Seminar Archive Summaries
Michael D. McGehee, Associate Professor Materials Science and Engineering
Monday, March 3, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
The dramatic decrease in price of silicon solar cells over the last 5 years has allowed the solar industry to grow at an impressive rate, but has also led to the demise of many solar cell startup companies that were developing next-generation technologies. Many believe that photovoltaic modules will need to cost less than $0.50 per watt and have power conversion efficiency > 25% to compete with fossil fuel power plants on a large scale. While it is likely that conventional silicon solar cells will reach this cost target, it will be challenging for them to reach the efficiency target. Some of the promising approaches that will be discussed involve lifting off thin single crystal solar cells from a wafer that can be reused. Others involve better understanding what causes recombination and polycrystalline thin films so that substantially better thin-film solar cells can be made. One of the most promising, yet not heavily researched, approaches is to make tandem solar cells using materials that function well even when they are polycrystalline and defective. Recent advances with hybrid perovskite semiconductors and their potential use in tandems will be emphasized.
Anshuman Sahoo, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford
Monday, February 24, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
This talk examines the economics of solar photovoltaic power both from the perspective of investors in solar installations and from the perspective of solar panel manufacturers. For investors, the key consideration is the cost competitiveness of solar PV relative to other electricity sources. The model calculations I present focus on commercial – and utility scale installations, highlighting the importance of geographic location and the role of federal tax subsidies.
To project the economics of solar PV in coming years, I will summarize some recent work that examines changes in the manufacturing costs of solar panel manufacturers. These findings suggest that the dramatic reductions in module prices over the past few years are partly attributable to cost reductions, but also to massive additions of manufacturing capacity that arguably left the industry with excess capacity. The talk will present a methodology for quantifying the magnitude of these two effects in order to make predictions about the future price trajectory of solar panels and, by implication, the competitiveness of solar power.
Severin Borenstein, E.T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy, UC Berkeley
Monday, February 10, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
Improving the efficiency with which we use energy is often said to be the most cost-effective way to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, such improvements usually lower the cost of using energy-intensive goods and may create wealth from the energy savings, both of which lead to increased energy use, a ``rebound'' effect. Disagreements about the magnitude of energy efficiency rebound are immense and play a central role in debates over the role energy efficiency can play in combating climate change. But these differing views seem to stem as much from the lack of a common framework for the analysis as from different estimates of key parameters. I present a theoretical framework that parses rebound into economic income and substitution effects. The framework helps shed new light on how rebound is affected by the pricing of energy, as well as by the degree to which consumers optimize their consumption. I then explore the implications of this framework for measurement of rebound, examining rebound from improved auto fuel economy and lighting efficiency. The illustrative calculations I carry out suggest that rebound is unlikely to that more than offset the savings from energy efficiency investments (known as ``backfire''), but rebound is likely to reduce the net savings by roughly 10% to 40% from these energy efficiency improvements.
Yi Cui, Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Monday, February 3, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
In the past two decades rechargeable batteries have been a great success in powering consumer electronics. There is a recent strong interest in applying rechargeable batteries to vehicle electrification and grid-scale storage, which present new challenges and opportunities for batteries including energy density, cost, safety, cycle life among many parameters. This talk reviews existing technologies and looks into next generation of batteries with great promise for vehicles and grids. Particularly, novel battery materials are key for a revolutionary change. High-energy batteries examples include silicon and lithium metal anodes, and sulfur and air cathodes. Novel aqueous and redox-flow batteries with low cost could impact the grid-scale storage. Smart separators could enhance the battery safety significantly.
Ram Rajagopal, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environental Engineering, Stanford University
Monday, January 27, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
Increase in supply side variability due to increases in renewable generation require demand side management strategies to reduce electricity delivery costs. Smart grid technologies provide opportunities for measuring and controlling loads at an unprecedented scale. Yet, understanding their performance requires accurately capturing how loads respond to specific technologies and how consumer behavior affects such response. Typical demand side management planning and capability studies have been conducted relying on theoretical scenarios of adoption and response. This talk presents a new approach utilizing large scale individual level data made available by AMI deployments (smart meters). We utilize a 500,000+ customer data set and measure the available flexibility as well as potential strategies to elicit this flexibility from consumers.We classify various types of flexibility and demonstrate methods to infer them relying on features from data that reflect both behavior and response to specific technologies. We demonstrate that flexibility depends both on environmental and geographical considerations as well as appropriately classifying and selecting consumers.The proposed approaches illustrates the value of combining tools from statistical signal processing, stochastic control, machine learning and economics.
Dan Reicher, Executive Director of the Steyer Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
Felix Mormann, Faculty Fellow, Stanford University's Steyer–Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance,
Monday, January 13, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
|Dan Reicher||Felix Mormann|
Since 2012, we have been exploring the potential of master limited partnerships (MLPs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to spur the deployment of renewable energy. Technological innovation continues to bring down the cost of solar panels, wind turbines, and other equipment but financial innovation is lagging. As a result, financing charges may drive up a renewable power project's levelized cost of electricity by up to 50%. Our analysis suggests that MLPs and REITs have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of capital for renewable energy. But even the smartest policy proposal does not earn legislative approval easily, as illustrated by the MLP Parity Act which enjoys strong support on both sides of the aisle but still faces a tricky road in Washington. It takes time, ingenuity, and political savvy to build necessary support in the industry, on Wall Street, and on Capitol Hill for even a well supported idea like this. We will present the results of our analytical work as well as insights from our advisory participation in the ongoing political process.
Michael Wara, Associate Professor of Law
John P. Weyant, Professor of Management Science and Engineering
Monday, January 6, 2014 (All day) | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
Success in US climate policy equates to shepherding the energy system through a dramatic and uncertain transformation. Climate policies, in order to be successful, must be cost-effective and durable. Cost-effective because political reality supports a limited appetite for spending on climate change relative to other priorities. Durable because policies are politically costly to enact and must create credible incentives that produce change on the ground, even given substantial uncertainty about the future. Regulation under existing law, the Clean Air Act, promises to be credible but not cost-effective. Regulation via carbon pricing promises to be cost effective because it relies on diffuse information in markets to set priorities for reducing emissions. But different emission pricing policies, given that their goals are politically constrained, are not created equal. Recent cap-and-trade programs, if adopted, would not have proven durable given recent economic, technological, and social changes in the U.S. Today, members of Congress and some conservative groups support emission pricing via a carbon tax. A carbon tax, if enacted, would be cost effective, robust to forecast error, and credible in the face of economic, technological, and social change. Modeling evidence also suggests that it would be environmentally effective at modest cost to U.S. economic growth.
Hillard G. Huntington, Executive Director, Energy Modeling Forum
Monday, December 2, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
This study evaluates the channels through which shale formations and new natural gas supplies can change energy, economic and environmental opportunities within North America. It concludes that continued shale gas development within North America is likely to have more sweeping impacts on future energy prices than on the economy or the environment. This evaluation was conducted by a working group of 50 experts and advisors from a range of diverse universities, research institutes, corporations and government agencies. Support for the study’s conclusions came from 14 different expert teams using their own energy-economy models.
Robert Laughlin, Department of Physics, Stanford University
Monday, November 18, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
This talk will follow the rough outline of Robert's recent book, Powering the Future: How We Will (Eventually) Solve the Energy Crisis and Fuel the Civilization of Tomorrow. Robert will take the audience past contemporary politics through a mental journey to a time, several centuries from now, when nobody uses carbon-based fuel out of the ground anymore, either because they have banned the practice or it is gone. The world will be warmer then, although exactly how much warmer depends on events to come. What is this time like? How do the people make their living? What do they learn in school about us? While scientific discoveries of the future are difficult to predict, some of the future is very predictable by virtue of the immutability of physical law and human nature. People wishing to live well will still need energy. The energy in question will still be conserved. It will still have to be procured from somewhere in prodigious amounts and discarded into space after use. Chemical bonds will be the same as they are now. So will gravity. The constraints on energy storage will be the same. Nuclear waste will still be dangerous. Thinking through the energy and climate problem backward in this way is easy to do, and it clarifies the present-day situation immensely.
Dr. Carrie Armel, Research Associate, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) at Stanford University
Ian Kalin, Director of Open Data, Socrata
Adam Rein, Principal, Mission Point Capital Partners
Monday, November 11, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
|Carrie Armel||Adam Rein||Ian Kalin|
What energy challenges are best served with data, and what data sets are available for these applications? Adam Rein of Mission Point Capital will outline the most promising opportunities from a VC’s perspective. Ian Kalin, Director of Open Data at Socrata and a former White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, will survey this administration’s mission to jump start data sharing initiatives and compile data sets. Carrie Armel will provide examples of the diverse ways in which Stanford’s ARPA-E funded initiative has utilized energy data, such as that from smart meters, to reduce energy consumption. Following the panel will be an opportunity to engage the speakers and other knowledgeable professionals in lively discussion and brainstorming.