News Archive:

Proceedings of the National Academy publishes our critique of “WWS” model

Our paper now avail­able from the Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sciences:

Pre­vi­ous analy­ses have found that the most fea­si­ble route to a low-​​carbon energy future is one that adopts a diverse port­fo­lio of tech­nolo­gies. In con­trast, Jacob­son et al. (2015) con­sider whether the future pri­mary energy sources for the United States could be nar­rowed to almost exclu­sively wind, solar, and hydro­elec­tric power and sug­gest that this can be done at “low-​​cost” in a way that sup­plies all power with a prob­a­bil­ity of loss of load “that exceeds electric-​​utility-​​industry stan­dards for reli­a­bil­ity”. We find that their analy­sis involves errors, inap­pro­pri­ate meth­ods, and implau­si­ble assump­tions. Their study does not pro­vide cred­i­ble evi­dence for reject­ing the con­clu­sions of pre­vi­ous analy­ses that point to the ben­e­fits of con­sid­er­ing a broad port­fo­lio of energy sys­tem options. A pol­icy pre­scrip­tion that over­promises on the ben­e­fits of rely­ing on a nar­rower port­fo­lio of tech­nolo­gies options could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, seri­ously imped­ing the move to a cost effec­tive decar­bonized energy system.

Or, down­load it from the RAEL Pub­li­ca­tions page: here.

Press cov­er­age of this paper:

June 20, 2017 - Power Mag­a­zine: Experts debunk 100% Renew­able Energy Decar­boniza­tion Study by WWS Team

June 20, 2017 - The Chicago Tri­bune: A bit­ter sci­en­tific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

June 20, 2017 - The New York Times: “Fisticuffs Over the Route to a Clean Energy Future

June 19, 2017 - The Wash­ing­ton Post: A bit­ter sci­en­tific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

June 19, 2017 - MIT Tech­nol­ogy Review: Sci­en­tists sharply rebut influ­en­tial renew­able energy plan

June 19, 2017 - Sci­ence Daily:Fight­ing global warm­ing and cli­mate change requires a broad energy port­fo­lio

June 19, 2017 — Green­tech Media: “100% renew­able energy plan as ‘sig­nif­i­cant short­com­ings’ say cli­mate and energy experts”.




Student Spotlight: Brooke Maushund

This pro­file of ERG under­grad­u­ate con­cen­tra­tor and RAEL stu­dent Brooke Maushund, appeared in the Col­lege of Nat­ural Resources newslet­ter here.

Best study spot on campus?

I’ve spent a lot of time on the 4th floor of CITRIS, but East Asian Library has been my stead­fast home — you can’t beat those giant glass walls.

Best Cal memory?

Wow, there are a lot, but I’ve got to say my first semes­ter in the Berke­ley Stu­dent Coop­er­a­tive sys­tem, at Steb­bins Hall, was cumu­la­tively my favorite Cal mem­ory. Now at the end of my three-​​year stint in the co-​​ops, I see the flaws in the sys­tem, but I can­not express how grate­ful I was for the sense of com­mu­nity I expe­ri­enced my first semes­ter in Steb­bins. Com­ing home to house­mates who gen­uinely cared about my day, had such dif­fer­ent inter­ests than my own but were just as pas­sion­ately dri­ven to pur­sue them, crafted such a cre­ative and open space to chal­lenge one another, and made a house a home was not some­thing I knew I could find here.

What is your favorite CNR class or pro­fes­sor and why?

This has got to be a tie between Pro­fes­sor Call­away & Dr. Sager’s ERG 290 “Micro­grids and Decen­tral­ized Renew­ables for Global Energy Access” and Pro­fes­sor Kammen’s ERG C271 “Energy and Devel­op­ment.” Both were grad­u­ate sem­i­nars I took spring semes­ter my junior year, and really were the first time I could see every­thing I have learned tie together. The sem­i­nar style of the classes, espe­cially with the heavy the­o­ret­i­cal focus in ERG C271 and then applied project focus in ERG 290, allowed me to explore the roots of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, then apply them directly to a micro­grid project while con­vers­ing with my much more expe­ri­enced peers.

What advice do you have for an incom­ing CNR student?

Fol­low your inter­ests, don’t be afraid to make mis­takes, and—at your own discretion—don’t always fol­low the rules. If you want to take a grad class and the pre­req­ui­sites online don’t let you enroll, and you don’t have “x, y, and z classes” under your belt, but feel qual­i­fied: email the pro­fes­sor with a resume. Read some of their pub­li­ca­tions and go into their office hours. Start a con­ver­sa­tion. Cal can be a bit soul-​​crushing if you see it in black and white, but never under­es­ti­mate what can come out of start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion: you never know what you don’t know. Work­ing around the lines, find­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties in the grays is how you pave your own unique path here. And that doesn’t come with­out a healthy amount of fail­ures; trust me, I have plenty. Regard­less of what you’ve been told, it’s not sheer tal­ent or brains that will get you through this place bet­ter on the other side: it’s resilience.

What is your plan for after graduation?

I’m still weigh­ing some options, but as of right now my plan is to move out to Yosemite Val­ley to work as a gar­dener for the con­ces­sion­aire —and rock climb/​trail run a lot—for the sum­mer with my best friends from high school. In August I’ll come back to the Bay and work full time in energy access.

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What have been the most mean­ing­ful activ­i­ties you’ve been involved with while at Berkeley?

This is a hard one, but I’ve got to say that join­ing the Cal Ski Team—the best ski team—was the best choice I made at Cal. After grow­ing up in a place where I could surf most days or go some­where new to trail run, being in such an urban area fresh­man year with­out a car or friends who enjoyed the out­doors was a bit weird at first. I also knew that Greek life wasn’t for me, but wanted to be social. Join­ing ski team gave me a social cir­cle, and I met so many peo­ple who were pas­sion­ate about the out­doors, get­ting rad, and were very intel­lec­tu­ally tal­ented at the same time. I got some awe­some pow­der days out of it and learned how to climb, but more impor­tantly I learned a lot about aca­d­e­mics and work­ing hard to advance in the work world from a lot of the older mem­bers on the team. Unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence. CAL SKI TEAM #1!

Brooke Maushund speaking at a conference

We heard that you pre­sented at the COP22 Con­fer­ence in Morocco — tell us about that experience.

Through a series of very serendip­i­tous events, Jessie Knap­stein, who was the co-​​president of Berke­ley Energy and Resources Col­lab­o­ra­tive (BERC) the same time I was co-​​president of the under­grad­u­ate arm of the club (BERC-​​U), offered for me to fill her spot to go to the Africa Renew­able Energy Forum (AREF) to author the offi­cial report on the state of renew­able energy in Africa going into COP22 in Mar­rakech, Morocco.

After my AREF respon­si­bil­i­ties had con­cluded, I had the rest of the con­fer­ence to sim­ply absorb and process all of the hap­pen­ings at COP22—a real treat. After study­ing and dis­cussing all of these top­ics for years, even par­tic­i­pat­ing in mock cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions for a class at Berke­ley, actu­ally being at a COP was noth­ing short of the one of the best applied edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ences I’ve ever had. You can only imag­ine my thrill, excite­ment… and ner­vous­ness and feel­ing of respon­si­bil­ity when Pro­fes­sor Dan Kam­men, who I also hap­pen to work under on research in the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory, offered for me to step up twice more, due to some speak­ing engage­ment con­flicts he had. I filled in and spoke as a pan­elist on my work at an event put on by the Clus­ter Indus­triel pour les Ser­vices Envi­ron­nemen­taux (CISE), and spoke as a rap­por­teur at a much larger event: the Women Lead­ers and Global Trans­for­ma­tion Summit.

After facil­i­tat­ing dis­cus­sion amongst some of the most pow­er­ful, strong women I’ve had the plea­sure to be around at the Women Lead­ers and Global Trans­for­ma­tion Sum­mit, we drafted rec­om­men­da­tions in a smaller work­ing group for how the UN Sec­re­tariat could empower women while address­ing cli­mate change through inno­va­tion. Shortly after, I spoke on stage regard­ing our out­comes. As the youngest per­son in the room I was of course ner­vous, but get­ting to work with women among the ranks of those at this con­fer­ence was a truly remark­able expe­ri­ence that I will not forget.

My expe­ri­ences at AREF, COP22, and espe­cially the Women Lead­ers and Global Trans­for­ma­tion Sum­mit are some­thing I know I’ll carry with me through­out the rest of my career. I can­not thank BERC, Jessie, Dan, or Energ­y­Net enough.

KQED Forum: California Defiant as President Trump Withdraws from Paris Climate Accord



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Forum with Michael Krasny — Fri­day, June 2: Lis­ten live or down­load the podcast


Trump is AWOL but Cal­i­for­nia is on the field, ready for bat­tle.” That’s how Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor Jerry Brown responded to Pres­i­dent Trump’s announce­ment Thurs­day that the United States will pull out of the 2015 Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment. Gov­er­nor Brown also announced Thurs­day that Cal­i­for­nia, together with Wash­ing­ton and New York, will form the United States Cli­mate Alliance, a coali­tion of states com­mit­ted to uphold­ing the Paris agree­ment and reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions. We dis­cuss what the U.S. with­drawal from the agree­ment will mean for California.

Paul Rogers, man­ag­ing edi­tor, KQED’s Sci­ence; envi­ron­ment writer, The Mer­cury News
Tom Steyerbusi­nessper­son and founder of NextGen Cli­mate
Dr. Dan Kam­men, pro­fes­sor of energy, UC Berke­ley; sci­ence envoy for the State Depart­ment; direc­tor, Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory at UC Berkeley

RAEL Holds First Experts Workshop on the Peace Renewable Energy Credit

May 1, 2017, San Fran­cisco — The Pro­gram on Con­flict, Cli­mate Change and Green Devel­op­ment, part of UC Berkeley’s Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory, con­vened on April 28, 2017, the first of two expert work­shops on the Peace Renew­able Energy Credit (PREC). A newly devel­oped financ­ing mech­a­nism, the PREC is designed to encour­age renew­able energy invest­ment in con­flict and cri­sis set­tings. The work­shops pro­vide for lead­ers in the fields of cli­mate change, renew­able energy/​finance and humanitarian/​peacebuilding to exam­ine, refine and help develop the PREC concept.

The San Fran­cisco work­shop was hosted by the Law Offices of Wil­son, Son­sino, Goodrich & Rosati, and brought together a range of experts with national and inter­na­tional expe­ri­ence on cli­mate and energy issues, renew­able energy devel­op­ment and finance, and envi­ron­men­tal markets.

The dis­cus­sion took stock of the grow­ing link­ages between cli­mate change and con­flict and looked at the poten­tial for renew­able energy to con­tribute to pro­mot­ing peace and devel­op­ment in the world’s con­flict regions.   They exam­ined the ratio­nale for devel­op­ing the PREC, includ­ing the lim­i­ta­tions of the cur­rent inter­na­tional toolkit to effec­tively address con­flict and human­i­tar­ian crises, and were pre­sented with sce­nar­ios of how the PREC might be applied in exist­ing con­flict set­tings. Par­tic­i­pants devel­oped strate­gic and tech­ni­cal rec­om­men­da­tions for oper­a­tional­iz­ing the PREC mech­a­nism in the near term. The sec­ond work­shop is sched­uled to be held on June 1, 2017 in Wash­ing­ton DC.

As the world strug­gles to cope with the grow­ing human­i­tar­ian cri­sis which cli­mate change exac­er­bates, there is an urgent need for new think­ing and new solu­tions”, said Pro­fes­sor Dan Kam­men, Direc­tor of the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory. “The PREC is an impor­tant inno­va­tion that can help make sure that the ben­e­fits of the renew­able energy rev­o­lu­tion are also reach­ing the places of great­est need, and poten­tially great­est impact. We seek part­ners to refine the idea and to fund the pilot phase projects in South Sudan, Myan­mar, and elsewhere.”

We can already see a num­ber of con­flict and cri­sis set­tings where new invest­ment in renew­able energy could pro­vide mul­ti­ple eco­nomic, social, polit­i­cal and peace ben­e­fits, but this is not cur­rent prac­tice” said David Moz­er­sky, Direc­tor of the Pro­gram on Con­flict, Cli­mate Change and Green Devel­op­ment. “The PREC can pro­vide new impe­tus and financ­ing solu­tions to help unlock the many near and longer-​​term ben­e­fits that renew­able energy can offer in regions that suf­fer most from con­flict risk, cli­mate change vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and energy poverty.”

The Peace Renew­able Energy Credit (PREC) is one of sev­eral key ini­tia­tives that the Pro­gram has devel­oped. More infor­ma­tion is avail­able at rael​.berke​ley​.edu/​c​o​n​f​l​ict. For infor­ma­tion con­tact: David Moz­er­sky (dmozersky@​berkeley.​edu); Dan Kam­men (



Kosovo must do more for renewables, European Union says

April 27, 2017, PV News.

Kosovo must do more for renew­ables, Euro­pean Union says

Cit­ing a RAEL study, authored by Noah Kit­tner and Daniel Kam­men along with col­leagues from KOSID in Kosovo, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has said that Kosovo’s gov­ern­ment needs to increase efforts to improve its energy sys­tem, and to pro­vide more sup­port for renew­ables, although it has recently revised its energy (and renew­able energy) strat­egy up to 2020.



The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (EC) has said that Kosovo should make more invest­ments in the energy sec­tor, and add fur­ther gen­er­a­tion capac­ity from both ther­mal and renew­able energy sources, in order to become able to plan the decom­mis­sion­ing of the country’s two coal power plants, which cur­rently still cover almost all of its power demand.

In the report on Kosovo’s Eco­nomic Reform Pro­gramme for the period 2017–2019, pub­lished on the web­site of the Aus­trian Par­lia­ment, the EC said that the energy reforms recently imple­mented by the local gov­ern­ment are not suf­fi­cient to improve the country’s trou­bled power mar­ket, which still relies heav­ily on coal and elec­tric­ity imports.

Under its long-​​term energy strat­egy, which was approved last sum­mer, Kosovo is expected to add 240 MW of power gen­er­a­tion capac­ity from renew­ables, of which only 10 MW is for solar PV, while wind and bio­mass will account for 150 MW and 14 MW, respec­tively, with other renew­able sources account­ing for the remain­ing share.

Despite these plans, the local gov­ern­ment is cur­rently putting most of its efforts in the con­struc­tion of the new coal power plant “Kosova e Re”, an invest­ment that the EU itself con­sid­ers nec­es­sary to replace the 40-​​year old Kosovo A Power Sta­tion (345 MW) near Pristina, and upgrade the 27-​​year old lignite-​​fired Kosovo B Power Sta­tion (540 MW) in Obilić. The future Kosovo Power Project (600 MW), which is being backed by the World Bank, includes the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Kosovo B power plant, in order to bring it in com­pli­ance with EU standards.

Accord­ing to the EC, Kosovo’s energy mar­ket suf­fers from the above-​​mentioned out­dated pro­duc­tion capac­ity, as well as low energy effi­ciency, a non-​​liberalized energy mar­ket and a tar­iff sys­tem that does not reflect real costs. The EC added that it is not clear if recent reforms of the energy mar­ket are aligned with the reforms included in the Energy Strat­egy. “Progress in 2016”, the EC stressed, “was mainly lim­ited to leg­isla­tive mea­sures and the intro­duc­tion of some energy effi­ciency mea­sures.” The Com­mis­sion also stressed that cost esti­mates of the new planned actions for 2016, which include the future coal power plant, three unspec­i­fied solar projects, 20 hydropower facil­i­ties and two wind power instal­la­tions, “are very rough, and with­out a clear reg­u­la­tory frame­work.” The EC also spec­i­fied that all the work required by these actions was not done, except for the fea­si­bil­ity study for the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Kosovo B ther­mal power plant.

Accord­ing to a report from Kosovo’s Min­istry of Energy, solar had only a few hun­dred kW con­nected to the grid as of the end of 2015. The first solar PV projects with total installed capac­ity of 102.4 kilo­watt were brought online in 2014. Under the FIT pro­gram run by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture (MAFRD), 101 PV sys­tems total­ing 77 kW were installed in 2014, while fur­ther 135 instal­la­tions with a com­bined capac­ity of 364 kW came online in 2015.

Accord­ing to another report pub­lished in Envi­ron­men­tal Research Let­ters by sci­en­tists of Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley on the sci­en­tific research jour­nal IOP­science last year, at the end of 2015 the coun­try had around 3 MW of solar installed under the FIT scheme, which was issued in 2014. The pro­gram is grant­ing a 12-​​year FIT of €85 ($92.5)/MWh.

A strik­ing aspect of Kosovo is its sub­stan­tial solar energy resource, yet com­plete lack of devel­op­ment of solar power,” said the report’s authors. “It receives about 80% of Arizona’s solar inso­la­tion. That’s a higher level of sun­light than Ger­many, which has exten­sive solar energy facil­i­ties.” Kosovo, indeed, has a con­sid­er­able solar poten­tial with an aver­age of 278 sunny days and 2000 hours of sun per year.

The authors of IOPscience’s report also believe that dis­trib­uted renew­able and solar can bet­ter help Kosovo man­age the nec­es­sary growth of installed gen­er­a­tion capac­ity com­pared to large cen­tral­ized projects. While PV sys­tems can be installed incre­men­tally on a per kW or MW scale, a coal plant requires full com­mit­ment to hun­dreds of MW capac­ity dur­ing one invest­ment period, the report explains. “As demand for elec­tric­ity changes,” the US researchers said, “the deploy­ment of dis­trib­uted renew­ables pro­vides investors with increased flex­i­bil­ity to extend capac­ity in smaller sizes as to not leave the investor with large-​​scale stranded assets.”

With 2 mil­lion inhab­i­tants, Kosovo is still a dis­puted land between Repub­lic of Ser­bia, which claims it as it’s own ter­ri­tory after, and the Repub­lic of Kosovo. Cur­rently, 111 out of 193 mem­ber states of the United Nations have rec­og­nized Kosovo as an inde­pen­dent state.

Despite Its Oil-​​Industry Past, Energy Transitions Commission Foresees A Full-​​Renewables Future

Despite Its Oil-​​Industry Past, Energy Tran­si­tions Com­mis­sion Fore­sees A Full-​​Renewables Future

by Jeff McMa­hon, based in Chicago. Fol­low Jeff McMa­hon on Face­bookGoogle PlusTwit­ter, or email him here.

Renew­ables could pro­vide nearly all the power in some regions in less than 20 years, reli­ably, and at a cost com­pet­i­tive with fos­sil fuels, accord­ing to a report released today by the Energy Tran­si­tions Commission.

The report’s strik­ing con­fi­dence in solar and wind is likely to sur­prise not only crit­ics of those tech­nolo­gies but also envi­ron­men­tal­ists, who greeted the com­mis­sion with skep­ti­cismwhen it was founded in 2015. The com­mis­sion was launched by Royal Dutch Shell and includes exec­u­tives from Shell, GE Oil and Gas, Australia’s BHP Bil­li­ton, Norway’s Sta­toil and other traditional-​​energy companies.

We believe that close to zero-​​carbon power sys­tems with very high lev­els of inter­mit­tent renew­able pen­e­tra­tion (up to 98% in coun­tries like Ger­many) could deliver reli­able power in many coun­tries at a max­i­mum of $70 per MWh by 2035,” the com­mis­sion states in its flag­ship report.



In 2015, Car­bon Tracker’s Anthony Hob­ley crit­i­cized the ETCbecause of its ini­tial goal to study how to fuel half the power sec­tor with zero-​​carbon energy sources by 2050, a path that Hob­ley said would put the world on course for 4˚C of warm­ing. The ETC appears to have raised its ambi­tions since.

World­wide, zero-​​carbon sources could rep­re­sent 80 per­cent of the global power mix by 2040, the com­mis­sion now says, with solar and wind com­pris­ing the major­ity of that. That still leaves 20 per­cent of the world power mar­ket to fos­sil fuels. But that’s a big drop from the cur­rent state of affairs, in which fos­sil fuels pro­vide about 80 per­cent of pri­mary energy production.

We are ambi­tious but real­is­tic,” said com­mis­sion chair­man Adair Turner, a British busi­ness­man, via email. “Despite the scale of the chal­lenges fac­ing us, we firmly believe the required tran­si­tion is tech­ni­cally and eco­nom­i­cally achiev­able if imme­di­ate action is taken.”

When I con­tacted Car­bon Tracker Mon­day, Hob­ley had not had an oppor­tu­nity yet to review the report or comment.

The report calls for reduc­ing CO2 emis­sions more rapidly than the Paris Agree­ment. Its reliance on solar and wind depends in part on its pro­jec­tion that the cost of bat­ter­ies will con­tinue to drop. But it stresses there are cheaper means than bat­tery stor­age to smooth out the inter­mit­tent per­for­mance of solar and wind. It cites a suite of tech­nolo­gies and tech­niques, including:

  • demand man­age­ment, espe­cially of industry

  • flex­i­ble elec­tric vehi­cle charging

  • load shift­ing between regions

  • auto­mated load shifting

  • bet­ter grid management

  • large-​​scale heat storage

  • dis­trib­uted ther­mal stor­age in the built environment

  • com­pressed air storage

  • hydro­gen storage

  • geo­logic storage

The com­mis­sion mod­eled the use of these tech­nolo­gies in Cal­i­for­nia and con­cluded that if Cal­i­for­nia builds a power sys­tem that relies nearly entirely on solar and wind, these lower-​​cost options could offer the sys­tem reli­a­bil­ity for almost half the cost of the tra­di­tional method of achiev­ing reliability—turning on gas-​​turbine plants.

Uni­ver­sity of Berke­ley energy pro­fes­sor Daniel Kam­men has been out­lin­ing a sim­i­lar scenario:

The dra­matic ramp up in solar resulted in the dra­matic real­iza­tion that a diverse, decen­tral­ized sys­tem can pro­vide the same crit­i­cal fea­tures that we think about with a base­load highly cen­tral­ized sys­tem,” Kam­men said last sum­mer. “Not tomor­row, but in the time frame that we need it, it’s absolutely there.”

It’s eas­ier to see how zero-​​carbon sources can con­quer 80 per­cent of the energy mar­ket, the com­mis­sion con­cedes, than the last 20 per­cent. If the world is to keep the global aver­age tem­per­a­ture from ris­ing more than 2º C, the report says, four energy tran­si­tions have to be pur­sued simul­ta­ne­ously in each country:

  1. Decar­boniza­tion of the power sec­tor com­bined with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of trans­porta­tion, build­ings and industry.
  2. Decar­boniza­tion of activ­i­ties that can­not be afford­ably elec­tri­fied, by using bio­fu­els or hydro­gen for heat­ing or by cap­tur­ing car­bon emissions.
  3. Improve­ments in energy pro­duc­tiv­ity and efficiency.
  4. Opti­miza­tion of fos­sil fuels within the con­straints of the world’s over­all car­bon bud­get, includ­ing the con­tin­ued replace­ment of coal with nat­ural gas, an end to methane leaks and methane flar­ing at oil fields, and devel­op­ment of car­bon cap­ture and storage.

To achieve these tran­si­tions, the world needs to change the way it finances energy, and it needs “coher­ent and pre­dictable” pol­icy from gov­ern­ments, the report says, rec­om­mend­ing a price on carbon.

“A mean­ing­ful car­bon price would help drive a faster and more cer­tain transition.”


By Jeff McMa­hon, based in Chicago. Fol­low Jeff McMa­hon on Face­bookGoogle PlusTwit­ter, or email him here.

From Alaska to Georgia, Why 6 Scientists Will March on Washington

From Alaska to Geor­gia, Why 6 Sci­en­tists Will March on Washington

APRIL 21, 2017

Thou­sands of sci­en­tists and their sup­port­ers are prepar­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the March for Sci­ence on Sat­ur­day, but the run-​​up to the event hasn’t been with­out con­tro­versy. Some sci­en­tists have charged that plan­ning for the march con­tra­dicted larger goals of diver­sity,while other sci­en­tists have wor­ried that the effort might appear par­ti­san to the pub­lic, and thereby hurt the stand­ing of schol­ars in the field.

Despite the con­tro­versy, the sci­en­tists who plan to attend the main march, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as well as hun­dreds of smaller ones else­where, say they’re doing so with a pri­mary goal in mind: to send the mes­sage that sci­ence matters.

The Chron­i­cle spoke to six sci­en­tists who will be trav­el­ing to the nation’s cap­i­tal about their hopes and expec­ta­tions for the day.

Chris B. Schaf­fer, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of bio­med­ical engi­neer­ing, Cor­nell University:

Cour­tesy Chris B. Schaffer

Mr. Schaf­fer, who has a back­ground in pol­icy and runs a small pro­gram for stu­dents who are inter­ested in advo­cacy, said he would be trav­el­ing to D.C. with three buses of stu­dents. He said he hoped the march wouldn’t just carry the theme of “sci­en­tists against the Trump administration.”“It’s excit­ing to see sci­en­tists want­ing to come out and do some­thing other than plug away at ques­tions in their labs,” he said. “I hope that this is a first step toward a much greater degree of engage­ment between sci­en­tists and the public.”

After the march, he hopes to see more sci­en­tists engage in “sus­tained, low-​​level com­mit­ments” such as reg­u­larly speak­ing in schools, offer­ing pro bono advice to busi­nesses, and lob­by­ing local lawmakers.

Ellen Chenoweth, Ph.D. stu­dent in ecol­ogy and marine biol­ogy, Uni­ver­sity of Alaska at Fairbanks:

Cour­tesy Ellen Chenoweth

Ms. Chenoweth does research on hump­back whales and how they for­age in the marine envi­ron­ment. She said that she’s “not usu­ally much of a marcher” but that the March for Sci­ence “kind of spoke to me — I felt like I could make a difference.“She said that she wanted to go to D.C. to make sure that rural researchers and young women were rep­re­sented, not just “your typ­i­cal lab-​​coat researchers.” Accord­ingly, she will wear what she wears in the field, or at least a mod­i­fied ver­sion of it. “I’d love to wear a full float suit, but I think it would be way too hot,” she said.

Ms. Chenoweth will fly to D.C. alone, but will carry a sign with the sig­na­tures of her friends and col­leagues who couldn’t make it. “I’m hop­ing it’s a really pos­i­tive event,” she said. “I’m com­ing with an open mind. I’m hop­ing to be inspired by lots of other sci­en­tists, and I’m hop­ing that there’ll be a diver­sity of sci­en­tists represented.”

Chris Gunter, pro­fes­sor of pedi­atrics, Emory Uni­ver­sity School of Medicine:

Cour­tesy Chris Gunter

Ms. Gunter, who also leads com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Mar­cus Autism Cen­ter, in Atlanta, will travel to D.C. from Geor­gia with her teenage son. As a sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tor, Ms. Gunter said she feels strongly that engage­ment is an impor­tant part of her job, and she wants peo­ple to see “that sci­en­tists are peo­ple too.” Though she and her son thought about wear­ing cos­tumes to the march, they decided to sport the offi­cial march T-​​shirts so that they would look more “everyday.”“I’m hop­ing the march will ener­gize peo­ple,” said Ms. Gunter. “A sort of paral­y­sis can set in when we hear over and over about threats to sci­ence. I think many of us are look­ing for ideas about what would be the best action to take to make a difference.”

Ms. Gunter recently joined the Atlanta chap­ter of 500 Women Sci­en­tists, a nation­wide group of female researchers who advo­cate for equal­ity in sci­ence. She said she hopes to get ideas from the march about what the orga­ni­za­tion could do in the future, whether that’s fight­ing bud­get cuts, improv­ing sci­ence out­reach and engage­ment, or tak­ing legal action against discrimination.

Bradley J. Car­di­nale, pro­fes­sor of nat­ural resources, Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan at Ann Arbor:

UM Photo Ser­vices, Austin Thomason

Mr. Cardinale’s research focuses on pro­tect­ing the Great Lakes. Under Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posed bud­get for 2018, deep cuts could force Mr. Car­di­nale and many of his col­leagues to aban­don their research, he said. “I see these as per­sonal exam­ples of a cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion that really doesn’t value sci­ence, and doesn’t value facts,” he said. “Attend­ing the march is my way of stand­ing up and say­ing, like many other sci­en­tists, ‘Sci­ence is impor­tant for society.’“Mr. Car­di­nale will attend the march with his wife and two chil­dren. He laughed as he said his 8-​​year-​​old daugh­ter was “very anx­ious to march and insist that politi­cians use evi­dence when mak­ing decisions.”

He said he would con­sider the march a suc­cess if it resulted in Mr. Trump’s get­ting “a legit­i­mate sci­en­tist as an adviser in his cabinet.”

Mau­rice K. Craw­ford, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of marine sci­ence, Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land East­ern Shore:

Cour­tesy Mau­rice K. Crawford

Mr. Craw­ford is a fish ecol­o­gist who pre­vi­ously helped to shape the United States Agency for Inter­na­tional Development’s climate-​​change pol­icy. He said he wanted to attend the march in D.C. to send a mes­sage to the cur­rent Repub­li­can admin­is­tra­tion about the impor­tance of using evi­dence in mak­ing pol­icy. “My sense is that they’re aban­don­ing that process,” he said. While he doesn’t think that Pres­i­dent Trump is likely to respond to the march, he hopes that peo­ple in Con­gress might​.Mr. Craw­ford will travel with his wife, but he said he knows a num­ber of col­leagues at his uni­ver­sity will also attend the march. He plans to carry a Star Wars–inspired sign that reads: “Fear leads to the dark side.”

Mr. Craw­ford, who is African-​​American, said he hasn’t fol­lowed the con­tro­versy over the march orga­niz­ers’ han­dling of diver­sity and inclu­sion, but he doesn’t “expect to see many peo­ple that look like me.”

As a stu­dent I could prob­a­bly name every African-​​American in marine sci­ence in the coun­try,” he added. “I can’t do that any­more, so that is progress.”

Daniel M. Kam­men, pro­fes­sor of energy, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berkeley:

Cour­tesy Daniel M. Kammen

As a coor­di­nat­ing lead author for the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change and a sci­ence envoy for the U.S. State Depart­ment, Mr. Kam­men has spent a lot of time think­ing about how clean energy could shape for­eign policy.He said he’s attend­ing the March for Sci­ence because “sci­ence does appear to be under direct threat.” Asked whether he’s allowed to par­tic­i­pate in the march as a sci­ence envoy for the State Depart­ment, Mr. Kam­men said, “No one has told me that I can’t.” He’ll be meet­ing a hand­ful of his stu­dents at the march.

Mr. Kam­men said he thinks the march’s suc­cess will be mea­sured by the num­ber of peo­ple who attend, and by the oppor­tu­ni­ties it cre­ates for sci­en­tists and engi­neers to start con­ver­sa­tions with the news media and to meet their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in D.C.

It pains me that we need to do this,” he said, “but I’m hop­ing those con­ver­sa­tions by a diverse set of researchers will be the really excit­ing out­come from this.”



UC Berkeley, LBL, IRENA, RAEL team publish paper on renewable energy resources and utility planning in Africa

Renew­able energy has robust future in much of Africa

by Robert Sanders, UC Berke­ley Media Relations

As Africa gears up for a tripling of elec­tric­ity demand by 2030, a new Berke­ley study maps out a viable strat­egy for devel­op­ing wind and solar power while simul­ta­ne­ously reduc­ing the continent’s reliance on fos­sil fuels and low­er­ing power plant con­struc­tion costs.

Ngong Hills wind farm, Kenya

Using resource map­ping tools, a UC Berke­ley and Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab­o­ra­tory team assessed the poten­tial for large solar and wind farms in 21 coun­tries in the south­ern and east­ern African power pools, which includes more than half of Africa’s pop­u­la­tion, stretch­ing from Libya and Egypt in the north and along the east­ern coast to South Africa.

They con­cluded that with the right strat­egy for plac­ing solar and wind farms, and with inter­na­tional shar­ing of power, most African nations could lower the num­ber of con­ven­tional power plants – fos­sil fuel and hydro­elec­tric – they need to build, thereby reduc­ing their infra­struc­ture costs by per­haps bil­lions of dollars.

The sur­pris­ing find is that the wind and solar resources in Africa are absolutely gigan­tic, and some­thing you could tap into for rel­a­tively low cost,” said senior author Dun­can Call­away, a UC Berke­ley asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of energy and resources and a fac­ulty sci­en­tist at Berke­ley Lab. “But we need to be think­ing now about strate­gies for fos­ter­ing inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion to tap into the resource in a way that is going to max­i­mize its poten­tial while min­i­miz­ing its impact.”

The main issue, Call­away says, is that energy-​​generating resources are not spread equally through­out Africa. Hydro­elec­tric power is the main power source for one-​​third of African nations, but it is not avail­able in all coun­tries, and cli­mate change makes it an uncer­tain resource because of more fre­quent droughts.

The team set out to under­stand where wind and solar gen­er­a­tion plants might be built in the future under a range of sit­ing strat­egy sce­nar­ios, and how much renew­able gen­er­a­tors might off­set the need to build other forms of generation.

Based on the team’s analy­sis, choos­ing wind sites to match the tim­ing of wind gen­er­a­tion with elec­tric­ity demand is less costly over­all than choos­ing sites with the great­est wind energy pro­duc­tion. Assum­ing ade­quate trans­mis­sion lines, strate­gies that take into account the tim­ing of wind gen­er­a­tion result in a more even dis­tri­b­u­tion of wind capac­ity across coun­tries than those that max­i­mize energy production.

Impor­tantly, the researchers say, both energy trade and sit­ing to match gen­er­a­tion with demand reduces the sys­tem costs of devel­op­ing wind sites that are low impact, that is, closer to exist­ing trans­mis­sion lines, closer to areas where elec­tric­ity would be con­sumed and in areas with pre­ex­ist­ing human activ­ity as opposed to pris­tine areas.

If you take the strat­egy of sit­ing all of these sys­tems such that their total pro­duc­tion cor­re­lates well with elec­tric­ity demand, then you save hun­dreds of mil­lions to bil­lions of dol­lars per year ver­sus the cost of elec­tric­ity infra­struc­ture dom­i­nated by coal-​​fired plants or hydro,” Call­away said. “You also get a more equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of gen­er­a­tion sources across these countries.”

maps of African renewable energy resources

Together, inter­na­tional energy trade and strate­gic sit­ing can enable African coun­tries to pur­sue ‘no-​​regrets’ wind and solar poten­tial that can com­pete with con­ven­tional gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies like coal and hydropower,” empha­sized UC Berke­ley grad­u­ate stu­dent Grace Wu, who con­ducted the study with fel­low grad­u­ate stu­dent Ran­jit Desh­mukh. Wu and Desh­mukh are the lead authors of the study.

The is avail­able in the Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences and on the RAEL pub­li­ca­tions site.

Chart­ing Africa’s energy future

The team set out to tackle a key ques­tion for elec­tric­ity plan­ners in Africa and the inter­na­tional devel­op­ment com­mu­nity, which helps fund such projects: How should these coun­tries allo­cate their pre­cious and lim­ited invest­ment dol­lars to most effec­tively address elec­tric­ity and cli­mate chal­lenges in the com­ing decades?

Ethiopian wind farm

Wu and Desh­mukh gath­ered pre­vi­ously unavail­able infor­ma­tion on the annual solar and wind resources in 21 coun­tries in east­ern and south­ern Africa, and hourly esti­mates of wind speeds for nine coun­tries south of the Sahara Desert.

They devel­oped an energy resource map­ping frame­work, which they call Multi-​​criteria Analy­sis for Plan­ning Renew­able Energy, or MapRE, to iden­tify and char­ac­ter­ize poten­tial wind and solar projects. They then mod­eled var­i­ous sce­nar­ios for sit­ing wind power and exam­ined addi­tional sys­tem costs from hydro and fos­sil fuels.

The team con­cluded that even after exclud­ing solar and wind farms from areas that are too remote or too close to sen­si­tive envi­ron­men­tal or cul­tural sites — what they term “no-​​regret” sites – there is more than enough land in this part of Africa to pro­duce renew­able power to meet the ris­ing demand, if fos­sil fuel and/​or hydro­elec­tric power are in the mix to even out the load. Nev­er­the­less, choos­ing only the most pro­duc­tive sites for devel­op­ment – the windi­est and sun­ni­est – would leave some coun­tries with lit­tle low-​​cost local renew­able energy generation.

If, how­ever, coun­tries can agree to share power and build the trans­mis­sion lines to make that hap­pen, all coun­tries could develop sites that are low-​​cost and acces­si­ble, and have low envi­ron­men­tal impact, while reduc­ing the num­ber of new hydro or fos­sil fuel plants that need to be built.

Ngong Hills wind farm, Kenya

Call­away says that a few coun­tries already share power, such as South Africa with Mozam­bique and Zim­babwe, but that more coun­tries will need to bro­ker the agree­ments and build the trans­mis­sion lines to allow this. Inter­na­tional trans­mis­sion lines are being planned, but pri­mar­ily to share hydropower resources located in a hand­ful of coun­tries. These trans­mis­sion plans need to incor­po­rate shar­ing of wind and solar in order to help them be com­pet­i­tive gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies in Africa, he said.

Other co-​​authors are Daniel Kam­men, a UC Berke­ley pro­fes­sor of energy and resources, Jes­sica Reilly-​​Moman and Amol Phadke of the Inter­na­tional Energy Stud­ies Group at Berke­ley Lab, Kudak­washe Ndhlukula of the South­ern Africa Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Cen­ter for Renew­able Energy and Energy Effi­ciency at the Namibia Uni­ver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Wind­hoek, and Tijana Rado­ji­cic of the Inter­na­tional Renew­able Energy Agency in Mas­dar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emi­rates.

The Inter­na­tional Renew­able Energy Agency sup­ported much of the ini­tial research. The National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion and the Link Foun­da­tion sup­ported the expanded analy­sis on wind sit­ing scenarios.

New report on green jobs in Africa from UNIDO, LNBL, and RAEL

Down­load the report from UNIDO, LBNL, and RAEL here and access the larger Green Jobs research pro­gram here.


The ongo­ing debate over the cost-​​effectiveness of renew­able energy (RE) and energy efficiency

(EE) deploy­ment often hinges on the cur­rent cost of incum­bent fossil-​​fuel tech­nolo­gies versus

the long-​​term ben­e­fit of clean energy alter­na­tives. This debate is often focused on mature or

indus­tri­al­ized’ economies and exter­nal­i­ties such as job cre­ation. In many ways, how­ever, the

sit­u­a­tion in devel­op­ing economies is at least as or even more inter­est­ing due to the generally

faster cur­rent rate of eco­nomic growth and of infra­struc­ture deploy­ment. On the one hand, RE

and EE could help decar­bonize economies in devel­op­ing coun­tries, but on the other hand, higher

upfront costs of RE and EE could ham­per short-​​term growth. The method­ol­ogy devel­oped in

this paper con­firms the exis­tence of this trade-​​off for some sce­nar­ios, yet at the same time

pro­vides con­sid­er­able evi­dence about the pos­i­tive impact of EE and RE from a job cre­ation and

employ­ment per­spec­tive. By extend­ing and adopt­ing a method­ol­ogy for Africa designed to

cal­cu­late employ­ment from elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion in the U.S., this study finds that energy savings

and the con­ver­sion of the elec­tric­ity sup­ply mix to renew­able energy gen­er­ates employment

com­pared to a ref­er­ence sce­nario. It also con­cludes that the costs per addi­tional job cre­ated tend

to decrease with increas­ing lev­els of both EE adop­tion and RE shares.


Project part­ners:

Cli­mate Pol­icy and Net­works Divi­sion, United Nations Indus­trial Devel­op­ment Organization


Energy Tech­nolo­gies Area, Lawrence Berke­ley National Laboratory 

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