Energy Seminar

Friday, October 28, 2022
Daniel Kammen, Director of Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Professor in the Energy and Resources Group, Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
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EmPOWERing Global Change with Life Cycle Assessment: A Geographical Textured Approach

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a cradle-to-grave quantitative tool that examines environmental burdens of products and processes from materials extraction through waste disposal.  LCA is increasingly used in policy to reveal unintended consequences associated with decisions about energy products and their supply chains yet is often criticized for using uncertain inputs.  While LCAs of electricity generation are often perceived to be well understood, this presentation will illuminate gaps that overlook the equivalent of a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year.  Novel methods that examine a variety of spatial scales can support the development of important mitigation opportunities, from sites to the world that is represented in current datasets.  Leveraging uncertainty analyses and advanced spatiotemporal information, research that improves accuracy and our understanding of uncertainty in LCA will provide insights into both mitigation solutions and evolving trends in the field.

Dr. Sarah Jordaan is an Associate Professor of Industrial Ecology / Life Cycle Assessment at the Department of Civil Engineering and Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design, McGill University.  Her interdisciplinary research focuses on life cycle assessment, techno economic analysis, and technology innovation.  By improving the spatiotemporal texture of these fields, her research group—Energy Technology and Policy Assessment (ETAPA)— develops solutions for a more sustainable energy future.  Her collaborations have been published in Nature Climate Change, Science, Environmental Science & Technology, and Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.  Her doctorate in Environmental Design is from the University of Calgary (2010) and Bachelor of Science (Physics) was completed at Memorial University in 2003. Prior to McGill, she held positions at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the Electric Power Research Institute, Shell, the University of Calgary, and the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the UC, San Diego.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Sarah Marie Jordaan, B.Sc., Ph.D.; Associate Professor, Life Cycle Assessment / Industrial Ecology; The Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED); Department of Civil Engineering; McGill University; Research group: Energy Technology and Policy Assessment
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Urban Energy Democracy: Investigating the Historical-Geographies of Atlanta’s Electricity Politics

This talk considers how the historical-geographical emergence and evolution of Atlanta’s urban electricity networks influences contemporary energy democracy organizing. In 2017, Atlanta became the first major city in the U.S. South to adopt a 100% clean energy target to supply all electricity from renewable sources by 2035. Atlanta’s then-Mayor grounded this move in the long history of Atlantans’ fight for freedom and a contemporary imperative to address racialized socio-economic inequality. Atlanta has among the highest median energy burdens in the U.S. and the city’s plan outlined a strategy to address energy affordability and efficiency while creating jobs. However, this comprehensive energy and social program stalled. Through archival research, I trace the historical conjunctures through which the regulatory compact between the state regulator and electric utility took hold and how these legal and institutional relationships effect the city’s ambitions today. In Atlanta, where electricity is provided by a traditionally regulated monopoly utility, I investigate the strategies that advocates employ to seek representation and participate in regulation in the interest of energy justice.

Dr. Nikki Luke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Sustainability at the University of Tennessee. She is an urban geographer and studies energy, labor, and social reproduction in the U.S. South. Nikki is currently working on a book about the politics of energy transition in Atlanta, Georgia and a collaborative research project investigating just transitions for workers and energy vulnerable communities in South Carolina and Tennessee. Her research has been published in American Quarterly, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Antipode, and Social and Cultural Geography. She previously worked with the Labor Center Green Economy Program at the University of California, Berkeley and has received support for her research from the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Friday, October 7, 2022
Nikki Luke, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
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Design and Characterization of Integrated Systems for Solar Fuel Production

Carbon neutral energy sources that are scalable, deployable, and cost effective will be required at an unprecedented scale to halt irreversible climate change. To design novel materials that can efficiently produce energy with minimal impact on the environment, few factors are of primary importance: i) complete understanding of the properties of the most selective and efficient reaction environments, and ii) correlative characterization of their behavior under operating conditions. Here, we will focus on the role played by microenvironments and on the opportunities offered by the utilization of sunlight for hydrogen production and CO2 reduction. We will show the synthesis and the advanced characterization of integrated semiconductors and catalysts for (photo)electrocatalytic systems as they can be used under realistic operating conditions for solar fuel production. We will present recent results from our group supported by theoretical calculations that led to highly selective CO2 (photo)reduction on Cu, Ag, and Cu2O electrodes. In addition, we will discuss how to make more durable materials for light-driven H2 production.

Dr. Toma is an expert in materials synthesis and characterization. In her career, she has worked with several classes of materials spanning energy research and nanomedicine. During her postdoctoral research at University of California Santa Barbara first, and Berkeley afterwards, she developed an interest for organic materials for molecular electronics. With a very interdisciplinary background, at LBNL, she manages a complex portfolio of research activities that comprise the synthesis and advanced characterization of materials with tailored properties. In her career, and more intensively in these past six years at LBNL, she has been recognized world-wide for her contribution in (photo)electrocatalysis. In 2018, she was selected by the Royal Society of Chemistry as one of the “100 Women of Materials Science”.

Friday, September 30, 2022
Dr. Francesca Toma, CSD Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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How the Path for Energy Justice in the US Got a lot Clearer but Only a Little Easier

Given the new federal climate policies embedded in the Inflation Reduction Act, it has become even more critical to focus on advancing energy justice at the state level. The law establishes a new federal framework for transitioning the country to low-carbon energy sources, centering most levers of action on states or market actors, and doing little to address aspects of equity and inequity in the transition.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides clarity that the system we’ll operate under – likely for a minimum of seven to eight years – will not be one of direct federal regulation banning fossil fuels or mandating renewable energy. Instead, it encourages a state-centered and market incentive-driven transition to cleaner power sources. And while the law includes a few equity-focused provisions, it does not require a transition to energy justice. Thus, most of the work to advance energy justice is left to a wide array of actors who must make intentional efforts in the absence of federal leadership.

This seminar will offer an overview of what energy justice is, how the outlook for achieving it has changed or not, and how individuals, organizations, businesses, and government entities can understand the role we all must play in securing a just energy future.

Subin DeVar is the co-founder and executive director of the Initiative for Energy Justice, a national research center that provides law and policy resources to advocates and policymakers to advance state-level transitions to equitable renewable energy. Prior to working at IEJ, he directed the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Community Renewable Energy Program to promote a just and rapid transition to clean energy through community control of energy resources. Subin began his career working in the field of nonprofit communications. He first worked for the Tahirih Justice Center, a legal advocacy organization for immigrant women fleeing violence, and then M+R Strategic Services, a consulting firm serving nonprofit organizations. He has a JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Subin is passionate about building hope that humanity can respond to climate change in a loving, equitable, and transformational manner.


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Energy Bites Seminar May 19, 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: “So What Happens to the Batteries?” Electric Vehicle Battery End-of-Life Management and Policy Recommendations for California
Meg Slattery, Energy Graduate Group

Bite 2: UC System Central Plants and the Transition to Carbon Neutral Operation
Leslie Nelson, UCOP Carbon Neutrality Fellowship

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