Seminar Archive Summaries

Special panel talk with students

Gro Brundtland, Board of Directors, United Nations Foundation; Former Prime Minister of Norway

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:14 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

This Energy Seminar will feature a student-led discussion with Dr. Gro Brundtland on the challenges in climate and energy --an area she has been a global leader.

**Come join us for the Precourt Institute for Energy social following this talk. NVIDIA Foyer, 5:15-6:15 (open to Stanford faculty, staff, and students. Editors of the Stanford Energy Journal will be present to discuss their latest sustainability transportation issue.

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Saving Time and Energy through Bus-Rapid-Transit Projects Around the World

Sharareh Tavafrashti, Principal Engineer, San Francisco County Transportation Authority

Elkin Bello, Program Manager, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy 

Monday, April 7, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Shari Tavafrashti Elkin Bello

As the cost of providing space and energy for personal transportation options have increased both on the capital side as well as its energy footprint and consequences, mass transportation is gaining priority for developing and developed countries. In this presentation, we will provide a few examples of the successful and not so successful implementations for the bus rapid transit system around the world. The lecture will compare key features of various BRT projects around the world and attempt to address their impact on sustainable development and transportation solutions in each environment.

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Solid State Energy Storage: Game-Changing Technology for the 21st Century

Ann Marie Sastry, President and CEO, Sakti3, Inc.

Monday, March 31, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Critical, imminent changes in the world energy portfolio have amplified pressure on development of advanced energy storage technology, for the grid, automotive and consumer electronics sectors. Technology advances are not only required to enable the largest entry of people to the middle classes in human history, but also to avert disastrous consequences of irrevocable climate change and environmental harm. Present lithium-ion batteries, with a total addressable market of over $12 billion, expected to grow to over $23 billion in the next four years, cannot meet these burgeoning needs, for reasons of cost, performance and safety.

Present manufacturers of the incumbent technology all employ liquid electrolytes and lamination processing in highly conserved plant designs, producing cells that are not differentiated in cost, performance or safety. Additionally, lamination processing of lithium-ion batteries has enormous built in costs, including up to two months’ of careful, pre-processing time for cells before they can be shipped to customers, comprising tremendous work-in-process and additional, unremovable process cost and time.

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Commercializing Wind, Photovoltaics, Lighting, and Batteries: The Impact of Government Policies During the Past 25 Years

Cathy Zoi, Consulting Professor at Stanford University

Monday, March 10, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

On March 10th, Cathy Zoi will present the findings from Energy 158, a research seminar held during the Fall of 2013, that investigated the progress of wind, photovoltaics, lighting and batteries over the past 30 years, and the impact that government intervention had on this progress. She will then apply these lessons from history to propose a framework policy makers can use in the future.

Rationale for the research: Public policy imperatives have created a drive for energy technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve national security, and boost domestic economic activity. To accelerate the development and commercialization of these new technologies beyond what the market would deliver on its own, governments frequently use policies like direct R&D funding, financial incentives or penalties (e.g. through the tax code, state funds, or utility rates), mandatory targets or caps, information disclosure, and performance codes and standards to create market conditions that favor emerging technologies. There is significant public debate about the most effective mix of these policy interventions.

 

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Emerging High-Efficiency Low-Cost Solar Cell Technologies: Solar Mini-Series (2 of 2)

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.

 

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The Rapidly Changing Economics of Solar PV Power, Solar Mini-Series (1 of 2)

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.

 

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Does Rebound Offset the Savings from Energy Efficiency?

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.

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Rechargeable Batteries for Transportation and Grid: What’s Possible?

 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.

 

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Tailoring Demand to Match Supply: How Much Flexibility There is in Loads?

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. 

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Energy Policy (and Politics) in Theory and Practice: A Case Study in Renewable Energy Finance

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.

 

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