Seminar Archive Summaries

Beyond 2020: California's Role in Climate and Energy Transformation

Ken Alex, director, Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Monday, October 5, 2015 | 04:30 PM - 05:20 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Ken Alex is a senior policy advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the director of the Office of Planning and Research, focusing on energy, environment, and land use issues. As California moves towards a population of 50 million in a climate change constrained world, Ken and OPR work on issues and policies that protect and promote the State’s environment and economy. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Ken was the senior assistant attorney general heading the environment section of the California Attorney General’s Office, and the co-head of the Office’s global warming unit. From 2000 to 2006, Ken led the California Attorney General’s energy task force, investigating price and supply issues related to California’s energy crisis. During his tenure at the Attorney General’s Office, Ken negotiated dozens of significant settlements, including agreements with San Bernardino County and ConocoPhillips for the first required reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

California Lawyer named Ken an “Attorney of the Year” in 2004 for his work in energy law, and he received the ABA award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy in 2007 for global warming work. He has taught courses on environmental law and policy at Stanford, Hastings, and Golden Gate University.

Ken is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a B.A. in political theory from the University of California at Santa Cruz.


A Big Data System for Things That Move

Balaji Prabhakar, professor of Electrical Engineering and of Computer Science and, by courtesy, of Management Science and Engineering and of Operations, Information and Technology at the Graduate School of Business

Monday, September 28, 2015 | 04:30 PM - 05:20 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The world consists of many interesting things that move: people go to work, home, school, and shop in public transit buses and trains or in cars and taxis; goods move on these networks and by trucks or by air each day; and food items travel a very large distance to meet their eater. Thus, massive movement processes are underway in the world every day and it is critical to ensure their safe, timely and efficient operation. Towards this end, low-cost sensing and acquisition of the movement data is being achieved: from GPS devices, RFID and barcode scanners, to smart commuter cards and smartphones, snapshots of the movement process are becoming available.

In this talk, I will present a system for stitching together these snapshots and reconstructing urban mobility at a very fine-grained level. The system, which we call the Space-Time Engine, provides an interactive dashboard and a querying engine for answering questions such as: What is the crowding at a train station? Where are packages being held up and how can their delivery be sped up? How can the available supply of transport capacity be better used to address daily demand as well as the demand on exceptional days (such as rallies and severe weather events). I will describe the STE's capabilities for operational and planning purposes, and as a learning system.

Developing Sustainable Pathways to Fuels and Chemicals

Tom Jaramillo, associate professor of Chemical Engineering and of Photon Science

Monday, September 21, 2015 | 04:30 PM - 05:20 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Nearly all the fuels and chemicals produced and consumed today are derived from fossil resources. This talk will describe recent efforts to develop new, renewable pathways to produce the same kinds of fuels and chemicals that our society relies on, though in a sustainable manner. In particular, the talk will focus on two areas of sustainable technology: (1) Solar-based processes for the renewable production of H2 from water, and (2) CO2 conversion to produce carbon-based fuels and chemicals. Keys to improving these technologies for widespread commercialization involve the development of higher performance semiconductors, interfaces, and catalyst materials for high efficiency, stability, and selectivity for targeted products. This talk will describe challenges in the field and our means to address them through our research efforts to engineer improved materials and devices.

111(d) Modeling Series: Modeling Pathways to Long-Term GHG Reductions in California


Elaine Hart, Managing Consultant, E3

Jeffery Greenblatt, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Monday, June 1, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Governor Brown recently issued an executive order calling for a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the California economy relative to 1990 levels by 2030. E3 and LBNL will present recent modeling work done by each of their organizations analyzing scenarios, policies, and technologies for emission reductions and provide an overview of key findings and implications.

The California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator engaged E3 to evaluate the feasibility and cost of a range of potential 2030 targets along the way to the state's goal of reducing GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. E3 developed scenarios that explore the potential pace at which emission reductions can be achieved as well as the mix of technologies and practices deployed. E3 conducted the analysis using its California PATHWAYS model.  Enhanced specifically for this study, the model encompasses the entire California economy with detailed representations of the buildings, industry, transportation, and electricity sectors.  

LBNL will discuss its separate but related effort, modeling 2020 and 2030 policy and technology scenarios in California. Using CALGAPS, a new, validated model simulating GHG and criteria pollutant emissions in California from 2010 to 2050, four scenarios were developed: Committed Policies (S1), Uncommitted Policies (S2), Potential Policy and Technology Futures (S3), and Counterfactual (S0), which omits all GHG policies. Forty-nine individual policies were represented. Sensitivity analysis provided quantification of individual policy GHG emissions reduction benefits.

Emily Wimberger, Chief Economist, California Air Resources Board, Carbon Pricing mini-series three of three

Monday, May 18, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Emily Wimberger is the Chief Economist at the California Air Resources Board.  In her role, Emily advises the Executive Office and Chairman on economic issues and leads a team of economists working to support ARB’s economic analyses. At ARB, Emily also has experience analyzing the market for Cap-and-Trade allowances and related energy, fuel, and carbon markets, implements the Cap-and-Trade Regulation.

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What Could a Global Shale Gas Revolution Bring?, Natural Gas mini-series three of three

Frank Wolak, Director, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Professor, Economics

Monday, May 11, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Thus far the United States has been the major beneficiary of shale gas. The rest of the world also has substantial shale gas resources, but there is significant uncertainty whether and how rapidly these resources will be developed. Lower natural gas prices in the United States (US) have significantly reduced US coal use. However, higher natural gas prices in Europe and Asia have led to increased coal use in these regions. Coal is already the major source of energy (as measured by heat content) to the developing world. Current trends suggest that it will soon surpass oil as the major source of heat energy globally. The spread of shale gas technology to other parts of the world will allow these regions to access cheap natural gas and reduce their coal use. However, there are significant legal and regulatory barriers as well as technological barriers to this shale gas development spreading to the rest of the world. This talk will discuss possible futures for the global natural gas and coal markets and the greenhouse gas implications of these futures.


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Carbon Pricing mini-series two of three

Bill Mitchel, Senior Director, World Wide Public Sector, Microsoft

Monday, May 4, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

As Senior Director for Microsoft’s World Wide Public Sector team, Bill Mitchel leads the company’s government business development to drive energy, transportation and sustainability solutions.

The Energy Industry's Earthquake Problem and How to Manage It, Natural Gas mini-series two of three

Randi Walters, PhD Candidate, Stress and Crustal Mechanics Group, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University

Rall Walsh, PhD Candidate, Stress and Crustal Mechanics Group, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University

Monday, April 27, 2015 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Since 2009, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of small-to-moderate size earthquakes in the central and eastern United States with a significant amount occurring in Oklahoma. In a number of cases, the increase in seismicity appears to be associated with injection of saltwater that is a byproduct of oil and gas production. We present some recent instances of seismicity and offer a framework for assessing the risk of triggered seismicity going forward.  This adds several factors to standard earthquake hazard and risk assessment procedures. The workflow includes a site characterization component to determine the hazard in the area, followed by the utilization of risk tolerance matrices for regulators, operators, stakeholders, and the public to consider in areas of various exposure. The hazard and risk assessment workflow also includes the use of a traffic light system that incorporates geologic and geophysical observations as well as earthquake magnitudes or ground motions, as criteria for whether a particular set of events warrant a response. 

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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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