Apropos of my post below on solar-thermal storage, a sharp-eyed reader observes that Jon Wellinghoff, the new chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, was talking up concentrated solar last week, during his headline-grabbing speech about how the United States never needs to build a new coal or nuclear plant again. "The technology for renewable energies has come far enough to allow his vision to move forward, he said. For instance, there are systems now available for concentrated solar plants that can provide 15 hours of storage." No, you're not imagining things, that is the same message you hear Greenpeace pressing these days...

The full write-up of Wellinghoff's remarks is worth reading, seeing as how he's the top energy regulator and all. Beyond hyping solar storage, he argued that nuclear power was still much too expensive to storm the market right now, and that smarter electricity grids of the future could juggle demand enough so that the need for baseload power plants eventually becomes an "anachronism." When the wind's not blowing in one area, say, the grid could seamlessly pull power from elsewhere—at least that's the wild-eyed vision.

--Bradford Plumer