renewable energy

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.

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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.

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Photon Enhanced Thermionic Emission (PETE)

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.

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How the West Can Accommodate High Penetrations of Wind and Solar Power

Debra Lew, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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)

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Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford: The Grand Challenge

Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor in Petroleum Engineering, Energy Resources Engineering Department Director, Precourt Institute for Energy



Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Franklin M. ("Lynn") Orr, Jr. became the director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford upon its establishment in 2009. He served as director of the Global Climate and Energy Project from 2002 to 2008. Orr was the Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University from 1994 to 2002. He has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1985 and holds the Keleen and Carlton Beal Chair of Petroleum Engineering in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, and is a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. His research activities focus on how complex fluid mixtures flow in the porous rocks in the Earth's crust, the design of gas injection processes for enhanced oil recovery, and CO2 storage in subsurface formations. Orr is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He serves as vice chair of the board of directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and he chairs the Science Advisory Committee for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and was a foundation board member from 1999-2008.

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Panel: The Energy Innovation Ecosystem

Note different time and location - 3:45-5:15pm, McCaw Hall

Moderated by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth


Held in conjunction with the GCEP Annual Research Symposium

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | 03:45 PM - 05:15 PM | McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center | Free and Open to All

Andrew Revkin, editor of Dot Earth, will moderate a discussion with leaders from industry about the opportunities for businesses and countries to participate in the energy economy and the "energy innovation ecosystem" that will be needed to stimulate, support, and sustain innovation in the energy sector. This panel takes place in conjunction with the Annual Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) Research Symposium which this year has the theme of “Creating a Sustainable Energy System for the 21st Century and Beyond”.

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Making large scale solar work: What is needed and what role can Stanford play?

Margot Gerritsen, Stanford University

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Most stakeholders agree that solar energy can provide a significant percentage of U.S. electrical needs over the coming decades. National public support of solar energy projects, and large scale solar projects, is strong. Despite the support and excitement, the first of the newly proposed, and fast-tracked, large scale solar projects are facing significant hurdles. Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment recently hosted a two-day forum in which industry, NGOs, policy makers and scientists discussed these challenges and brainstormed ideas to meet them. Margot Gerritsen, who led the forum, will discuss the outcomes of this fascinating forum. Questions addressed in her talk include: Why is there broad excitement about large scale solar? What are fast track projects, and why are they facing high hurdles? What do tortoises have to do with large scale solar projects? How can we make large scale solar work, and what role can Stanford play?

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Nano-scaled Materials for the Synthesis of Fuels from Sunlight

Thomas Jaramillo, Stanford University

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Solar energy is an attractive option that could potentially provide our energy needs in sustainable fashion, but a number of major scientific challenges stand in the way of developing cost-effective methods to capture and store solar energy at the terrestrial scale. One means to store this energy is in the form of fuels, i.e. using solar energy to drive redox reactions such as splitting water into H2 and O2 or the conversion of atmospheric CO2 to alcohols and hydrocarbons. This talk will focus on the development of the three key components needed to synthesize liquid and gaseous fuels from sunlight: (1) semiconductors with appropriate electronic band structure for solar photon absorption and for sufficient photovoltage to drive redox reactions, (2) water oxidation catalysis to provide the protons and electrons needed for the fuel synthesis reduction reactions, and (3) electro-reduction catalysis for the evolution of hydrogen and/or the reduction of CO2 to liquid fuels. The exploitation of nano-scale effects will be discussed as a means to tailor material surface and bulk properties to fit these needs.

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What Does the Smart Grid Enable?: A Utility and Grid Operator's Perspective

Paul De Martini, Vice President of Advanced Technology, Southern California Edison

Jim Detmers, Vice President of Operations, CA Independent Systems (CAISO)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

During the Energy Seminar’s 4-part series on the future of the Grid we have explored what the “Smart Grid” is, a case study integrating more than 50% wind on the grid, issues and solutions for extending the grid, and with this talk we will examine the requirements for integration of utility-scale renewable energy. Paul De Martini, Vice President of Advanced Technology at Southern California Edison, and Jim Detmers, Vice President of Operations at California Independent Systems Operator, will speak from a utility and grid operator’s perspective about operations today and opportunities in the future as we move into an age of renewable energy and distributed generation.


California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is one of the most ambitious standards in the country, and they will discuss how smart grid technologies would contribute to make the 2020 targets realistic. They will examine the business case for smart grid investments and strategies for implementing smart meter demand-side management and incentives for consumer’s households. Additionally they will address the added complexities of managing our electricity distribution system while integrating renewables, meeting peak demands, and possibly responding to increased electricity demand for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

How will smart grid technologies contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Is the electric utilities sector in California structured properly to move into the age of renewable energy and distributed generation? How would you define a successful rollout of smart grid technologies? The speakers will address these questions as well during their discussion.

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China’s Growing Global Influence: A Solar Energy Perspective

Reyad Fezzani, Chief Executive Officer, BP Solar

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | Building 420, Room 40 | Free and Open to All

Reyad Fezzani is CEO of BP Solar, a pioneering, global solar energy company of BP. Reyad has lived and worked in many parts of the world from which he has developed a deep knowledge and understanding of global business and economics. He will speak from first-hand experience about the peaceful rise of Chinese capitalism, including its recent and growing influence in the solar energy industry.

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