Search Results for 'energy'

RAEL Lunch (9/​30/​2020), Alan Lamont, “Innovations in energy storage for a carbon-​​neutral economy”

In looking ahead to entirely decarbonizing the electric generation system, there is a debate about the use of nuclear generation.  One school of thought argues that nuclear will be essential to successful decarbonization, while the other feels that this can be done entirely using renewable technologies, essentially wind and solar.  This research investigates the role and value of using nuclear generation in decarbonizing the electric generation system.  Along with generation, however, storage technologies will be needed.  This study also compares the value of using batteries (expensive but efficient) to the use of ammonia (quite inefficient, but very cheap per unit of energy).  Based on the Capacity Expansion Model, the study develops an analytical function to evaluate the marginal cost of carbon reduction under various scenarios of primary generation (with and without nuclear) and storage technologies (with batteries or with ammonia).  The behaviors of the generators and storage determine the different components of this equation.  Illustrating these behaviors gives us insight as to the role of nuclear and different types of storage in decarbonizing the system.
 Alan graduated from Stanford University in 1970 with a Master’s degree in geotechnical engineering.  As a civil engineer he worked in heavy construction in Alaska and Vietnam,  Peace Corps in Venezuela in dam design, and in the Bay Area in earthquake analysis.  He returned to Stanford and completed a PhD in Engineering Economic systems in 1983.  He joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1987,  working  energy system economics, developing and applying modeling platforms to evaluate policies and technologies for energy generation and storage.  He was also active in risk analyses  for nuclear materials production and waste disposal.  He is currently retired, but continues to work in energy systems economics to better understand strategies for reducing carbon emissions from the energy system.

Sept. 24, 2020 — NYC Climate Week, “Environmental Justice: Climate, Health & Energy’

Watch the video, click here. Host: Melissa Lott Presenters (Guests): Dr. Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley and Former Science Envoy, US Department of State Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Public Health, Environment, and Social Detriments of Health Department (PHE), World Health Organisation Dr. Nick Watts, Executive Director, The Lancet Countdown  

Climate Week NYC Virtual Event | Environmental Justice: Climate, Health, and Energy

Upcoming September 24, 2020 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM EDT
DESCRIPTION: Please register using the "Event Website" link to the right.Climate change is already impacting the health of people around the world. At the heart of the challenge—and its solution—is the energy system, which currently produces not only the majority of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions but also the vast majority of key air pollutants that harm the health of communities around the world. While these health impacts are felt by everyone, the burden is not evenly shared, with poor and marginalized communities often experiencing a disproportionate share of these ill effects.The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA will host a discussion on understanding the impacts of climate change and air pollution on our health as well as how the energy transition can help to protect and improve human health moving forward.
Prof. Kammen's slides for the event:
For an expanded set of slides, click here.

September 2, 2020 — RAEL Lunch, Jessica Kersey, “Spotlighting Urban Informality in Energy Access Research”

Bio: Jess Kersey is a second-year master's student with the University of California Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group. She is broadly interested in decentralized and innovative energy technologies for energy access and climate resilience in developing cities. She has a particular geographic interest in the Caribbean and Latin America. Jess is also a research affiliate of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and consultant for the Asian Development Bank.
Jess holds dual bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering and political science from Virginia Tech. She previously worked as an energy engineer with AECOM's Energy business line providing technical, project management, and business development support for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability projects. She has a diverse engineering background which includes experience in energy, construction management, and disaster relief both domestically and internationally including work in Haiti, Panama, El Salvador, the US Virgin Islands, Iraq, and Cuba. She enjoys applying her engineering expertise to development and humanitarian efforts and has been involved with Engineers Without Borders since 2016.

MIT A+B Energy Conference

For the keynote schedule, click here: "Over the course of two days, panelists and speakers discussed a wide range of energy topics, including electric vehicles, energy policy, and the future of utilities. The three keynote speakers were Daniel M. Kammen, a professor of energy and the chair Energy and Resources Group and professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley; Rachel Kyte, the dean of the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and John Deutch, the Institute Professor of Chemistry at MIT." Conference website (& registration) is at: Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 1.52.34 PM

June 7, 2020 — The Daily Nation (Kenya) “Covid-​​19 locks Kenya’s future in green energy”

For the original June 7, 2020, piece in The Daily Nation (Nairobi, Kenya), click here. image

By Daniel Kammen & Khadija Famau & Joseph Odongo
On May 28 the World Bank, International Energy Agency, World Health Organization, and the International Agency for Renewable Energy all issued a joint statement.That does not happen very often, and their announcement is big for Kenya and East Africa. These institutions wrote that the real lesson from Covid-19 is that investments in renewable energy, both for homes and business, have remained profitable, while those in fossil fuel projects have tanked. Already, natural gas investment worldwide lost three per cent, petroleum four per cent, and coal is the big loser, down almost 10 per cent in the last three months, globally. There are many reasons for this, but all clearly show that the proposed Lamu coal plant would be a disaster for Kenya. As Kenyans struggle to stay healthy and earn their daily bread, we don’t know when the health and economic situation will improve. This pandemic only adds to existing challenges such as food insecurity, unemployment, electricity outages, floods and locust invasions. A coal plant will only make us more vulnerable. First, coal projects are large, slow, and expensive, whilst the best energy options are nimble, scalable, and work well with other energy sources. The pandemic puts into sharp focus the peril of signing inflexible contracts for large fossil fuel power plants such as Lamu coal. Even before the pandemic, coal energy didn’t make economic sense. To justify Lamu coal plant, proponents argued that energy demand in Kenya will grow by 11.5 per cent to 15 per cent per year. But in reality Kenya’s energy demand has been growing at about six per cent for over a decade. Even in 2019, The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) concluded that Lamu coal plant would be “grossly underutilised should demand grow moderately” and cause electricity prices to “rise rapidly to reach Sh16.86/kWh by the year 2024”. Now, any justification for Lamu coal has evaporated. Lamu coal plant would be left to idle - and become a dirty drag on the economy for decades. This is not how Vision2030 should turn out. Covid-19 is profoundly changing the global economy. When the pandemic fades and energy demand does return, economic activity will spring up in unexpected areas and new sectors. Who knows what businesses will survive and which will change or die? UNFAVOURABLE TERMS Lamu coal plant’s financial obligations and risks would burden the country until 2045. The draft contracts were published on Treasury’s transparency website, revealing the unfavourable terms for the Kenyan public. The project can still be easily called off, but it is still in the pipeline. Why? A coal plant won’t fix the outages and intermittency the country faces today. Kenya already produces enough electricity to meet demand, yet these problems persist. What we need is a better managed, responsive system that addresses problems and inefficiencies. Renewable energy projects provide flexible energy - and rapid deployment just where the nation needs it. All this leads to a wonderfully simple and nationally important bottom-line: Solar, wind, and geothermal power in Kenya are just plain less costly than coal. The country has been researching and writing about this for a long time, and now it is perhaps time to listen and act. That should be the end of the argument, but still some dinosaurs persist, largely because of backroom deals and outdated ideas about how unreliable renewable energy can be. Kenya is the world leader today in installing the most reliable form of renewable energy - geothermal - and there’s potential for much more. Energy storage is now so cheap and available that solar or wind plus storage is still cheaper than coal. And diversifying our renewable sources will provide us with continuous and affordable electricity. Clean and reliable - fancy that. ENVIRONMENTAL RUIN All this is before we get to the long-term damage that coal will bring: environmental ruin. The coal plant would saddle us with unavoidable environmental and health harms, from pollution and ecosystem destruction. As Bitange Ndemo stated, “Studies show that inhaling dirty air makes Covid-19 more lethal… There is no doubt that pollution causes diseases.” Coal energy already didn’t make sense. Now it’s crystal clear: it’s dangerous, as well as a risky investment. Lamu coal plant would also permanently disfigure one of the most beautiful and culturally unique seaside communities. When travel and tourism return after Covid-19, to have a disfigured Lamu is a sad, short-sighted slap in the face of every Kenyan. There is another way. We can choose to stay on a low-carbon path to a future of least-expensive, reliable, renewable energy. As President Kenyatta has boasted, we are already 93 per cent there. Even as we navigate this pandemic crisis, we are in control of how we pursue economic recovery. We can choose to create a new normal that’s better for everyone than what we had before. Reliable clean energy and a growing energy jobs sector are what the nation needs and deserves. Instead of getting locked into coal, let us invest in power projects that benefit local host communities and Kenya at large. Clean energy is a win-win-win. It provides us with affordable and flexible electricity, protects our health and environment, and supports an economy that can recover to work for more Kenyans. _______________ Daniel Kammen is a Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley where he has also served since 1999 as a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He has also worked in Kenya for 25 years on energy and environmental projects. Twitter: @dan_kammen Khadija Shekuwe Famau is the Program Coordinator for community sustainable development organization Save Lamu and a board member of Lamu County Municipality. Twitter: @SaveLamu Joseph Odongo is the Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator, Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT).                                                 Twitter: @makodongo2

How renewable energy could emerge on top after the pandemic

For the original posting in Grist and Yale Environment360click here.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, renewable energy was growing steadily — but still not fast enough to meet the Paris Agreement’s carbon reduction goals, let alone to make the further strides needed to keep climate change from spiraling out of control.

Now, the virus-induced economic shock is likely to slow the expansion of wind, solar, and other clean power sources, at least temporarily, experts say. But while lockdowns, social distancing requirements, and financial uncertainties have put some new projects on ice, the underlying strengths of renewables remain strong, and analysts expect their economic advantage over volatile fossil fuels will only increase in the long term.

Leaders must seize the opportunity to design economic recovery packages so they accelerate a shift toward wind and solar power, rather than propping up the fossil fuel economy, said Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental body.

“The only thing we have to be afraid of,” he said, “is that governments can be pushed by lobbyists to bail out sectors that belong to the past. And this is the real danger.”

As shutdowns aimed at stemming the viral spread have caused global energy demand to plummet, renewable sources have accounted for an increased share of power generation. That is in part because the low cost of solar and wind power means they are often dispatched to grids before other sources such as coal and nuclear power. The huge drop-off in demand, for both electricity and transportation fuels, has also pushed oil and gas prices to historic lows, and left fossil fuel companies struggling to find storage space for huge gluts of product.

In the short term, however, analysts say that the global economic fallout from the pandemic will almost certainly also be a drag on the growth of renewables. Stay-at-home orders halted production at factories making solar panels and wind turbine parts, and shipping delays have exacerbated supply problems. Construction on some big arrays stopped, and social distancing requirements have forced home solar companies to postpone rooftop installations and sales visits.

“The industry needed installations to be speeding up rather than slowing down at this point” for countries to bring carbon-cutting realities into line with their promises under the Paris Agreement, said Logan Goldie-Scot, head of clean power research at analysis firm BloombergNEF, or BNEF. “Anything that makes that gap bigger is hugely problematic from an emissions perspective.”

BNEF has scaled back its projections for 2020 installations by 12 percent for wind and 8 percent for solar, compared to what it anticipated before the pandemic. Renewables growth has been steady in recent years, and last fall, the International Energy Agency, or IEA, predicted the world’s renewable power supply would grow by 50 percent over the next five years, adding new power generation equivalent to the entire existing electricity capacity of the United States.

VCG / Getty Images

“We were expecting a boom year” in 2020, said Heymi Bahar, the IEA’s senior renewables analyst. “So this becomes very bad timing.”

The bigger question, experts say, is what happens as countries reopen. With cash tight, and economic troubles expected to keep energy demand below pre-COVID-19 levels, new wind and solar projects may find financing hard to come by.

Auctions in which companies bid to build such projects have been postponed. Altogether, more than 40 percent of wind and solar capacity that was scheduled to be commissioned from April to the end of this year has been delayed, said Goldie-Scot. “That’s an immediate setback.”

Home solar took a bigger hit than utility-scale projects. Those rooftop sales are likely to continue struggling, as the slowdown forces homeowners and small businesses to restrict spending on big-ticket items like solar arrays, even if, in the long run, they generate substantial savings.

Still, analysts agree the renewable energy sector’s fundamentals are strong. A lot has changed since the last global meltdown, the financial crisis of 2007-08. Technologies have matured and prices dropped, to the point where renewables in most cases provide cheaper energy than fossil fuels. Battery storage, key to making clean power steady and reliable, is improving rapidly.

“Renewable generation sources have become extraordinarily competitive from an economic standpoint,” said Dan Shreve, head of global wind energy research at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “It’s a terrific story. Do we expect any of that to change in the near term? No, I don’t think so.”

Indeed, with oil companies in a tailspin, clean energy’s steadiness also increases its appeal to investors, in Shreve’s view. “Folks looking for a safe haven in a very turbulent market may continue to turn to this sector,” he said.

Even the breathtaking drops in oil and gas prices may not be enough to undermine wind and solar. While oil is central to transportation, it doesn’t play a direct role in power generation. And its low price will mean drilling is scaled back. Since natural gas — which does go up against wind and solar in electricity markets — often flows from the ground along with oil, its supply is likely to decline too, bringing its price back up.

“Which means it won’t be competitive with renewables,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Indeed, Shreve said nuclear and coal-fired power plants faced far stiffer headwinds than renewables. “That’s been the case for the last five years. It was expected to be the case for the next five years, regardless of the Covid crisis,” he said. Early retirements of such plants, particularly the ones for which finances were already in trouble, could pick up pace, he said.

Another sector likely to take a hit is electric cars. That has less to do with low oil prices than with unemployment slowing sales for all cars, Jaffe said. “If you believe that people were going to have the next car they buy be an electric vehicle, if you delay by two or three years the next time they’re going to buy a new car,” that will slow the transition, she said.

Fewer electric cars means less power demand, which hurts the renewables outlook. But Jaffe said the pandemic could hasten the economy’s electrification in other ways, including a long-term increase in remote working, which would likely shift energy demand away from oil-based transportation needs, and toward residential use, which is more heavily electric.

Deng Heping / VCG via Getty Images

In the bigger picture, what comes next depends on the virus, the economy, and the path governments decide to chart. With vast amounts of stimulus money likely to be poured into economies around the world, clean power advocates say it’s a historic opportunity to speed the growth of a sector whose fortunes are central to hopes of stemming climate change. La Camera said the renewable energy sector’s big-picture strengths, and its resilience through the crisis so far, make him hopeful.

“My impression is that we are going to have a future that will be more decarbonized than we could have imagined three months ago,” he said. “And in the end, this health and economic crisis will push us to a cleaner path forward.” Risks in the other direction include not just direct government support to oil firms, but also regulatory loosening like the Trump administration’s decision to essentially suspend enforcement of air and water pollution rules, or to relax limits on mercury and other toxic power plant emissions. Such moves save the industry vast sums it would otherwise have to spend reducing pollution, said Daniel Kammen, professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Even without a push to help fossil fuel companies, COVID-19 could bump climate change down the list of leaders’ priorities.

For now, most governments are still focused on immediate response to the health and jobs crisis. Longer-term measures will come next, and countries including South Korea and New Zealand are already talking about incorporating climate action into recovery plans. The European Union may combine parts of its Green Deal — a plan for transforming nearly every sector of its economy to cut carbon and improve quality of life — with efforts to repair the pandemic’s damage. In the U.S., the fate of any ambitious renewables plan depends largely on whether President Trump is reelected in November.

For the most part, countries’ interest in green stimulus plans aligns with their pre-coronavirus stance on climate action. “We think they are more likely in countries where there was already broad-based support,” such as China and much of Europe, Goldie-Scot said.

What might green recovery efforts entail? Given clean power’s competitiveness, companies don’t really need direct subsidies anymore, experts say. They would benefit from upgrades that make power grids smarter and more flexible, and therefore better able to utilize renewables. Spending to expand electric vehicle charging networks is essential, too, the analysts say.

The U.S. and China both have year-end deadlines when important tax and price incentives for renewables expire.

Access to credit will also be crucial, Bahar said. While it easily competes with fossil fuels on cost, “the renewables industry just doesn’t have as deep pockets,” added Kammen.

Policy changes matter, as well. National, long-term carbon-cutting commitments would provide some certainty in frightening times. In the shorter term, the U.S. and China both have year-end deadlines when important tax and price incentives expire; extending those would help projects delayed by the pandemic, analysts say.

Green stimulus advocates say climate action is well-suited to creating jobs, and if done right can also help remedy the stark economic, social, and racial inequalities the virus has exposed so vividly, particularly in the U.S.

A shift to cleaner energy promises health gains too. Many have taken note of the better air quality lockdowns have brought, and Shreve said that could help people see the benefits of finding lasting ways to reduce fossil fuel use.

“The one bright spot in this crazy crisis is to have been able to walk outside in places that have been notorious for air pollution, and seeing clean skies, and having a dose of what could be,” he said.

Kammen said he is hopeful the pandemic would ultimately speed the move to a cleaner economy.

“Covid gives an opportunity for governments and companies to make that switch more strongly,” said Kammen. “I don’t think this is going to be an easy goodbye, but I would definitely say we’re in the long goodbye to fossil fuels.”


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