The energy industry is changing, and it’s far more than just solar panels. Electric vehicles look to overtake gasoline-powered cars within our lifetimes, wind farms are popping up in unlikely places, traders are transforming energy into a commodity, and supercomputers are crunching vast amounts of data in nanoseconds while helping to keep our energy grids secure from hackers.
The way humans produce, distribute and consume power will be cleaner, cheaper, and infinitely more complex within the next decade. In The Energy Switch, leading energy industry expert Peter Kelly-Detwiler looks at all aspects of the transformation: how we got here, where we are going, and the implications for all of us in our daily lives.
Kelly-Detwiler takes readers to the frontlines of the energy revolution. Meet Steve Collins, an executive from Commercial Development Corporation, the company that blew up two $570-million-dollar concrete cooling towers to create a staging ground for the new $70 billion U.S. offshore wind industry; Rob Threlkeld, a General Motors executive who convinced the auto giant to sign multiple 20-year renewable energy contracts worth hundreds of millions; Kevin McAlpin, a Texas homeowner who buys the power for his home on the electricity spot market – where prices can soar from less than one cent a kilowatthour to $9.00 over the course of a single day; Dr. Kristin Persson, who oversees a supercomputer that can process data at 30 quadrillion calculations per second, in the quest for better renewable energy and battery technologies; and John Davis, a Texas rancher who can keep his land intact, with help from the royalty payments from seven turbines spinning on his range.
Energy creation and distribution has driven society’s progress for centuries. Today, people are increasingly aware that it is imperative that humans move towards a cleaner, digitized, and democratized energy economy. The Energy Switch is about that multi-trillion dollar transformation, told from the perspective of those leading us to that bright future.
Peter Kelly-Detwiler brings 30 years of experience in electricity generation and distribution to his current passion of helping transform the way we make and consume power. As Senior Vice President at Constellation, he oversaw creation of a virtual power plant, equal in size to the output of a large nuclear plant, created by having customers turn off equipment during periods of extremely high electricity demand. Kelly-Detwiler has been engaged in competitive retail electricity markets from their earliest days in 1997, and rendered the first invoice in the retail industry.
Kelly-Detwiler is a frequent moderator and speaker at industry events concerning the interaction of power markets and emerging technologies and runs professional workshops on various related topics for executive and mid-level management. He contributes regularly to Forbes.com and other publications focusing on topics related to disruptive innovation and the impact on the electric sector and society. He has written comprehensive research papers for clients on diverse topics relating to power markets and has been interviewed on public television and by USA Today, among other outlets.
“The electric power grid touches all of us in many ways and is fundamental in enabling society's very existence. Today, the grid is also undergoing a multi-trillion-dollar transformation in scope and scale that dwarfs the industrial revolution, driven by the urgency to address climate change and to meet the needs of an evolving world. The Energy Switch takes the reader on a broad tour to meet some of the individuals, companies, and technologies engaged in that effort. It tells their stories in an engaging way, while making highly complex topics accessible and understandable to the reader."
–Jigar Shah, founder and CEO of SunEdison, and co-founder and President of Generate Capital
“Peter Kelly-Detwiler is a master storyteller. This accessible read captures the story of his personal quest to understand the bigger picture of what is happening for energy in the U.S. and beyond. In particular, The Energy Switch reveals the rapid pace of technological, economic, and policy changes for the energy storage industry, and the enabling capabilities of energy storage to accelerate this power grid transition. As Kelly-Detwiler says in his introduction, ‘the race is on.’”
—Kelly Speakes-Backman, former CEO, Energy Storage Association
“A lively and entertaining tour of the personalities, technologies, and challenges that will shape our clean electric future.”
–Peter Fox-Penner, director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and author of Power After Carbon
“Our country’s complex energy system is rapidly becoming cleaner, smarter, and nimbler. Kelly-Detwiler brings his considerable experience to this book, deftly balancing the major forces at work with individual accounts of people on the ground making and consuming electricity.” – Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association
"A thorough and accessible well-researched narrative. Kelly-Detwiler weaves insightful interviews with top energy professionals into a book worth reading. It lays out our current and future potential for the production and delivery of clean electricity and illustrates the promise of competitive innovation to get us to a zero-carbon future.”
– John Wellinghoff, Former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and CEO of GridPolicy, Inc.
“As a skilled industry veteran, Kelly-Detwiler has a real knack for unpacking and explaining the many complex issues associated with the radical transformation of the electric industry.” —Gordon van Welie, CEO of ISO – New England, Independent System (Grid) Operator
"Kelly-Detwiler does a masterful job explaining the energy system and the drastic transition that is underway. Energy – and electricity in particular – is the foundation for our quality of life and therefore anyone and everyone would benefit from reading The Energy Switch to gain an understanding of the opportunities and challenges that face our society as we go through the transition."
—Julia Hamm, President & CEO, Smart Electric Power Alliance
“Kelly-Detwiler does a masterful job of explaining how we generate, distribute, and use electrical power, as well as the creative and powerful forces behind it. Not only that, but he provides a preview of changes to come and the people making them happen. Now is the time to rethink about our relationship to the utilities we take for granted and instead of being passive consumers, we can become educated consumers, local providers, and perhaps even help improve the environment at the same time – just by choosing how we interact with the grid. This book is a must-read for those interested in understanding how we power our world both now and in the future.”
— Les Johnson, physicist and co-author of Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material that Will Revolutionize the World