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.


The color of energy: The Green New Deal Must Benefit Black And Hispanic Americans

James Ellsmor, Author Arti­cle appeared in Forbes, Jan­u­ary 28, 2019 Solar power is a quickly grow­ing energy source in the United States, offer­ing impor­tant finan­cial ben­e­fits to house­holds. How­ever, a new study shows that many Amer­i­cans lack access to solar power. The report pub­lished in Nature Sus­tain­abil­ity by researchers from Tufts Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of California […]

New article on the racial disparities in installed rooftop solar in the US .

Not every­one is ben­e­fit­ing equally from the avail­abil­ity of new solar energy tech­nolo­gies, a new study by researchers at UC Berke­ley and Tufts Uni­ver­sity shows. To access and down­load the paper, click here. By com­bin­ing remote sens­ing data from Google’s Project Sun­roof with cen­sus tract infor­ma­tion, the researchers dis­cov­ered sig­nif­i­cant racial dis­par­i­ties in the adop­tion of rooftop solar photovoltaics. […]

Commentary on National Public Radio about the COP24 Climate Convention
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Decem­ber 16, 2018: Coun­tries Adopt ‘Play­book’ To Imple­ment Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment Decem­ber 9, 2018: For­mer U.S. Sci­ence Envoy: The Tone Of Cli­mate Talks Is Now ‘Quite Grim’ Text: Both inter­views:   Decem­ber 16, 2018 — MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We’d like to go back now to that big United Nations cli­mate con­fer­ence that just wrapped up in Poland. […]

National Public Radio: Former U.S. Science Envoy: The Tone Of Climate Talks Is Now ‘Quite Grim’

For the audio of the story, click here. For­mer U.S. Sci­ence Envoy: The Tone Of Cli­mate Talks Is Now ‘Quite Grim’ NPR’s Michel Mar­tin talks with Daniel Kam­men, for­mer sci­ence envoy to the State Depart­ment, about the U.N. cli­mate talks being held in Poland. Tran­script MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: Now we’d like to hear about that major […]

The Clean Energy Transition in Bangladesh (November 1, 2018)
Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.14.55 AM

For a video of the lec­ture: https://chowdhurycenter.berke​ley​.edu/​c​l​e​a​n​-​e​n​e​rgy

Upcoming Events

RAEL Lunch: 27 February — Advancing Energy and Climate Planning Models: Optimization Methods, Variable Renewables, and Smart Grids
February 27 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Energy and Resources Group

James Merrick’s research focuses on the improve­ment of math­e­mat­i­cal mod­el­ing meth­ods to address a vari­ety of energy and cli­mate plan­ning prob­lems. This talk will dis­cuss this research, with an empha­sis on how to struc­ture mod­els to pro­vide eco­nomic and pol­icy insight, focus­ing on appro­pri­ate val­u­a­tion of renew­ables and energy stor­age options. James com­pleted his PhD […]

Climate Change: What Should Cities Do?
February 27 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
March 13: RAEL Lunch, Emma Tome “Energy and environmental justice”
March 13 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
310 Barrows Hall

Emma’s inter­ests are at the inter­sec­tion of cli­mate change adap­ta­tion, envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, and sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy stud­ies, with a focus on renew­able energy tech­nol­ogy adop­tion in under-​​​​resourced com­mu­ni­ties. She received her B.A. in Geog­ra­phy and B.S. in Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences at UC Berke­ley in 2011, and her under­grad­u­ate research focused on crit­i­cal approaches to GIS technology […]

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