energy and climate policy
Frank Wolak, the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University
Monday, May 21, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
Because electricity is a necessary input to so many economic activities, there are significant political obstacles to charging business and residential customers retail prices that reflect the hourly wholesale price of electricity. A long history of retail electricity prices that do not vary with real-time system conditions makes this task even more difficult. Finally, the lack of interval meters on the customer’s premises makes it impossible to determine precisely how much energy each customer withdraws in a given hour.
Recently a number of jurisdictions in the U.S. have installed the interval meters necessary for customers to participate actively in the wholesale market. This talk will summarize the results of a number of research projects at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development for allowing electricity consumers to benefit from active participation in wholesale electricity markets. The results of dynamic pricing and information provision experiments will be summarized, and current and future directions for research at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development will be described. Necessary changes in state-level regulatory policies that can also unlock the economic benefits of modern technologies for active participation of final consumers will also be discussed.
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.
Panel: Ed Moore, Detroit Public Television; David Biello, Scientific American; Sally Benson, Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University; Mark Zoback, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University
Moderator: Paul Rogers, KQED News
Monday, March 12, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 06:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
|Ed Moore||David Biello||Paul Rogers||Mark Zoback||Sally Benson|
"Beyond the Light Switch" takes viewers on an enlightening and comprehensive journey into the inner workings of the electrical power infrastructure, from a first-of-its-kind coal plant in West Virginia to natural gas wells in Pennsylvania, from the inside of a nuclear reactor under construction in Tennessee to wind farms in Oregon. The documentary, which was directed and co-written by Ed Moore, won a 2011 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, the highest honor in broadcast journalism. The two-hour show, of which an abbreviated version will be screened, illustrates how a new paradigm is rapidly evolving for electric power generation.
What is this new paradigm? By 2050, the United States must replace most of its electric power generation fleet, cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% and completely update its power grid. All of this must happen while demand for electricity is expected to rise 30%.
Katherine Richardson, University of Copenhagen
Monday, March 5, 2012 | 12:15 PM - 01:30 PM | Mackenzie Room, Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
For the first time in history, the human demand for a number of critical natural resources is approaching or exceeding the global supply of these resources. Sustainable development requires that the demand for resources be brought into, and maintained within, the limit of supply. This means that the only possible growth paradigm for society demands that we use our natural resources much more efficiently and, when possible, develop alternatives for resources where demand approaches supply. While this paradigm applies to a number of natural resources, it is most obviously playing out with respect to energy. Here, two resources are challenged by demand at the global level: fossil fuels (especially oil) and our common atmospheric garbage dump for greenhouse gas waste.
This is leading a number of countries – especially those where energy security in the short-term is potentially threatened – to invest in or plan alternative energy systems. Denmark has set an absolute date of 2050 for removing fossil fuels from its energy system, the first country in the world to take such action. This talk will describe the Danish plan, how it was developed, the strategy for achieving fossil fuel independence and the status of the transition.
Craig Criddle, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Richard G.Luthy, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Monday, February 13, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
By the end of the 20th century, the United States had about 15,000 wastewater treatment plants and 13,000 landfills. These systems were designed to prevent environmental harm and to protect public health. Other factors, such as energy costs and climate change, were not a consideration. Waste and wastewater were collected, transported to centralized facilities, treated to remove harmful agents, and the effluents and residuals discharged. Now these systems have reached their design life and are in need of revitalization. Energy costs, climate change, and demand for secure supplies of water, food and materials provide powerful incentives for technological innovation through the creation of circular markets. In such markets, wastewater becomes a resource for local production of freshwater and nutrients, and organic waste becomes feedstock for local production of energy and biomaterials. Many groups around the world are now developing technology to enable such innovation.
Mark Zoback, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University
Monday, January 30, 2012 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
It is now clear that enormous quantities of natural gas can be produced from organic rich shales found in many countries throughout the world. Because natural gas is both a flexible fuel and much cleaner than other fossil fuels, it has the potential to significantly transform energy use in many regions. Natural gas used for electrical power generation produces about half as much CO2 as coal.
Despite these advantages, there are also significant challenges associated natural gas development. These include minimizing the impact of shale gas development on the environment and communities. In the U.S. alone, thousands of wells will need to be drilled each year (along with construction of pipelines, compressor and distribution facilities, etc.). While a number of misleading claims have been made about the dangers associated with processes such as hydraulic fracturing, poor well construction and drilling have the potential to cause environmental damage which must be minimized.
Another challenge associated with shale gas development is to significantly improve the efficiency of drilling and production practice. This will require greatly improved understanding of shale gas production from the nano-scale pore structure and flow mechanisms in the shale to the optimal way to stimulate production using horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing.
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.
Richard Swanson, SunPower Corp.
Monday, November 14, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
SunPower Founder: Solar’s Learning Curve Paves Way to Competitive Costs
By Mark Golden
Solar power, despite critiques that it is too expensive to significantly contribute to a green future, will be cost competitive without government subsidies in just a few years, according to a pioneer of both the solar industry and research.
The price of generating solar power in some cases is already on par with electricity generated by burning fossil fuels, according to Richard Swanson, who was an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University for 16 years before he left to found SunPower in 1991. Large photovoltaic (PV) power plants, like the one SunPower is building to supply PG&E, are already cost competitive, as are home rooftop panels in Hawaii and several European countries.
“We’re at the precipice, man,” Swanson enthused. “PV is basically right there, after all these years of hard work.”
Dan Reicher, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University
Monday, October 24, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
The talk will focus on the "clean energy triangle" -- technology, policy and finance -- with a particular emphasis on the role that policy and finance have in driving the development and deployment of a broad array of clean energy technologies, from efficiency and renewables to advanced fossil and nuclear. This will include a discussion of the "Valley of Death" -- the looming chasm that often sits between the early government and venture-funded development of an energy technology and its full-scale commercial deployment. The talk will also cover the important intersection between energy technology and information technology and the current stalemate in energy policy in Washington, D.C.
Jane Long, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Monday, October 17, 2011 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All
The California Council on Science and Technology has undertaken a study of California's energy system in 2050. By executive order, the state is to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The study identifies energy system descriptions (call "portraits") from a technical perspective that would meet this standard and allow for population and economic growth. The requirement for growth means that the energy system should have nearly zero emissions. The portraits are constructed by evaluating four key questions: How much can we control demand? How much heat and transportation will be electrified? How will electricity be de-carbonized? How much sustainable biofuel could be available? Results show an energy system that dramatically different than today, but largely relies on technology we know about.