Search Results for 'Carbon Emissions'

Reality Check: Are California’s Carbon Emissions Goals Attainable? (NBC News)

To see the video: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Reality-Check-Are-Californias-Carbon-Emissions-Goals-Attainable-302508541.html  

California Governor Jerry Brown announced last week a new plan for reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The executive order calls on the Golden State to decrease carbon emission rates by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.

“I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” the governor told onlookers when he announced the executive order last week.

The goal sets a national precedent and is on par with the benchmark set in place by the European Union last year — the most ambitious target in the world.

Executive orders aren’t technically law, but rather set mandates around which legislation can be written.

The proposal will serve as an interim goal established by the governor as the state works toward reaching its target of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

That’s the more long term plan laid out in Senate Bill 32, legislation introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) at the end of last year.

What does the governor’s announcement mean for the state? Getting halfway to that 2050 benchmark within the next 15 years.

Has the governor set the bar too high, or is this simply an expression of his faith in California’s climate change policy?

“This is basically saying we need a new industrial revolution,” Dan Kammen, Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley told NBC Bay Area. “The last one took about 150 years. Now we need to do it between now and 2050.”

Kammen says despite the ambitious target, the state can reach the governor’s goal, but getting there by 2030 isn’t going to be easy.

California has already begun plucking at the ‘low hanging fruit’ to bring carbon levels down, like incentivizing cleaner cars, implementing stingier fuel standards and promoting renewable energies—the state sources 24 percent of its power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power. In light of the governor’s new demand, Kammen says California must majorly increase its use of these technologies, and leverage them in new ways.

“Finding ways to do these things together is really kind of the magic of California innovation on the technical and policy side,” he said. “Because the more we can find opportunities to do both of these things together, like electric vehicles charged up by solar, wind and other renewables, that means that you win twice over. That’s literally a win-win strategy.”

According to figures from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state’s carbon emissions dropped nearly 7 percent between 2004 and 2012, the year that data is most recently available. If the state keeps at the same rate, it will actually beat the 2020 carbon emissions benchmark set forth by CARB.

So for now, California is ahead of the game in making carbon reductions.

But the real challenge as meeting Governor Brown’s benchmark comes into action will be convincing everyday citizens to play a significant role in cutting back on emissions, said Abby Young, Climate Policy Manager at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Most of the energy nationwide — around 70 percent — is consumed in buildings, and the Bay Area is home to a number of older office spaces and residential properties. Due to their age, these types of buildings are rarely energy efficient.

While requirements have been established for new construction to meet energy efficiency standards, real progress could mean state and local governments incentivizing homeowners to jump on board with retrofitting their homes, Young said. That means installing solar panels and taking other steps to increase energy efficiency, she added.

“What’s great about the governor making this kind of bold statement is it motivates and inspires…individuals to realize how important the individual behaviors and actions they take every day are to helping the state meet this goal,” Young said.

Carbon capture: boom or boondoggle?

For US News & World Report, click here. by Alan Neuhauser

WHEN A CANADIAN STARTUP announced this spring that it would soon begin building a new type of facility that could remove carbon dioxide from the air, it sparked considerable fanfare. Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 5.03.48 PM
Headlines declared the project, which this spring won $68 million in financing, a "potential solution to global warming." The design, the brainchild of an acclaimed Harvard physics professor and Time magazine "Hero of the Environment," won backing from Bill Gates.
Theoretically, such a facility could work virtually anywhere, extracting harmful greenhouse gases from the air on a massive scale. But the concept was embraced early on by oil companies, which quickly saw the possibility of liberating the drilling and extraction process from complaints about the emissions it generates. In fact, the plant under construction is being built in the heart of Texas oil country, in partnership with a subsidiary of one of the largest oil firms in the U.S., Occidental Petroleum. Occidental was one of three oil conglomerates to make sizable investments in the company.
The idea behind the facility, called carbon capture, isn't new: It's been in use for years at a handful of coal-fired power plants, oil and gas processing facilities and fertilizer plants in the U.S. The oldest operating site began vacuuming CO2 from a natural gas plant in 1972. Trees, which suck up CO2, could also be described as engaging in natural carbon capture.
What makes the Texas project different, though, is its promise to remove carbon dioxide through "direct air capture:" Rather than drawing CO2 from a smokestack, it instead pulls the gas from the open air regardless of location or even the gas's concentration. Carbon Engineering, the company behind the project, says that with little more than off-the-shelf industrial-scale fans, filters and common chemicals, it's solved a challenge long seen as beyond the reach of engineers or any reasonable budget.
"The idea of pulling CO2 out of the air has been around for 40-50 years, but what's the challenge is doing it at scale in a cost-effective manner," says Steve Oldham, the CEO of Carbon Engineering. "Hopefully we have the answer to that."
"In general, air capture and storage on a meaningful scale is a far tougher problem than CO2 capture at power plants and industrial facilities," says Edward Rubin, an environmental engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. "Much harder to find the needle in a haystack that's 300 times bigger – hence, much more costly."
Another professor put it more bluntly. "A lot of numbers being thrown out there today are just unbelievable," says Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Engineer Initiative. "From what I've read, I've seen so many red flags that I'm totally shocked."

Carbon Engineering insists that its technology works. The carbon dioxide its Texas plant collects will be injected and stored underground, making the entire loop carbon-negative, the company says. By its calculations, the Texas plant will remove 500 kilotons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere – the equivalent of planting and nourishing some 20 million trees.

"Basically you have a carbon-neutral fossil fuel," Oldham says. "We have extracted from the air, in advance, an amount of CO2 that is more than the CO2 produced when you burn that crude."
The design is "deceptively straightforward," he says. The CO2 binds with a liquid chemical, the mixture then pushed through a filter. Carbon Engineering has been testing the approach since 2015, when a pilot facility at its headquarters outside Vancouver began pulling up to a metric ton per day of CO2 from the air. The planned site in Texas will aim to capture 500,000 metric tons a year, the company says – and, with expansions, perhaps as much as 1 million. "I actually used to work in satellites, so I can actually say it's not rocket science," Oldham says. "Our technology has always been designed for scalability. It's a question of repeating the same plant many times."
The goal, he says, is to buy time: To stave off the worst consequences of climate change as electric vehicles make inroads and solar panels, wind turbines and – more recently – battery storage expand and replace the coal, gas and oil plants that remain entrenched in the world's electric grids.
"We are not in a position as a society today to move off fossil fuels. So from an environmental perspective, we think this is worth doing," Oldham says.
The idea has found outside support. In a study this week in the journal Nature Communications, for example, a team of European scientists concluded that while technologies like those being developed by Carbon Engineering should "be developed and deployed alongside, rather than instead of, other mitigation options," they're still worth pursuing.
But concern remains that such technology could actually enable the continued use of fossil fuels rather than serve as a bridge to phasing them out. Occidental also plans to harness the gas captured by its new plant for what's known as "enhanced oil recovery," where CO2 is injected into deposits to make the company's drilling operations even more productive. The company is the biggest employer of enhanced oil recovery in the U.S.
There is also the issue of scale: Humans last year generated a record 36.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide – each gigaton 1,000 times the size of just one of the 500 kilotons that the Carbon Engineering plant aims to remove. Removing the CO2 from just 2018 alone would require planting close to a trillion trees. The Carbon Engineering plant, by comparison, would need to be replicated some 40,000 times – and even then, only if carbon emissions leveled off, which is far from certain.

"CO2 negative – yeah, right. It's a big sham ... There's no proof that there's actually anything captured by anything."

"Am I saying we should build 40,000 of our plants? God, I hope not, because that will mean we've failed in a lot of other measures," Oldham says. But, he continues, "it's less than there are water treatment plants, it's less than there are power stations – it's not totally ridiculous thinking about building that many. I hope that we don't have to, but if we do, our company wants to have that technology ready."
Other experts insist that no matter how many plants Carbon Engineering licenses or builds, the company will never accomplish what it claims – and, in fact, may simply generate more emissions. Carbon removal, at least as proposed by Carbon Engineering, as well as by two competitors in Alabama and Switzerland, remains firmly in the realm of alchemy, they argue, with one professor comparing the company's claims and resulting fanfare to Theranos, the startup that attracted billions of dollars in investment and press attention by claiming to remake blood-testing, but whose founders were later indicted on federal fraud charges.
Carbon Engineering's planned project, he contends, simply will not accomplish what the company has claimed: It requires so much energy – generated by burning natural gas – that anywhere from a third to three quarters of the CO2 the plant captures will effectively end up back into the atmosphere, Jacobson says. The claim that CO2 injected underground will remain there, meanwhile, has yet to be proven at scale, he argues.
"There's no proof that there's actually anything captured by anything," Jacobson says. "It's a gimmick that actually does not work."
Carbon Engineering maintains that its plans call for capturing any emissions from the natural gas plant. But while other academics have taken issue with Jacobson's math, but they agree that his conclusions are correct.
"On this point we agree: The numbers as far as how much Carbon Engineering and the Swiss company can capture – they are wrong," says Dan Kammen, a physicist and professor of energy at the University of California-Berkeley.
"Their assumptions about how much energy they're going to need are way underestimated. I don't even think they understand they have a problem. I don't think they'll ever get the commercial plant to work."
Carbon Engineering's planned Texas site wouldn't be the first ambitious, large-scale carbon capture facility in the U.S. In 2010, Southern Company, one of the country's largest electric utilities, broke ground for a new coal-fired power plant in Mississippi, one that would integrate carbon capture to prove the viability of so-called "clean coal." Seven years later, the Kemper project was $5 billion over budget, the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and multiple lawsuits, and Southern Company pulled the plug. The plant now burns natural gas.
"They spent $7 billion to prove themselves – and this is not a startup company, this is one of the two biggest utilities in the U.S. They have their own engineering force. But they so overestimated this, they lost billions of dollars," Herzog says. "It's easy to fool yourself if you want to believe and you don't want to take a hard engineering look at it."
The Kemper project, he points out, was designed to be about 220 times larger than a pilot version of the planned carbon-capture facility. The Carbon Engineering site, by contrast, is a 2,500-fold leap.
"These are giant jumps," Herzog says. "So, as an engineer – this is crazy, alright?"
Carbon Engineering hasn't put a price tag on its Texas project; a spokeswoman says that "financing for the project will likely be in the hundreds of millions." The company meanwhile says that it's aware that such a large leap in scale from its pilot plant to the one planned for Texas presents significant challenges. The study in Nature Communications concluded that scale – not cost – probably presents the biggest hurdle to the technology's success. "Everybody acknowledges that risk, including Carbon Engineering. We don't hide from that risk at all," Oldham says. He vigorously disputed the professors' other critiques. "We've refined and updated and optimized our process significantly. To my knowledge, none of these people have come and actually talked to the company. Come and invite them, they're all invited to our facility, they can come and see our systems working, we have produced financial models ... the due diligence that we've done – come and look at it all. There's nothing to hide here."
 

RAEL contributes to Chapter 3: Energy systems. In State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report for the United States

To access the Energy Sector chapter, click here.

KEY FINDINGS
  1. In 2013, primary energy use in North America exceeded 125 exajoules,1 of which Canada was respon- sible for 11.9%, Mexico 6.5%, and the United States 81.6%. Of total primary energy sources, approxi- mately 81% was from fossil fuels, which contributed to carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)2 emissions lev- els, exceeding 1.76 petagrams of carbon, or about 20% of the global total for energy-related activities. Of these emissions, coal accounted for 28%, oil 44%, and natural gas 28% (very high confidence, likely).
  2. North American energy-related CO2e emissions have declined at an average rate of about 1% per year, or about 19.4 teragrams CO2e, from 2003 to 2014 (very high confidence).
  3. The shifts in North American energy use and CO2e emissions have been driven by factors such as 1) lower energy use, initially as a response to the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 (high confidence, very likely); but increasingly due to 2) greater energy efficiency, which has reduced the regional energy intensity of economic production by about 1.5% annually from 2004 to 2013, enabling economic growth while lowering energy CO2e emissions. Energy intensity has fallen annu- ally by 1.6% in the United States and 1.5% in Canada (very high confidence, very likely). Further factors driving lower carbon intensities include 3) increased renewable energy production (up 220 peta- joules annually from 2004 to 2013, translating to an 11% annual average increase in renewables) (high confidence, very likely); 4) a shift to natural gas from coal sources for industrial and electricity production (high confidence, likely); and 5) a wide range of new technologies, including, for example, alternative fuel vehicles (high confidence, likely).
  4. A wide range of plausible futures exists for the North American energy system in regard to carbon emissions. Forecasts to 2040, based on current policies and technologies, suggest a range of carbon emissions levels from an increase of over 10% to a decrease of over 14% (from 2015 carbon emissions levels). Exploratory and backcasting approaches suggest that the North American energy system emissions will not decrease by more than 13% (compared with 2015 levels) without both technological advances and changes in policy. For the United States, however, decreases in emissions could plausibly meet a national contribution to a global pathway consistent with a target of warming to 2°C at a cumu- lative cost of $1 trillion to $4 trillion (US$ 2005).
Note: Confidence levels are provided as appropriate for quantitative, but not qualitative, Key Findings and statements.
Contributing Authors
Peter J. Marcotullio, Hunter College, City University of New York (lead author)
Lori Bruhwiler, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory; Steven Davis, University of California, Irvine; Jill Engel-Cox, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; John Field, Colorado State University; Conor Gately, Boston University; Kevin Robert Gurney, Northern Arizona University; Daniel M. Kammen, University of California, Berkeley; Emily McGlynn, University of California, Davis; James McMahon, Better Climate Research and Policy Analysis; William R. Morrow, III, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Ilissa B. Ocko, Environmental Defense Fund; Ralph Torrie, Canadian Energy Systems Analysis and Research Initiative.  
Recommended Citation for Chapter: Marcotullio, P. J., L. Bruhwiler, S. Davis, J. Engel-Cox, J. Field, C. Gately, K. R. Gurney, D. M. Kammen, E. McGlynn, J. McMahon, W. R. Morrow, III, I. B. Ocko, and R. Torrie, 2018: Chapter 3: Energy systems. InSecond State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report [Cavallaro, N., G. Shrestha, R. Birdsey, M. A. Mayes, R. G. Najjar, S. C. Reed, P. Romero-Lankao, and Z. Zhu (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 110-188, https://doi.org/10.7930/SOCCR2.2018.Ch3.   Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 12.23.02 PM

Chapter 3: Energy systems. In Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report

KEY FINDINGS
  1. In 2013, primary energy use in North America exceeded 125 exajoules,1 of which Canada was respon- sible for 11.9%, Mexico 6.5%, and the United States 81.6%. Of total primary energy sources, approxi- mately 81% was from fossil fuels, which contributed to carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)2 emissions lev- els, exceeding 1.76 petagrams of carbon, or about 20% of the global total for energy-related activities. Of these emissions, coal accounted for 28%, oil 44%, and natural gas 28% (very high confidence, likely).
  2. North American energy-related CO2e emissions have declined at an average rate of about 1% per year, or about 19.4 teragrams CO2e, from 2003 to 2014 (very high confidence).
  3. The shifts in North American energy use and CO2e emissions have been driven by factors such as 1) lower energy use, initially as a response to the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 (high confidence, very likely); but increasingly due to 2) greater energy efficiency, which has reduced the regional energy intensity of economic production by about 1.5% annually from 2004 to 2013, enabling economic growth while lowering energy CO2e emissions. Energy intensity has fallen annu- ally by 1.6% in the United States and 1.5% in Canada (very high confidence, very likely). Further factors driving lower carbon intensities include 3) increased renewable energy production (up 220 peta- joules annually from 2004 to 2013, translating to an 11% annual average increase in renewables) (high confidence, very likely); 4) a shift to natural gas from coal sources for industrial and electricity production (high confidence, likely); and 5) a wide range of new technologies, including, for example, alternative fuel vehicles (high confidence, likely).
  4. A wide range of plausible futures exists for the North American energy system in regard to carbon emissions. Forecasts to 2040, based on current policies and technologies, suggest a range of carbon emissions levels from an increase of over 10% to a decrease of over 14% (from 2015 carbon emissions levels). Exploratory and backcasting approaches suggest that the North American energy system emissions will not decrease by more than 13% (compared with 2015 levels) without both technological advances and changes in policy. For the United States, however, decreases in emissions could plausibly meet a national contribution to a global pathway consistent with a target of warming to 2°C at a cumu- lative cost of $1 trillion to $4 trillion (US$ 2005).
Note: Confidence levels are provided as appropriate for quantitative, but not qualitative, Key Findings and statements. 1 One exajoule is equal to one quintillion (1018) joules, a derived unit of energy in the International System of Units. 2 Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e): Amount of CO2 that would produce the same effect on the radiative balance of Earth’s climate system as another greenhouse gas, such as methane (CH4) or nitrous oxide (N2O), on a 100-year timescale. For comparison to units of carbon, each kg CO2e is equivalent to 0.273 kg C (0.273 = 1/3.67). See Box P.2, p. 12, in the Preface for more details.  
Recommended Citation for Chapter Marcotullio, P. J., L. Bruhwiler, S. Davis, J. Engel-Cox, J. Field, C. Gately, K. R. Gurney, D. M. Kammen, E. McGlynn, J. McMahon, W. R. Morrow, III, I. B. Ocko, and R. Torrie, 2018: Chapter 3: Energy systems. InSecond State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report [Cavallaro, N., G. Shrestha, R. Birdsey, M. A. Mayes, R. G. Najjar, S. C. Reed, P. Romero-Lankao, and Z. Zhu (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 110-188, https://doi.org/10.7930/SOCCR2.2018.Ch3.

Climate Action Summit: dialog with former Secretary of State John Kerry on carbon pricing

  At the Global Climate Action Summit one of the interesting events was a multi-university summit on carbon pricing.  Yale University, Smith College, Swarthmore College, and both myself and Prof. Ann Carlson from UCLA participated in a discussion about the challenges and opportunities to price externalities in university actions.   SecretaryKerry-and-carbon-priciong-universities-team.2018-9   Caption: Prof. Ann Carlson (second from left), Dan Kammen, (third from left), next to former Secretary of State John Kerry, Kammen's former 'boss' when he served as Science Envoy, along with colleagues from the World Bank, Smith College and Swarthmore College. On Sept. 13, the summit hosts “Higher Education Leadership on Carbon Pricing,” an event focused on the experiences of Yale and other schools in implementing internal carbon pricing on campus. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will speak at the event, which also will include Yale Carbon Charge director Casey Pickett and Yale Associate Vice President for Strategy and Analytics Tim Pavlis. At the event, representatives from Yale, Swarthmore College, the nonprofit group Second Nature, and the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition will unveil a Higher Education Carbon Pricing Toolkit. It is the most comprehensive compilation of existing tools for implementing internal carbon pricing on college and university campuses. When I share Yale’s approach to carbon pricing, people often ask, ‘How does it work? What options are there for my institution to put a price on carbon emissions?’ This toolkit begins to answer those questions,” Pickett said. Carbon pricing refers to the idea of placing an extra charge on products or services based on the amount of carbon they emit. Hundreds of businesses, private universities, and other institutions — including Yale — now have some version of a carbon pricing program in place. Yale has taken a leadership role in exploring different approaches to carbon pricing and sharing its findings. In 2017, Yale became the first university to implement a financially impactful fee on carbon emissions for more than 250 buildings and 70% of carbon dioxide emissions on campus.

A carbon charge pledge display on Yale’s Cross Campus.
Since Yale began experimenting with internal carbon pricing through our pilot study, six other higher education institutions have implemented carbon pricing mechanisms,” Pickett said. “Each works a bit differently. There is much to learn from carbon pricing experiments in different contexts.” The best practices regarding carbon pricing that Yale has accumulated are part of the new toolkit, which includes case studies, communication guides, and data management tools. The Yale Carbon Charge idea originated with economics professor Bill Nordhaus, who developed the “social cost of carbon” concept, an estimate of the cost of global damages from an additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted. After Nordhaus suggested the value of having an internal carbon charge, a group of Yale students advanced the idea. Yale President Peter Salovey organized a Presidential Task Force to study the idea. The task force recommended testing a pilot project, which began in the fall of 2015. We must incorporate the social costs of our emissions into our economic choices,” Pavlis said. “When we don’t pay a price for carbon emissions, everyone pays the cost.”

New Report: How UC Can Meet Its Ambitious 2025 Carbon Neutrality Goal

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.54.02 AM
The University of California believes it can go carbon neutral by 2025. That means zero carbon emissions from powering its buildings and vehicles on all ten campuses. But according to a recent report and related commentary by experts from across the system in the journal Nature, it could be a tough goal to reach. That’s a position shared by Berkeley professor and energy expert Dan Kammen, who was not affiliated with the report. “We’re not actually on pace for our 2025 goal,” he said—more like 2035 or 2040. “We need to accelerate. That’s one of the key things.” To be fair, the goal—like the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and AB 32 before it— is an ambitious one. The university is specifically looking to light the way for large institutions the world over as well as the entire state of California, which is considering its own carbon neutrality target of 2045. UC has a long way to go. From 2009 through 2015, the report shows, the university reduced electricity demand system wide through efficiency retrofits to offices, restaurants, residences, and more, netting UC more than $20 million a year. But it barely moved the needle on carbon emissions: 1.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually in 2009 to 1.1 million in 2015. Figure 1.4 from University of California Strategies for Decarbonization: Replacing Natural Gas To bring that number down to zero over the next seven years, the university will need to “bend the curve,” the report concludes. Even with renewable energy coming online that wasn’t available a few years ago, the university must ramp up its efforts—rapidly.The authors of the report and commentary suggest a three-step approach. First is making buildings and other facilities even more efficient, which could net another $20 million in savings per year by 2025, the authors project. Next is an interim measure, switching to biogas for campus power plants. Produced through the breakdown of plant matter in an oxygen-controlled environment, biogas is chemically identical to natural gas yet considered carbon-neutral. Although the fuel is already in use to a small extent on some campuses and more is planned, the authors note that due to supply limitations, it isn’t a solution that can scale up to national use. And while the move to biogas could put a huge dent in UC carbon emissions—almost all of which are currently associated with natural gas combustion—the fuel isn’t without risk. Leakage from gas infrastructure could significantly hinder UC’s efforts by releasing methane directly into the atmosphere, Kammen says. The final step requires phasing out gas altogether. That means electrifying every campus from top to bottom—from the heating system in Dwinelle Hall to the maintenance truck parked out back—and purchasing power from only zero-emissions sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. Campus electrification is straightforward enough for new buildings and domestic water heating, says Karl Brown, deputy director of the Berkeley-based California Institute for Energy and Environment and one of the report’s 27 authors. It’s much more difficult with existing buildings and high-temperature end uses, such as sterilization of lab equipment in, since that requires complete retrofits and likely removal of gas-burning facilities. Camille Kirk, who directs UC Davis’ Office of Sustainability and was not involved in the report, says the 2025 goal is still feasible as long as the university makes the proper financial investments; receives full support from faculty, alumni, and the government, particularly around infrastructure renewal; and doesn’t insist on full electrification by 2025. And while the authors of the report caution that UC’s leadership in this arena won’t mean much if others don’t follow suit, the specifics of its approach “[don’t] need to directly translate to spur other institutions’ thinking and creativity about solutions that might be better for them,” Kirk said. Ultimately, the authors note, “bending the curve more sharply requires both academic and practical insights,” which is exactly what the university hopes to bring to the problem. For the original article, click here.

Carbon Footprint Planning: Quantifying Local and State Mitigation Opportunities for 700 California Cities

Consumption-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories have emerged to describe full life cycle contributions of households to climate change at country, state and increasingly city scales. Using this approach, how much carbon footprint abatement potential is within the control of local governments, and which policies hold the most potential to reduce emissions? This study quantifies the potential of local policies and programs to meet aggressive GHG reduction targets using a consumption-based, high geospatial resolution planning model for the state of California. We find that roughly 35% of all carbon footprint abatement potential statewide is from activities at least partially within the control of local governments. The study shows large variation in the size and composition of carbon footprints and abatement opportunities by ∼ 23,000 Census block groups (i.e., neighborhood-scale within cities), 717 cities and 58 counties across the state.  These data and companion online tools can help cities better understand priorities to reduce GHGs from a comprehensive, consumption-based perspective, with potential application to the full United States and internationally. Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.09.38 AM

September 6, 2017 — RAEL Lunch — Anne-​​Perrine Avrin, “Vehicle Electrification in China Can Play a Critical and Cost-​​Effective Role in Capping Urban Transport CO2 Emissions in 2030 and Beyond”

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 10.04.17 AM We review passenger car deployment trends in China until 2050, which are used to develop a model to explore deployment scenarios for New Energy Vehicles (NEV: plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles) in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, costs, and electricity demand. We find that, investing in large-scale NEV deployment minimizes overall costs over the 2050 horizon. However, far more aggressive short-term policies designed to decrease near-term technology cost trends will be needed to encourage a rapid transition to NEV deployment.

RAEL team publishes Power sector model for a low-​​carbon Kenya

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 7.16.56 AM   Click here for a direct link to the paper, published in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T). Fast growing and emerging economies face the dual challenge of sustainably expanding and improving their energy supply and reliability while at the same time reducing poverty. Critical to such transformation is to provide affordable and sustainable access to electricity. We use the capacity expansion model SWITCH to explore low carbon development pathways for the Kenyan power sector under a set of plausible scenarios for fast growing economies that include uncertainty in load projections, capital costs, operational performance, and technology and environmental policies. In addition to an aggressive and needed expansion of overall supply, the Kenyan power system presents a unique transition from one basal renewable resource− hydropower− to another based on geothermal and wind power for ∼ 90% of total capacity. We find geothermal resource adoption is more sensitive to operational degradation than high capital costs, which suggests an emphasis on ongoing maintenance subsidies rather than upfront capital cost subsidies. We also find that a cost-effective and viable suite of solutions includes availability of storage, diesel engines, and transmission expansion to provide flexibility to enable up to 50% of wind power penetration. In an already low-carbon system, typical externality pricing for CO2  has little to no effect on technology choice. Consequently, a “ zero carbon emissions”  by 2030 scenario is possible with only moderate levelized cost increases of between $3 and $7/MWh with a number of social and reliability benefits. Our results suggest that fast growing and emerging economies could benefit by incentivizing anticipated strategic transmission expansion. Existing and new diesel and natural gas capacity can play an important role to provide flexibility and meet peak demand in specific hours without a significant increase in carbon emissions, although more research is required for other pollutant’ s impacts.

Dr. Alan Lamont — RAEL Lunch, September 27, “Visualizing cost efficient pathways to a low carbon electric system”

Dr Alan Lamont holds BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering and PhD in Engineering Economic Systems, all from Stanford He is recently retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he was an engineer for 29 years.  His work included economic analysis of energy systems, along with risk and decision analysis for infrastructure, nuclear facilities and repositories, and weapons design.  As part of his work in energy systems, he developed the META-Net economic modeling platform for partial equilibrium analysis of energy systems.  His work focuses on the impacts of policies, economic value of energy technologies, and their effects on the balance of the system and on carbon emissions.  Prior to joining the Lab, he was an engineer for 17 years with Woodward Clyde Consultants working in geotechnical engineering, and risk and economic analysis of engineering projects.   Abstract: This study develops a model of electric generation system that is simple enough to illustrate the overall design space of an electric generation system in a 2 dimensional diagram. Using this approach, we can illustrate the the efficient design pathways to reducing carbon, the economic and mathematical drivers that determine the pathways, the effects of technology assumptions, and the effects of policies. This talk will emphasize the development of the model, the effects of carbon intensity of the baseload, and the requirements and costs for storage across the design space

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