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  • Author: Roger Ballentine, Andy Karsner
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: We are still in the early stages of a transformation of the U.S. electricity sector into a cleaner, more flexible, more resilient, and more dynamic system. The early history of investment in and adoption of clean energy technologies and practices has been mixed. The venture capital model has proven to be inadequate for scaling up clean energy, and anticipated policy developments have been slow to be realized. The sector-reshaping impact of unconventional gas, uneven capitalization of clean energy companies, and the mixed signals of government policymakers have slowed the march to a more distributed energy economy rooted in the greater use of renewables, the more efficient use of energy, and the optimization of information technologies in the energy sector.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Industrial Policy, Markets, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Colby Farber
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The 2014 Financial Security Summit examined how policymakers, the financial services industry, advocates, and academics can advance new policies and products to make it easier for households to build financial security and to reinvigorate the American Dream.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bill White, Leonard Coburn
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The evolution from energy scarcity to abundance in the United States creates dislocations. Technology, infrastructure, laws, regulations, trade flows, and environmental and security policies developed during American energy deficits must be adapted to cope with its new energy prosperity. Significant improvements in oil and gas technology are leading to production increases outpacing projections. A need for infrastructure development follows energy production, necessitating adaptations. Laws passed in the 1970s during times of energy disruptions require reconsideration in a period of relative plenty. The shift of the United States and Canada from an oil and gas importing region to an exporting region has enormous global implications. Policies need to be readjusted in light of new realities, and the effects of the oil and gas boom in North America will require new thinking by governments, industry and consumers.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Alexander N. Pan
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, a growing segment of social entrepreneurs and small and growing businesses(SGBs) has emerged that seeks to utilize the power of invention to create products and companies that improve the lives of people living in poverty around the world. We call this class of entrepreneur-looking to develop and disseminate tangible products that will be manufactured and sold at high volumes via market mechanisms-an invention-based entrepreneur.1 ANDE believes that invention-based entrepreneurs are supported or impeded by a number of environmental factors, or the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which they work. While ANDE and our members have made significant progress toward strengthening these entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets, invention-based entrepreneurs have a unique set of needs that differentiates them from typical SGBs. Consequently, we believe we can improve the ecosystem to support the growth of this industry, and thereby unleash the full potential impact of these invention-based entrepreneurs.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, South Africa
  • Author: Dave Grossman (Rapporteur), Sue Tierney, Chair
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: New federal regulations, changes in fuel prices and trends, the expansion of distributed energy resources, declines in U.S. electricity consumption, and advances in technology are all spurring utilities and regulators to respond and adapt. Discussions of the challenges and opportunities these forces present for the U.S. electricity sector – as well as how the industry and its regulators are adapting – formed the heart of the 2014 Aspen Institute Energy Policy Forum. This report summarizes and organizes some of the key insights from those discussions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard P. Adler
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: In 1987, back at the dawn of the Internet age, two studies were published that provided perceptive looks at the evolution of electronic networks and the impact that they would likely have on the way business is conducted in the U.S. and globally. Both studies concluded that rapidly evolving information technologies were helping to break down old hierarchical business structures in favor of new, more decentralized models of economic activity.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Communications, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Bollier
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The structure and character of commerce has changed dramatically since the arrival of the World Wide Web and various digital technologies, particularly mobile phones and large, interconnected databases. Consumers now have much greater market power and choice. Markets can more easily scale, often globally. Co-production and fluid producer/consumer interactions are routine. Transactions themselves have become far cheaper and more easily consummated.
  • Topic: Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Science and Technology, Communications, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Alexander N. Pan, Randall Kempner
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: From our perspective at ANDE, we have seen impact investing become an increasingly important tool used to support small and growing businesses in the developing world that are capable of creating jobs, stimulating long-term economic growth, and generating social impact. However, impact investing is still very much an emerging tool. If it is to scale and become a viable solution to social issues in the United States. There are several key lessons from the international context that the industry should consider.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dave Grossman (Rapporteur), Roger Ballentine, Andy Karsner
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. electricity sector is nearing an historic inflection point. A confluence of mutually-reinforcing factors is putting unprecedented pressure on the century-old model of monopolistic supply of electrons at approved rates of return, flowing from central generation stations to end-users. Cleaner energy generation technologies continue to improve, are getting less expensive, and are being deployed at an accelerating rate. Innovations in the financial markets and in business models are spurring cleaner energy deployment and increasing competition for providing customers with energy services. A new generation of customers accustomed to transparency, control, and choice in all aspects of their consumption of goods and services is increasingly expecting the same from energy providers. Information technologies that have enabled rapid change in communications and entertainment are now starting to be applied to energy. And public policies are beginning to enable, if not encourage, fundamental changes in how electricity is generated and provided. The current utility model is colliding with this confluence of factors, leading to a system in conflict, with the old system trying to accommodate more irregular dispatch, customer or third-party owned distributed generation, a range of social equity issues, and societal desires for a stable, clean, interactive, and hardened system. While part of the answer to these challenges may lie in a reformulation of the regulated utility business model, others believe that a more fundamental re-ordering of how energy is produced, delivered, managed, and owned is in the offing. This vision of a re-ordered, more diverse, more competitive, and more integrated electricity system could be thought of as “Clean tech 3.0”. This vision involves better systems (not just better devices), smart and connected devices of all sorts, a dynamic and flexible two way grid, more active and involved consumers, and business models that do not rely on subsidies. It also envisions clean energy not just as a commodity but as a way to provide value to customers (e.g., comfort, mobility, health). Achieving Clean tech 3.0 will require society to grapple with some tough equity and policy challenges, including whether to keep and/or adapt the traditional regulatory compact, how to treat low-income consumers and consumers not generating their own power, and which policies and institutions should be created, reformed, or eliminated to create the proper enabling environment for change. The electricity sector is already starting to witness the rise of a class of customers empowered by technological advances to start to re-think their relationship to energy. These empowered customers have social needs and practical preferences for which they are willing to pay, including price certainty, reliability, resilience, and cleanness. The industry is thus entering a new era that focuses less on selling electrons than on offering consumers valuable services. The path, however, is not without obstacles. The role for traditional utilities in this customer-focused market is unclear; such a focus has not historically been part of their business and is not one of their strengths, and the utilities have been operating in a sector unaccustomed to significant change. Clean energy companies, too, can find it challenging to develop new profitable business models. Even the energy efficiency industry, which offers the fastest and lowest cost pathway to a cleaner energy future, may struggle to sell and scale energy efficiency unless market structures and enabling policies can align with improving technologies to realize the full value proposition of smarter energy delivery and consumption. Regulators have been struggling to figure out how to address the suite of changes facing the electricity sector as well. Current physical and policy infrastructures do not seem to be up to the task. There appear to be three interdependent tectonic plates in motion – long term utility generation planning, mid-term smart grid design, and very near-term device and software design and deployment – that are not aligned, are moving at dangerously different speeds, and are not properly engaging with each other on a regular basis. Regulatory models must be devised that are more flexible, adaptive, and open to rapid advances in technology. There are some places now, such as Hawaii and New York, where regulatory innovation is occurring to try to get ahead of some of these issues. While the challenge of rethinking utility regulatory models falls largely in the hands of state policy makers, the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, issued under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, might have profound implications for how state policies and markets will impact energy efficiency and clean energy. The draft rule would set 2030 emissions goals for states and then give states flexibility on how to meet those goals. The draft 111(d) rule is complex, and a variety of concerns have been raised about it. It is not known how the final rule will be modified to address concerns and comments, nor how the almost certain litigation will be resolved. At the very least, the draft rule is already spurring conversations in every state that have not been had to this point at the level and scale necessary, forcing states to think about how emissions reductions will be achieved, what their energy mix will be, what role clean energy will play, and how state policies and market structures need to change in the years ahead. Those conversations can help contribute to broader discussions about creating a clear and compelling vision of the near-future state of U.S. clean energy. Those discussions need to include a range of actors, including the many regulators and utility executives who think the U.S. is still in Clean tech 1.0 and does not need to go anywhere else. There is a need to figure out how to bring those people along and help them start to understand the speed and nature of the changes that are occurring.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: In many respects, the U.S. health care system is breathtakingly innovative. It produces new technology, medical procedures, and scientific knowledge at a dazzling speed, enabling patients to recover from diseases and injuries once thought incurable or untreatable. As a consequence, the U.S. has one of the highest survival rates for cancers, excels at acute and trauma care, and has produced half of the world's Nobel laureates.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Social Stratification, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States