Seminar Archive Summaries

Financing the Next Stage of the Global Green Energy Transformation

Jochen Harnisch, KFW, Head of Division, Competence Center Environment & Climate, Frankfurt, Germany

Monday, October 15, 2012 | 04:15 AM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The last decade experienced a remarkable expansion of the deployment of renewable energy such as wind, solar and bioenergy in several countries, including China, the United States, Germany and Spain. This was largely driven by feed-in support schemes and tax breaks, accompanied by a wider enabling framework. Open global markets and emerging new competitors have led to intense competition in local equipment markets and substantial price compression.


At the same time a number of equipment manufacturers went out of business. This has led to public disillusionment with the sustainability of the local employment effects of promoting renewable energy. Suspect state subsidies for some equipment manufacturers in some countries have further burdened the political climate. Additionally, renewable energy's greater share of overall supplies has led to rising electricity prices, growing budget liabilities or reduced tax revenues.

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Screening of "Switch," followed by a discussion with the film's producer Scott Tinker, and Stanford University professors Sally Benson, Margot Gerritsen, and Mark Jacobson

Scott W. Tinker, Bureau of Economic Geology, the State Geologist of Texas
Moderator: Sally Benson, Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford, with Margot Gerritsen, Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford; Mark Jacobson, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford

Monday, October 8, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 06:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

What does the future of energy really hold? Join Scott Tinker on a spectacular global adventure to find out. Scott explores the world’s leading energy sites, from coal to solar, from oil to biofuels. Many of these sites are highly restricted and never before seen on film. Scott gets straight answers from the people driving energy today, international leaders of government, industry and academia. In the end, he cuts through the confusion to discover a path to our future that is surprising and remarkably pragmatic.

"Switch" is a balanced documentary, embraced and supported by people all along the energy spectrum – fossil and renewable, academic and environmental.

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A New Industrial Revolution for a Sustainable Energy Future

Arun Majumdar, former Deputy Director of LBNL and Professor at U.C.-Berkeley

Monday, October 1, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Access to affordable and reliable energy has been a cornerstone of the world’s increasing prosperity and economic growth since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Our use of energy in the twenty-first century must also be sustainable. This talk will provide a techno-economic snapshot of the current energy landscape and discuss several research and development opportunities and challenges to create the foundation for this new industrial revolution. The talk will also discuss policies to stimulate innovation and align market forces to accelerate the development and deployment of affordable, accessible and sustainable energy that can simultaneously power economic growth, increase energy security and mitigate the risks of climate change.

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Global Carbon Cycle Change: a Geological Perspective on Carbon and Climate

Donald DePaolo, Associate Lab Director for Energy and Environmental Sciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Monday, September 24, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Our global clean energy goals are really about controlling carbon fluxes. The basis for any expectation that we can achieve sustainability is our understanding of the Earth’s natural carbon cycles. To change global climate, the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere needs to change, which in turn requires a change in the way carbon is moved around among the various forms and places it exists in and on the Earth. If one looks backward millions (and billions) of years into deep geologic time, and compares the Earth to other planets, it is possible to grasp how carbon can be moved in and out of planetary interiors, and how natural cycles have acted to regulate the Earth’s surface temperature. Although many of the details are uncertain, evidence indicates that natural processes have produced large changes in the amount of atmospheric CO2 in the geologic past. But, an essential aspect of geologic processes is that they act extremely slowly, even during times regarded as examples of rapid change.

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Saving the World and Having a Job: Distributed Solar - Exciting Challenges and Rapid Growth

Shawn Kerrigan, Locus Energy 

Monday, June 4, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Distributed solar generation is growing rapidly across the United States and around the globe. Use of renewables has always been desirable environmentally, but now for the first time in many places it makes solid economic sense as well. A tidal wave of investment and innovation makes distributed solar a dynamic and exciting industry.

Solar energy has many advantages when used for distributed generation, such as saving costs by bypassing congested transmission and distribution systems, and directly generating power at the point of consumption. Distributed solar power brings a number of new challenges, however, due to volatile production output and a need to manage large numbers of systems across a broad area. Solving these problems requires innovations in forecasting, monitoring/analysis, managing, and servicing the large number of small-scale generation assets. This seminar will cover some of those challenges and what Locus Energy is doing to help address them.

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Unlocking the Benefits of Active Customer Participation in Wholesale Electricity Markets

Frank Wolak, the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University

Monday, May 21, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Because electricity is a necessary input to so many economic activities, there are significant political obstacles to charging business and residential customers retail prices that reflect the hourly wholesale price of electricity. A long history of retail electricity prices that do not vary with real-time system conditions makes this task even more difficult. Finally, the lack of interval meters on the customer’s premises makes it impossible to determine precisely how much energy each customer withdraws in a given hour.

Recently a number of jurisdictions in the U.S. have installed the interval meters necessary for customers to participate actively in the wholesale market. This talk will summarize the results of a number of research projects at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development for allowing electricity consumers to benefit from active participation in wholesale electricity markets. The results of dynamic pricing and information provision experiments will be summarized, and current and future directions for research at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development will be described.  Necessary changes in state-level regulatory policies that can also unlock the economic benefits of modern technologies for active participation of final consumers will also be discussed.

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It Pays to Do the Right Thing: Incentive Mechanisms for Societal Networks

Balaji Prabhakar, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University


Monday, May 14, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

In many of the challenges faced by the modern world, from overcrowded road networks to overstretched healthcare systems, large benefits for society come about from small changes by very many individuals. Researchers in the societal networks group at Stanford University are running a series of pilot projects aiming to develop principles for inducing small changes in behavior in networks such as transportation, wellness, energy and recycling. Pilots have been conducted with Infosys Technologies in Bangalore on commuting and with Accenture-USA on wellness. Two others are ongoing: public transit congestion in Singapore, and traffic congestion and parking at Stanford.

In this talk, Balaji Prabhakar will describe this work and present results from the pilots. Some salient themes are the use of low-cost sensing and networking technology for sensing individual behavior, and the use of incentives and social norming to influence behavior.


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Saving the World and Having a Job - Working at the California Energy Commission

Carla Peterman, Commissioner, California Energy Commission 

Monday, May 7, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Commissioner Carla Peterman will discuss her work at the California Energy Commission, which is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The commission’s responsibilities include forecasting future energy needs, licensing thermal power plants, setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards, supporting public interest energy research, and providing incentives for small wind, fuel cell and solar electricity systems.

Carla’s work at the commission focuses on renewables, transportation, natural gas, and the “Integrated Energy Policy Report,” which is mandated by the state legislature. An example of her work in renewables is leading the development of regulations for the state’s 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard program for publicly-owned utilities. In transportation, she is helping to develop and implement the state Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which is intended to reduce the state's oil dependency and help attain the state climate change policies.

The Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium

Yi Cui, Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University 

Monday, April 30, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Led by Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley,the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium conducts industry‐relevant research and development that will impact high‐volume photovoltaic manufacturing, produce a highly trained workforce, and speed up commercialization of cutting‐edge solar technologies. BAPVC will develop and test innovative new materials, device structures, and fabrication processes necessary to produce cost‐effective photovoltaic modules in high volumes. The research will advance technologies that bring down manufacturing costs and improve device performance to facilitate the manufacturing of solar cell modules with a price less than $0.50 per watt, thereby enabling an installed system price of $1 per watt.

BAPVC recently selected 18 projects to fund at Stanford, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Yi Cui will introduce some of these projects. The consortium is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy with additional support from industry and the universities. DOE is providing $25 million over five years as part of the SunShot Initiative.

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Combining Offshore Wind and Wave Energy Farms to Facilitate Grid Integration of Variable Renewables

Eric Stoutenburg, Ph.D. candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Stanford University

Monday, April 23, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth's surface. It is abundant in renewable energy resources such as wind, wave, tidal, and gradients of salinity and temperature. With the exception of some offshore wind farms along the northern European coast, this vast reservoir of non-fossil fuel energy is untapped, even though roughly 40% of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. With continued development of offshore wind power in Europe and initial projects planned for the US east coast, China, and Korea, larger contributions of offshore wind power are on the horizon. Similarly, several wave energy converters are in full scale prototype testing at sea.

Development of both renewable energy sources in co-located sites may improve the electric power performance of a combined wind and wave energy farm. While wave energy is primarily a wind driven phenomenon, at a particular location and time, the energy levels in the wind and waves may be different. Analysis of wind and wave data along the US Pacific coast indicates a synergy where combining the two energy sources in a co-located offshore farm reduces the variability in electric power output. The variability of electric power from renewable energy sources has been identified as a challenge to their large scale integration in the electric grid, but combining variable resources mitigates this problem, producing smoother power output than either resource can separately.

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