Seminar Archive Summaries

Nanophotonic Control of Thermal Radiation and Energy Applications

Shanhui Fan, Professor, Electrical Engineering, Director of the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory, Stanford University

Monday, April 20, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Nanophotonic structures provide new opportunities to control both the near and far field of thermal electromagnetic fields. Exploiting these opportunities can lead to significant novel energy device and system applications. In this talk, we review some of our recent theoretical and experimental efforts towards developing some of these nanophotonic structures. Specifically, we show that combining near and far field effect results in a thermal extractions scheme, where the total thermal emission of a macroscopic thermal emitter can exceed the apparent blackbody limit of the emitter. We also show that nanophotonic structures can be applied to demonstrate radiative cooling under direct sunlight. Finally, we explore the new thermal physics as enabled by the use of non-reciprocal thermal emitters, where maximum violation of detailed balance between absorption and emission becomes possible.

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Wind Uncertainty in Electricity Markets: Practical Challenges

Mar Reguant, Assistant Professor, Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Monday, April 13, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Integrating large quantities of wind and solar energy is often considered a challenge due to the intermittent nature of renewable generation. I present evidence on the costs and benefits of renewable power based on data from the Iberian Electricity market, which as of 2012 produces over 20% of its electricity from wind power, and about 5% of its electricity with solar power. I examine the challenges of wind and solar integration from an empirical perspective, and quantify the relative impacts of uncertainty and volatility on realized electricity costs. I also show how market incentives can distort optimal planning, by examining wind farm behavior in centralized electricity auctions. Allowing wind farms to participate in centralized markets can increase competition and decrease procurement costs, but it might increase inefficiencies in the market.



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Natural Gas Resources, Natural Gas Utilization and Potential Climate/Pollution Benefits, Natural Gas mini-series one of three

Anthony Kovscek, Professor, Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University

Arun Majumdar, Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor, Stanford University

Monday, April 6, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Advances in natural gas production are changing the energy landscape of the United States and, potentially, the world. Stanford launched the Natural Gas Initiative (NGI) to “engage faculty across the university to carry out the many types of research needed to ensure that natural gas is developed and used in ways that are economically, environmentally, and societally optimal.”  Recently, the NGI paneled industry, NGO, academic leaders, and students to consider resource development, uses of natural gas, and environmental impacts.  A major point of discussion was the need to develop a balance between environmental compliance, minimization of impacts, and the pressure to develop natural gas resources. In this seminar, we provide a summary and perspectives from these areas of discussion.

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Getting to Point A

Robyn Beavers, Senior Vice President, Founder of Station A Group at NRG Energy

Monday, March 30, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Graduating from Stanford opened the door to a world of possibilities for me. Crossing the threshold involved five jobs, an abandoned power plant and building a team to help me do what I couldn’t do alone. Now Station A is getting started on upending a 100-year old industry. In addition to developing new technologies and creating far-reaching partnerships, we are infusing an archaic industry with innovative thinking and a passion for design. The site includes a stunning show house, offering a window into a world of sustainable living and a kick-ass mural by rock star artist Zio Ziegler. I’m thrilled to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way and a few of the things that we are doing at Station A to change our relationship with energy and resources.


Fireside chat with Tom Steyer and Sally Benson

Tom Steyer, Investor, Philanthropist and Advanced Energy Advocate

Monday, March 9, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All


Tom Steyer is a California business leader, philanthropist and advanced energy advocate. Before retiring from the private sector, Tom founded and was the Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. 

Tom is actively engaged in climate politics through his NextGen Climate political organization, and works to promote economic development and environmental protection in California and across the country. In 2010, Tom teamed up with former Secretary of State George Shultz to defeat Proposition 23, an effort by out-of-state oil companies to dismantle California’s groundbreaking clean energy law, AB 32. In 2012, Tom served as co-chair with Shultz for Yes on Proposition 39, which closed a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations and created jobs in California.

Tom and his wife, Kat Taylor, joined Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and other high-wealth Americans in the “Giving Pledge,” a promise to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable and nonprofit activities during their lifetimes. Tom and Kat created and funded the Oakland-based Beneficial State Bank and Foundation, which provides loans and banking services to underserved small businesses, communities and individuals in California and along the west coast. Tom and Kat have four children.

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Large-Scale Solar: TomKat Center Seed Grant Research

Thomas Jaramillo, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering
Michael McGehee, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
David Lobell, Associate Professor of Environmental Earth System Science
Ram Rajagopal, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Moderated by Stacey F. Bent, Director of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy

Monday, March 2, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

TomKat Center Seed Grant Research
With the occurrence of extreme weather events increasing and the effects of climate change impacting our food and water resources, the imperative to transform our energy system is self-evident. The TomKat Center Seed Grants fund research from across Stanford University that has the potential to contribute to a sustainable energy system. Results of four of their large-scale solar projects will be presented.

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Climate Change Ethics: Life and Death

John Broome, Visiting Scholar, Professor of Moral Philosophy at University of Oxford

Monday, February 23, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Climate change raises important and difficult issues of ethics. Broadly they fall into two classes. There are issues of justice concerned with how the work of dealing with climate change should be shared among countries and people. There are issues of value concerned with judging the harm that climate change will do, and the benefits of measures to control it. I shall concentrate on value, and particularly on the special problems for value theory that arise from the life-and-death effects of climate change. Climate change will shorten many people's lives, and it will affect the number of people who will be born. How should we value these effects?


John Broome is Emeritus White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Stanford. He was previously Professor of Economics at Bristol. His books include *Counting the Cost of Global warming* (1992), *Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World* (2012) and *Rationality Through Reasoning* (2013).

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Changes, Challenges and Uncertainties for Utilities: Addressing 111(d) and Beyond, 111(d) Mini-Series (2 of 3)

Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Monday, February 9, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All


Jonathan Weisgall is Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formerly MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies and president of the Geothermal Energy Association.

He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he has taught a seminar on energy issues since 1990, and he has also guest lectured on energy issues at Stanford Law School and the Johns Hopkins Environmental Science and Policy Program. Mr. Weisgall graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College and from Stanford Law School, where he served on the Board of Editors of Stanford Law Review. He previously practiced law in Washington, D.C. at Covington & Burling, has written law review articles for Wisconsin Law Review and University of San Francisco Law Review, and has published articles in Legal Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, SAIS Review, and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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Self-Regulatory Lessons From the U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Industry: Why Does It Work and Why Can’t It Be Replicated?

Admiral Jim Ellis, Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution

Monday, February 2, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

In the early morning hours of March 28, 1979 began a series of events that led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant and the worst accident in the history of the commercial nuclear power industry in the United States. Catalyzed by this event, the industry leadership formed an independent oversight entity, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, resourced its technical staffing, and ceded significant authorities to it in the areas of operational oversight, training and accreditation, the sharing of operational experience and provision of assistance to plants in need. As the former President and CEO of INPO, Admiral Ellis will discuss the requirements for effective self-regulation, specifically, and consider the broader employment of the concept.

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The Politics of Energy Efficiency in Japan

Phillip Lipscy, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Stanford University

Monday, January 26, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

We will consider the political context of energy policy in Japan since the 1970s oil shocks.  I will argue that political arrangements in Japan after World War II made it attractive for politicians to pursue energy conservation by making energy, particularly for automobile transportation and electricity usage, expensive for the average Japanese citizen.  The revenues and economic rents created by various fees, taxes, and regulations to promote energy conservation were redistributed to core supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.  These political arrangements have come under challenge in recent years, calling into question Japan’s traditional approach towards energy conservation.

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