For the GreenBiz article, click here.
For the GreenBiz article, click here.
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.
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.
To access the article, click here. The Beautiful Rivers—And the Dammed Advances in solar and wind power mean that hydropower is no longer the only renewable game in town—and that’s good news for the world’s rivers. BY JEFF OPPERMAN, CHRIS WEBER, DANIEL KAMMEN NOVEMBER 23, 2018, 9:05 AM Foreign Policy - https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/23/the-beautiful-rivers-and-the-dammed/ Figure: Water is released from the floodgates of the Xiaolangdi dam on the Yellow River near Luoyang, China on June 29, 2016. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report outlining strategies the world can pursue to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and maintain healthy economies and ecosystems. But unless we are smart about how we implement that blueprint, it could cause irreparable damage to the world’s great rivers. The panel’s report urges a rapid transition to low-carbon, renewable sources of electricity. That call to action could trigger expanded investment in hydropower, which is currently the world’s main source for that kind of energy (70 percent as of 2017). But if that development follows the pattern of earlier dam-building, it could accelerate an alarming loss of rivers and their resources, including of the fish that feed hundreds of millions of people. The case of the Mekong River puts the problem into sharp relief. The river is the world’s most productive freshwater fishery—it provides nearly 20 percent of the annual global freshwater fish harvest, the primary source of protein for tens of millions of people in the region. Already, several hydropower dams on the Mekong are under construction or are moving through the planning process. Scientists estimate that those dams, if completed, will cut the river’s annual harvest by half. With the Mekong Delta’s sand supply cut off, scientists project that it will sink and shrink, with more than half underwater by the end of the century. The dams are also projected to trap within their reservoirs more than 90 percent of the sand that would otherwise flow into the Mekong Delta, which is home to 17 million people and produces 90 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports. With its sand supply cut off, scientists project that the delta will sink and shrink, with more than half underwater by the end of the century. It is easy to hear such stories and conclude that the world faces an agonizing dilemma: Must we sacrifice our rivers to save our climate? Even just a few years ago, that trade-off seemed unavoidable. With wind and solar power limited by their expense and variability, global hydropower was projected to nearly double by 2050. Massive dams were under construction or planned for many of the world’s great rivers, including the Yangtze, Mekong, and most tributaries of the Amazon. Some governments used climate and renewable energy objectives to justify these projects, even as scientists quantified their impacts and affected communities and indigenous groups protested. But we do not need to sacrifice rivers for zero-carbon energy. In the last two years, solar energy has rapidly become more economically viable due to technological improvements and to economies of scale in production and deployment. Whereas solar energy used to cost 20 cents or more per kilowatt-hour, new projects in Chile, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia have come in at one-tenth that cost. Wind energy costs have likewise plummeted. In 2017, a winning bid for a new wind farm in Mexico featured costs of around 2 cents per kWh. That was half the previous year’s lowest bid there. This makes solar and wind the price leaders across much of the world. Even with falling costs, the variability of wind and solar power remain a challenge. Simply put, in order for these technologies to offer reliable, round-the-clock electricity generation, there needs to be a way to store power when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining and then deploy it when the wind dies down or the sun sets. Fortunately, the costs for storage technologies are plummeting as well, with the cost of lithium ion batteries, capable of grid-scale storage, dropping by about 90 percent over the past few years. New technologies are emerging as well. For example, a Chilean solar power plant that uses molten salt as storage recently offered to provide 24-hour baseload electricity at less than 5 cents per kWh. That is comparable to or cheaper than most hydropower and fossil fuel options. Tesla and Google X, meanwhile, are pursuing “moonshot” solutions for storage technologies. Also tipping the scales toward wind and solar is that, among large infrastructure projects, hydropower dams have among the worst performance in terms of delays and cost overruns, in part due to the conflict and controversy surrounding them. Whereas some dams take a decade to complete, wind and solar power can be delivered through rapid, smaller-scale, and lower-risk projects that tend to engender far less conflict. Governments are taking note. Thailand earlier this year signaled that it would delay signing a power purchase agreement for Pak Beng, a 912-megawatt hydropower dam that Laos is planning for the Mekong. In announcing the delay, the country stated that it needed to revisit its energy strategy since other renewable sources, including wind and solar, were becoming increasingly viable. Thailand was slated to buy 90 percent of the dam’s electricity, so its change of plans could spell the end of the project. In Guyana, meanwhile, rising cost estimates and delays for the Amaila Falls hydropower project led the government and financiers to transfer funding intended for the dam toward a 100-megawatt solar project. The rapidly evolving renewable energy landscape doesn’t mean an end to hydropower, but rather a shift in its role. Hydropower reservoirs are currently the dominant form of energy storage for grids, and although other forms of storage are improving, they will continue to provide critical storage services in the near future. Upgraded older dams and strategically planned new projects, carefully located to minimize environmental and social disruption, can emphasize energy storage to facilitate adding large increments of wind and solar into a grid. Although it is now possible to build affordable, low-carbon wind and solar systems, they still face constraints, including political and social preferences for large infrastructure projects. Pak Beng may have been paused, but other dam projects on the Mekong and on other key rivers are moving forward. It would be a great tragedy if the renewable revolution arrived just a few years too late to save the world’s great rivers. Market reforms and new financial mechanisms can accelerate the adoption of more sustainable energy systems, as can innovative science. For example, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley recently developed and is using an energy planning model for Laos. The lab found that investments in solar panels (backed up by existing hydropower) could meet that nation’s objectives for selling electricity to neighbors—with greater returns and lower risks than the planned dams that threaten the Mekong’s fish harvests and the viability of its delta. There’s no need to continue accepting tragic trade-offs between healthy rivers and low-cost, reliable, and renewable electricity. The renewable revolution provides an opportunity to have both. Governments, funders, developers, and scientists should seize it. Jeff Opperman is the World Wildlife Fund’s global lead scientist for freshwater. Twitter: @jjopperman Chris Weber is the World Wildlife Fund’s global lead scientist for climate and energy. Daniel Kammen is a professor in and the chair of the Energy and Resources Group and a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a science envoy for the U.S. State Department. Twitter: @dan_kammen Foreign Policy - https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/23/the-beautiful-rivers-and-the-dammed/
Good Grids Make Good Neighbors: Peace and Sustainability in the Post Paris World Location: William J. Perry Conference Room, Encina Hall, 2nd Floor, Stanford University, 616 Serra St, Stanford, CA 94305 3:30 - 5:00 PM, Monday, February 26, 2018 Abstract: Clean energy provides a number of benefits at scales from household to village to city and region. An unrealized and under-appreciated opportunity is to transition conflict regions from external fuel supply chains to local, clean and unpolluting energy. The benefits of this transition include local energy security to shared benefits from sustaining local generation capacity, which we term 'peace through grids'. Speaker bio: Daniel M. Kammen is a Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, with parallel appointments in the Energy and Resources Group where he serves as Chair, the Goldman School of Public Policy where he directs the Center for Environmental Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL; http://rael.berkeley.edu), and was Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center from 2007 - 2015. He was appointed by then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in April 2010 as the first energy fellow of the Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA) initiative. He began service as the Science Envoy for U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016, but resigned over President Trump’s policies in August 2017. He has served the State of California and US federal government in expert and advisory capacities, including time at the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Energy, the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Kammen was educated in physics at Cornell (BA 1984) and Harvard (MA 1986; PhD 1988), and held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology and Harvard. He was an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University before moving to the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Kammen has served as a contributing or coordinating lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Kammen helped found over 10 companies, including Enphase that went public in 2012, Renewable Funding (Renew Financial) a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) implementing company that went public in 2014. Kammen played a central role in developing the successful bid for the $500 million energy biosciences institute funded by BP. During 2010-2011 Kammen served as the World Bank Group’s first Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. While there, Kammen worked on the Kenya-Ethiopia “green corridor” transmission project, Morocco’s green transformation, the 10-year energy strategy for the World Bank, and on investing in household energy and gender equity. He was appointed to this newly created position in October 2010, in which he provided strategic leadership on policy, technical, and operational fronts. The aim is to enhance the operational impact of the Bank’s renewable energy and energy efficiency activities while expanding the institution’s role as an enabler of global dialogue on moving energy development to a cleaner and more sustainable pathway. Kammen’s work at the World Bank included funding electrified personal and municipal vehicles in China, and the $1.24 billion transmission project linking renewable energy assets in Kenya and Ethiopia. He has authored or co-authored 12 books, written more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications, and has testified more than 40 times to U.S. state and federal congressional briefings, and has provided various governments with more than 50 technical reports. For details see http://rael.berkeley.edu/publications. Dr. Kammen also served for many years on the Technical Review Board of the Global Environment Facility. He is the Specialty Chief Editor for Understanding Earth and Its Resources for Frontiers for Young Minds. Kammen is a frequent contributor to or commentator in international news media, including Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Financial Times. Kammen has appeared on ‘60 Minutes’ (twice), NOVA, Frontline, and hosted the six-part Discovery Channel series Ecopolis. Dr. Kammen is a Permanent Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society. In the US, he has served on several National Academy of Sciences boards and panels.
Overview: Energy poverty, is arguably the most pervasive and crippling threat society faces today. Lack of access impacts several billion people, with immediate health, educational, economic, and social damages. Furthermore, how this problem is addressed will result in the largest accelerant of global pollution, or the largest opportunity to pivot away from fossil-fuels onto the needed clean energy path. In a clear example of the power of systems thinking, energy poverty and climate change together present a dual crisis of energy injustice along gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic grounds, which has been exacerbated if not caused outright by a failure of the wealthy to see how tightly coupled is our collective global fate if addressing climate change fairly and inclusively does not become an immediate, actionable, priority. While debate exists on the optimal path or paths to wean our economy from fossil fuels, there is no question that technically we have today a sufficient knowledge and technological foundation to launch and to even complete the decarbonisation (IPCC, 2011). Critically needed is an equally powerful social narrative to accelerate the clean energy transition. Laudato Si’ provides a compelling formulation of the injustice that is both greed and pollution, but an ongoing outreach and partnership effort is needed to truly leverage its powerful message. In this essay we present examples across scales of the evolving knowledge base needed to build universal clean energy access. This leads to a formulation of an action agenda to defeat energy poverty and energy injustice.
Wil Burns, Co-Director, Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment
RAEL Lab Meeting
12:00 pm, 15 April 2015
310 Barrows Hall, Room 323
While geoengineering was once considered to be “taboo” in the forum of climate change policymaking, the increasing desperation engendered by the specter of passing critical temperature thresholds has led to increasing interest in the approach, including by key stakeholders. Even President Obama’s chief science advisor has indicated that geoengineering should “not be taken off the table” as a potential component of climate policymaking. The purpose of this presentation will be to assess the potential benefits of climate geoengineering, as well as potential negative impacts. Moreover, the presentation will discuss governance issues, including pertinent international treaty regimes, the contours of a potential framework for liability for potential negative impacts.
Wil Burns currently serves as the Co-Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a scholarly initiative of the School of International Service at American University. He previously served as Director of the Energy Policy & Climate program at Johns Hopkins University and has taught also at Tulane University’s School of Law, Colby College and Williams College. He holds a Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law.
CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE, APRIL 7, 2015 http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/just-in/2015-04-07/welcome-decentralized-energy-revolution-cleanly-electrifying
Kenya was once an energy black hole. Today Masaai moran (warriors) herd their livestock while simultaneously checking cattle prices in Mombasa on their cell phones, which they holster in beaded pouches worn around their necks.The abrupt and massive spread of cell phone technology has encouraged virtual banking systems that allow small-scale energy producers and their customers to do business from anywhere, and on a pro-rata basis. Customers are able to buy power in exceedingly small increments—say, enough to recharge their cell phones and power an LED light or two, or a tiny refrigerator and a high-efficiency hot plate. That’s a big deal in the developing world, where even a few such amenities make a gigantic difference in the quality of life—and where cash always is in short supply. It allows customers in rural Africa and Asia to analogously do with energy what they do when they visit a village store: buy a single stick of gum or a matchbook. Indeed, Kammen says, trusted e-banking systems are essential for the support of the mini-grid network, and he notes that the developing world has led in creating apps for such services. He cites Kenya as an especially shining example. Fifteen years ago, the country was a communications black hole. Hard-line telephony was the rule, and spotty at best. Outside Nairobi and Mombasa, people made do with CB radios or word of mouth. Then mobile technology arrived, and within a few years everyone was connected. Today, when visiting the country’s wildlife reserves, you’ll see Masaai moran (warriors) herding their livestock while simultaneously checking cattle prices in Mombasa on their cell phones, which they holster in beaded pouches worn around their necks. “In the 1990s I helped start up Mpala Research Center in Laikipia [in northern Kenya],” recalls Kammen. “We had to wait for a satellite to pass overhead so we could make our 35-second phone calls. Now researchers are receiving streaming data on individual lions and African wild dogs that they’re tracking.” In 2007, a proprietary mobile system known as M-Pesa was launched in Kenya. Originally promoted as an easy way to post payments for microloans, it was soon used by working urbanites as a means of sending money to relatives back on the rural shamba. M-Pesa is now Kenya’s preeminent banking system. As of late 2013, 19 million of the country’s 44 million people were signed up, with 25 percent of the national economy flowing through M-Pesa’s virtual conduits. In terms of energy development, that means small-scale power providers can receive payment for specific services from customers seamlessly, bypassing everything from poor infrastructure (people don’t have to walk miles over cattle trails to pay their bills) to government and corporate corruption. “And we’re seeing other IT applications all around the developing world,” Kammen says. “In Bangladesh, for example, phones are being used to test battery [arrays]. Keeping battery systems fully functional is critical for mini-grids, and it’s a big problem in Bangladesh, where a third of the country floods each year. Mini-grids don’t have maintenance teams regularly checking the systems, but you can upload data on cell phones when there’s a specific problem, and the provider can deal with it.”
“We’re moving from an era that has remained under-innovated for decades—the system where you pay a big utility for your energy—to decentralized systems…. It’s essentially the democratization of energy.”Decentralized electrification also reduces the causes of deforestation. When people have electricity, the rate of charcoal and wood burning typically decreases dramatically, Kammen observes. And decentralized energy isn’t just an accelerating trend in the developing world. In America, solar panels are sprouting on suburban homes like chanterelle mushrooms in Mendocino after a winter rain; cell phones are ubiquitous. The United States, in short, is experiencing its own decentralized energy revolution. “I have solar panels on my roof, and I can use my phone to track how much power each one is producing,” Kammen says. “I can determine which ones are dirty and may need a cleaning to improve performance. I can see how green my energy consumption is at any moment.” That points to a shift in power (political, not electrical) from the energy producer to the consumer. In fact, Kammen contends that the “Big Grid” of the existing utilities must adapt, melding with the growing mini- and micro-grids, to thrive. “We’re moving from an era that has remained under-innovated for decades—the system where you pay a big utility for your energy—to decentralized systems that have a lot of networked components and consumer input, all driven by powerful IT,” Kammen says. “It’s essentially the democratization of energy.” But to really accelerate the trend, Kammen says, a big dog must emerge from the pack of alt-energy advocates. “We’re working with a number of start-ups that are wrestling with the best way to put this all together,” Kammen says. “Nobody has hit on the right approach yet, but I anticipate somebody will do a Facebook kind of breakout sooner or later, come up with an off-grid version of Tesla. Our paper has been getting a lot of response in the week since its publication, in part because it demonstrates just how negative the impacts of poor energy access are. We show how it stymies educational opportunities and exacerbates gender inequality. It accelerates deforestation and can increase carbon emissions. But we also identify a goal: providing electricity to the 1.5 billion people who don’t have it by 2030. And with the systems we discuss, we think that’s achievable.”
Posted on April 7, 2015 - 11:06am
Biomass fuels (wood, charcoal, dung, and agricultural residues) are vital to basic welfare and economic activity in developing nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where they meet more than 90% of household energy needs in many nations. Combustion of biofuels emit pollutants that currently cause over 1.6 million annual deaths globally (400,000 in SSA. Because most of these deaths are among children and women, biomass use is directly or indirectly related to multiple Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including environmental sustainability, reducing child mortality, and gender equity. [caption id="attachment_818" align="alignnone" width="640"] Taking indoor air pollution measurements in rural Kenya[/caption] [caption id="attachment_819" align="alignnone" width="640"] Making charcoal, Kenya[/caption] [caption id="attachment_820" align="alignnone" width="587"] Women gathering firewood, Zombe, Kenya[/caption]