is an author, advocate, and analyst of the renewable energy industry. He has written extensively about the subject for the past four decades, receiving numerous awards for his efforts. Gipe has lectured before groups from Patagonia to Puglia, from Tasmania to Toronto, and from Halifax to Husum. He has spoken to audiences as large as 10,000 and as small as a private presentation for Vice President Al Gore. Gipe is well known for his frank appraisal of the promise and pitfalls of wind energy, including his stinging critiques of Internet wonders and the hustlers and charlatans who promote them. He led the campaign to adapt electricity feed laws to the North American market–the same policy that has stirred a renewable energy revolution in Germany.
Latest Articles by Paul Gipe
In recent correspondence with colleagues, I noted the unfortunate reoccurrence of the term “wind parks” to describe wind farms or more correctly wind power plants. This is a common misuse of the words in English by native speakers and those for whom English is a second language. As I’ve explained …
Reflecting the concept’s newness are the many terms that arose to describe it: wind farms, wind parks, and wind power plants, to name a few. Early on, finding the best nomenclature created a dilemma. On the one hand, advocates wanted a term connoting wind’s technological success and its coming of age as a conventional source of electricity, conveyed by the term wind power plant. On the other hand, proponents also wanted to preserve the association with the enlightened land use–the stewardship–that the term wind farm implies.
Yes, we went solar in late 2021. Pacific Gas & Electric’s rates, already among the highest in the US, kept climbing, and they were beginning to hurt. So I put aside my distaste for California’s solar policies and jumped on the bandwagon before the state changed its polices once again …
Eclectic. That’s the word that comes to mind when describing Philippe Brueyerre’s Retrofutur: une autre histoire des machines à vents. The book covers 78 inventions from the year 1300 before the common era up to the present, including what the publisher calls “paleo” wind turbines as well as modern art. …
Transpower was another of those companies that thought they had a bright idea about how to harness wind energy in the early 1980s. Unlike a lot of internet inventions today though, they actually built hardware, installed it, and tried—unsuccessfully–to make it work. Not even Mark Haller, my source for deep …
Yet overall, the mineral use for electric cars is much, much lower than petrol and diesel as soon as oil enters the equation. Transport & Environment (T&E), a Brussels-based thinktank, found that a petrol car will burn an average of 17,000 litres of oil in its lifetime – about 12.5 tonnes. And most criticisms of electric cars’ mineral use miss a hugely important point: the majority of battery materials used in cars are likely to be recycled. That will drastically cut down the amount of wasted material compared with fossil fuels which disappear invisibly but harmfully to heat the planet.
The past 30 years have increasingly seen the environment hard-wired into policymaking. Net zero targets, the commitments to phase out of fossil fuels, investment in renewables, electric cars, official measures of economic wellbeing that look beyond growth: all of these are signs of progress. The only intellectual developments of any real note in economics since the end of the cold war have been green ones: de-growth and the circular economy, for example.
This week I had an equivalent question from someone engaged by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The individual isn’t an industry insider and didn’t have a particular iron in the fire, but had been engaged to write a Bulletin piece on the perplexing enthusiasm small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) are seeing from an overlapping circle of advocates and firms. This was, of course, in the week when NuScale inevitably imploded, a story I’ll return to as I unpack some of the motivations behind those thinking a bunch of lab technologies that have been around for decades that depend on uranium from Russia, that don’t have the physical characteristics for cheap nuclear generation and don’t have the conditions for success for nuclear generation will be the saviours of the nuclear industry and a key wedge in fighting climate change.
As the grand ambitions for that last endeavor have begun to show signs of waning, the industry has once again pivoted, this time to embrace its potential as part of America’s climate future. When the Biden administration announced this year that its build-out of facilities for hydrogen—a fuel that could help reduce emissions from heavy industry—would have a starring role for natural gas, it was hardly a surprise: The industry appears to have worked hard to ensure its place.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a legacy left behind. In the case of nuclear energy, it’s people like Michael Shellenberger, a man whose commitment to nuclear energy is so absolute that he’s become a climate change denier and anti-renewables campaigner because renewables are so obviously a better wedge against global warming. He made his career in California around the same time as hydrogen for transportation sunk its hooks into the state deeply. Sometimes it’s better to be a follower than a leader, and while California’s heart was in the right place, it’s head was stuck in a place devoid of oxygen.
The decommissioning costs for the UK’s nuclear generation are coming home to roost, and they are laying golden eggs for the firms that won the business. For UK citizens, not so much. Despite the very high costs of both the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Site C, the rapidly rising costs of clean up and the much cheaper alternatives available, the country’s current administration remains committed to the technology. Something is likely to give. If there were no alternatives to nuclear generation, then this wouldn’t be a problem compared to global warming. But, of course, this is 2023 and there are proven, effective, efficient and reliable forms of low-carbon electrical generation that do compete with nuclear energy, wind and solar.
The following pages include some of the photos from my collection, including both digital and scanned images.
My photographs have appeared in Popular Science, Sierra, Solar Age, Alternative Sources of Energy, L’Espresso, Air & Space Smithsonian, Windpower Monthly, WindStats, Renewable Energy World, and other magazines, in several engineering and physics textbooks, on brochures and posters published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, by Friends of the Earth (UK), by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the World Wildlife Fund.