Seminar Archive Summaries

Powering the World for all Purposes With Wind, Water, and Sunlight

Mark Z. Jacobson, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

Monday, May 16, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

This talk discusses a plan to power 100% of the world’s energy for all purposes with wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) within the next 20-40 years. The talk starts by reviewing and ranking major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering other impacts of the proposed solutions, such as on water supply, land use, resource availability, reliability, wildlife, and catastrophic risk. It then evaluates a scenario for powering the world on the energy options determined to be the best while also considering materials, transmission infrastructure, costs, and politics. The study concludes that powering the world with wind, water, and solar technologies, which are found to be the best when all factors are considered, is technically feasible but politically challenging. Relevant papers can be found at

Related Themes:

The Graduate School of Business' Knight Management Center: LEED + PV

Kathleen Kavanaugh, Program Director, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Bhima Sheridan, Jon Biegenzahn, and Ben Tarbell, Solar City 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | | Free and Open to All

Please note different time and location: Wednesday 5/11, 4:15-5:15pm at Knight Management Center C106


An interactive presentation on the design and implementation of the Graduate School of Business' goals for sustainability at it's new Knight Management Center campus.  Kathleen Kavanaugh, LEED AP and Program Director at the Knight Management Center will discuss the vision for the campus, which is seeking LEED Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council.  Bhima Sheridan will talk about Solar City's approach to engineering the photovoltaic system and integrating it with the building's energy efficient design.  Jon Biegenzahn will talk about the project development process at Stanford including construction coordination challenges and involving campus stakeholders.


Related Themes:

Low Energy Building: European Design & Control

Clas Jacobson, United Technologies Corporation, Building Control Systems

Monday, May 9, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All


Buildings consume nearly 40% of the world’s energy which is significantly more than either the transportation or industrial sectors. Any comprehensive plan to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions and to enhance energy security must include actions to increase energy efficiency in the building sector. This talk will focus on the current understanding of the options available to reduce energy usage in buildings and will highlight the role of a systems approach and controls in increasing energy efficiency. The delivery process for buildings will be used to highlight where energy is lost in the design, construction and operation of buildings and both current approaches and research opportunities will be highlighted for increasing energy efficiency.

Related Themes:

Emerging Electricity Futures

Amory Lovins, Cofounder, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

Monday, May 2, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Rocky Mountain Institute’s autumn 2011 Reinventing Fire will explore practical pathways for the U.S. to eliminate oil, coal, and nuclear energy by 2050 (and natural gas thereafter), led by business for profit. This ambitious synthesis integrates transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity—the sole sector previewed in this seminar. Four divergent electricity futures are feasible, plausible, surprisingly similar in cost, but very different in risk. Contrasting their technological, financial, operational, carbon, security, and other risks favors renewable futures—whose variability is manageable with little or no bulk storage—and fair competition by distributed resources in netted islandable microgrids. This future maximizes competitive opportunities for rapid innovation and learning, and seems well matched to global market trends and to emerging revolutions in customer choice and utility business models. All four futures require major regulatory reform. At least the first three need significant new transmission, though probably less for renewables than often supposed. Renewables require big shifts in utility culture and operational procedures—especially if grid architecture becomes more granular—and assume continued progress down observed cost learning curves. Renewables, with scale and technology mix modulated by markets and policies, generally hold promise of more robust response to both political obstacles and exogenous shocks than do nonrenewable futures.

Related Themes:

A Smarter Grid and High Penetration Renewables

Juan de Bedout, Ph.D., Global Technology Director, Electrical Technologies and Systems, GE Global Research

GCEP Distinguished Lecturer

Monday, April 25, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The last several years have seen a flurry of activity in industry and academia in the Smart Grid space.  The need for a smarter electrical grid in North America stems from emerging challenges in congestion, reliability, safety and renewable energy integration, that may be more cost effectively resolved with advanced controls technology than with bulk infrastructure growth.  Solutions to these problems require system thinking; many technologies need to work together to collectively provide relief.  It is important to note that the problems change dramatically as you migrate to different parts of the world, with every region having unique challenges and opportunities.  This talk will focus on Smart Grid technologies for mature grids such as the one in North America, and will pay special attention to the integration of renewable energy resources.  A brief discussion of the grid in India will be provided for contrast.

Related Themes:

Analysis and Simulation of Gravity Driven Plumes of CO2

TS Ramakrishnan (Rama), Scientific Advisor at Schlumberger-Doll Research , GCEP Distinguished Lecturer

Monday, April 18, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

We shall introduce the audience to the background behind CO2 accumulation, and infrared absorption for an understanding of global warming. Motivated by the requirement of CO2 sequestration, we shall focus on the theoretical analysis of interface evolution between immiscible fluids within a reservoir structure.

We derive the governing equations for the pressure and interface height to leading order, obtained in the limit of a thin gravity tongue and a moderately dipping bed. In the case of a horizontal bed, the interface shape is governed by a nonlinear parabolic equation that admits a similarity solution only for a specific initial condition. The same is true for a slightly dipping bed, but in a moving coordinate system. We show that for the inclined bed two-dimensional problem, in the reference frame moving with the mean gravity induced advection velocity, the interface motion is dictated by a degenerate parabolic equation, different from those previously published. In this case, the late-time behavior of the gravity tongue can be derived analytically through a formal expansion of both the solution and its two moving boundaries. In three dimensions, using a moving coordinate along the dip direction, we obtain an elliptic-parabolic system of PDEs where the fluid pressure and interface height are the two dependent variables. The solution features are identified for different combinations of dimensionless parameters, showing their respective influence on the shape and motion of the interface.

To conclude the presentation, we show illustrative examples of plume accumulation and migration in complex media, in both two and three dimensions.

Related Themes:

California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard: A Debate

David Stern, ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company and
Dan Sperling, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis

Please note different venue (320-105) and day (Wednesday)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:30 PM | | Free and Open to All






Dr. David Stern
Advanced Fuels Senior Advisor
ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company


Professor Dan Sperling
Director, Institute of Transportation Studies
at the University of California, Davis


Abstract from Daniel Sperling:

The low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) is being implemented in California and the EU and is under serious consideration in over 10 states and Canadian provinces.  The LCFS provides a promising and durable policy framework to decarbonize transportation fuels.  It is performance based, harnesses market forces (through credit trading), and utilizes lifecycle principles.  Though one might prefer more theoretically elegant policies such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade, those other instruments are not likely to be effective in the foreseeable future with transport fuels.  They would not be sufficient to induce large investments in electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and advanced biofuels.  The implementation of LCFS faces various political, scientific, and implementation challenges, but that is not surprising for a policy that aims to transform the oil and biofuels industries.

Abstract from Dr. David Stern:

Challenges to Meet a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)

As part of AB32, California’s Climate Change Act, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has enacted a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.  The LCFS mandates a reduction in fuel life-cycle carbon intensity (CI), versus a petroleum fuel (gasoline/diesel) baseline.  At low CI reduction targets, increased use of biofuel is needed to meet the target, but higher CI reduction targets (e.g., 10%) are infeasible without large numbers of electric vehicles, large use of very low CI biofuels, or both. 

This talk will review the challenges in meeting the LCFS, and why LCFS is a complex, cost ineffective, and non-transparent policy to reduce GHG’s.

  • On a cost per unit GHG reduction, transportation-fuel-related cost reductions substantially exceeds the cost of other GHG reductions
  • If policy goals are to promote biofuels or to electrify the fleet, direct and transparent regulations are better ways to meet these goals
  • If the policy goal is GHG reduction, the most efficient and cost effective approach is a broad based, revenue-neutral carbon tax

Our discussion will also review principles to consider in policy development. If society chooses to implement climate policy, such policies should: ensure a uniform and predictable cost of GHG emissions, let market prices drive the solution, minimize complexity, maximize transparency, and adjust to future developments in climate science and the economic impacts of climate policies.


Related Themes:

What is Happening in Japan and What Does It Mean for the Future of Nuclear Energy?

Burton Richter, Director Emeritus, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Matthew Wald, Washington Bureau, The New York Times

Monday, April 11, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:30 PM | Hewlett Teaching Center, Auditorium 200 | Free and Open to All

Note different location, Hewlett 200


Burton Richter
Director Emeritus of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


Matthew Wald

Washington Bureau
The New York Times


Nobel Laureate Burton Richter and New York Times journalist Matthew Wald will discuss what is happening in Japan and what it means for nuclear power.  Mr. Wald will describe the sequence of events that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plants following the earthquake in Japan.  Dr. Richter will cover the technical issues of what happens in a nuclear reactor under these circumstances.  Dr. Richter will review the current use of nuclear power worldwide and the main issues that nuclear regulators must address when assessing risk in disaster scenarios.  Mr. Wald will describe the nuclear renaissance before and after Fukushima and report on what he has been hearing from legislators, regulators, industry experts, and the public. Mr. Wald and Dr. Richter will provide their perspectives on the future of nuclear power.


Related Themes:

The Status of Concentrating Solar Power Development

Dr. Thomas Mancini, Concentrated Solar Power Manager, Sandia National Laboratories

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP, aka Solar Thermal Electric Power) comprises three system architectures:  line focus (parabolic trough and linear Fresnel), point focus central receiver (power towers), and point focus, distributed receiver (dish Stirling).  In all of these technologies, solar energy is collected, converted to thermal energy, and used to drive heat engine generators.  In this presentation, we will review the current status of these technologies and contrast their relative strengths and the value of thermal energy storage. The availability of cost-effective thermal energy storage for power towers and troughs increases the value of electricity produced by these systems because it provides dispatchability.  We will also review the deployments of CSP systems around the world and the current plans for deployment in the U. S.  Last, we will discuss future R&D directions in terms of the recently announced SunShot Initiative.

Related Themes:

Stanford’s Energy Story: Present and Future

Panelists from the Stanford Sustainability and Energy Management Department

Joseph Stagner, Executive Director

Gerry Hamilton, Associate Director, Facilities Energy Management

Fahmida Ahmed, Associate Director, Sustainable Stanford Programs

Monday, March 28, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:30 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Stanford is embarking on a new era of sustainable energy management to further improve its operation efficiency and reduce its energy footprint, which is no small task for a growing campus.  Speakers from the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management will talk about the three key prongs of the balanced approach that has shaped Stanford’s long range energy and climate plan - high energy efficiency standards in new buildings, energy conservation in existing buildings, and greener and more flexible energy supply for campus.  The plan intends to reduce Stanford’s GHG emissions well below 1990 levels by 2010.  The presentation will also touch on the untapped potential of behavioral programs on campus that can motivate individuals to conserve energy without compromising their quality of life at Stanford.