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.”
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.
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
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,” Kammensaid 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:
Decarbonization of the power sector combined with electrification of transportation, buildings and industry.
Decarbonization of activities that cannot be affordably electrified, by using biofuels or hydrogen for heating or by capturing carbon emissions.
Improvements in energy productivity and efficiency.
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.”
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.”
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.
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.”
“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 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?
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.
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.
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.
The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a national initiative designed to promote investment in solar photovoltaics by commercial, nonprofit, and residential property owners. Its central feature is to provide low-cost, long-term funding, which is repaid as an assessment on the property’s regular tax bill, as is done for sidewalks and sewers, for example. Spurring such investment clearly is a good goal, but is the program effective? Ameli, Pisu, and Kammen in Applied Energy used a natural experiment in northern California to test the capacity of PACE, finding that it has been a great success, more than doubling residential photovoltaic installations in the region at no cost to the taxpayers. —HJS
Over the past two years, two thoughtful, innovative, and dramatically different plans to address global warming have been presented to the American public by the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Both plans would move the nation significantly toward a sustainable future.
The first, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), introduced by President Obama, calls on states to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent below the 2005 baseline by 2030. The CPP further makes $8 billion available to retrain and aid coal-workers and their families. This is a sizeable transition fund for an industry now valued in total at less than $50 billion, a tenth of what it was just a few decades ago.
The second is the Carbon Dividend Plan (CDP) which was recently proposed by the Climate Leadership Council which is headlined by former Republican Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz, as well as former Treasury Secretary Paulson, two former Chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and a Chairman of the Board of Walmart. The CDP calls for a modestly rising carbon tax, with dividends paid directly back to American families amounting to roughly $2,000 per year for a family of four.
Both plans have a great deal to like. The home run strategy for American job creation and industrial leadership is to implement both the CPP and the CDP.
The federal government estimates that the CPP will yield climate benefits to the U. S. economy of $20 billion, and health benefits of $14 – $34 billion, and to each year avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days. With so many of these illnesses in lower-income areas and in minority communities, the CPP is of tremendous benefit to poorer Americans and to the national budget as well. To be fair, some, but not all, of these benefits would also come from the CDP, although they are less clear-cut because emissions reductions could come from other sectors of the economy beyond electricity.
The CDP includes a provision for border taxes on foreign imports from nations that do not implement some form of carbon pricing, presumably with a dispensation for the world’s poorest nations.
Together the CPP and the CDP build a vibrant, intensely job-creating energy sector that would be far larger than either plan accomplishes alone. The CPP does not pit one state against each other, but pushes each state to develop its own carbon reduction plan. Both red and blue states are finding this easier and more profitable than previously imagined. The power sector reduced its carbon emissions 21 percent between 2005–2015, primarily by switching from coal to gas. It is well on the way to complying with the Clean Power Plan.
The CPP will accelerate the transition to money-saving energy efficiency, and to a job-rich renewable energy sector. Countries such as China, Bangladesh, Denmark, Germany Kenya, Korea, and Portugal have seen tremendous manufacturing and job growth as they made their electricity sectors more diverse, clean, and job-producing.
As innovations spread in the energy sector, the benefits of the CDP come into play. The carbon dividend to U. S. families is estimated by the U. S. Treasury to directly benefit financially the poorest 70 percent (some 223 million people) of Americans. A federal infrastructure investment would further stimulate this deal, bringing jobs to the capital-intensive energy sector across the country.
Of equal or greater importance, however, is the fact that the U. S. and EU energy sectors are growing by less than 1% per year, but in many other nations energy demand is growing by 5% per year or more. The CDP pushes other countries to adopt carbon policies, making them ready-markets for the products that the invigorated U. S. energy sector will deliver.
Because the energy industry is about systems integration, not simply individual technology components, countries need company partners that are expert and trusted to deliver integrated packages. This is a hallmark of the U. S. energy sector, from the complex and extensive oil and gas industry, to companies like Bechtel and Johnson Controls, to the fastest growing part of the U. S. economy, the clean energy innovators.
The real beauty of the two proposals is how well they can work together for the benefit of all Americans, and at the same time, the global environment.
Daniel M. Kammen is a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, and Science Envoy for the U. S. State Department. Twitter: @dan_kammen; URL: http://rael.berkeley.edu
Paul was one of the first, and one of the most passionate, students I met upon my move from Princeton to Berkeley.
Paul played a central role – along with Barbara Haya and Nate Hultman – in working through the science, policy and legal story around an idea that was of some interest then, eighteen years ago, and is now very much on the global agenda: the need to fight for equity at a time of increasing inequality.
In fact, our team effort – the ‘climate laboratory’ – was a wonderful and productive fusion of the interests, passions, and skills of a number of ERG students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty. We were able to work between theory and practice on how equity and environmental justice could evolve a project that that I had recently completed at Princeton with – another ERGie – Ann Kinzig – into an operational proposal for the climate negotiations. Paul and Tom Athanasiou published Dead Heat two years later; a book that a decade of climate campaigners carried and cited regularly.
In our climate laboratory, and in the subsequent years of working, traveling, and debating a wide range of topics with Paul one thing always stood out: his unflagging passion for the project in the form of the people impacted by the lack of attention to justice and equity.
It is heartening to me that while Paul’s career and life stops after ERG were not always happy, they were always meaningful and chosen to better the lives of others.
I do, and will always miss you, Paul.
To download a copy of this memorial note, click here.
 Paul Baer, John Harte, Antonia Herzog, John Holdren, Nate Hultman, Daniel Kammen, Barbara (Kresch) Haya, Richard Norgaard, and Leigh Raymond “Equal per capita emission rights: the key to a viable climate change policy”, Science289, 2287 (2000).
 Ann Kinzig and Daniel Kammen (1998) “National trajectories of carbon emissions: Analysis of proposals to foster the transition to low-carbon economies”, Global Environmental Change, 8 (3), 183 – 208 (1998).