[eLab Extra #7] – How NREL Supports Energy Transition

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) based in Golden, Colorado provides a wide range of research, guidance, and policy support to the whole government stack in the U.S., from the local and city level all the way up to the federal and tribal level. From supporting the rebuild of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to informing policies with things like calculating the Value of Solar (VOS) and figuring out better ways of doing demand response, NREL is helping to lead the way on energy transition. We interview Elizabeth Doris of NREL at RMI’s eLab Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 2

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[eLab Extra #6] – Building EV Charging Infrastructure

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Should utilities be allowed to own EV charging infrastructure, or should that be reserved for private charging companies? How many Level 3 high-voltage chargers do we need at workplaces and shopping areas? And how do we build charging infrastructure now that won’t become stranded assets if and when we transition to fleets of autonomous vehicles? We interview Jonathan Levy of Vision Ridge Partners at RMI’s eLab Summit 2016 to find out.

Geek rating: 2

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[eLab Extra #5] – EVs and More in Austin, TX

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Through a variety of programs, Austin Energy, the eighth largest publicly-owned electric utility in the U.S., has led the way to an EV future in Texas, installing the first EV charging infrastructure in the region, offering rebates for installing charging stations and the ability to charge up at 250 charging stations throughout the city for a low flat rate using 100% renewable energy. Karl Popham, the Electric Vehicle & Emerging Technologies Manager at Austin Energy, explains how he did it and what other similarly positioned utility leaders can do in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 3

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[eLab Extra #4] – Transition in New York and the World

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

What are some of the ways that New York is building its resilience capacity while executing its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) energy transition plan, particularly as a response to the damage it suffered in Superstorm Sandy? Is it possible to have a successful energy transition without also securing justice and equity, particularly for the underserved and disadvantaged among us? And what is the future for energy transition in the U.S. in the era of President Trump? Eleanor Stein of America’s Power Plan, who was Project Manager for New York’s REV initiative, shares her insights from a lifetime of work on climate and justice issues at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 1

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[Episode #34] – Transition in the North Sea and Netherlands

The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative would knit together the power grids of the countries adjacent to the North Sea, and enable a far greater share of renewables—especially offshore wind—on the northern European grid than would be possible otherwise. It would also make it possible to use Norway’s substantial hydro capacity as a giant battery to balance out the variability of wind and solar on the grid. And in the longer term, it could be a key part of a European “supergrid” that would connect the transmission grids of all of Europe, and potentially even tap the massive solar capacity of the Middle East and northern Africa. These are big, bold ideas, and implementing them won’t be easy or cheap, but the benefits would be enormous… so much so that building these transmission links might be inevitable. But the planning alone has already gone on for at least seven years, and while some of the countries that would connect to the North Seas Offshore Grid are already building parts of their contribution to it, there is still much work to be done…and building the physical infrastructure might be the easy part! In this episode we talk with a Dutch expert who has been directly involved in evaluating and planning for these supergrids to see where they now stand, what their potential costs and benefits are, and what we might expect in the future.

Geek rating: 4

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[eLab Extra #3] – Grid Modernization and DERPs

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Grid architecture is evolving, with loads becoming increasingly indistinguishable from generators, and local generators and other distributed resources increasingly supplying the services that were always provided by large central generators in the past. Meanwhile, an ever-evolving set of regulations for wholesale market operations is both enabling new market participants and challenging the security of old market participants. Lorenzo Kristov of the California Independent System Operator returns to the Energy Transition Show to share more of his view of the future in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 11

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[eLab Extra #2] – Hawaii’s Energy Transition

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

How is Hawaii managing one of the most rapid energy transitions in history to variable wind and solar generators, while maintaining a balanced, isolated grid and actually reducing long-term costs? It’s no accident: They have developed a transition roadmap and they are working hard to adopt the latest technology while preserving social equity…not just for grid power, but for electric vehicles as well, toward a goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2045. Lorraine Akiba of the Hawaii PUC shares her perspective in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 5

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[eLab Extra #1] – Next Generation Demand Response

This is a special edition of the Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, recorded in December 2016 at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in Austin, Texas.

Can utilities disrupt themselves, or does it take an outside force? How can demand response technologies—including simply informing customers of their electricity usage—help reduce demand peaks on the electricity system and reduce costs for all ratepayers? And what kinds of infrastructure, like Advanced Metering Infrastructure, are needed to enable a highly efficient grid and an informed customer base. Richard Caperton of Opower (a business unit of Oracle) shares his perspective on all of these questions in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 6

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[Episode #33] – Fracking Follies

The US Energy Information Administration, or EIA, regularly updates its estimates for how much oil and gas might be recovered in the future, and at what rate. With the application of new technology from year to year, those estimates generally keep going up. But it’s important to remember that they are just estimates — and the devil is always in the details.

Our guest in this episode is a career geoscientist who has diligently delved into those devilish details. In his new reports, he finds that EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016 seems to significantly overstate how much oil and gas might be recovered using fracking technology, with estimates for shale gas and tight oil production that exceed the estimates for how much of those resources are even technically recoverable. In this extended and technically detailed interview, we discuss EIA’s most recent forecasts and try to understand what’s realistic for future US hydrocarbon production.

Geek rating: 9

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[Episode #32] – Resources and Economy

The notion of “decoupling” energy consumption from economic growth has become vogue in policy circles, but how much evidence is there that it’s really happening? If the energy intensity of our economy is falling, are we sure that it’s becoming more efficient, or might we just be offshoring energy-intensive industries to somewhere else…along with those emissions? If energy reaches a certain percentage of total spending, does it tip an economy into recession? Is there a necessary relationship between energy consumption and monetary policy? Is there a point at which the simple fact that we live on a finite planet must limit economic growth, or can economic growth continue well beyond our resource consumption? Can the declining EROI of fossil fuels tell us anything about the future of the economy? And can we have economic growth using clean, low-carbon fuels, or might transitioning to an economy that produces zero net new carbon emissions put the economy into recession and debt?

To help us answer these thorny questions, we turn to an expert researcher who has looked at the relationship between energy consumption and the economy over long periods of time and multiple economies, and found some startling results with implications for the Federal Reserve, for economic policymakers, and for all those who are involved in energy transition.

Geek rating: 8

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