China Miniseries (1 of 5): Better Burning—China's Attempt at Clean Coal

David Mohler, Senior Vice President, CTO, Duke Energy


Monday, April 15, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

China makes roughly 80% of its electricity by burning coal. That helps explain why Beijing’s skies darkened earlier this year in what some observers dubbed the “airpocalypse.” It also explains why China has become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Now, even as China builds more coal-fired power plants than any other country, it’s scrambling to roll out technologies to burn that coal more cleanly — from anti-smog filters to systems to capture carbon dioxide and shoot it underground.

China has launched the world’s largest “clean coal” experiment. In this conversation, the top technology officers from China’s largest power company and from a U.S power company that's investing in that Chinese work will assess the state of cleaner coal-burning technology and its prospects for real-world rollout in China and around the globe.

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Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) from Hydrocarbon-Based Power Projects

Eric Redman, President & CEO, Summit Power Group, LLC

Monday, April 1, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) on a large scale is regarded by many climate scientists as one indispensable element of any global carbon-reduction strategy. It is axiomatic that there can be no large-scale CCS project without a ‘sink’ for the carbon. The excellent work already performed on various geological sinks demonstrates that several different types of sink appear well-suited to large-scale sequestration. However, it is equally true that large-scale carbon sequestration also requires large-scale carbon capture projects. Very few exist, and almost none in the electric power sector, which is a leading source of global carbon emissions.

Seattle-based Summit Power Group is attempting to change this by developing several very large scale CCS projects in the electric power sector, both in the US (e.g., the Texas Clean Energy Project, which will capture and sequester 2.5 million tons of CO2 per year) and the UK (e.g., the Captain Clean Energy Project, which will capture and sequester more than 4 million tons of CO2 per year). Eric Redman is the president and chief executive officer of Summit, and will discuss the technical, commercial, financial, permitting, and public policy challenges of trying to be a ‘first mover’ on commercial-scale CCS projects in the power sector.

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Grid Flexibility and Research Challenges to Enhance the Integration of Variable Renewable Energy Sources

Mark O'Malley, Electrical Engineering Dept., University College Dublin

Monday, January 14, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Grid flexibility is a characteristic that is proposed to help the integration of variable renewable energy resources. However it has proven very difficult to quantify and this has spurred intense research efforts over the past few years. There are many sources, sinks and enablers for flexibility in the grid and these are all subject to numerous research challenges. Flexibility will be introduced, defined and a number of methods to quantify it will be described. This will be followed by an overview of research into unlocking flexibility in the power system e.g. demand side participation and power system operational strategies. There are potential hidden costs of flexibility and some of these will be highlighted, for example thermal plant cycling, and mitigation measures to reduce these will be formulated. Concluding remarks will try to give insights into how a future grid with very high penetrations of variable renewable energy may look like.

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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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Connecting the Dots: The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus

Monday, April 16, 2012 | 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM | McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center |

We have a special Stanford program today and encourage our Energy Seminar community to attend. Registration is required. If you are not a student enrolled in the Energy Seminar and wish to attend the Connecting the Dots program on April 16, please register at Additional information is available at the Connecting The Dots website.
Please note this event is being held in a different venue then most Energy Seminars.
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CO2 Sequestration: Recent Advances and Remaining Challenges

Sally Benson, Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University

Monday, January 9, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

In little more than a decade, carbon dioxide (CO2) capture from point source emissions and sequestration in deep geological formations has emerged as one of the most important options for reducing CO2 emissions. Two major challenges stand in the way of realizing this potential: the high cost of capturing CO2, and gaining confidence in the capacity, safety and permanence of sequestration in deep geological formations. Building on examples from laboratory and field-based studies of multiphase flow of CO2 in porous rocks; this talk addresses the current prospects for CO2 sequestration.

Which formations can provide safe and secure sequestration? At what scale will this be practical and is this scale sufficient to significantly reduce emissions? What monitoring methods can be used to provide assurance that CO2 remains trapped underground? What are the long-term risks of geological sequestration and how can they be managed? The status of each these questions will be discussed, along with emerging research questions.

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Sustainable Energy Future: Scale, Tradeoffs, and Co-Benefits

Panel with Stanford Faculty: Sally Benson, Director, Global Climate and Energy Project; Pamela Matson, Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences; Lynn Orr, Director, Precourt Institute for Energy; Stephen Schneider, Melvin & Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies; Jim Sweeney, Director Precourt Energy Efficiency Center; Buzz Thompson, Co-Director Woods Institute for the Environment

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:30 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

The Stanford panelists will discuss a number of important themes and issues about energy use, impacts, and opportunities as we begin the transition to a low emission energy future. Panelists will consider economic viability, political will, resource constraints, and environmental impacts of various energy technologies at scale. They will discuss tradeoffs and how decision makers may seek co-benefits and avoid unintended consequences when making choices.

* Energy Social following the talk (Note: we do not provide venue details for social on the web)

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Greenhouse gas emissions from oil substitutes:  dynamics, resources, and systems behavior

Adam Brandt, Stanford University

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

The ongoing transition to oil substitutes poses economic, environmental, and political risks. In particular, the problems of oil depletion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are unavoidably intertwined: any shortfall in conventional oil will induce the production of oil substitutes such as unconventional hydrocarbons or biofuels, which have differing GHG emissions per unit of fuel produced. This transition could have positive or negative impacts on total GHG emissions depending on the resources used and the regulatory environment in which it takes place. Professor Brandt explores this transition using a large-scale mathematical model of future transportation fuel production. He discusses future research to improve our understanding of the environmental impacts from oil substitutes.

* Energy Social following the talk (details will be announced at the seminar)

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Coals’ Role in the Global Energy Mix: Coal Markets with a View to 2030

Richard Morse, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

March 4, 2009 - Richard Morse, research associate at the Stanford Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, discusses the role of coal in the global energy mix. He states that coal is the fastest-growing source of energy and that regulation and policy are beginning to play a larger role in the economy of coal power. Most of the current growth is happening in non-OECD countries, and many countries in Asia have made plans for additional coal-fired capacity. Since Asian development currently depends on coal, there is the need to understand Asia's coal markets and evaluate all posible mitigation options. Morse focuses on the market for steam coal, one of two different types, because it is very affordable. Morse predicts that after 2012, cap-and-trade may slow the growth of the global coal market. When carbon prices are high, regulation and policy could play a larger role in the energy sources that people choose.
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Evaluation of Proposed Energy Solutions to Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Energy Security

Professor Mark Jacobson, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Stanford

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

October 1, 2008 - Mark Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, discusses proposed energy solutions to climate change, air pollution and energy security. Jacobson warns that global warming will accelerate even as humans clean up air pollution, and that in order to stabilize, the alternative technologies that humans implement must result in an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide. Jacobson includes many factors in his analysis: time between planning for an energy source and the actual operation, climate impact, water use, cost, risk to human health and safety, and air pollution. He recommends wind, geothermal, and hydro as viable sources for powering vehicles. He discourages further development of nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, cellulosic ethanol, and corn ethanol.

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