Seminar Archive Summaries
Michael Wara, Assistant Professor of Law Stanford University
Monday, January 24, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
In December, the California Air Resources Board adopted a cap-and-trade program covering approximately 85% of statewide emissions of greenhouse gases. This regulation sets a limit on emissions of greenhouse gases and then allows trading of pollution permits by entities covered under the program. The design of California’s system is both balanced and innovative, when considered in the context of other cap-and-trade regimes. As such, the program has the potential to serve as a model for future federal legislation.
However, because of both its ambition and its scope, the California program is likely to be the place where the law governing state-level regulation of GHGs is clarified. The new regulations will likely be challenged in court on a number of grounds - the recently enacted Prop 26, the impact that the regulations will have on interstate sales of electricity, and the fact that the EPA is taking steps to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act. Resolution of these legal questions will ultimately determine whether California is allowed to assume the leadership role for climate change that it has historically played in the development of US environmental law and regulation.
No slides available
Terry Hazen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Monday, January 10, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
The explosion on April 20, 2010 at the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, resulted in oil and gas rising to the surface and the oil coming ashore in many parts of the Gulf, it also resulted in the dispersment of an immense oil plume 4,000 feet below the surface of the water. Despite spanning more than 600 feet in the water column and extending more than 10 miles from the wellhead, the dispersed oil plume was gone within weeks after the wellhead was capped – degraded and diluted to undetectable levels. Furthermore, this degradation took place without significant oxygen depletion. Ecogenomics enabled discovery of new and unclassified species of oil-eating bacteria that apparently lives in the deep Gulf where oil seeps are common. This data suggests that a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil plumes exists in the deep-sea and other environs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Brief Bio: Terry Hazen is a microbial ecologist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he heads both the Ecology Department and the Center for Environmental Biotechnology. When a deepwater oil plume was formed in the aftermath of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer, Terry Hazen led a team that was able to directly study the microbial activity within the oil plume. His report that the oil had been degraded to virtually undetectable levels within a few weeks after the damaged wellhead was finally sealed made headlines across the country.
Rohit Aggarwala, City of New York, New York, Director of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability 2006-2010
Monday, January 3, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building (Y2E2) | Free and Open to All
Followed by the Orange Bowl Reception and 5:15pm Kickoff on the Plasma TV, in the Y2E2 Social Entry (for faculty, students, and staff), 473 Via Ortega, Stanford.
Increasingly, the focus of the global fight against climate change is shifting to cities, both as national policies and global agreements seem unlikely to change in the near term, and as policymakers appreciate the extent to which the frontlines of the fight are in the cities themselves. Home to the majority of humanity, and the vast majority of global consumption, cities will clearly be the locations of most efforts at improving energy efficiency and reducing transportation emissions. In most of the world’s cities, it is local government that has direct control over the planning decisions, building codes, transit systems, and waste systems that must change if the world is to transition to a low-carbon economy. Finally, in many countries, urban populations are more willing to adopt low-carbon policies than national populations, which make it far more politically feasible for mayors to act decisively.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York is increasingly seen as a leader on urban sustainability policy, both for his local efforts in New York City and globally, upon his recent assumption of the chairmanship of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an organization of many of the world’s largest cities working together on climate change policy.
Rohit T. Aggarwala, Bloomberg’s former sustainability director and currently an advisor to C40, will talk about the content, history, and execution of PlaNYC, New York’s award-winning sustainability efforts. From planting a million trees to adopting congestion pricing to requiring hybrid taxis to imposing retrofit requirements on existing buildings, PlaNYC was an ambitious plan that has had major successes and significant defeats. Aggarwala will discuss, in particular, lessons learned from the victory on green buildings and the defeat of New York City’s congestion pricing proposal.
In addition, he will talk broadly about the challenge facing the world’s cities. C40’s members account for one-twelfth of humanity and 20% of global GDP, but the needs, powers, and political constraints affecting municipal government vary dramatically across those cities.
No slides available
Jens K. Norskov, Center for Interface Science and Catalysis, SLAC
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
Essentially all sustainable energy systems rely on the energy influx from the sun. In order to store solar energy it is most conveniently transformed into a chemical form, a fuel. The key to provide an efficient transformation of energy to a chemical form is the availability of suitable catalysts, and we will need to find new catalysts for a number of processes if we are to successfully synthesize fuels from sunlight. Insight into the way the catalysts work at the molecular may prove essential to speed up the discovery process. The lecture will discuss some of the challenges to catalyst discovery, the associated challenges to science as well as some approaches to molecular level catalyst design. Specific examples will include the (photo-)electrochemical oxygen evolution and hydrogen evolution reactions, carbon dioxide reduction, and biomass transformation reactions.
No video available
Nick Melosh, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
Solar conversion is usually divided into two classes: quantum-based conversion, such as photovoltaics (PV), and thermal conversion, such as solar dishes and power towers. Because these two processes operate at very different temperatures, they have remained separated. While traditional fossil fuel power conversion technology can enjoy the benefits of a combined cycle approach to reach greater than 50% conversion efficiencies, this has not been possible for solar technology. An ideal combination would be to first absorb sunlight in a PV panel which could operate at very high temperature, and use the waste heat from this process to drive a thermal engine. However, due to PV physics they cannot operate at the high temperatures necessary for thermal systems. Here we describe a new physical mechanism that combines both photon and thermal energy sources, and can operate at high temperatures (200-1000ºC). This new mechanism, called photon-enhanced thermionic emission (PETE), uses similar materials as traditional solar cells, yet the mechanism is fundamentally different. Theoretical estimates of the PETE process show it can be more efficient than a single junction solar cell, yet its true importance is that it could work in tandem with a thermal engine. Estimated efficiencies of combined cycles reach over 50%, though are still quite a ways from being demonstrated. We will show the first proof-of-concept results from the PETE process showing the mechanism is valid, and discuss what the current obstacles to obtaining high efficiency are.
Meg Caldwell, Executive Director for the Center for Ocean Solutions, Senior Lecturer in Law and Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program at Stanford University
Dr. Larry Crowder, COS Visiting Scientist and Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
jointly sponsored by the Energy Seminar and Center for Ocean Solutions
Monday, November 8, 2010 (All day) | |
No video available
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
What happens when you put lots of wind and solar power onto the power system? Do you need more storage? Do you need more reserves? When does the system 'break'? What actions can be taken to integrate wind and solar power into the power system without large cost increases to consumers?
Wind and solar power are inherently variable and uncertain. This causes difficulties for power system operators who must maintain reliability. Over the past several years, utilities and researchers have simulated power system operation with various penetration levels of renewable energy, examining increased costs due to integration of the renewables and mitigation measures to more cost-effectively accommodating the renewables. Debbie will present an overview of recent renewable energy integration studies in the US and Europe. She will focus on the recently released Western Wind and Solar Integration Study, one of the largest wind and solar integration studies to date, that examines the integration of up to 35% wind and solar energy into the power system. Issues addressed include: utility cooperation, tradeoffs between local and remote renewable energy resources, geographic diversity, storage, reserves, and improved forecasting.
followed by a MAP Energy Social (details announced at the seminar)
Steve Wereley, Purdue University
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
On May 13 Professor Wereley used optical feature tracking to estimate the volume flow of oil from the on-going BP Macondo oil field spill. Several other independent scientists also performed similar measurements at about the same time. These several measurements were all in the ballpark of 20,000-100,000 barrels per day--greatly in excess of the estimates provided by BP of 5,000 barrels per day. The unforeseen effect of these first independent flow rate calculations was to bring the issue of oil flow rate to the fore. Wereley was subsequently appointed to a government task force called the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) to calculate an official government flow rate estimate. The group arrived at a final estimate of 35,000-60,000 barrels of oil per day after requesting and receiving better quality and longer videos of the oil flow. In conjunction with the Department of Energy and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the FRTG arrived at a final total crude oil release estimate of 4.9 million barrels—over 200 million gallons or nearly 20 Exxon Valdez-type accidents. This presentation/discussion will center on those calculations, their limitations, their improvement and their future uses in this on-going disaster.
Part 3: Miniseries on Energy Impact
Co-Managing Partner of Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C.
Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow
Chair, Energy Policy Task Force
Member of the Working Group on Economic Policy
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
followed by an Energy Social (details announced at the seminar)