CDMC Seminars - 2007

November 30, 2007
David Victor
Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Director of Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

"Regulation of Geoengineering"
New evidence that the climate system may be especially sensitive to the build-up of greenhouse gases and that humans are doing a poor job of controlling their effluent has animated circleussions around the possibility of offsetting the human impact on climate through geoengineering . Nearly all assessments of geoengineering have concluded that the option, while ridden with flaws and unknown side effects, is intriguing because of its low cost and the ability for one or a few nations to geoengineer the planet without cooperation from others. I argue that norms to govern deployment of geoengineering systems will be needed soon. The standard instruments for establishing such norms, such as treaties, are unlikely to be effective in constraining geoengineers because the interests of key players diverge and it is relatively easy for countries to avoid inconvenient international commitments and act unilaterally. Instead, efforts to craft new norms bottom up will be more effective. Such an approach, which would change the underlying interests of key countries and thus make them more willing to adopt binding norms in the future, will require active, open research programmes and assessments of geoengineering. Meaningful research may also require actual trial deployment of geoengineering systems so that norms are informed by relevant experience and command respect through use. Standard methods for international assessment organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are unlikely to yield useful evaluations of geoengineering options because the most important areas for assessment lie in the improbable, harmful, and unexpected side effects of geoengineering, not the consensus science that IPCC does well. I also suggest that real-world geoengineering will be a lot more complex and expensive than currently thought because simple interventions-such as putting reflective particles in the stratosphere-will be combined with many other costlier interventions to offset nasty side effects.

November 29, 2007
Darren Ruddell
PhD Candidate, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State

"Decision Center for a Desert City"

October 29, 2007
Gabrielle Wong-Parodi
PhD Candidate, Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley

"Perceptions of Geologic Sequestration in California's Central Valley"
Over the last decade, much of the expert and advocacy community has begun to think that CCS, and geologic sequestration in particular, may be a viable and important technological response to climate change. In recent years, political leaders have begun to talk about CCS as well. Given the potential importance of US geologic sequestration energy policy, what might explain and influence the views of communities that may be directly impacted by the siting of this technology? To answer this question, in this paper I focused on two rural communities in California’s Central Valley: one located near a Department of Energy (DOE) pilot-project and one that could be host to this technology in the future. I analyzed community perspectives through focus groups and interviews, a review of each community’s history, and its social and economic indicators. The results suggest that a community’s sense of empowerment is perhaps the most important indicator of its willingness to accept geologic sequestration. Three factors seem to influence a community’s sense of empowerment: history of environmental problems, gas industry history, and socio-economic status.

October 2, 2007
Norm Shilling
Carbon Leader for GE Gasification, GE Power Systems

"Accelerating IGCC with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)"
Global climate change has taken a central position in political debate globally. In some regions regulatory policy has already been enacted such as the European Trading Scheme (ETS) establishing a market for CO2. In other regions the debate is accelerating with likely legislation to follow. Industrial sectors such as refining and power generation are seeking solutions to sky rocketing oil and natural gas prices as well as changes in fuel availability and quality. The impact is potential growth in the use of coal and refining bottoms leading to a potential increase in CO2 emissions.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an essential part of the plan to mitigate this potential increase in CO2 emissions. Action must be taken now to accelerate the adoption of CCS through the development of commercial scale projects demonstrating CCS, advancing technology for the long-term improvement in cost and performance and developing policy monetizing CO2 and certifying the storage of CO2 in geologic formations.

This presentation will review the CCS challenge for coal and how IGCC is prepared to provide a solution for uninterrupted coal build while details of carbon legislation are developed. It will also circleuss how GE is taking steps to accelerate the use of CCS by partnering globally, investing in technology and establishing policy support for the development of the industry.

October 1, 2007
Matthais Fripp
PhD Candidate, Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley

"Optimal amount of wind and solar power in California"
Wind and solar power can provide clean, secure energy. However, wind speeds and solar irradiance vary with weather and the time of day, and it is unclear how much of our electricity needs can be met economically by these resources while maintaining the reliability of the electric power system. In Matthias Fripp’s dissertation, he will study the optimal amount of wind and solar power to use, in combination with conventional generators, to provide an adequate and reliable power supply for California, at the lowest cost. He will also explore how this answer varies depending on assumptions about the cost of carbon emissions, fossil fuels, and renewable and conventional power equipment. He will develop a realistic simulation of hourly power production from wind and solar power equipment at all promising locations throughout the state of California, over a multi-year period. Wind and solar power are likely to be more reliable when they are combined with each other, and when they are collected at multiple locations at the same time, because some locations will produce power even when others don't. The second stage in his research will be the actual optimization model. The simplest form of this will perform a direct optimization of investments in generation and transmission infrastructure, based on future weather conditions and technology and fuel costs. A more sophisticated version will optimize across a range of possible futures, reflecting the imperfect information available about the future.

September 26, 2007
Julianne Klara
Senior Analyst, NETL

"Cost and Performance of Fossil Energy Power Plants: Current-Day Designs"
Over the next two decades, our nation will need to add a substantial amount of new power generation capacity. Sustained high prices for natural gas and the possibility of more stringent environmental regulations, including carbon controls, have opened a unique window of opportunity for clean fossil-energy power plants to participate significantly in this expansion. This presentation will provide the performance and cost data for fossil energy power systems, specifically integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), pulverized coal (PC), and natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants all with and without carbon capture and sequestration. The analyses were performed on a consistent technical and economic basis that accurately reflects current market conditions for plants starting operation in 2010. These results are considered to be the most comprehensive set of cost and performance data available in the public literature to date.

September 17, 2007
Sonia Yeh
Assistant Research Scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis

"Advanced Quantitative Methods for Energy and Environmental Policy Analysis"

September 12, 2007
Aimee Curtright
Post-Doc Fellow, EPP: CDMC

"Photovoltaic Technology Options for Addressing Climate Change: An Expert Elicitation"
Expert elicitation has been used to assess the future performance of 26 current and emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies. 18 leading experts in the field have estimated the likelihood of each technology achieving specific module price thresholds within given time frames. For a subset of the technologies, 14 experts provided insight into technical barriers to success, plausible ranges of efficiencies and prices in 2030, and appropriate policy levers for optimizing PV performance. Development of the survey and results will be circleuss

September 7, 2007
David Rutledge
Chair of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech and Tomiyasu, Professor of Electrical Engineering, CalTech

"Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question, and Climate Change"
An accurate estimate of the ultimate production of oil, gas, and coal would be helpful for the ongoing policy circleussion on alternatives to fossil fuels and climate change. By ultimate production, we mean total production, past and future. It takes a long time to develop energy infrastructure, and this means it matters whether we have burned 20% of our oil, gas, and coal, or 40%. In modeling climate change, the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the most important factor. The time frame for the climate response is much longer than the time frame for burning fossil fuels, and this means that the total amount burned is more important than the burn rate. Oil, gas, and coal ultimates are traditionally estimated by government geological surveys from measurements of oil and gas reservoirs and coal seams, together with an allowance for future circleoveries of oil and gas. We will see that where these estimates can be tested, they tend to be too high, and that more accurate estimates can be made by curve fits to the production history.

July 12, 2007
Josh Stolaroff
Post-Doc Fellow, EPP: CDMC

"Carbon capture from ambient air: lessons from the Second Air Capture Working Group Meeting"
In the last five years, several potential technologies for ambient carbon capture have been identified, including several new chemical pathways for sorbant regeneration and electrochemical methods of sorbant regeneration. Preliminary estimates place the long-run cost of carbon capture below 150 $/ton-CO2 for several methods.

At the same time, new applications of air capture have been identified, such as production of synthetic liquid fuels. Implications for the climate policy debate continue to be circleussed with several new arguments in play.

This seminar will summarize the main points made and lessons learned at the Second Air Capture Working Group Meeting held last week.

July 10, 2007
Robert Lempert
Senior Scientist, Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy, RAND; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School

"Recent Work on Robust Decision Making"
Robust Decision Making (RDM) is an approach to decision making under conditions of deep uncertainty that characterizes uncertainty with multiple representations of the future rather than a single set of probability distributions and uses robustness, rather than optimality, as a decision criterion. RAND leads one of the five National Science Foundation funded efforts aimed at improving climate change decision-making under uncertainty. With its partners at the University of Illinois and Penn State University, RAND’s effort focuses on improving the foundations of robust decision making and understanding how these methods work with decision makers in actual practice. This talk will summarize some of our current work.

May 9, 2007
Elizabeth Wilson
Assistant Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy and Law, Humphre Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

"Motivating Municipal and Co-operative Utilities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Case of Energy Efficiency and Conservation"
Approximately 39% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions originate from the production of electricity and any global policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions must target this sector, yet almost all research has focused upon Investor Owned Utilities (generating roughly 80% of electricity), and ignored unique challenges facing rural cooperatives and municipality owned utilities (with 20% of generation, varying significantly by state). Munis and co-ops are important for several different reasons: 1) overall, they are more dependent on coal and thus produce more CO2 per kWh, 2) the rural co-operatives are simultaneously experiencing high demand growth due to land use change and suburban sprawl into previously rural service territories and declining demand in rural zones experiencing population out-migration and 3) both munis and co-ops are less subject to government regulation than Investor Owned Utilities, with only seven states actively regulating and are motivated by a significantly different set of concerns than IOUs. As a case study, we seek to understand how implementation of efficiency and conservation occurs in munis and co-ops. For the electric sector’s Investor owned utilities, much research has addressed this problem and identified institutional considerations for program implementation. However, energy efficiency in municipal and co-operative utilities is only sparsely studied and this research effort begins to fill this gap. We examine implementation of energy efficiency and conservation programs in municipal and rural electric utilities in Minnesota. Minnesota established its “Conservation Improvement Program” (CIP) in 1982, and requires electric generators and natural gas providers in the state to dedicate a percentage of their revenues to energy efficiency programs and conservations efforts. An analysis in 2005 by the Office of the Legislature found that additional programs could be cost-effectively implemented. Additionally, while municipality and co-operative organizations generate roughly 32% of electricity in the state, the CIP from these organizations is not subject to the same level of scrutiny and evaluation as the Investor Owned Utilities. Curiously, estimated energy savings per CIP dollar spent by the Municipal and Co-operative Utilities vary several orders of magnitude ranging from 0.06 – 26.19 kilowatt-hours saved per CIP dollar spent, suggesting a lack of accounting consistency across programs. After first describing the relative importance of municipal and co-operative utilities, we present an analysis that identifies the unique challenges and managerial constraints facing programmatic implementation and present results of a survey of muni and co-op managers.


Climate Decision Making Center 2009