Future Seminar Summaries

Developing the Next Generation of Energy Efficiency

 Dian Grueneich, Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University

Monday, September 22, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Over the past 30 years, energy efficiency has become an important tool for reducing customer and utility costs and achieving sustainability goals, particularly avoided carbon emissions, but its impact is still limited. The widely used model for delivery of energy efficiency is a utility-centric approach funded through ratepayer or other public fees with complex regulatory oversight structure.  The focus has been on delivering widgets (primarily CFLs) with limited attention to persistency of savings, linkage to procurement decisions, leveraging of private sector financing, or support for innovation. Energy efficiency needs to transform significantly over the next 30 years in order for it to be a large-scale tool for climate change and economic development.  Private investment, innovation, and deeper reliance on markets are critical to rapid expansion of energy efficiency.

I will discuss a new initiative Stanford has launched on the “next generation on energy efficiency”. This project will develop a new framework to deliver deep, persistent, and comprehensive savings, at a level far beyond historical practice.  I will discuss key areas of the project including: identifying the most successful existing energy efficiency efforts in terms of cost, persistency of savings, scalability, market share, and ease of implementation; identifying key barriers that must be overcome for the next generation of efficiency to deliver large-scale, persistent savings; analyzing new technologies and approaches that can improve efficiency uptake; researching new delivery approaches that can support energy efficiency in a more market-oriented fashion; and examining a new regulatory structure to support new approaches to energy efficiency.



Related Themes:

The Environmental Footprint of Unconventional Natural Gas and Hydraulic Fracturing

Rob Jackson, professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University


Monday, September 29, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Unconventional oil and natural gas extraction fueled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is driving an economic boom, with consequences described as “revolutionary” to “disastrous”. Reality lies somewhere in between. Unconventional energy generates income and, done well, can reduce air pollution compared to other fossil fuels and even water use compared to fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Alternatively, it could release toxic chemicals into water and air and slow the adoption of renewables. Based on research to date, some primary threats to water resources come from surface spills, wastewater disposal, and drinking-water contamination through poor well integrity. For air resources, an increase in volatile organic compounds and air toxics locally is a potential health threat, but the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation will reduce sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and particulate pollution regionally. Data gaps are particularly evident for human health studies, the extent to which natural gas will displace coal compared with renewables, and the decadal-scale legacy issues of well integrity, leakage, and plugging and abandonment practices. Critical needs for future research include data for 1) estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of unconventional hydrocarbons; 2) the potential for further reductions of water requirements and chemical toxicity; 3) whether unconventional resource development alters the frequency of well-integrity failures; 4) potential contamination of surface and ground waters from drilling and spills; 5) factors that could cause wastewater injection to generate large earthquakes; and 6) the consequences of greenhouse gases and air pollution on ecosystems and human health.

Related Themes:

Holmes Hummel, founder, Clean Energy Works

Monday, October 6, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All