Developing the Western US Power Grid through Markets

Electricity demand is growing across the Western United States as economies boom and the transition to electrified transportation and buildings begins. At the same time, state policies are rapidly transforming the mix of power generation sources, from fossil fueled to carbon free. The grid across the Western US has long been interconnected, but its operation has been disunited, with dozens of utilities having responsibility for their individual territories. Regional stakeholders have come to recognize that the lower-carbon grid of the future requires more coordination that is institutionalized through markets. This presentation will discuss the drivers of the current trend toward cooperation, the ongoing success of the Western Energy Imbalance Market and efforts underway to establish a west-wide market operator.

Andrew Campbell is Executive Director of the Energy Institute at Haas at the University of California, Berkeley and serves as a Governing Body Member for the Western Energy Imbalance Market. At the Energy Institute Mr. Campbell serves as a bridge between the research community and business and policy leaders on energy economics and policy topics. Prior to UC Berkeley, Mr. Campbell worked for residential energy management company, Tendril, and grid sensor provider, Sentient Energy. For five years Mr. Campbell served as an advisor at the California Public Utilities Commission. There he led successful efforts on grid modernization and data access, electric vehicle charging, demand response and dynamic pricing. Mr. Campbell has also worked in Citigroup’s Global Energy Group and as a reservoir engineer with ExxonMobil. Mr. Campbell earned bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Economics from Rice University and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Friday, November 18, 2022
Andrew Campbell, Executive Director, Energy Institute at Haas, University of California, Berkeley
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Accelerating the Just Energy Transition with Science and Policy

The climate emergency we face has prompted some nations, corporations, and many civil society organizations to greatly expand their decarbonization and climate protection actions. The paths to deeply decarbonizing local, national and regional economies requires innovations in a wide range of areas where new, sustainable, materials design, discovery, and implementation, and most notably highly interdisciplinary social justice work across diverse fields is critically needed, but are all at early stages. The demand for critical, rare-Earth materials, as just one example, is forecast to grown by 1000% by 2030, demanding new approaches to shifting to sustainable materials, recycling and reduce usage strategies that are far beyond what is seen as possible today. The recognition that social injustice is in many ways tied to our existing, fossil-fuel intensive economy has led to important calls for a ‘climate-justice’ nexus to protect the planet, people, and nature. The challenge is to turn that vision into clear initiatives programs, and social movements. We will highlight examples and challenges in materials discovery and deployment, and advance modeling techniques to work within and beyond sectors as examples of challenges where new thinking, entrepreneurs, and approaches to social justice are all needed.

Daniel Kammen is the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Professor of Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. He also serves as the Senior Advisor for Energy Innovation at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). His work is focused on decarbonization, energy access, and climate justice. Kammen served as Science Envoy for Secretary of State John Kerry (2016- 2017) and was Chief Technical Advisor for Energy at the World Bank (2010-2011). Kammen is a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Kammen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020. His research is focused on the science and policy of decarbonized energy systems, energy access, and environmental justice. He has published more than 450 papers, which are available on his laboratory website, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)Twitter: @dan_kammen

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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Decarbonization and Local Air Pollution Disparities

Climate change and social inequality are two of the world’s most pressing issues. They are also intricately linked. The imperative to address climate change is overlaid on a world that is already deeply unequal. A recent environmental justice literature documents systematic gaps in local air pollution concentrations between disadvantaged and other individuals. Because local air pollution is often co-produced with GHGs, an emerging question asks whether certain decarbonization strategies may narrow or widen existing air pollution disparities. This talk covers two studies. The first paper examines air pollution disparity consequences of California’s carbon market. The second paper quantifies and decomposes the trend in air pollution disparity from the recent decarbonization of the U.S. electricity sector. In both studies, I discuss how embedding pollution dispersal modeling into standard statistical approaches enables new insights to this question.

Kyle Meng is an Associate Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Management and the Department of Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Climate and Energy Program Director at the Environmental Markets Solutions Lab. An environmental and resource economist with training in engineering and atmospheric physics, Dr. Meng studies the equity and efficiency consequences of environmental policies, with a focus on climate policies. Dr. Meng has published in leading science and economics journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Nature, Science, and PNAS. He received his PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University and his Bachelor’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University. A first-generation immigrant, he was a recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Friday, October 21, 2022
Kyle Meng, Associate Professor, Environmental Economics, UC Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
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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
10:30am – 11:50am PST
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
10:30am – 11:50am PST
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
10:30am – 11:50am PST
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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Energy Bites Seminar May 12, 2022

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

Bite 1: High-Temperature High-Pressure Heat Transfer – STEEL Lab Research Update
Erfan Rasouli, Western Cooling Efficiency Center

Bite 2: District Energy Update & Electrification Strategies
Josh Morejohn, Facilities Energy & Engineering

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Energy Bites Seminar May 5, 2022

Thursday, May 5, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: UC Davis Fossil Fuel Free Pathway Plan and UC Davis Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Camille Kirk, Office of Sustainability

Bite 2: Hourly Accounting of Carbon Emissions from Electricity Consumption
Greg Miller, Energy Graduate Group

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