Search Results for 'energy'

RAEL Lunch: 27 February — Advancing Energy and Climate Planning Models: Optimization Methods, Variable Renewables, and Smart Grids

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 in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University in January 2018. He previously completed a dual masters degree in Technology & Policy and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT, and a Bachelor of Engineering degree at University College Dublin. Since completing his PhD, James applies his research to, and builds optimization models for, EPRI, a stealth robotics startup in San Francisco, and a major electricity generator in Ireland. In addition, James is undertaking a number of research projects with colleagues at NASA, EPRI, and Stanford and when possible, likes to help develop his family’s farm in Ireland. unnamed  

ASEAN grid flexibility: Preparedness for grid integration of renewable energy

In 2015, ASEAN established a goal of increasing renewable energy share in its energy portfolio from approximately 13–23% by 2025. Renewable electricity, especially intermittent and variable sources, presents challenges for grid operators due to the uncertain timing and quantity of electricity supply. Grid flexibility, the electric grid's ability to respond to changing demands and supply, now stands a key resource in responding to these uncertainties while maximizing the cost-effective role of clean energy. We develop and apply a grid flexibility assessment tool to assess ASEAN's current grid flexibility using six quantitative indicators: grid reliability, electricity market access; load profile ramp capacity; quality of forecasting tools; proportion of electricity generation from natural gas; and renewable energy diversity. We find that ASEAN nations cluster into three groups: better; moderately; and the least prepared nations. We develop an analytical ramp rate calculator to quantify expected load ramps for ASEAN in an integrated ASEAN Power Grid scenario. The lack of forecasting systems and limited electricity market access represent key weaknesses and areas where dramatic improvements can become cost-effective means to increase regional grid flexibility. As ASEAN pursues renewable energy targets, regional cooperation remains essential to address identified challenges. Member nations need to increase grid flexibility capacity to adequately prepare for higher penetrations of renewable electricity and lower overall system costs.

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 at Berkeley suggests that the reasons go beyond mere economics.

The presence of domestic solar panels has boomed across America, but predominantly in white neighborhoods, even after controlling for household incomes and levels of homeownership. The findings show that census areas with over 50% black or Hispanic populations have “significantly less” presence of domestic solar panel installations than other areas. This suggests that the solar industry is not serving all Americans equally.
The findings of the study demonstrate a significant racial disparity: Solar Access As A Civil Right Distributed solar refers to rooftop installations of photovoltaic (PV) panels, as opposed to large, centralized solar power stations. These installations offer a number of societal benefits; reducing carbon dioxide emissions and allowing individuals to generate their own power. With the addition of battery storage, these systems can also allow homes to retain power in the Rooftop solar benefits the owner of the roof through a lower energy bill. While there are upfront installation costs, PV equipment typically pays for itself quickly, especially in those states with good financing options and where homeowners can sell excess electricity back to the grid.
The cost of installation is prohibitive for many homeowners, and owners of rental properties tend not to invest in PV because they may be unable to realize any financial benefit (it’s the renters who would get a lower electric bill). Many places, including parts of the US, have programs aimed at lowering the financial barriers to distributed solar. But what if there are other barriers?
Financial aid programs alone won’t help if money isn’t the only problem. The costs of climate change already weigh heavier on disenfranchised groups. If the benefits of PV ownership are also less available to people of color, then that only compounds the injustice. Lead author of the paper, and Tufts University Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Deborah Sunter, who recently attended the COP24 climate summit in Poland, commented that, “Solar power is critical to meeting the climate goals presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but we can and need to deploy solar so that it benefits all people, regardless of race and ethnicity.”
The researchers set out to discover whether members of racial and ethnic minorities experience barriers to PV ownership other than price. They used census data to identify the racial make-up up of individual census tracts, and combined those data with high-resolution maps to determine which tracts had more rooftop solar. The researchers controlled for variations in solar intensity, financial incentives, and other factors that could influence PV installation besides race, such as household income and home ownership. What came of the analysis was a clear connection between race and ethnicity on the one hand and PV adoption on the other. Census tracts with a black or Latino majority consistently have less PV than otherwise similar tracts with no clear majority. And majority-white tracts had more PV than those without a majority. In majority-Asian tracts, the disparity was less apparent, but still present. So, the big question becomes “why?” The Color Of Energy The study did not address how race and ethnicity influence PV adoption, and its authors can provide no definitive explanation - but they do offer several possibilities. In general, “seeding” speeds PV adoption: if one person gets rooftop solar, other people in the same neighborhood are likely to follow suit. The authors note that many more tracts with a non-white majority lacked even one house with solar, suggesting that part of the problem is that seeding isn’t happening. A small difference in the likelihood of someone getting that first rooftop panel may translate in a huge difference in the total number of panels installed. This is corroborated by a previous study by Yale University, that found the most important factor influencing solar adoption was installations on neighboring households. The authors also note that people of color are not well-represented in the solar industry, especially at the management level . Perhaps that lack of representation leads to poorer service to black or Latino neighborhoods - in a 2016 survey just 6.6% of solar industry workers were found to be African-American. Dan Kammen
Closing The Gap One of the study’s authors, Berkeley’s Dr. Dan Kammen, states that he finds the results “depressing”, but also “a clear sign that we can do things differently and more equitably.” He considers it likely that the problem is “an effect of more solar installers and more seed programs in more advantaged areas,” and suggests solar education and financing targeted specifically to low-income communities and people of color as part of the Green New Deal. Kammen continues to say that seeding “could be reversed by targeting solar and other technology education and sales programs in ways that work for low-income communities. Solar is an up-front cost, so we need efforts like the Green New Deal to make solar education and financing available, such as is done by groups like Grid Alternatives that train, work to finance, and to integrate solar and energy efficiency to make it a least cost, most secure energy option for disadvantaged communities.” Dr Kammen was previously appointed Science Envoy by the US State Department and made headlines when his letter of resignation went viral in August 2017 citing his concerns around the President Trump's failure to denounce white supremacists and neo-nazis. He remains an outspoken champion of sustainable energy production and environmental justice. The authors of the study emphasize that the racial gap in solar adoption is a form of injustice since it denies many people real financial benefits. They also suggest that, without intervention, the gap is likely to grow. Awareness of the racial and ethnic dimension of the inequality of access is the first step and should direct education and financing programs that can address the disparity and bring distributed solar to all.

March 13: RAEL Lunch, Emma Tome “Energy and environmental justice”

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 in the context of Tribal land management. Prior to ERG, she worked for GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer. Emma is currently conducting research in residence at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Energy access for sustainable development

It is abundantly clear that adequate, reliable and clean energy services are vital for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In essence, energy access has come to represent one of the intractable challenges in development, and therefore emblematic of the call for poverty eradication, and economic and social transformation. This focus issue on "Energy Access for Sustainable Development" is initiated to draw broadly from the ideas and emerging experiences with energy activities and solutions that sought to enhance sustainable development through expansion of energy access. The focus issue includes several contributions from authors on some of the knowledge gaps this field, including: (i) the role of off-grid and mini-grid energy systems to meet multiple SDGs; (ii) the impacts of the evolving suite of off-grid and distributed energy services on inequalities across gender, and on minority and disadvantaged communities; (iii) the opportunities that the evolving technology base (both of energy services and information systems) plays in expanding the role of off-grid and mini-grid energy systems; (iv) energy options for cooking; (v) new insights into energy planning as well as the political economy, institutional and decision challenges across the energy system. Drawing from papers in this focus issue and other literature, this paper provides a sketch of the key issues in energy access.

An Energy Plan the Earth Can Live With

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, issued a critical report in October 2018 on the vital need to hold anthropogenic global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Humans have already warmed the planet 1 degree C. An about-face on pollution and planetary degradation is needed to achieve this remarkable goal, with actions at the individual, community, national, and global scales. Thankfully, the pace of innovation and improvement of clean-energy technologies has been dramatic, but we are still far from on track to meet this climate imperative. In this talk, Daniel M. Kammen will examine the pace of scientific change, the problem of sustained innovation and deployment, and the tremendous array of benefits that could be realized by making climate protection the priority it must become. Most remarkable, perhaps, is the range of benefits—in social equity, ethnic and gender inclusivity, cultural diversity, and poverty alleviation—that can be realized through an energy plan Earth can live with. Please register and join us. Free and open to the public.


Daniel M. Kammen is Professor of Energy and chair of the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as a professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy and in the Department of Nuclear Engineering. He was the chief technical specialist for the World Bank in 2010–2011 and served as the science envoy for the US Department of State in 2016–2017, until he resigned in protest of President Trump's policies. He has been a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999. He can be found on Twitter at @dan_kammen, and his laboratory can be found at http://rael.berkeley.edu. This event is part of The Undiscovered Science Lecture Series.

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.

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