Kurt Zenz House

Articles by Kurt Zenz House

27 March 2012

I was wrong; natural gas will dominate

Kurt Zenz House

In September 2009, I authored an essay for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in which I argued that the then recent divergence between oil prices and natural gas prices was temporary.

I was dead wrong.

29 March 2010

Is underground coal gasification a sensible option?

Kurt Zenz House

There's a lot of coal in the ground. In 2006, the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimated that global coal reserves (i.e., the total quantity of coal that can be economically produced) stood at roughly 840 gigatonnes. That's enough to supply the world for more than 130 years.

9 December 2009

A thought for Copenhagen and beyond

Kurt Zenz House

Much has been written in anticipation of the current meeting of diplomats and international climate change experts in Copenhagen. Indeed, these men and women deserve our gratitude because forging and implementing an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions is one of the most intractable problems that humanity has ever faced.

18 September 2009

The curious oil and natural gas price differential

Kurt Zenz House

Something strange is happening in the natural gas and oil markets. The average real price of natural gas during the last 20 years has been about $3.80 per gigajoule, and the average real price of oil in that same period has been about $5.90 per gigajoule. During this time, the long-term ratio between the real price of oil and the real price of natural gas has constantly varied between 1 and 2 with the long-term average hovering at 1.6. Since January, however, that ratio has jumped to more than 4 to 1, which is unprecedented and has implications for long-term energy policy.

15 July 2009

Putting the cost of going green in context

Kurt Zenz House

Editor's note: The following column was coauthored by Benjamin Urquhart, a research associate at Harvard University's Center for the Environment, and Mark Winkler, a PhD student at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

5 May 2009

Saudi Arabia's big bet on innovation and education

Kurt Zenz House

I am writing this article from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I have had a most interesting and hopeful week.

25 February 2009

Using energy sources wisely

Kurt Zenz House

For nostalgia purposes, I recommend reading President Jimmy Carter's 1977 speech on energy policy. It's spot-on, and Carter's subsequent energy policies managed--among other things--to decrease U.S. oil imports by 50 percent between 1977 and 1982.

One of several ways he did this was by removing oil from the country's electricity production. Since petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel work so well as transportation fuels, Carter believed that oil should be exclusively for them.

20 January 2009

The limits of energy storage technology

Kurt Zenz House

Editor's note: The following column was co-authored by Alex Johnson, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University.

25 August 2008

Oil: To drill or not to drill

Kurt Zenz House

We've all had the experience of talking with someone who has discovered "The Solution"--nearly always an overly simplistic idea that can only be advocated in the absence of accurate information. Regardless of subject matter, these acolytes insist that if the rest of us understood what they understand, then together, we could implement the obvious panacea. When implementation requires public policy, the believers become furious at policy makers whose intransigence --they believe--is dooming the country or even the world.

29 July 2008

In praise and fear of France's energy policy

Kurt Zenz House

I'm writing this column from the South of France, where for the past five days I've been a member of a Harvard delegation that toured several nuclear facilities operated by AREVA, the French state-owned nuclear company. AREVA is a product of the French government's decision in the 1970s to chart a coherent and consistent national energy policy centered on nuclear power.