New paper looking at the opportunities for dramatic decarbonization of water heating, published in Energy Policy, by joint RAEL–Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team, Shuba Raghavan, Max Wei & Dan Kammen.
Actualizing the Vision of Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home
Roundtable at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
November 2, 2016
On the Vatican website: click here.
Laudato Si’ is a powerful text, political and poetic, and deeply inspiring. It addresses the most critical issues of our time in vision and substance. It elucidates the necessity and means of “individual ecological conversion”, to see the “world as a sacrament of communion.”
Two of its guiding tenets are “the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together”, and that we have mutually reinforcing obligations to the earth and to each other. The Beatitudes provide the philosophy to shape our work of transforming and healing society and our planet. The Encyclical provides the blueprint.
The following means and principles to actualize the vision of Laudato Si’ were put forward at the 2 November 2016 Roundtable at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:
- Expand the dialogue with those with influence and power (noting specifically those who drive investment decisions) on the dovetailing of environmental and social issues — “the book of nature is one and indivisible” — and its relevance and implications; toward that end establish a sustainable investment advisory committee for the Vatican’s own investment activities.
- Continued personal engagement and presence of the Pope in delivering and keeping current the message of Laudato Si’. The more Pope Francis speaks about climate change and Laudato Si’, the more he will influence public opinion around the world.
- A detailed and well resourced communication and messaging strategy for Laudato Si’, targeted to diverse audiences, which stresses the urgency of the challenge. A plan, differentiated in style, tone, pace and suggested terms of engagement for the four different generations that are active at this moment in history. The different generations should be addressed on their own terms, and with their input. Engage leaders in social media to spread and evolve the message of Laudato Si‘.
- That the institution of the Catholic Church, serving as spiritual guide and moral messenger, also serve as physical and behavioral example, modeling in microcosm, the planetary vision of Laudato Si’ by accelerating the conversion to sustainable stewardship of its own land and assets, the Church’s training programs for priests being a powerful, integral aspect.
- Promote an interdisciplinary interfaith forest, land and climate initiative — which acknowledges the “mysterious relations between things” — convened and directed by an inclusive public private partnership.
- Be aware of and address the emotional and spiritual implications and sorrow deriving from our “disfigurement” of our common home, which we have “burdened and laid waste,” and from distressing commercialism, which “baffle[s] the heart.” Laudato Si’ needs to be widely discussed, shared and acted upon in public and mental health circles, for which it has profound relevance.
Principles to incorporate in the various work of our communities, and additional points of discussion:
- Understand the relationship between “velocity” of current culture and the loss of internal, spiritual time and time for reflection, which is necessary for building a just and compassionate society.
- Recognize that energy poverty is a major impediment to equity and harmony both within and between communities and nations, and greatly impedes our progress in sustaining the Earth as our common home.
- Support grass roots activist movements and individuals, as powerful countervailing as well as spiritually enriching forces that make the need for global stewardship vibrant and accessible.
- Assure that indigenous forest inhabitants have meaningful work that arises from their values, and their relationship to the land. Assure that there are specific avenues for the wisdom of these communities to permeate our atomized civil societies.
- Encourage down to earth dialogue among faith communities and civil society on the subject of environmental market mechanisms which, like any other tool, can be used either for good or ill, remaining mindful that the Economy is a subset of Nature, and not the other way around.
- Support governments in crafting policies and laws which reflect our moral and spiritual obligations to each other and to Nature, as they translate into physical and material obligations.
- Work to establish local and national commitments to use-inspired basic research, required for sustainable energy and water systems and valuing forests. Research and innovation is a vital tool in implementing the Encyclical, will foster beneficent new technologies, narrow the gap between Nature and technology, and allow people and Nature again to “extend a friendly hand to one another.”
- We need a change of heart; we need to increase tenderness towards each other and the environment, and the way we will get there is not built solely on greater analytical insights and new policy, but also moving aesthetic experiences that raise our minds, hearts, and souls towards the good the transcendental, and the holy.
- Diets of those consuming industrially produced meat, notably cattle, require a disproportionate amount of arable land, and water. This extravagant inequity highlights that, as with what we purchase, what we eat is a moral choice. Nature’s bounty can be sufficient for all needs, but not all greed.
- Engage the spiritual infrastructure of our world geographically, and include georeligious dynamics in dialogues about environmental programs and policy. Keep the spirit of Laudato Si’ alive, repeated, and deeply ingrained in communities of faith through communications media, actionable geography-relevant materials (like maps with guided land-use and land/facility maintenance suggestions for various dioceses), and through scientific, and NGO partnerships.
- Disseminate a central lesson of Laudato Si’: that we bear moral responsibility for the full lifecycle of activity resulting from our individual economic actions. We each have personal responsibility for the environmental harm caused by the energy we use or the food we eat, any inequity or injustice in the product supply chains that provide us goods and services, and the byproducts and waste we create.
- Operationally capitalize on and expand the commonalities between religions, communities, and beliefs around the planet, a shared language that can build understanding and cooperation to support sustainability.
- Laudato Si’, explicitly and implicitly, grounds our material reality in a cosmological view of interrelatedness — in the tradition of St. Francis, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, among others — proclaiming the Universe a “communion of subjects,” and not “a collection of objects.” (Thomas Berry, 1999)
Featured in June 2017 The Promise of Berkeley
The EcoBlock website is here.
And also featured in Scientific American.
“The fossil-free economy is already profitable.”
To access this paper at the Nature website, click here.
To access this paper and supporting materials from the RAEL website, click here.
Sustainable Design of Communities:
Moving beyond a focus on solar roofs for single-family homes, ambitious projects are attempting to join blocks of buildings into sustainable units
June 26, 2017
Moving beyond a focus on solar roofs for single-family homes, ambitious projects are attempting to join blocks of buildings into sustainable units
In the past decade, the construction and retrofitting of individual homes to reduce energy and water use has grown explosively. Yet applying green construction to multiple buildings at once may be an even better idea. Sharing resources and infrastructure could reduce waste, and retrofitting impoverished or moderate-income neighborhoods could also bring cost savings and modern technology to people who would normally lack such opportunities. Working at the neighborhood level does add complexity to planning, but these neighborhood efforts offer rewards that even green single-family homes cannot offer.
One powerful example is the Oakland EcoBlock project, which I lead at the University of California, Berkeley, with my colleague Harrison Fraker, a professor of architecture and urban design. It is a multidisciplinary endeavor involving urban designers, engineers, social scientists and policy experts from city, state and federal governments, academia, private industry, nonprofits and grassroots organizations.
The program, which has been planned in great detail but has not yet begun construction, will retrofit 30 to 40 contiguous old homes in a lower– to middle-income neighborhood near California’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. It aims to apply existing technology to dramatically reduce fossil fuel and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We expect to rapidly recoup the money spent on infrastructure with savings from operating expenses while at the same time ensuring residents’ long-term comfort and security.
On the energy front, we will install solar panels on buildings throughout the community, sending the energy to a smart microgrid; excess solar energy will be stored via flywheels housed in a shared building. The community will also share electric cars, which will have access to more than two dozen local charging stations. These measures should reduce annual electricity consumption by more than half and bring carbon emissions to zero—a valuable feat, considering that more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions emanate from residences.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 50 percent of California’s home water consumption goes to lawns and gardens. Our estimates suggest that the EcoBlock’s system-level redesign will cut demand for potable water by up to 70 percent. We will treat and reuse wastewater from toilets, as well as gray water sent down drains and released by washing machines. The recycled fluid will go to gardening and irrigation. We will collect rainwater and deliver it to toilets and washers, and we will install efficient fixtures and taps. Treated solid wastes, meanwhile, will be incorporated into compost.
Beyond serving as a model for sustainability, the Oakland EcoBlock project will provide local construction jobs and revitalize a community. If it is as successful as we expect, it will serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere in the U.S. and beyond. To date we have received inquiries from Europe, North Africa and Asia, confirming widespread interest in targeting and redesigning communities, not just individual homes.
Daniel Kammen is a professor in the Energy and Resources Group, and in the Goldman School of Public Policy, and in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also directs the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL: http://rael.berkeley.edu).
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 - The New York Times: “Fisticuffs Over the Route to a Clean Energy Future”
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.
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!
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.
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 Steyer, businessperson 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
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.berkeley.edu/conflict. For information contact: David Mozersky (firstname.lastname@example.org); Dan Kammen (email@example.com).
April 27, 2017, PV News.
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.