear to be a trend that breweries have become more likely to install renewable energy capacity after being brought under the Heineken umbrella.
  • There is also a clear spread of locations where these renewable energy breweries are located, on both coasts of the United States as well as three other continents. We’ll look into this more in a later graphic.

The next step is to plot these renewable capacities against the rating of the most popular beer. See the below graphs for this visual. When shown this way, a couple more conclusions can be made:

  • It turns out that the beer from the brewery with the highest renewable energy capacity (The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery) is actually the one with the highest rating on this list, making the decision at the bar that much easier!
  • However, dedication to renewable energy does not necessarily correlate with a well-received beer, as Birra Moretti (Heineken) and MillerCoors have discovered.
  • While a smattering of breweries have made the commitment to exceed a megawatt of renewable energy capacity, the majority of breweries have started smaller in the 500 kW range.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The last graphic put together is a map to represent where these breweries are spread across the country and the world. These maps show the top 20 breweries by capacity, with the size of the beer mug icon representing the relative size of that capacity (though note that between the U.S. map and the world map, scale of the maps are accounted for. For example, the Anheuser-Busch brewery has about half the capacity as the Namibia Breweries Limited. However because the U.S. map is about twice as big, both of these beer mug icons appear the same size).

The conclusions to be drawn from these maps include the following:

  • Within the United States, the most breweries with the most renewable energy capacity are mostly focused on the coastal regions. Specifically, the largest capacities are found on the West Coast in California and Oregon. These are two states that are known to have among the most progressive energy policies, so it’s no surprise that breweries in these states have jumped in feet first to the renewable energy revolution.
  • The United States does not have a monopoly at all when it comes to beer brewed with renewable energy. Not only are there a number of prominent breweries with renewable energy in Europe, but both the African and Asian continents are represented as well.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Honorable Mentions

As mentioned in the methodology section, there were a number of breweries that have initiatives in energy efficiency, sustainability, or other ‘green’ practices that were unable to be captured in this exercise that purely focused on renewable energy capacity. However, it only seems appropriate to still give these breweries a shout out for the positive efforts being put forth as well.

(Updated Honorable Mentions after originally posted– please keep these suggestions coming!)

  • Yards Brewing Co. in Philadelphia became Pennsylvania’s first 100% wind-powered brewery in 2011 (though figures on the total capacity were not available, which is the only reason they’re in the honorable mentions and not the main results).
  • Sawdust City Brewing in Ontario, Canada treats their wastewater on site.
  • Cowbell Brewing Co. is North America’s first 100% carbon neutral brewery.
  • Beau’s Brewery was the first Canadian brewery to be powered by 100% ‘green electricity.’
  • Sleeping Giant Brewing Company uses a host of sustainable practices, including the increasing use of renewable energy.
  • Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto sources its energy from 100% renewable sources (also no mention of total use/capacity, so can’t add to the main results).
  • Rock Art Brewery became Vermont’s first 100% solar powered brewery in 2017.
  • The Alchemist in Vermont also sources nearly 100% of its energy from a local solar farm.
  • Moonraker Brewing Company boasts 1,100 solar panels on site.
If you know any other breweries that should be included in either the main results or these honorable mentions, please reach out to me by commenting here or heading to the contact page to let me know. Hopefully all breweries who deserve their pat on the back can get them!

Sources and Additional Reading

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev commits to 100 percent renewable energy: CNBC

Beer History Timeline: BeerHistory.com

BeerAdvocate.com

Carlsberg aims to produce beer with renewable energy: Justmeans

Deschutes Brewery 2015 Sustainability Story: Deschutes Brewery

Early History of Brewing: Michigan State University

Green Beer Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day: Power Finance & Risk

Prost! 5 Breweries Embracing Renewable Energy: Renewable Energy World

Renewable Heating and Cooling for Breweries: Environmental Protection Agency

Renewables roadshow: how the people of Newtown got behind solar-powered beer

Top 50 Solar Beer Breweries: Solar Plaza (and all sources cited therein)

What is the Combined Heat and Power System (CHP)?: Yuengling Brewery

Wind Powered Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co. 

 

Updated on 10/6/17 to fix units

Updated on 10/8 to include additional breweries (Yard Brewing Co., Sawdust City Brewing, Cowbell Brewing Co., Beau’s Brewery, Sleeping Giant Brewing Company, Steam Whistle Brewing, Rock Art Brewery, The Alchemist, and Moonraker Brewing Company). 

 

 

About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates this blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.  

 

Technology Highlight– Microgrids

As localized sources of renewable energy and energy storage become more prevalent, the spotlight is increasingly being shined on microgrids. But what exactly are microgrids, where did they come from, and why should we care? In this technology highlight, I answer those questions are more to make sure you’re up to speed on everything to do with microgrids.

What is a microgrid?

The Department of Energy (DOE) defines a microgrid as “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to opertae in both grid-connected or island-mode.”

Similarly, the Counseil international des grands reseaux electriques (CIGRE) defines microgrids as “electricity distribution systems containing loads and distributed energy resources (such as distributed generators, storage devices, or controllable loads) that can be operated in a controlled, coordinated way either while connected to the main power network or while islanded.”



As expressed by each of these definitions, the representative characteristics of microgrids are that they are made up of electricity sources that can operate separately from the traditional power grid (macrogrid) and operate autonomously, though they can also (in fact, they more often than not do) synchronize and operate with the macrogrid.

Microgrids utilize localized, distributed energy sources (including demand management, storage, and generation) to ensure the customers connected to the microgrid get energy that meets their cost, reliability, and sourcing requirements. While microgrids are normally connected to and operate in synchronization with the macrogrid the same as any other part of the traditional grid, what sets them apart is the ability to disconnect and operate autonomously if the conditions dictate.

How microgrids work

The traditional grid system works by connecting all buildings to a central power source through an extensive web of transmission and distribution infrastructure. The basic principles and equipment in a microgrid work the same way and typically operate within this traditional grid, but the key difference is the ability of the microgrid to break off and operate independently, referred to as ‘islanding.’ While the traditional grid always connects buildings to the main power source (i.e., whatever power plant or company provides the area’s electricity), a microgrid might source its power from distributed generators, batteries or other energy storage, or a source of localized renewable energy (e.g., small-scale solar or wind power).

Source: Department of Energy

Microgrids operate with a few main components– 1) the local generation, 2) the distribution, 3) the elements of consumption, 4) the storage, and 5) the point of common coupling.

Local generation

When communities utilize a microgrid system, one of the main reasons is the opportunity they present to take advantage of local generation. These generation sources are separate from the large power plants that power the traditional grid and typically take the form of generators or renewable energy sources, the use of which present a host of advantages to the community (which will be discussed soon).

Distribution

As with the traditional grid, the generated energy must be sent from the source of generation to where it will ultimately be used. The technology that is used to transmit electricity across the microgrid is more or less identical to the similar technology in the traditional grid, with the key difference that there is typically much shorter of a distance to traverse (which also comes with its unique advantages, to be discussed later in this article).

Elements of consumption

The point of consumption is simply the part of the electricity transmission and distribution process where the generated power enters its ultimate destination—buildings, street lights, electric car charging stations, etc. As with the distribution, the consumption in a microgrid system operates pretty much the same as it does in the traditional grid.

Storage

Because microgrids are so often coupled with renewable energy generation as at least one of the major energy generators, storage becomes a key component to the microgrid system. Storage often takes the form of a battery or system of batteries, but microgrids can also utilize alternative forms of storage, such as pumped hydro storage. The key point of this storage is to allow for the use of extra electricity that is generated during peak generation (such as during the middle of the day when solar capture is at its highest but residential power use is at its lowest) to be used when it is most needed (in the evening when residential power is at its peak). Microgrids can, however, also pump that extra generated electricity to be used by the traditional grid.

Point of common coupling

The point of common coupling, or the PCC, is the intersection where the microgrid meets up with the traditional grid. At the PCC, the microgrid remains connected to the main grid at the same voltage of the main grid but disconnects when there is reason to do so. If a microgrid does not have a PCC, it is completely isolated from the main grid and always operates autonomously. These type of microgrids are less common, but they do exist in certain remote locations.

Microgrids of the past

Microgrids have been around for quite some time. In fact it could be argued that microgrids actually pre-date the traditional grid system. Thomas Edison’s Manhattan Pearl Street Station (the world’s first commercial power plant) was essentially a microgrid, and when it was constructed in 1882 there wasn’t a centralized electrical grid to which it could hook up. Within four years, Edison had installed almost sixty of these early microgrids to create a customer base for his direct current generators.

These separate microgrids, each with their own generator sources and autonomous distribution systems, did not last long. The government stepped in to determine that, in order to protect consumers and guarantee them power, the electric services industry was to become a state-regulated monopoly. In doing so, the incentives for vast grid systems to transmit power were greater than the incentives to develop microgrids. The next century served to further entrench this traditional grid system. Microgrids found some niche applications, in remote locations or already self-contained systems like college campuses. But recently, the ideas behind grid security, smart grids and, subsequently, microgrids, have started to sneak into the public consciousness and change that conversation.

Advantages of microgrids

The ability of microgrids to disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously comes with a number of inherent advantages, and these advantages are the reason for the recent focus on microgrids in certain energy industry circles.

Resilience

In the operation of the traditional main grid, reliability can become an issue due to the widespread effects that a small disruption can cause as it makes its way through the system. In contrast, when there are interruptions or other issues to the main grid, users connected to microgrids can operate independently.

This difference is analogous to the difference between Christmas lights that are electrically connected in parallel compared with connected in series. When lights are connected in series, the burnout of one bulb means the entire strand will not work—but if the bulbs are connected in parallel, the burnout of one bulb will not affect the connection of the other bulbs. Similarly, you can think of microgrids as being connected to the traditional grid ‘in parallel.’ When an issue interrupts the traditional grid, microgrids can disconnect and operate independently.

Source: Department of Energy

A common example is when a severe weather event or even an intentional attack might bring widespread outages to the traditional grid. In these instances, microgrids can island and its customers will not be affected by the outages. Depending on the fuel source and energy requirements, microgrids can theoretically operate in island mode indefinitely outside of the traditional grid. Not only that, but because microgrids operate in parallel with the traditional grid, they are capable of feeding excess power back into the main grid during outages.

The usefulness of microgrids during emergencies was highlighted during the devastating hurricane season of 2017. Examples of microgrids taking over were found in grocery stores in Houston during Hurricane Harvey and hospitals in Antigua during Hurricane Irma, and the devastation to the electrical system in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has many pointing to microgrids as integral to the future resilience of a rebuilt energy system for the island.

Note that in certain grid systems, protocol dictates that all distributed generation must be shut off during a power outage. This fact can be confusing because it is during these outages that the microgrids could be the most useful, but for the safety of the workers fixing the broken power lines it is vital that no power is unintentionally being sent from a microgrid back into the traditional grid. However, inverter technologies that would prevent this are becoming more common and allow microgrid customers to continue their generation during traditional grid outages. During Hurricane Irma, a rumor circulated that utility lobbyists had made it illegal to use any solar panels during the power outages, but in reality this was just a misunderstanding of the safety protocol and customers who have purchased the necessary inverter technology can always lawfully use their power generation sources.

Efficiency and reliability of transmission

Several of the weak points of the traditional electric grid are tied to the massive web that is the transmission and distribution system, and microgrids can help address some of these weaknesses in ways that benefit both the power companies and the end customers.

In general, the transmission and distribution system of microgrids use the same technology as the traditional grid. However, microgrids are often smaller networks and thus the end destination of power is closer to the point of generation. This proximity allows for a significant reduction in the characteristic transmission and distribution losses associated with sending power over a long distance, meaning the overall energy efficiency of the energy system is improved when using microgrids.

In addition to the benefits of increased efficiency, microgrids improve the reliability of the whole traditional grid system. When a certain portion of customers can operate independently, the opportunity opens up for relieving congestion of the main grid during peak load times. Not only that, but the storage within microgrids allow for regulation of the power quality and distribution of power during these times of peak load.

Energy choice

Outside of the previous reasons for switching to microgrids, communities could also choose to develop microgrid systems to gain control over their energy choices. Because microgrids are connected to their own localized generating sources, customers can choose that source based on its costs, its desire to establish a degree of energy independence, or to opt for an energy source that is clean and/or renewable. When connected to the main grid, customers are for the most part restricted to whatever the electricity companies choose to pump through the power lines. But microgrids allow for customers to take that control back.

Where microgrids are used

Microgrids can be utilized by communities, both rural and urban. These communities are bound by shared geography, and thus proximity to the energy source. In addition, microgrids are commonly installed and used by large consuming entities on their own (i.e., commercial, industrial, or government consumers). The most common types of entities are college campuses, large institutions (like hospitals), and military bases. Each of these applications share the advantages that they are typically owned by a single entity and benefit from a secure and reliable power supply outside of the traditional grid.

Some examples of microgrids in use and being developed across the world include the following:

  • The Santa Rita jail in Dublin, California has its own microgrid, connected to 1.5 MW of solar power capacity, 1.0 MW of molten carbonate fuel cell capacity, and a system of backup diesel generators, allowing the jail to island or reconnect to the main grid at its discretion.
  • The Fort Collins Microgrid in Colorado, on the other hand, connects a brewery, laboratory, city government facilities, country government facilities, a college campus, and more to a microgrid, demonstrating an example of a larger community system that is microgrid-capable.
  • In the wake of an earthquake and tsunami that wiped out the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, the city of Higashi Matsushima is working to rebuild with microgrids and create a system of decentralized renewable power sources to ensure reliability in the case of future disasters.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has made the proliferation of safe and reliable microgrids a focus, with a portfolio of activities intended to advance the research and development of new microgrid technologies and more implementation across communities around the world that can benefit from the improved reliability and resilience of their grid system.

Future of microgrids

Microgrids are becoming a major focus in the building of “smart grids,” improving the resilience of the existing grid system, and overall investment in energy systems. GTM forecasts that the capacity of microgrids in the United States will grow from 1.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2016 to 4.3 GW in 2020, while Navigant Research projects the worldwide microgrid capacity to grow from 1.4 GW in 2015 to 7.6 GW in 2024.

The future of microgrids will evolve in the coming years, as research and development dollars continue to pour in and debate continues on issues such as the legality of utilities as microgrid owners, the role of generators and regulators, and the economics of net metering. Regardless of the path microgrids take, they are sure to be a disruptive and revolutionary technology that continues to change the longstanding model of power generation and distribution.

Sources and Additional Reading

About Microgrids: Microgrids at Berkeley Lab

DOE Microgrid Workshop Report: Department of Energy

Fort Collins: Microgrids  at Berkeley Lab

How Do Holiday Lights Work? Department of Energy

How Microgrids Work: Department of Energy

Microgirds: the self-healing solution– General MicroGrids

Microgrids: PikeResearch

Santa Rita Jail: Microgrids at Berkeley Lab

The Role of Microgrids in Helping Advance the Nation’s Energy System: Department of Energy

Think Microgrid: How the Technology Has Changed its Stars– Microgrid Knowledge

 

 

About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates this blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.  

Chester Energy and Policy- An Introduction

Welcome to the first entry to the “Chester Energy and Policy” blog. In an attempt to keep this short, I’d just like to give a brief introduction of myself and why I am starting this blog, as well as give a preview as to what types of posts I plan on writing to fill my tiny corner of the internet.

My name is Matt Chester, and I am a professional in the energy technology and energy policy fields in Washington, D.C. You can find a more extensive look at my experience and background in the About: Me section, but the quick hits are the following:

  • My educational background is in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus in Civil Engineering as well as Science & Technology Policy.
  • I have held several positions as a contractor in the federal policy arena, all of them with me focused on consulting various offices of the Department of Energy (DOE).
  • My passions have always laid in public policies that promote energy efficiency, energy independence, and advancement of renewable energy—specifically in the analysis of relevant data, technologies, and news.

As I have held a number of positions in the consulting and federal energy arenas, I have been itching to create an outlet for me to share my outlook. I created this blog to find and refine my voice when it comes to energy and policy issues, share with others what I have already learned and continue to learn every day, and advertise myself as a potential resource for people to tap into for any help they might need– either in a formal or informal manner.

I will also make the point here, as well in any subsequent posts where it might be particularly relevant, that I intend to avoid anything particularly political. I am not here to comment on political appointments or partisan debates—rather I intend to focus on analysis of facts. There will be certainly be times where there are developments in the politics of the energy field, and in those cases I will comment on the policy process itself, but I intend to avoid advocating for or against any particular policy. I base this in my educational background as an engineer and my professional background as a consultant—I will allow myself to analyze and present facts, but wherever it may bleed into political debates I will leave it to the reader to make their own conclusions based on those facts.

Though this creative and professional endeavor of mine is only in its infancy at the time of this posting, I already have a number of series of posts in development. Below you will find 11 different articles series, as well as a brief introduction to the types of posts you can expect to find in those series. Currently, my plan will be to publish a new post at least once a week, though if inspiration strikes then I will certainly not hold back on posting more frequently. I also plan to roll out a social media presence for my blog posts simultaneously with the posting of this first article—please see this blog’s official Twitter account , and I will also post a link to this blog on my professional LinkedIn account. Through those outlets, as well as through email and the comments section of each post, I would love to hear any and all feedback or constructive criticism. Please also share with your friends and colleagues, let me know if you have an idea for a topic you’d like me to discuss, or tell me why I’m wrong if you disagree with something I post.  All manners of feedback are welcome!

Article Series:

  • Insights and Advice: Using my experience as a consultant involved in various DOE processes, these articles will be my venue to share some insider tips and tricks about those federal energy and policy processes. Whether through detailing the intricacies of the federal rulemaking process, analyzing the energy policies coming through the Federal Register, or providing copy-editing advice for technical and/or government writing, the “Insights and Advice” series will highlight some best practices and provide the perspective from a career consultant to the DOE processes.
  • Technology Highlights: One of the best questions I ever got asked during a job interview was to pick a specific energy-related technology and explain it in a simple way such that a non-technologically literate person (the interviewer said my grandmother, but hey—there are plenty of tech-savvy grandmas out there!) could understand. The ability to explain highly technical concepts to people who do not have a technical background is not always easy, but it is crucial in both the technology and policy worlds as technologies advance at breakneck speeds and widespread understanding remains crucial to the nation’s energy systems. In the “Technology Highlights” series, I will break down energy technologies that are useful to individual consumers as well as commercial enterprises with digestible and easy to understand guides.
  • Development in Energy Policy: The landscape of energy policy in the United States is fast moving, and it can be difficult to keep track of all of the developments. I intend to use this article series to highlight news and progress in energy policy, break down the issues, and make clear how those developments might affect you.
  • Checking in on the Federal Register: Similar to the “Development in Energy Policy” series, this series of articles will shine a spotlight onto the incremental process of federal energy policy. Specifically, when there are notices in the Federal Register—the daily government journal where official agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices are published—relevant to the energy topics of this blog, I will read, summarize, and comment on those postings so you don’t have to do so yourself.
  • DOE in Focus: Most people outside the Department of Energy don’t fully realize the breadth of DOE’s mission, the wide-ranging projects constantly underway, or how many programs, offices, and laboratories there are across the nation performing amazing work. In the “DOE in Focus” series of articles, I will feature specific offices and laboratories, give some background into their histories and missions, and highlight some interesting recent projects and developments at those locations.
  • Profile of Organizations in Energy: Outside of public agencies, there are countless organizations–  both businesses and non-profits– that put energy at the center of their focus. This article series will serve to highlight some of the great work being done by these enterprises, and if we’re lucky they’ll allow for opportunities to speak directly with people in those organizations.
  • History Lessons: Both technology and public policy are extremely incremental processes where you can only really understand the current landscape and developments if you trace back through the historical precedents. With that in mind, I intend to periodically dive into landmarks of energy and policy past and provide overviews and context. In doing so, I intend to relate these “History Lessons” articles to the relevant news of the day.
  • Data Corner: Having gone to engineering school, I’ve long loved diving into data sets and excel models. The “Data Corner” series will be my opportunity to focus in on various data sources— e.g., publicly available DOE data and energy-efficient technology market data—and play with different methods of data visualization and statistical analysis.
  • Book Reviews: The “Book Reviews” series of articles is pretty self-explanatory—as I read books on energy technologies and policies (and use this article series as motivation to add more of these books to my personal reading list), I will write up my thoughts on the book. I will evaluate the books based on its content, readability, and fact-based authority, ultimately giving them a rating on a scale of one to five stars.
  • Product Reviews: The market for products for the energy conscious consumers is rapidly expanding these days, as being “green” is no longer niche and sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The “Product Reviews” series will enable me to shamelessly buy the latest products for myself to test out at home and write up my thoughts and reviews.
  • Fun Off-Topic: In this series of articles, I will highlight some less serious topics related to energy and policy. These topics will be lighthearted and fun, a break from the more data and factually heavy topics, including pop culture depictions of energy topics, looking into the energy related topics of some of my various hobbies, or anything else that might pop into my head.

While these are just the article series that are planned out at this point, there are certain to be additional articles outside of these 11 umbrella topics that I get inspired to write and new article series will be added. If you have suggestions about a series of articles outside of the above you’d be interested in, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

So to sum up, thanks for reading this far and I hope you continue to check back regularly for updates and new articles as I flesh out this website!

 

 

About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates this blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.