• Job Posting - Integrated Economic Modeling Project

    One of IIER's most ambitious research projects will begin in Q4/2011, in cooperation with the Imperial College in London. The project is aimed at supporting the activities of the Ecological Sequestration Trust, a U.K. based non-profit organization focused on the creation of sustainable (cycling) economies. In order to make this effort successful, we are looking for employees and volunteers who would like to contribute to this project aimed at providing the most solid underpinning of an economic view based on physical resource and energy consumption.

    (Oct 15, 2011)
  • Green Growth - an oxymoron?

    In December 2009, the 15th Annual UN Climate Change Conference ended without a globally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The outcomes from the 2010 talks in Cancún were equally non-committing, and not too much is expected from the 2011 summit in Durban. Among the reasons for these failures were concerns of emerging nations such as India and China that limits on carbon-dioxide emissions would impair their ability to further grow their economies. Given the evidence we outline below, they probably have a valid point.

    In July 2011, IIER concluded a report sponsored by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), which looked at the question as to whether it will be possible for emerging economies to simultaneously go green and still grow economically. Our answer, which also applies to advanced societies, is that the traditional path of urbanizing and industrializing is most likely incompatible with the reduction of carbon emissions, as long as economies don't find someone else to do the "dirty" part of the work.

    (Jul 31, 2011)
  • Predicting oil (and other resource) prices

    Resource prices have moved to the center of attention during the last couple of years. With oil spot market prices peaking in July 2008 near 150 US$ per barrel, their subsequent decline to 30$ a barrel and their rise towards a 100-120 $ price band in recent months have ensured that oil and its cost receive a lot of attention.

    Most people we talk to about the future of energy ask us what we think the future of oil prices will look like. A majority of people expects them to rise continuously, as oil gets scarcer and maybe moves beyond peak production. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The pricing mechanisms for oil (and other natural resources) follow the logic of supply and demand, but equally one additional rule that isn't usually accounted for - which drives volatility.

    (May 18, 2011)
  • Fake firemen - why are we cheating ourselves on energy?

    On June 15, 2010, when U.S. President Obama responded to the dramatic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during his Oval Office speech, he not only included the list of things the government wants to do about the imminent problem, but also urged the country to "transition away from fossil fuels" and to "jump start the clean energy industry". His pledge is in line with many of his predecessors, and with other leaders around the world, who for years now have supported renewable energy technologies. This is particularly true in Europe, where installed capacity for renewables has grown significantly during the past ten years. And even the U.S. - while slow in introducing renewable electricity technologies - to date has produced a significant amount of alternative fuels primarily through the mandatory addition of ethanol to gasoline.

    For many people hoping for a future with less greenhouse gases and less environmental damage this focus on renewable energies might sound like a step in the right direction; for those who want low cost energy, maybe less so. But what both sides of the discussion forget is something quite simple: an energy future without fossil fuels will eventually arrive, and there is no way to extend current energy usage patterns and delivery systems into the future. In a nutshell: our current plans will fail. Let's explore why that is.

    (Jun 26, 2010)
  • How IIER evaluates energy alternatives

    The debate about future energy alternatives can be an emotional and heated one. Many people believe that renewables, such as wind and solar power, are the answer; others dismiss those technologies outright. The same is true for energy applications, including passenger cars, where various alternative concepts are under evaluation or beginning production – including more efficient internal combustion engines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen powered cars.

    Often, proponents lose their objectivity when defending a particular approach. At IIER, we see it as our responsibility to provide an unbiased perspective on alternative technologies, aimed at helping individuals, companies and governments make their decisions.

    (Feb 04, 2010)