energy for the developing world
Panel, Ethics in an Energy Crisis: What Should We Do When Current Needs Conflict with Long-Term Sustainability?
Mark Bryant Budolfson, Blake Francis, Hyunseop Kim, Stanford University
Introduction by Debra Satz, Professor of Ethics in Society, Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities and Arts
Monday, October 21, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
|Mark Budolfson||Blake Francis||Hyunseop Kim||Debra Satz|
Ethics are important. The economic divide between the developed and developing world highlights the ethical dimensions of energy access in a climate-constrained world. Is it fair to hinder economic growth in developing countries because the wealthiest nations have changed the composition of the atmosphere and changed the climate of the planet? To what extent do the developed nations bear responsibility for not only remedying the problem, but also for compensating those people who are now suffering because of climate climate, or who could face tight emissions restrictions? As the economic balance of the world changes, what role should rapidly developing nations share in the responsibility to address these issues?
Here, we examine these issues through the lens of one country, Pakistan, which is struggling with a severe energy crisis that is holding back economic development and exacerbating political instability. Ethicists, economists, and others have developed a set of useful tools for deciding what to do when economic, environmental, and social values conflict. We will explain how some of these tools–including cost benefit analysis, the precautionary principle, and principles of justice–can help us evaluate aspects of the recent energy crisis in Pakistan, in which many competing values are at play. After months of rolling blackouts and documented impacts to economic growth, the Pakistani government decided to meet the current needs of their citizens by investing in coal and other fossil fuel technologies, rather than alternative sources of energy that many would argue are superior from the perspective of long-run sustainability. We use this example to illustrate how different general ethical theories use the tools we discuss to recommend different courses of action. One upshot is that ethics has many sophisticated tools but also involves many important unresolved questions–about how to make tradeoffs between different values, how to respond to risk and uncertainty, and so on. Another upshot is that ethics alone cannot settle what should be done in such complex situations–collaboration is also needed with those who have technical, political, and economic expertise. However, ethics can help clarify our reasoning, make our assumptions about values more explicit, and expose our values to critical scrutiny. In sum, we demonstrate the valuable role ethics can play when making decisions in the face of social and environmental challenges.
Shisen Xu, President, Clean Energy Research Institute at China Huaneng Group; moderated by Jeffrey Ball, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University
Monday, October 7, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
China consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined, and is leading the world in greenhouse gas emissions. Now, even as China builds more coal-fired power plants, it is working 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. During this talk, the top technology officer from China’s largest power company will assess the state of cleaner coal-burning technology and its prospects for real-world rollout in China and around the globe. Shisen Xu is President of the Clean Energy Research Institute at China Huaneng Group, one of China’s largest state-owned electric utilities.
Ted Hesser, Independent Consultant
Monday, September 30, 2013 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
Poverty and profit tend not to mix. Yet, the alleviation of the former is creating a tremendous opportunity for the latter. Close to one billion people have risen above the poverty line over the past twenty years, entering the global consumer marketplace. The trend is anticipated to continue – potentially liberating the remaining one billion people from poverty over the next two decades. For investors, the implication is the emergence of the largest new market for global goods and services. An estimated three billion people now earn between $2 and $10 a day. Selling basic services to this market through micropayment schemes may enable technology access, development gains, environmental benefits, and profit opportunities that were unimaginable prior to mobile banking. Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar may become the largest opportunity in energy services, and business models positioned at the confluence of declining component costs, rising mobile money usage, and low cost financing are poised for explosive growth over the coming years. Efficient product distribution and working capital financing are the primary impediments to scale. Neither raw demand nor market size is a concern. Rural villagers can save money today and dramatically improve their quality of life as customers of PAYG solar. There are multiple companies successfully selling low cost solar power systems and services to homes and small shops across the developing world through multiple business models. These business models and their execution will determine the spoils of this enormous market opportunity.
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.
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.
Michael Dale, Global Climate & Energy Project, Stanford University
Monday, April 2, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
A combination of policy measures and reduced costs have driven a rapid growth in global installed capacity of solar photovoltaics. This rapid growth has prompted concerns over the net energy yield of PV energy production. Mik will analyze the energy balance of the PV industry given historic and projected growth in capacity. Results suggest that, despite the large amount of energy required to manufacture and install PV systems, there is a high likelihood (greater than 80%) that the industry became a net provider of electricity between 2009 and today. If current trends continue, the industry will almost certainly be a net electricity producer by 2015 and will have ‘paid back’ the energy subsidy required for its early growth by the end of this decade. This analysis raises a number of implications for PV research, development and deployment including: further reducing the energy embodied within PV systems, including balance of system components; designing more efficient and durable systems; and deployment in regions that will achieve high capacity factors.
George Frampton, Jr., Covington & Burling LLP
Monday, November 7, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
As unlikely as it may seem, the future of the commercial nuclear industry, except perhaps in a few European countries and in Japan, appears to have been little affected by the Fukushima disaster. In the United States, Fukushima may have an impact on the relicensing of old plants and result in new safety requirements. But the principal barrier to a “nuclear renaissance” in this country remains the fact that nuclear is not cost competitive with other alternatives; indeed, its lack of competitiveness has been accentuated by the new prospect of cheap and abundant domestic natural gas, and by escalating nuclear capital costs. But nuclear will likely boom in China, India, Russia and perhaps other developing countries. It is China that will likely take the lead in new designs and in growing an export business of nuclear construction and operation. But without a safety law or a nuclear safety agency, with no history of independent regulatory entities, and with a record of problematic infrastructure construction, China will be challenged to move ahead at the pace currently envisioned without raising serious concern among its population and the nuclear community.
Ashok Gadgil, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley
Monday, February 28, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
In parallel with his research in Indoor Environment, Dr. Gadgil has a long record of innovative solutions to problems in the developing world. He has pioneered the way to accelerate access to compact fluorescent lamps for poor households in developing countries; invented and commercialized a method to affordably disinfect drinking water for poor communities; designed, tested, and then found a way to build, field-test, and disseminate thousands of fuel-efficient stoves to refugee women in Darfur; and invented and is currently field-testing an extremely low cost, robust, and technically reliable method to remove arsenic from drinking water in Bangladesh and nearby regions.
Followed by a MAP Energy Social held in the Huang-Foyer (next to the NVIDIA Auditorium)
Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All
Part 2: Miniseries on Energy Impact
Governments are currently considering policies that will limit greenhouse gas concentrations, including negotiation of an international treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. Designing effective climate change mitigation and adaptation measures requires rigorous, comprehensive, detailed analyses of the response of climate dynamics to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, and of the potential impacts of those climate changes on natural and human systems. Using a high-resolution climate modeling system, we find that the potential impacts of very high greenhouse gas concentrations are largest where critical thresholds are crossed, with fine-scale climate processes amplifying the climate change – and therefore the impacts – in many regions. We also find that substantial intensification of hot extremes could occur within the next 3 decades, below the 2 ˚C global warming target currently being considered by policy makers. However, the critical importance of energy consumption to human development and well-being creates a tension for both development priorities and climate policy. Indeed, we find that closing the gap in energy consumption between rich and poor populations via intensive consumption and emissions profiles causes global warming of 1.75 to 4.75 ˚C, along with seasonal warming that exceeds two standard deviations of interannual variability over most land areas. This level of climate change is independent of any future emissions by the 28 countries that exhibit the highest levels of well-being at present, suggesting that simultaneously ensuring human well-being and avoiding dangerous climate change requires intensive efforts to enable low-carbon energy consumption.
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