Editor-in-Chief Karel Beckman looks back on one year at Energy Post. He gives some suggestions on the wealth of information readers can find on the website, including the 10 best-read stories of the year. And he takes a look ahead on what more there is to come – after we come back from our summer break.
I will start this somewhat personal account with revealing our best read story in the first year of our existence.
The winner is: my own article Boeing reveals “biggest breakthrough in biofuels ever”.
This is an interview with an executive of Boeing, published in late January, who said his company is developing a new type of biofuel – in the desert in Abu Dhabi – that could become a gamechanger in the biofuels market – and even more broadly in the transport fuel market.
That story really went viral. Whether his claims turn out to be true remains to be seen. But for myself that article – and my visit to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January – was one of the high points of the year. (You can read my account of it – and my reflections on the future of world energy – here: Masdar, Abu Dhabi and the future of our global energy system). Not only because it was a fascinating experience, but because I was convinced by then that Energy Post had “arrived”.
I had started Energy Post in June of last year, together with Sonja van Renssen and Hughes Belin, my colleagues in Brussels, on a shoestring budget – because we believed that there is a need for an open-access platform that provides high-quality independent reports from energy journalists, researchers and others who feel strongly about the subject.
Energy is too important to be left to special interests, is what we said to ourselves. Or to be confined to academic papers. And too complex to be covered in soundbites.
We also felt it was important to have an international – primarily European – medium, since there is little point in discussing the key energy issues in national terms.
What we did not want was a one-issue website, or one with ideological blinders on. You are the judge of whether we succeeded, but I think we have come a long way.
By the time I published my Boeing story, we had already had some real scoops. We had reported on the new business strategy of RWE, the big Germany utility, based on confidential strategy documents. This was our second-best read story by the way. We had also been the first or one of the first to report on David Cameron’s energy plans for the EU, and on the highly significant deal that Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy company, made in Finland in December for building a new nuclear power station in that country.
Getting out there
Around this time we also started making better use of social media, which greatly helped our visibility and the distribution of our articles among special target groups. For example, a recent revealing story by Rebecca Watson on how Europe is losing its energy efficiency lead, and why in her view this is an economic disaster in the making, did very well on Twitter.
Another article that generated a lot of comment and debate was one by the Belgian consultant Benedict de Meulemeester, who wrote a very critical analysis of the idea of capacity payments, which many EU countries are thinking of (re-)establishing.
These two stories are also good examples of the kinds of topics that we like to explore – issues that are at the crossroads of policies and markets, very important for what our future energy system will look like, and yet mostly ignored or not well understood in the general media.
Other popular stories in this category were Clare Taylor’s article Crowdfunding renewables: game-changer for the energy sector?, Eckart Woertz’s revealing Trouble in oil paradise: domestic challenges in Saudi Arabia and their global implications, Terje Osmundsen’s critique of the IEA, How the IEA exaggerates the costs and underestimates the growth of solar power, and Sonja van Renssen’s article on Europe’s failure to stimulate demand response in the utility sector, Demand response: Europe is falling behind.
We have also closely followed a number of other topics, such as the important notion of the Carbon Bubble, popularised by the Carbon Tracker Initiative (three in-depth articles which you can easily find through our search engine); the developments in and around Ukraine; the increasing globalisation of the gas market (over 100 comments on Linkedin), and of course all the hot climate and energy events and debates in Brussels (which you can simply find by clicking on the tab EU Policy on our homepage). We have also published various first-hand accounts of Russian energy strategy (e.g. here and here).
And neither we nor our readers shy away from the really big visions, such as Rick Bosman and Daniel Scholten’s original view on How renewables will transform commercial and (geo)political relations, which also ended up in our top-10; or the (contrary?) vision of Christof Rühl, Chief Economist at BP, on the worldwide implications of the increasingly global shale oil and gas revolution, The five global implications of shale oil and gas, which was number 3 in our top-10 of most popular articles.
Dare I mention that we have also had some pretty decent interviews, with the likes of Johannes Teyssen (CEO of Eon), Peter Terium (CEO of RWE), Dominique Ristori (Director General for Energy at the European Commission), Connie Hedegaard (EU Climate Commissioner), Jeremy Bentham (top strategist at Shell), Maria van der Hoeven and Fatih Birol (leading lights at the International Energy Agency).
However, needless to say, we are by no means yet where we want to be. First of all, to keep Energy Post freely accessible, we need to find sponsors and advertisers. Fortunately, our new business manager, Matthew James, has over the last couple of months signed two major partnership deals, with Italian-based international utility Enel and US company Opower, which is specialised in energy efficiency and customer satisfaction in the utility sector and is looking to expand into Europe.
We would certainly welcome additional support.
Secondly, we are planning to improve our website in various ways, above all by expanding the information we offer to our readers. More on that after the holidays! (But please give us your feedback so we can make a better product!)
Thirdly, we want to increase our readership and the distribution of our free weekly newsletter. Again, support in this from you our readers is very welcome – if you like an article, please forward it, Tweet it, Like it, Share it.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, we are planning to make much more use of our Expert Panel, and to provide you with debates and expert opinions in a more structured way.
All that is still to come on Energy Post. For now we wish you a very good holiday and we hope to see you back around the third week of August.
Thank you for your support!
Energy Post: facts and figures from the first year
Energy Post has had 180,000 unique visitors since our start last year, good for 350,000 pageviews. Our visitors came from dozens of different countries across the globe, with the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy and Sweden topping the list. Our best read stories:
- Karel Beckman – Boeing reveals “biggest breakthrough in biofuels ever”
- Karel Beckman – Exclusive: RWE sheds old business model, embraces transition
- Christof Rühl – The five global implications of shale oil and gas
- Eckart Woertz – Trouble in oil paradise: domestic challenges in Saudi Arabia and their global implications
- Clare Taylor – Crowdfunding renewables: game-changer for the energy sector?
- Sonja van Renssen – Demand response: Europe is falling behind
- Sonja van Renssen – EU deeply divided over 2030 climate and energy policy
- Terje Osmundsen – How the IEA exaggerates the costs and underestimates the growth of solar power
- Sonja van Renssen – Leaked doc: David Cameron’s plans to make the EU fit UK energy policy
- Rick Bosman and Daniel Scholten – How renewables will transform commercial and (geo)political relations