Monthly Archives: June 2016

Links 20160629: Thoughts on the Renewable Revolution

End of the era of baseline power plants?

[Hydro storage at the Helms Pumped Storage Plant, located 50 miles east of Fresno,] which began operating in 1984, was supported by regulators because it was assumed there would be excess power at night from California’s baseload nuclear power plants. Now the opposite is occurring. As more and more solar power gets connected to the grid both in front of and behind the meter, there is the potential for excess power being generated in the middle of the day. The 1,212-megawatt Helms project and other sources of energy storage can be used to absorb excess solar power and dispatch it later in a flexible manner when consumers need the power.

Good discussion of effect of tax credits and grid parity on renewables. Currently, wind can bid negative prices in and still make money if the market clears in the negative $/MWh range, because of tax credits. When the tax credits expire and renewables dominate the grid, what do the markets clear at? How do renewable developers make money if peaks are eliminated from the load curve? They’re not making much money installing the power, as a race to the bottom has dropped payments to installers.

Solar plus storage: With SolarCity deal, Tesla aims to speed clean energy transition.

In order to solve the sustainable energy problem, you need sustainable energy generation, you need storage because of the intermittency of solar and wind, and then you need to have electric transport,” he said. “Those are the three ingredients we need to have a good future, so that’s kind of how I think about things — not that we’re an automotive company or anything like that. -Musk

The Rise of the Regional Solar Installer. I’m finding it more and more likely that the most prominent national solar installers today are putting all the work/money into developing cheap solar power. In a few years, a new company will swoop in (perhaps from these regional installers), use the ‘lessons learned’ from the current solar developers, and use a demonstrably better business plan to corner the market. Thus, it is possible that the big gorilla of the solar industry will not be one of the national names you may have already heard.

The Orator’s Parable

The Orator’s Parable, by Doug Samuelson, available on page 66 here.

“He literally doesn’t know the first thing about pubic speaking.”

“And what is that?” Brett inquired, even more surprised.

“Forget about what you want to say,” Ben smiled.

“What?” Brett blurted.

“Focusing on what you want to say is a distraction, or worse,” Ben explained. “You want to focus on what you want the audience to remember.”

Brett took a moment to absorb this.

“This has several advantages,” Ben elaborated. “First of all, you figure out who your audience is and try to meet them where they are – that is, start with what you’re pretty sure they know and believe and build from there. You emphasize major points more, repeat them several times, and make sure they’re clearly and simply – memorably – worded. Write your conclusion first, then your introduction, and make sure the conclusion summarizes your key point in a short, catchy phrase that they’ll remember if they remember nothing else. Then you build from introduction to conclusion in the order that’s easiest to follow, not the order that makes the most sense to you. This also means you time it so that if a session chair might cut you off, you make sure to get the conclusion in even if your delivery runs longer than you intended.”

Book Review- Content

Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future
by Cory Doctorow, 2008


Cory Doctorow cares more about copyright, digital rights management, and fair use policies than you do. So reading his takes on the topic was pretty interesting. He makes a lot of good points about the unsustainable nature of current producer/consumer dynamic in the digital age.

This is a collection of his published essays and works, and I would have preferred a more edited version. He discusses many of the same topics in sequential essays, rehashing much of the same motivation and examples each time. If, by the end of the book, you do not know that he provides free ebook copies of his books on his website, you were clearly not paying attention the 10 times he told you. That said, it was good overall and provided insights into topics about which I had previously not paid much attention.

Amazon Link: Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future

Tesla makes bid to buy SolarCity

Tesla offers all-stock deal that values SolarCity at $2.5 billion. Musk was already a large shareholder at SolarCity.

On the one hand, this is cool from a vertically-integrated clean energy offering:

Musk saw this as a compelling solution and a “no-brainer” where a consumer can go into a store and “with a few clicks” buy an electric vehicle, a solar system and an energy storage system. It makes “more effective use of our stores said Musk.

On the other hand, neither SolarCity nor Tesla have shown any interest in making money, and neither is close to profitable. Combining them will probably hasten bankruptcy (most likely) or world-domination (possibly).

One of GTM’s analysts said, “A 21-30 percent premium on a depressed stock price, paid entirely in equity in another risky company. Don’t know that I’d take this as a SCTY shareholder.”

Links 20160620

We spend more at restaurants than at grocery stores.

“Using a ranking of the world’s top 2.5% of economists, this article confirms that native English speakers are ranked 100 spots higher (better) than similar non-native English speakers.”

Ticketmaster pays up in $397M ticket fee settlement. I guess I had three old Ticketmaster purchases, as I have 3 coupons (for $2.25 each) and 3 vouchers for certain free events (2 tickets apiece). Good til 2020.

The Behavioral Economics Guide 2016.

Call for Seminal Papers

As described on this page, I have started to collected a list of seminal papers in Operations Management and Information Systems. Seminal papers include classical results, well-cited results, and results that have inspired other research.

If you are a researcher or practitioner in OM, IS, or a related field, please consider sending me ( a list of 1-10 suggestions for seminal papers. I will add your suggestions to the posted list.

Links 20160616

We were still seeing natural gas flaring in North Dakota last year, but apparently it’s on the decline.

Ships have gotten too big. “Then there’s risk. Today’s largest container vessels can cost $200 million and carry many thousands of containers — potentially creating $1 billion in concentrated, floating risk that can only dock at a handful of the world’s biggest ports. Such boats make prime targets for cyberattacks and terrorism, suffer from a dearth of qualified personnel to operate them, and are subject to huge insurance premiums.”

Grid neutrality.

Pumped hydro storage in Montana.