economics

The Solar Opportunity: How New Business Models Can Make the Sun a Mainstream Source of Global Electricity

Lyndon Rive, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SolarCity

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

Most of the scientific community and a growing portion of the energy industry recognize that solar energy is one of the cleanest and most widely accessible means of producing electricity on Earth, yet solar power still counts for far less than 1 percent of global energy production. If solar is to take its proper place among coal, oil & gas, nuclear and other primary energy sources, new business models must necessarily emerge to facilitate mass adoption. Solar technology has become a risky, highly competitive gambit for new businesses. Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs in services, where new approaches to financing, distribution, implementation and administration can remove key barriers to adoption. This talk will explore today’s best solar opportunities from the entrepreneur’s perspective, and some emerging business models that might address them.

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Economic Analysis of the Solar Industry: Achieving Grid Parity

Annie Hazlehurst, Graduate Student, Stanford GSB

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

The economics of solar systems will drive long term adoption and market viability. Today, the U.S. and many other countries continue to subsidize the cost of solar systems and incentivize adoption through standards such as RPS. If solar is going to contribute meaningfully to our energy future, the economics must favorably compare to alternative sources of energy on a levelized cost basis. When and how will we achieve grid parity? The talk will cover where we are today and where we need to get for solar to be a primary source of global energy generation.

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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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National Academy of Sciences Report: America's Energy Future: Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass

Michael Ramage, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (retired);
James Sweeney, Stanford University

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:30 PM | McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center | Free and Open to All

National Academy of Sciences Report: America's Energy Future: Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass

The volatility of oil prices, the large proportion of oil importation, and the massive contribution of greenhouse gases from the transportation sector motivates the United States to seek domestic sources of alternative transportation fuels with lower greenhouse emissions. The abundance of coal and biomass in the United States makes them attractive candidates to provide alternatives to petroleum-based liquid fuels. However, there are important questions about the economic viability, carbon impact, and technology status of these options.

The National Research Council report Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts provides a snapshot of the potential costs of liquid fuels from biomass by biochemical conversion and from biomass and coal by thermochemical conversion. The report concluded that alternative liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass have the potential to play an important role in helping the United States address issues of energy security, supply diversification, and greenhouse-gas impacts. The various options have different greenhouse gas impacts, and the choices will most likely depend on U.S. carbon policy. Cellulosic ethanol, coal-to-liquid fuels, and coal and biomass to liquid fuels can be available commercially in the 2020 time frame if large-scale demonstrations of the conversion technologies are pursued aggressively in the next few years.

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Why the United States Has Yet to Benefit from Electricity Industry Re-structuring (And What Can Be Done to Change This)

Frank Wolak, Stanford University

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

April 29, 2009 - Frank Wolak, senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, discusses restructuring the electricity industry in the U.S. and explains the problems involved in energy market design. He believes that the divergent goals of state-level and federal-level regulation of the energy industry are ultimately harming consumers, and that in the future, there will be a need to address government vs. private ownership. Wolak calls for the need to treat electricity like any other product in the U.S. and argues for changing the structure of the electricity network to a market-controlled system, rather than an explicitly regulated one. However, because the market system carries with it many problems that can lead to an imbalanced power structure, some regulation is necessary. Wolak believes the United States will need to protect consumers from price risk and ensure the right to electricity. Wolak also projects that installation of smart meters will lead to estimated savings on wholesale energy purchase costs. Currently, investor-owned utilities are installing hourly meters for customers, and this restructuring is a positive step.
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Taking Solar Seriously:  How to Run a Modern Industrial Civilization on Sunbeams

Denis Hayes, President and CEO, Bullitt Foundation, National Coordinator of first Earth Day

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

Mr. Hayes spoke about taking solar seriously. Hayes, who served as national coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970, is currently the president and chief executive officer of the Bullitt Foundation, which advocates for environmental protection and sustainability practices in the Pacific Northwest. Hayes also directed the National Renewable Energy Laboratory under President Jimmy Carter's administration and served as President of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) in 1968.

No video or speaker slides available

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How Energy Policy is Really Made

Tara Billingsley, Professional Staff, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Tara Billingsley, professional staff, for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, discusses current and proposed U.S. energy policy and the legislative process. The Energy Seminar meets during the academic year on Wednesdays, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.

No video or speaker slides available

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Transforming Our Energy Economy: The Role of Renewable Energy

Dr. Dan E. Arvizu, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

April 1, 2009 - Dan Arvizu, director of the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), discusses the current state of renewable energy technology and implementation in the U.S., as well as potential advancements in the near future. He focuses on the need to increase energy efficiency and to expand the renewable energy marketplace in the United States. A recent increase in the laboratory's budget is promising, but they also need to increase the speed of technology uptake. Arvizu argues that local economics are encouraged by green techology. If the United States begins on the path to sustainable energy use, then these incremental changes will bring about a transition within the energy sector. The key challenges are implementing renewable energy at scale, displacing petroleum fuels, and reducing the energy demands of industry. He focuses on buildings as one of the biggest targets for emissions reduction because they are big emitters and there are low-cost options to reduce their carbon output. Wind and solar are also becoming more viable renewable energy sources, but Arzivu expresses a need to improve current technologies. NREL is positioned to address the large-scale deployment issues that also currently exist. The laboratory planning to implement different combinations of alternative technologies in each country where it works, based on their energy sector's adaptability to the various technologies.
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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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Can Nuclear Energy be a Sustainable Contribution to Address the Climate Change Concerns? The French Experience

Jacques Bouchard, former head of the Nuclear Energy Division of Commissariat a L’Energie Atomique in France

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

February 25, 2009 - Jacques Bouchard, former head of the Nuclear Energy Division of Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique in France, gives a comprehensive overview of France's innovative development of nuclear energy technology. He emphasizes the concern about climate change and the need to implement a new energy system that emits lower greenhouse gases as reasons for the necessity of nuclear energy around the world. Bouchard presents the French Act on Waste Management as a model for nuclear development in other countries: the EDF Generation Fleet focuses on optimization which is dependent upon consumption and has very low carbon dioxide emissions. France has developed large nuclear power capacity, but needs to have better use of uranium resources. The nuclear industry is now ready to implement newer and safer reactors. Bouchard explains that within 15% of the cost of a nuclear plant is set aside so that decommission can be conducted safely. Although Bouchard promotes nuclear energy as a positive path for many countries, he suggests the precondition of political stability for countries interested in nuclear energy.
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