If Only Renewable Energy Had a Smaller ‘But’

August, 2013
Pacific Standard

Wind and solar remain small components of the U.S. energy portfolio, but two new data points out this week suggest they’re starting to to hit their stride.

Renewable energy always seems to get a “but” whenever it comes up in discussion about American energy sources. As in, “It would be nice, but…” it’s impractical, unreliable, or just too small a piece of the puzzle to really matter. As nuclear safety engineer Homer Simpson prayed one Thanksgiving: “And Lord, we are especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is. Except for solar, which is just a pipe dream.”

Solar energy could supply one-third of power in U.S. West

August, 2013
UC Berkeley News Center

Low-cost solar power could supply more than a third of all energy needs in the Western U.S., if the nation can hit its targets for reducing the cost of solar energy, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Solar panels. iStock image

Solar could power more than 1/3 of the US West finds new study

August, 2013
Clean Energy Authority.com

That’s if the SunShot Initiative’s goals to reduce the cost of solar are realized, according to a new University of California, Berkeley. The research used computer modeling to predict what the U.S. West’s energy infrastructure could look like by 2050.

The study was led by study leader Dan Kammen, a professor of Energy in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and will appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, in a piece that was written by graduate student Ana Mileva, coauthored by James Nelson and Josiah Johnston. In the study the researchers developed a computer model to predict what will happen if the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative succeeds, including the effects of potential carbon policies like a carbon cap.

Beyond Fossil Fuels: A chat with renewable energy expert Dan Kammen

May, 2013
Bay Nature

Ever heard of California’s “Low Carbon Fuel Standard”? UC Berkeley prof Dan Kammen co-wrote it. What about the terms “cap and trade” and “carbon offsets”? Kammen helped popularize these concepts for the American public and transform the way we view energy consumption.

As director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley — where he also holds appointments in the Environmental Resources Group and the Department of Nuclear Engineering — Kammen integrates scientific, policy and business research,  then translates his research into action. He has served as Chief Technical Advisor – popularly known as the “Energy Czar” – to the World Bank and published innumerable books and academic articles.

On June 4th, Kammen will be speaking at Acterra’s Beyond Fossil Fuels lecture series about how we can shift away from carbon-based fuels using promising new technologies.

BN:  What is your connection to the Bay Area?

Kammen:  In 1998 I was Associate Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.  The Energy and Resources Group here at Cal is world-famous, and they asked if I would be interested in joining the group.  I was, so I joined that summer.

What drew me here was not just the climate or the environment, but the people.  There are people studying climate change, people engaged in clean technologies – all kinds of wonderful, different people.

BN: How well are we doing in the Bay Area with regards to minimizing the use of fossil fuels?