Market Research and Insight

For consumers, sentiment about prices generally follows two simple rules: more expensive and hard to get = bad, cheap and abundant = good. In that context, all the new oil “wealth” coming from sources like Canada’s oil sands, the US’s corn-based biofuels and, potentially, gas- and coal-to-liquid technologies definitely... Read more
Nuclear energy is a lot of things: reliable, controversial, fraught with economic and engineering challenges. And — in the aftermath of Fukushima but with an urgent global need to decarbonize our energy — it now finds itself at a crossroads. Will it become the go-to source for clean power... Read more
Which country generates the most electricity from hydropower? It probably comes as no surprise that China — famous for the 21,000-megawatt Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest-capacity hydropower plant — is the world leader in hydroelectricity. Asia is also the region where hydropower is growing most rapidly, according to... Read more
What else is crude oil but ancient sunlight in liquid form, a fuel distilled from the remains of tiny photosynthesizers that lived in the world’s oceans some 300 million years ago? If that kind of ancient sunlight is becoming more expensive and harder to get, could we run our... Read more
We tend to assume that moving toward a world of all electric, zero-emissions cars is just a matter of time. The reasoning goes like this: year after year, more and more owners of gasoline-powered vehicles will trade in their carbon-emitting wheels for cleaner, plug-in models until, voila, at one... Read more
Oil prices and the broader economy are linked in complex ways, but there’s no question the connections are critical. While the investment, banking and mortgage sectors receive the greatest blame for nearly crashing the global economy in 2008, oil prices — which reached a record high of $146 per... Read more
Biofuels — liquid fuels made from everything from algae to corn — haven’t yet come anywhere close to replacing crude oil. But they’re being produced in increasingly large volumes around the globe. (Biomass is also used to produce electricity; we’ll have more details on biomass energy following our latest... Read more
Every alternative energy source has its disadvantages, right? Natural gas, while cleaner than coal or oil, still produces carbon emissions. But, without backup energy storage, wind and solar can’t be depended upon when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. A growing number of concentrating solar power... Read more
What parts of the world have the best potential for solar energy developments? Desert regions like the Sahara and Death Valley seem like obvious locales, but they’re not the only places on Earth to receive a wealth of sunlight. Scientists and engineers use a measure of “direct normal irradiation”... Read more
Which countries are getting the most energy from solar panels? Germany continues to lead the way globally, with nearly 25 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar-energy capacity at the end of 2011. Starting 2011 with a solar base of 17.4 GW — which was already 43.5 percent of the entire... Read more