RMI’s Most Read Stories of 2022

From Putin’s War to the climate bill, a year packed with unprecedented energy and climate news drove engagement with RMI’s top stories.

The past year was momentous for climate and energy news — and for RMI too. From the energy crisis unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA, or climate bill), the year’s headlines were dominated by topics in which RMI has cultivated deep expertise and influence over many years.

And as news breaks, RMI’s experts continue to be a first stop for top tier and trade journalists alike. At the same time, RMI’s original contributions on these news events multiplied in 2022 and dominated our most read work.

As measured by a combination of total visits and time spent with the content, our most read stories leaned into RMI’s authority as an analyst and interpreter of complex energy and climate topics. When RMI looks beyond today’s headlines, and explains their implications, readers are more likely to find, engage with, and share the stories.

Without further ado, in reverse order, RMI’s most read stories of 2022:

9. The human faces of justice energy transition. In “From Poverty to Power in Pembroke” we traveled to document RMI’s work in Pembroke, Illinois, a Black farming community. This story explored an innovative program that delivered efficiency and electrification to a low-income rural area. In the process, the plan improved energy services, lowered costs, and helped avoid the buildout of new fossil fuel infrastructure — offering a template for other states to follow.

What does “most read” mean? To rank these stories, we multiplied page views (the number of visitors who click into a page) by the average duration of each visit. This measure of engagement helps identify pages that may have less total page views, but into which readers plunged more deeply. Conversely, this approach drops out stories that lured many clicks, but from which readers tended to bounce away quickly. To make way for a more diverse mix, we’ve clustered topically similar stories.

8. Reinvesting in energy communities. “The Most Important Clean Energy Policy You’ve Never Heard About” unpacks the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment program, a new loan program that reinvests in energy communities while reducing carbon emissions. Seeded with $5 billion appropriated through the IRA, the US Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office can finance up to $250 billion in lending that will provide qualified projects with low-cost capital to support the switch to cleaner energy, including the ability to refinance higher-cost debt and equity, saving ratepayers billions of dollars.

7. Heavy-duty electric trucking rolls out sooner. Tax credits in the IRA makes owning an electric truck cheaper than owning a diesel one in most use cases, with urban and regional electric trucks becoming cost-superior to diesel models as soon as 2023. “The Inflation Reduction Act Will Help Electrify Heavy-Duty Trucking” expands on how the sector is closer to leaving diesel in the rear view mirror sooner than many believe.

6. Cutting natural gas’ carbon footprint. It’s surprising to learn that some forms of the same fossil fuel are far more carbon-intensive than others. With natural gas, for example, leaks during production and along distribution pipelines, along with energy-intensive modes of shipping, can lead to huge releases of methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas. Thus, it’s better for the climate to source from a producer that minimizes these leaks, and some regions and companies are far cleaner than others. As Europe’s energy planners sprinted to find alternatives to Russian gas supplies, “Which Gas Will Europe Import Now? The Choice Matters to the Climate” explains why.

5. Reality check: Battery minerals challenges. Electric vehicles (EVs) and renewables-linked batteries have charged from the margin to center stage as leading actors in the energy transition. Yet as public interest has surged, so have questions — and disinformation — about the viability, cost, and environmental toll of mining the minerals necessary to produce all those batteries. In “Six Solutions to the Battery Mineral Challenge”, RMI co-founder Amory Lovins explains how and why battery performance and affordability will continue to improve.

4. Peaking: The series. RMI’s analysis of Putin’s war (below) was prelude to a longer series in which Kingsmill Bond and Sam Butler-Sloss make the case — region by region, sector by sector — that the global energy transition is unfolding faster than energy industry experts, such as the IEA, and investors have yet reckoned with. Two of the pieces in this series landed in our most read of 2022; check out all the chapters here:

3. The rise, and rise, of heat pumps. If professionals in the heating and cooling industry have ever felt under-appreciated, now is their time! The humble electric heat pump — a well-established technology that both heats and cool — has emerged as a high-efficiency hero for its potential to help electrify America’s homes and for its role in helping Europe wean itself of Russian fossil fuels. Two stories soared on the updraft of interest in heat pumps:

2. Putin’s war and the energy crisis. Early this year, Russia escalated its long-simmering invasion of Ukraine with a bloody, poorly executed drive deep into the country. The conflict has since killed tens of thousands, embroiled Europe and the West, and destabilized global energy markets. In this deeply researched essay, Kingsmill Bond, Amory Lovins, Oleksiy Tatarenko, Jules Kortenhorst, and Sam Butler-Sloss argue that the energy price spike triggered by Russia’s aggression is accelerating the end of fossil fuels and speeding the global shift to lower-cost, more resilient renewable technologies. The essay traveled far beyond RMI’s usual audience, attracting readers from around the world. The flood of clicks, combined with record average engagement well over two minutes, made “From Deep Crisis, Profound Change” RMI’s most engaged single story of 2022.

1. The climate bill. Over the summer, even many climate insiders were surprised — and elated — when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act. A climate bill by any other name, the IRA mobilized hundreds of billions of dollars to turbocharge climate investment across the US economy. RMI quickly worked up over a dozen stories detailing the bill’s far-reaching implications sector by sector; a trio of these dominated our top 10 list. Combined, nearly 20,000 visitors spent 14 *days* pouring over these three IRA posts:

Thanks for exploring RMI’s most read content from 2022. In the year to come, we’re looking forward to even better stories — and greater impact.