Search Results for 'energy storage'

RAEL Lunch — November 14, Sara Mulhauser, “Do utility ownership structures impact energy storage diffusion rates?”

Mulhauser Sara is an architect who delved into distributed generation while developing fuel cell projects for Bloom Energy. She became interested in the energy industry in general, and specifically the regulatory and finance conditions that make markets more open to uptake of innovative technologies. While her focus is in energy, she is also interested in how other major infrastructure areas are similar and different with respect to technology uptake. Sara has a BA in Architecture from Berkeley.

Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition

This publication website supports the new paper, in press at Nature Energy, titled: Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition as a site where users can download the Excel versions of the data sets used i that paper, whose authors Noah Kittnera,b, Felix Lillb,c and Daniel M. Kammen*a,b,d a Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA b Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA c Center for Digital Technology and Management, TU Munich, Munich, Germany d Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA give permission for open (but cited) use of these materials.

Forbes: China: Electric Vehicle-​​To-​​Grid Technology Could Solve Renewable Energy Storage Problem

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2015/04/21/china-electric-vehicle-to-grid-tech-could-solve-renewable-energy-storage-problem/ China could use an expected boom in electric vehicles to stabilize a grid that depends heavily on wind and solar energy, officials from an influential Chinese government planning agency said Monday in Washington D.C. “In the future we think the electricity vehicle could be the big contribution for power systems’ stability, reliability,” said Wang Zhongying, director of the China National Renewable Energy Center and deputy director general of the Energy Research Institute at China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The Chinese do not see the cost of renewable energy as a significant obstacle to its widespread adoption, Wang told a lunchtime gathering at Resources for the Future, a non-partisan environmental research organization in the Capitol. “The biggest challenge for renewable energy development is not economic issues, it is technical issues. Variability. Variability is the biggest issue for us,” said Wang, who explained variability like so: “When we have wind we have electricity; when we have sun we have electricity. No wind and no sun, no electricity.” But if the Chinese deploy enough electric vehicles—which could mean up to five million new electric vehicles in Beijing alone—the array of distributed batteries could collect energy when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and feed it back to the grid when the skies are dark and the air is still. Wang directed a study released this week, the “China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Roadmap Study,”  which plots a route for China to drastically reduce reliance on coal, derive 85 percent of electricity from renewables, and cut greenhouse gas emissions 60 percent by mid-century . The study gets there by relying on what has become known as Vehicle-to-Grid technology, which has emerged as almost a surprise side effect of inexpensive solar panels and clean-energy policies in places like California and Germany. The Chinese have been watching the same developments, the report reveals, as clean energy experts in the West like Daniel Kammen, who described unexpected effects of the solar-energy boom last week in an appearance at the University of Chicago.

“Massive amounts of solar power coming online in California, in Bangladesh, in Germany, in Italy, has meant the world has been turned on its head,” Kammen said.

“Now in places with the greenest energy policies, there is a huge peak in afternoon power on the grid, exactly where power used to be the most expensive and the dirtiest,” he said. “We actually want people to charge up now in the late afternoon. It sounds very chaotic, it’s not what we thought at all, but in fact it represents what low-cost solar is now bringing to many parts of the world.” Electricity consumers can store this abundant afternoon energy until supply goes down and demand goes up and then sell it back to the grid. And if they own electric vehicles, they needn’t buy extra equipment to do so. “You can put a big battery in the basement of your home or business, but you can also have your electric vehicle, with its mobile storage system that you drive around and use as your car. They’re called Nissan Leafs, they’re called Chevy Volts, they’re called Teslas, they’re called Priuses, they have a variety of names. And now you can sell power back to the grid.” An electric car with a range of 250 km can store 40 kWh of electricity, Wang said. Five million of those cars could stabilize Beijing’s grid to counteract variations in wind and sun, he said, and the number of automobiles in Beijing is expected to blossom from six million now to 10 million by 2030. If the range of electric cars doubles to 500 km, he added, they will store enough electricity that only two million will be needed. The cost of electric vehicles—about $40,000 in China, according to Wang—remains a hurdle, but China may slash the price by subsidizing vehicle batteries. China’s High Renewable Energy Roadmap resembles several U.S. Dept. of Energy studies that have plotted the route for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent by 2050. The U.S. studies anticipate that solar and wind will provide half of U.S. power needs by 2050, using pumped hydro and compressed-air storage systems to offset variability. Bulk battery systems were deemed too expensive to be viable, said Samuel Baldwin, chief science officer in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, but the U.S. studies did not anticipate the “distributed storage” option offered by electric vehicles. “I expect that battery storage like the Chinese study, with electric vehicles or stationary storage, is going to play a more important role,” Baldwin said.

It remains uncertain, however, how important a role it will play in China. The country’s first priority is economic development, said Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, also an arm of the National Development and Reform Commission.

By 2049, the centennial year of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese want to achieve a standard of living comparable to the most developed countries.

“China wants to be among the developed countries by 2050,” Li said. “That’s the first priority.”

China’s High Renewable Energy Roadmap is a “visionary scenario,” according to Joanna Lewis, an associate professor of science, technology and international affairs at Georgetown University. But it remains to be seen whether China’s Politburu shares the vision of its National Development and Reform Commission.

“We hope our study can influence the government’s 13th five-year plan and 2050 energy strategy,” said Wang. “That’s very important.”

No need to dam free flowing rivers to meet worlds climate and energy targets

Originally published in Mongabay:

  • In a comment article published in the Nature last month, scientists argue that an “energy future in which both people and rivers thrive” is possible with better planning.
  • The hydropower development projects now underway threaten the world’s last free-flowing rivers, posing severe threats to local human communities and the species that call rivers home. A recent study found that just one-third of the world’s 242 largest rivers remain free-flowing.
  • The benefits of better planning to meet increasing energy demands could be huge: A report released by WWF and The Nature Conservancy ahead of the World Hydropower Congress, held in Paris last month, finds that accelerating the deployment of non-hydropower renewable energy could prevent the fragmentation of nearly 165,000 kilometers (more than 102,500 miles) of river channels.
In a comment article published in the Nature last month, scientists argue that an “energy future in which both people and rivers thrive” is possible with better planning. For decades, hydropower dams have been a go-to solution for electrifying the developing world. There are more than 60,000 large dams around the globe, and as the demand for clean energy in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia continues to grow, hundreds more are currently in the planning stages. Hydroelectric dams have their advantages, such as providing a steady supply of baseload electricity that can be adjusted quickly to meet fluctuating demand and zero hazardous wastes or byproducts to dispose of. But according to the authors of the Nature article, by Rafael J. P. Schmitt at Stanford University, Noah Kittner, Matthias Kondolf, and Daniel M Kammen of the University of California, at Berkeley “Hydropower needs to be viewed as part of a broader strategy for clean energy, in which the costs and benefits of different sources should be assessed and weighed against each other.” The hydropower development projects now underway threaten the world’s last free-flowing rivers, posing severe threats to local human communities and the species that call rivers home. The Cambodian government, for instance, is proposing to build the 11,000-gigawatt-hour Sambor dam on the Mekong River, which “would prevent fish from migrating, threatening fisheries worth billions of dollars. It would further cut the supply of sediment to the Mekong Delta, where some of the region’s most fertile farmland is at risk of sinking below sea level by the end of the century,” according to Schmitt and colleagues. “And the dam would do little to bring electricity or jobs to local villagers: much of its hydropower would be exported to big cities in neighbouring nations, far from the rivers that will be affected.” A recent study found that just one-third of the world’s 242 largest rivers remain free-flowing, mostly in remote regions of the Amazon Basin, the Arctic, and the Congo Basin. As Schmitt and co-authors note in the Nature article, however, hydropower is just one of many clean energy options available today, and technologies like solar panels or wind turbines can produce similar amounts of electricity as large hydroelectric dams at roughly the same cost. “[S]preading a variety of renewable energy sources strategically across river basins could produce power reliably and cheaply while protecting these crucial rivers and their local communities,” the researchers write. “Solar, wind, microhydro and energy-storage technologies have caught up with large hydropower in price and effectiveness. Hundreds of small generators woven into a ‘smart grid’ (which automatically responds to changes in supply and demand) can outcompete a big dam.” Schmitt and team say that, in order to keep the world’s remaining free-flowing rivers unobstructed while increasing access to electricity in developing nations at the same time, strategies for deploying renewable energy technologies and expanding hydropower projects must be made at the basin-wide or regional level and strike the right balance between impacts and benefits of all available clean electricity generation methods. “On the major tributaries of the lower Mekong, for example, dams have been built ad hoc. Existing ones exploit only 50% of the tributaries’ potential hydropower yet prevent 90% of their sand load from reaching the delta,” the researchers report. “There was a better alternative: placing more small dams higher up the rivers could have released 70% of the power while trapping only 20% of the sand.” Site selection for solar and wind farms must be just as strategic as for new dams. “Impacts of these projects on the landscape need to be considered, too. Solar and wind farms might be built on patches of land that have low conservation value, such as along roads, or even floating on hydropower reservoirs,” Schmitt and co-authors suggest. “Solar panels and small wind turbines can be put on or near buildings to minimize infrastructure and reduce energy losses in transmission.” The scientists recommend that organizations and governments who manage river basins apply a “holistic perspective” to energy planning that takes into account all non-hydropower renewable energy options, energy efficiency measures, energy demand management, and the risks posed by global climate change — as decreasing river flows in a more drought-prone, warmer world could severely impact the output of hydroelectric dams. But in order to properly evaluate all of the trade-offs when designing a renewable energy strategy, we need to know much more about river ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them: “Researchers need to fill data gaps across whole river basins, from fish migration and sediment transport to community empowerment and impacts on food systems,” Schmitt and co-authors write. “The costs of lost ecosystem services over the life cycle of energy projects must be included in cost–benefit analyses. Such research is cheap compared with the costs of building dams and mitigating environmental impacts.” The benefits of better planning to meet increasing energy demands could be huge: A report released by WWF and The Nature Conservancy ahead of the World Hydropower Congress, held in Paris last month, finds that accelerating the deployment of non-hydropower renewable energy could prevent the fragmentation of nearly 165,000 kilometers (more than 102,500 miles) of river channels. “We can not only envision a future where electricity systems are accessible, affordable and powering economies with a mix of renewable energy, we can now build that future,” Jeff Opperman, a freshwater scientist with WWF and lead author of the report, said in a statement. “If we do not rapidly seize the opportunity to accelerate the renewable revolution, unnecessary, high-impact hydropower dams could still be built on iconic rivers such as the Mekong, Irrawaddy, and Amazon — and dozens or hundreds of others around the world. It would be a great tragedy if the full social and environmental benefits of the renewable revolution arrived just a few years too late to safeguard the world’s great rivers and all the diverse benefits they provide to people and nature.”
Pamok, Laos. Life along the banks of the Mekong River. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom for WWF.
CITATIONS • Grill et al. (2019). Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1111-9 • Opperman, J., J. Hartmann, M. Lambrides, J.P. Carvallo, E. Chapin, S. Baruch-Mordo, B. Eyler, M. Goichot, J. Harou, J. Hepp, D. Kammen, J. Kiesecker, A. Newsock, R. Schmitt, M. Thieme, A. Wang, and C. Weber. (2019). Connected and flowing: a renewable future for rivers, climate and people. WWF and The Nature Conservancy, Washington, DC. • Schmitt, R. J., Kittner, N., Kondolf, G. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2019). Deploy diverse renewables to save tropical rivers. Nature 569, 330-332. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-01498-8

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  

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.

Princeton Environmental Institute Seminar, “An Energy Plan the Earth Can Live With”

Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, will present, "An Energy Plan the Earth Can Live With," at 4 p.m. Monday, May 7, in Guyot Hall, Room 10. Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 5.59.00 PM Kammen is the eighth and final speaker in the Challenges in Environmental Sciences Seminar (CHESS) Series organized by PEI in cooperation with campus partners. Kammen will look in overview at clean-energy projects at scales from off-grid solar-energy systems to mini-grids and decarbonization efforts in the United States, China, Nicaragua, Kenya and Southeast Asia. He will review a number of specific areas of energy-system innovation, including in energy storage and information management systems for mini-grid operation. He will examine how analytic and practical field-based efforts both decarbonize communities across scales and establish frameworks to meet the Paris climate accord. Kammen was appointed the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas Fellow by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in April 2010. Kammen has served as a contributing or coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999.  Th IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. From 2010-2011, he was the World Bank Group's chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency, in which he helped enhance renewable-energy and energy-efficiency activities and expand the institution's role in promoting cleaner, more sustainable energy. Before joining UC-Berkeley, Kammen was an assistant professor of public and international affairs at Princeton, as well as director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) and PEI associated faculty. He received his doctorate in physics from Harvard University in 1988.

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