Full video of presentation, “Innovating for the clean energy economy” @ MIT Energy Initiative

For the video of the talk: click here.

Talk deliv­ered Feb­ru­ary 19, 2018

Daniel Kam­men is a pro­fes­sor of energy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, with par­al­lel appoint­ments in the Energy and Resources Group (which he chairs), the Gold­man School of Pub­lic Pol­icy, and the Depart­ment of Nuclear Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing. Recently, he gave a talk at MITEI exam­in­ing the cur­rent state of clean energy inno­va­tion and imple­men­ta­tion, both in the U.S. and inter­na­tion­ally. Using a com­bi­na­tion of ana­lyt­i­cal and empir­i­cal approaches, he dis­cussed the strengths and weak­nesses of clean energy efforts on the house­hold, city, and regional levels.

Q: Your team has built energy tran­si­tion mod­els for sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing Chile, Nicaragua, China, and India. Can you describe how these mod­els work and how they can inform global cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions like the Paris Accords?

A: My lab­o­ra­tory has worked with three gov­ern­ments to build open-​​source mod­els of the cur­rent state of their energy sys­tems and pos­si­ble oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment. This model, SWITCH, is an excep­tion­ally high-​​resolution plat­form for exam­in­ing the costs, reli­a­bil­ity, and car­bon emis­sions of energy sys­tems as small as Nicaragua’s and as large as China’s. The excit­ing recent devel­op­ments in the cost and per­for­mance improve­ments of solar, wind, energy stor­age, and elec­tric vehi­cles per­mit the plan­ning of dra­mat­i­cally decar­bonized sys­tems that have a wide range of ancil­lary ben­e­fits: increased reli­a­bil­ity, improved air qual­ity, and mon­e­tiz­ing energy effi­ciency, to name just a few. With the Paris Cli­mate Accords plac­ing 80% or greater decar­boniza­tion tar­gets on all nations’ agen­das (sadly, except for the U.S. fed­eral gov­ern­ment), the need for an ‘hon­est bro­ker’ for the costs and oper­a­tional issues around power sys­tems is key.

Q: At the end of your talk, you men­tioned a car­bon foot­print cal­cu­la­tor that you helped cre­ate. How much do indi­vid­ual behav­iors mat­ter in address­ing cli­mate change?

A: The car­bon foot­print, or Cool­Cli­mate project, is a visu­al­iza­tion and behav­ioral eco­nom­ics tool that can be used to high­light the impacts of indi­vid­ual deci­sions at the house­hold, school, and city level. We have used it to sup­port city-​​city com­pe­ti­tions for “California’s coolest city,” to explore the rel­a­tive impacts of life­time choices (buy­ing an elec­tric vehi­cle ver­sus or along with changes of diet), and more.

Q: You touched on the topic of the “high ambi­tion coali­tion,” a COP21 goal of keep­ing warm­ing under 1.5 degrees Cel­sius. Can you expand on this move­ment and the car­bon neg­a­tive strate­gies it would require?

A: As we look at paths to a sus­tain­able global energy sys­tem, efforts to limit warm­ing to 1.5 degrees Cel­sius will require not only zero­ing out indus­trial and agri­cul­tural emis­sions, but also remov­ing car­bon from the atmos­phere. This demands increas­ing nat­ural car­bon sinks by pre­serv­ing or expand­ing forests, sus­tain­ing ocean sys­tems, and mak­ing agri­cul­ture cli­mate– and water-​​smart. One path­way, bio­mass energy with car­bon cap­ture and seques­tra­tion, has both sup­port­ers and detrac­tors. It involves grow­ing bio­mass, using it for energy, and then seques­ter­ing the emissions.


Open letter to California on taking a more aggressive stance on the climate emergency — by Tee­nie Mat­lock, Manuel Pas­tor, David Pel­low, Veer­ab­had­ran Ramanathan, Tom Steyer, Leah Stokes, Feliz Ven­tura & Daniel Kammen

A team of energy and cli­mate experts have penned an open let­ter to accel­er­ate the time­line for cli­mate action in Cal­i­for­nia. The let­ter can be read here on this real​.berke​ley​.edu web­site. The let­ter has been authored by: Tee­nie Mat­lock, Manuel Pas­tor, David Pel­low, Veer­ab­had­ran Ramanathan, Tom Steyer, Leah Stokes, Feliz Ven­tura & Daniel Kam­men The let­ter has been […]

Opinion: More big PG&E rate hikes if use of outdated system continues

EAST BAY TIMES: MARCH 4, 2021: For the orig­i­nal, click here. Opin­ion: Daniel M Kamen If you live in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, your util­ity bill likely will rise by 8% this month. For Pacific Gas & Elec­tric cus­tomers, this will be the sev­enth year in a row of increases. The company’s rates have dou­bled since 2005 — and they’re […]

New paper “Have We Reached Peak Carbon Emissions?”

To link to the pub­li­ca­tion on our RAEL pages, click here. On the pages of the Klein­man Cen­ter for Energy Pol­icy at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, click here.  

The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power
Screen Shot 2021-02-19 at 11.40.41 AM

For the orig­i­nal in The New Yorker (Feb­ru­ary 19, 2021), click here. By Rebecca Tuhus-​​​​Dubrow In 2004, Heather Hoff was work­ing at a cloth­ing store and liv­ing with her hus­band in San Luis Obispo, a small, laid-​​​​back city in the Cen­tral Coast region of Cal­i­for­nia. A few years ear­lier, she had earned a B.S. in mate­ri­als engineering […]

Why America’s power grids will keep failing us (Salon)

    Nicole Karlis, Salon. Link to the orig­i­nal arti­cle in Salon, click here. Wednes­day marked the third day that many Tex­ans found them­selves with­out power fol­low­ing a rare win­ter storm and frigid tem­per­a­tures dip­ping into the low 20s. While power is being restored in some areas, rotat­ing out­ages are expected to start on Wednes­day in Texas. The sit­u­a­tion is dire […]

Main Menu

Energy & Resources Group
310 Barrows Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3050
Phone: (510) 642-1640
Fax: (510) 642-1085


  • Open the Main Menu
  • People at RAEL

  • Open the Main Menu