Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


A power line and a worker.

It Was a Big Week for the Power Grid

Inside episode 16 of Shift Key.

Electric cars.

The U.S. Has a Tesla Problem

Inside episode 12 of Shift Key.


A Skeptic’s Take on AI and Energy Growth

Inside episode 10 of Shift Key.

Power lines.
<p>Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images</p>

Will the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence break the climate system? In recent months, utilities and tech companies have argued that soaring use of AI will overwhelm electricity markets. Is that true — or is it a sales pitch meant to build more gas plants? And how much electricity do data centers and AI use today?

In this week’s episode, Rob and Jesse talk to Jonathan Koomey, an independent researcher, lecturer, and entrepreneur who studies the energy impacts of the internet and information technology. We discuss why AI may not break the electricity system and the long history of anxiety over computing’s energy use. Shift Key is hosted by Robinson Meyer, executive editor of Heatmap, and Jesse Jenkins, a Princeton professor of energy systems engineering.

Keep reading...Show less
A Radia Windrunner.
<p>Heatmap Illustration/Radia</p>

Radia is a $1 billion climate tech startup with an unusual pitch: It is trying to build the world’s largest airplane. Its proposed aircraft, the Radia Wind Runner, would be as long as a football field, nearly as wide as a New York city block, and capable of carrying 12 times the volume of a Boeing 747. Such a plane could ferry massive wind-turbine blades, unlocking what the company calls “gigawind” — the ability to build offshore-sized wind turbines on land.

Why is that important? Because the larger the wind turbine, the more electricity that it generates — and the less wind it needs to work with. Radia says that its “gigawind” farms could profitably go into places with slower wind speeds, such as the Northeast or Mississippi Delta. They could also be built in the existing Wind Belt, potentially doubling current output.

Keep reading...Show less