Introducing the Climate Progress Podcast: Jigar Shah on Why Renewables Will Win This Decade, Even Beating Natural Gas

I’m happy to introduce our first episode of the Climate Progress Podcast!

As an extension of our coverage here at, our show will be devoted to communicating the science and solutions of climate change through engaging interviews with news makers, thoughtful analysis and occasional documentary-style reporting.

Our first show features a wide-ranging interview with Climate Progress editor Joe Romm, who explains why the scientific community needs a strong voice in communicating the science of climate change. We’ll also chat with Carbon War Room CEO Jigar Shah about how to profitably deploy clean energy solutions.

To listen to the show, launch the player below.

Shah, a solar-industry rock star who founded the pioneering solar company SunEdison, candidly shares his views on why doubters of today’s renewable energy technologies are so wrong:


It depends on the person … but often they’re just too ignorant to know better. For some people, technology is not their sweet spot. They have other skills. And so when someone tells them, “technology is not ready,” they just eat up those words … hook, line and sinker and then decide that’s what their talking points are going to be. And with those people it’s just sad that they don’t read more.

Then there are actually people who are diabolical…  This is by far the most interesting way to foil the progress of new technologies. That is, by saying that they’re not ready. You know, you see this with the big oil companies. They’ll say: “we need all of the above.” Or they say: “we are huge supporters of solar and wind if only their costs would come down by 20%. Then, you know, if there were big breakthroughs in the technology, we’d be huge supporters.”

No, that actually just means that they don’t love solar and wind. It actually means that they hate those technologies and that, in fact, they are trying to figure out, using white lies, how to undermine those technologies. So we just have to call their bluff, as opposed to saying: “oh my god, they’re our friends because they said something that seems to resonate with me.” They’re not your friend. They’re actually trying to figure out how to play a nice PR trick to marginalize you.

For Shah’s up-front insight into the competitiveness of renewables, take a listen to the whole interview.

For those of you who may have followed my previous work producing the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast, we’ll be following a similar style and format.

Over the years, I’ve received emails from hundreds of listeners who say that podcasts are an easy way to keep up with the latest climate and energy news. Along with reading, I hope these shows help you stay on top of what’s happening in this space.

We need a few more episodes before we get featured in iTunes. We’ll notify you when the shows are available there. In the meantime, you can find our podcast RSS feed here.

Happy listening!

And we’d love your feedback.

44 Responses to Introducing the Climate Progress Podcast: Jigar Shah on Why Renewables Will Win This Decade, Even Beating Natural Gas

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Congratulations this is Awesome!

  2. Really looking forward to listening to this. But you really ought to get this onto iTunes. Very few listeners are sophisticated enough to know how to subscribe to a podcast via its RSS feed. (You should add instructions on that count, as well.)

    Not having an iTunes link makes your audience about 1% what it could be. I’m serious. (I’m speaking as someone who has handled the technical side of podcasts for outlets like Slate and Scientific American.) It’s really not hard to do – you just need a little art and the instructions, which are available at Apple’s website.

  3. Chad Blevins says:

    Stephen –
    It’s great to have you back on my energy policy podcast news feed.

    Keep up the GREAT work!


  4. Stephen Lacey says:

    Christopher — We plan on getting it into itunes. We need to release a few shows on the feed before itunes will recognize it as active. Once we put a few more out, it’ll be there.

  5. jeff spies says:

    Thanks for coming back to the podosphere Stephen! Your podcasts were the best in the industry, and I am sure your new show will be equally interesting.

    Not sure if the problem is user error, but is there a way to view the total time of the podcast and where you are at in the program? A time counter would be very helpful as sometimes I need to stop and start again.

  6. Robert Nagle says:

    I’m just going to mention another podcast. Commonwealth Club’s Climate One podcast. Really great show, although unfortunately they invite too many executives from fossil fuel industries to talk sometimes. Still, some pretty great talks.

    I’m sure this one will be very interesting too.

  7. Excellent idea and very well produced, Stephen. I look forward to seeing this series develop into a real resource for anyone committed to sustainable energy.

  8. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I clicked the “PLAY” button in the body of the post above and listen to about 8-9 mins (?) and then it cut out mid-sentence while Joe was talking.

    A small critique as well. You could probably do a little more audio editing to remove some of the ums and ahs. I also wouldn’t hesitate to do multiple takes of any given answer in order to get a good succinct version.

  9. Rob Honeycutt says:

    The RSS feed cuts out at exactly the same place.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Suggestions — With audio only, a quick conversational bounce between speakers helps to keep the listeners’ attention, like a tennis game. Invite brief answers. Have either a strong visual or emotional context to ‘boost the signal’ on a question or answer. This is even more relevant for a long reflective comment.
    For communication of key fact, say it slowly with emphasis. Listeners hate having to rewind to be sure they got the fact/factoid correct. News commentators sometimes repeat the key fact in their closing sentence.

    I didn’t think my attention could drift on my favorite issues, but it did. That might be partly due to hearing already familiar material.

    Sorry to be so tough! I want it to work so perfectly that thousands of people will download to hear on their daily commute or walk, etc.

    Best wishes!!

  11. Ben Jervey says:

    Just listened. Really enjoyed it. Keep them coming.

  12. Anderlan says:

    Brilliant show. Mind = blown.

  13. Stephen Lacey says:

    Hi Rob — What browser are you using? It’s fine over on this end.

  14. Plays perfectly all the way through for me.

  15. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Safari on a MacBook Pro running Lion (10.7.2).

  16. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Safari v. 5.1.1

  17. Stephen Lacey says:

    Yeah, definitely a Safari issue….Let me check into this. Thanks for the heads up.

  18. Mark Shapiro says:

    It cut out for me also at roughly 8-10 mins. Also, I saw no progress bar or time played/remaining.

    Running Safari 5.1.1 on an iMac with OS X 10.6.8.

    Looking forward to hearing it all, and then on iTunes.

  19. Mark Shapiro says:

    These look like good suggestions to me.

    Thanks for posting a snippet from Jigar Shah . . . can’t wait to hear it all.

  20. jeff spies says:

    Just finished listening to entire program (after 2 interruptions), and I was trying to comprehend Jigar Shah’s assertions that there was no such thing as “base loading” for the grid. He seemed insistant that there were “lots of easy ways to solve the problem”, and listed drawing power from electric vehicle and switching from conventional AC to chilled water systems as the reason that “Base Loading” is an irrelevant term. I understand his point, but find it difficult to envision these alternatives as the killer of the concept of base loading.

    Base loading seems like a valid term to me and while alternative technologies may blur the lines between base load and peak load power plants, I dont believe he made a convincing argument that base loading is not a real consideration today and for some time into the future. I also struggle to see how we can tap into electric vehicle batteries when the power need is greatest at a time that the electric vehicles are not likely to be connected to the grid – when the car is parked at the job, or actively being used in the commute home. The other difficulty of tapping into electric car batteries to solve our storage problem is one of cost. A kWh from a lead acid battery (still less expensive than lithium batteries) is costed at about 30 cents. This is still very expensive and the cost drivers for this are not declining rapidly. Maybe a future show could address the composition of electric grid power and how alternative technologies could be realistically harnessed to provide the electricity when and where it is most needed.

  21. jeff spies says:

    glad to see that I was not the only one that noticed the lack of progress bar showing elapsed time and total time.

  22. David B. Benson says:

    I’m much more interested in just how to provide the energy for a reliable, on demand electricity grid. Of course, only low carbon and scalable technologies are to be used. My reference grid is simplified and scaled from actual regional data. Overnight, from 11 pm to 6 am the demand is a constant 10 GW. Otherwise, the demand is a constant 14 GW.

    I have serious doubts that this can be energized by just a combination of wind and solar, especially in the more northerly, hence cloudier, climes.

  23. Mark Shapiro says:

    Amory Lovins at RMI (and others) have been working on this and other energy issues for a long time.

    RMI is releasing their latest book: “Reinventing Fire” in a couple days, so look for it at It promises to be comprehensive and doable.

    (Usual caveats about grains of salt apply.)

  24. Mark Shapiro says:

    Yes, look for RMI’s “Reinventing Fire” for plausible clean energy smart grid solutions.

    I’m looking forward to it.

  25. prokaryotes says:

    I like the interview style and the interviewer voice, maybe i missed it but the person did not said his name. A third person a climatologist could report about how the science process went in the last years.Some more history to outline how robust the science is, not just a view years – decades, almost two hundred years since Joseph Fourier in 1824 proposed the greenhouse effect and climate science begun.

    And there could be some notes that many studies had very conservative estimates, or that climate change progresses with accelerating speed. The developments of climate change we now observe, are much faster then previously thought,

    There have been several investigations into climate change, and there was no wrong doing. The hockey stick has been confirmed from many independent institutes.

    The confusion which has been caused by the denier complex, is threatening actions in time.

    The podcast quit suddenly, i too use safari.

  26. Ernest says:

    Stephen, I love the new audio format for Climate Progress. (I missed the Renewable Energy podcasts from the past.) The format is time efficient for me when I’m doing something else at the same time (like preparing food in the kitchen,
    working out, …)

    Even more importantly, I pick up more information listening than from reading.
    Listening to the tone of voice, emphasis, emotion, helps the information sink in
    at different levels that I otherwise might not get from simply reading text.

    Also, nice succinct summary from Joe Romm about political messaging, R&D vs. deployment now, all points I’m sure were scattered into different blogs, but put together in a succinct format here.

  27. Ernest says:

    I got the same impression, that the discussion on “baseload” is oversimplified. Of course, conventional sources have unscheduled downtime. Demand is also variable. V2G is one possibility for stabilizing the grid with renewable energy, but this can be a complex and possibly fragile and not well understood system effects. Then there’s the issue of whether our aging transformers can take the variability even if the system information were available via the “smart grid”.

    California is favorable to renewable energy. But even getting to 33% raises some issues on the stability of the grid.

  28. Ernest says:

    I’m interested in somebody reviewing Stephen Leeb’s new book “Red Alert: How China’s prosperity threatens the American way of life”. He claims that there won’t be enough of the key commodities (copper, silver, iron, rare earths, …) for a world wide deployment of renewable energy, and that China is moving towards monopolizing these resources for it’s own renewable energy deployment before it’s too late. Is this true?

  29. David B. Benson says:

    Those interesting in the economics of various energy & power storage technologies for electricity may care to read

    Both standard http format.

  30. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Excellent. Renewables will be the supplementary energy sources in the Energy Mix.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert

  31. jean says:

    This is a dream come true for me.I wait every morning to hear “Democracy Now”,but would like to listen to something about “Global Warming”instead..this is it.I need to study this while I do housework and running..thanks so much..I hope it will be daily..

  32. Joe Romm says:

    These take a lot of work! Our goal is weekly.

  33. dick smith says:

    WEll worth my time. Kudos.

    Sometimes hearing it helps to hardwire retention in a way that I won’t forget the point. “build-deploy-learn-build-deploy-learn…repeat”

    Both speakers reminded me that a Shell oil exec has been quoted rather extensively on the 25-30 lead time for new ENERGY techs to deploy too.

  34. Seth Masia says:

    Well done. For me the podcast ended abruptly during Jigar’s great rant about “It doesn’t matter.” Using Chrome with Vista.

  35. John Levering says:

    I followed Stephen’s podcast for years and new that a new one would be availabilt sooner or later on Climate Progress. – Congratulations, I know it will be a hit!

  36. Tyce Herrman says:

    Good work Stephen! I’m thrilled you’ve got CP podcasts up and running. Mark me down as a regular listener.

  37. DRT says:

    I had the same behavior with Chorme on a Mac.

  38. Stephen Lacey says:

    Thanks for letting us know. We’re looking into it!

  39. Henry Swayze says:

    Just picked this site off the email for (A great colection of world news including Californias desission to do cap and traid in todays post). Thanks for gearing up for this info effort. I had the feed dump me very early on and I think it is because of my low speed connection (650K). Starting and then pausing for a time to laow material to acumilate made it work.

  40. Oliver says:

    Hey Stephen, glad to see that you are getting back into podcasting. I have been missing your voice in my ear :)

    As always, great interview, especially with Jigar, really liked his bit on base-load. I think it is much more about predictability than anything else. Renewables are getting very predictable now with ever better tools for forecasting wind, sun, etc.

    Plus, as Jigar said, we have excellent tools for managing loads and will be able to use electric vehicles to draw on for additional short-term power requirements.

    Innovation of integration will drive renewables to the next level and we are a lot closer than people want to believe.

    That actually has a lot to do with the war on renewables that is being waged in the main stream press. I hope you will continue to cover that subject. It is more important to the industry than any new technology breakthroughs. Those are great, but not necessary. Removing the political obstacles are critical.

    As always, Stephen, great Job. Looks like you picked it up right where you left it at REW.



    P.S. I know you will figure out those technical glitches. They’re just a part of the transition. It did stop for me as well. Chrome on Mac.

  41. jeff spies says:

    not sure if this comment is helpful, but I saw many that experienced problems using Chrome browser on a Mac. I also use Chrome on a Mac and had no problems hearing the full program. I did however miss the convenience of a progress bar that would allow me to determine where in the program I was so I could stop listening and start up later.

    As always Stephen, good work. You have a nice way of making technical issues interesting and very listenable.

  42. Paul Magnus says:

    I did not have a a Mac on Chrome problem.

    Great stuff. Loved it. more pls….

  43. Eric Johnson says:

    Great to see you back in the podcast world, Stephen! I liked the IRE podcast. Looking forward to the Climate Progress podcast!