[Episode #63] – Pathways to Deep Decarbonization

As energy transition proceeds we’ll need to move well beyond decarbonizing electricity generation and into transportation and space heating powered by renewables. But we’re only beginning to figure out the pathways by which we might do that, and since each region has its own particular sources of renewable energy and its own particular needs for energy, the solutions may vary quite a bit from place to place.

When do we figure out how to decarbonize space heating and transportation? What sorts of challenges will we face in adding those loads to the electricity grid? How much additional generation, transmission, distribution capacity, and storage will we need? How will we manage such a grid? And what if, once we have transferred some of those loads to the grid, it actually starts to look cheaper to not electrify everything? Our guest in this episode has studied such questions for years, and has some surprising insights into how deep decarbonization might actually evolve.

Geek rating: 3

(more…)

[Episode #62] – How Advance Cost Recovery Swindled the South

How did the legal innovation of “advance cost recovery” allow utilities in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi to torch more than $40 billion on nuclear and coal plants that went way over budget or never produced a single kilowatt-hour of electricity? And what if this story is more than just a few poor decisions about a handful of power plants, but instead a long history of reckless behavior, if not outright fraud and corruption, by contractors, utilities, their regulators, and legislators, which customers in the South will be paying off for years to come? And what can be done to prevent such boondoggles in the future?

Our guest in this episode is a reporter from the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, The Post and Courier, of Charleston, South Carolina, who has been contributing to a terrific series of articles about what went wrong with these power plants, by doing good old-fashioned investigative journalism. It’s a pretty incredible story they have uncovered and continue to tell in their newspaper every week as they work to uncover the truth and protect consumers. After you hear this jaw-dropper, you’ll probably never take the prospect of US nuclear or clean coal seriously ever again.

Geek rating: 2

(more…)

[Duke Energy Week extra #3] – Storage Potential, the Role of EVs, and Data Analytics

This is a special, free episode of the Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, recorded on November 9, 2017, live from Duke Energy Week at Duke University.

In this interview with the Managing Director of the Energy Data Analytics Lab at the Duke University Energy Initiative, we discuss how various storage technologies offer different kinds of services to the grid, and how they should be captured and valued. Could CSP make a comeback? What might the arrival of EVs and the rapid evolution of their batteries mean for the future of the grid? And how can technologies like machine learning and data analytics help accelerate energy transition?

Geek rating: 8

Guest: Dr. Kyle Bradbury is the Managing Director of the Energy Data Analytics Lab at the Duke University Energy Initiative

On the Web:  http://www.kylebradbury.org/

On Twitter: @kylejbradbury

Recording dates: November 9, 2017

Air date: February 1, 2018

Thanks! 

Thanks to Duke University for making this live taping of the Energy Transition Show possible, and to Leah Louis-Prescott, Elihu Dietz, and the rest of the awesome Nicholas School Energy Club for making it all happen and making us feel welcome and appreciated! You're a class act and you put on a great event.

Disclaimer

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments on these podcasts are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Duke University, or any employee thereof.

Links

Energy Week at Duke

Energy Week at Duke - Energy Transition Show taping

[Duke Energy Week extra #2] – Integration and Market Challenges in Grid Evolution

This is a special, free episode of the Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, recorded on November 9, 2017, live from Duke Energy Week at Duke University.

How does utility resource procurement need to adapt to a changing world? Can wholesale markets survive the transition to more distributed resources? Is there a risk of becoming too dependent on natural gas to provide grid balancing services? And how does storage need to be valued in order to fulfill its greatest potential on the grid?

Geek rating: 8

Guest: Dr. Dalia Patino-Echeverri is a Gendell Associate Professor of Energy Systems and Public Policy in the Environmental Science & Policy Division at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

On the Web:
Dalia Patino-Echeverri’s faculty page at Duke

Dalia Patino-Echeverri’s publications page

Recording dates: November 9, 2017

Air date: February 1, 2018

Thanks! 

Thanks to Duke University for making this live taping of the Energy Transition Show possible, and to Leah Louis-Prescott, Elihu Dietz, and the rest of the awesome Nicholas School Energy Club for making it all happen and making us feel welcome and appreciated! You're a class act and you put on a great event.

Disclaimer

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments on these podcasts are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Duke University, or any employee thereof.

Links

Energy Week at Duke

Energy Week at Duke - Energy Transition Show taping

[Duke Energy Week extra #1] – Energy and Environment Education

This is a special, free episode of the Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, recorded on November 9, 2017, live from Duke Energy Week at Duke University.

What motivates students in the Energy and Environment program at Duke, what topics do they find the most challenging, and why are they interested in energy transition?

Geek rating: 1

Guest: Dr. Tim Johnson chairs the Energy and Environment department at the Nicholas School at Duke University.

On the Web: Tim Johnson’s faculty page at Duke

Recording dates: November 9, 2017

Air date: February 1, 2018

Thanks! 

Thanks to Duke University for making this live taping of the Energy Transition Show possible, and to Leah Louis-Prescott, Elihu Dietz, and the rest of the awesome Nicholas School Energy Club for making it all happen and making us feel welcome and appreciated! You're a class act and you put on a great event.

Disclaimer

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments on these podcasts are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Duke University, or any employee thereof.

Links

Energy Week at Duke

Energy Week at Duke - Energy Transition Show taping

[Episode #61] – Climate Science Part 8 – Melting Glaciers and Sea Level Rise

In this eighth part of our mini-series on climate science, we tackle the subject of ice and melting, and how much sea-level rise it may produce. What if that viral story about a starving polar bear may not even have been accurate? What does it really mean when we say that a worst-case climate model projects 11 feet of sea level rise, and is that even a plausible scenario? What does it mean to say that sea ice is melting at the fastest rate in 1,500 years? How much sea level rise might actually result from ice shelves breaking off? And how can we relate the latest studies on melting glaciers and ice caps to degrees of global warming or meters of sea level rise? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but our guest in this episode has about as good a shot at answering them as anyone. His nuanced and deeply informed view of what’s happening to our glaciers and ice caps in this 90-minute interview is refreshing, thoughtful, and provocative, and offers an educational counterpoint to the usual simple projections of climate doom.

Geek rating: 4

(more…)

[Episode #60] – Demand Flexibility

Demand response and demand flexibility—shifting demand to intervals where electricity is abundant and cheap, and away from when the grid is constrained or power is expensive and dirty—can help keep prices down, optimize the grid overall, and help us integrate more renewable supply into grid power while displacing more fossil fuels. Until recently, this has mainly meant doing simple things like turning off loads during the on-peak intervals of time of use rates. But now new technologies are coming to the grid, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the so-called Internet of Things, which could let us moderate loads and operate grid assets in a much more intelligent, precise, and dynamic fashion, taking grid optimization to a new level and reducing the need for peaking resources.

But this is all quite new, and how we’re going to implement it, and what it may require, largely remains to be seen. In this episode we’ll talk with Sara Bell, founder of Tempus Energy, and get a little insight into how some early pilots of these technologies are working in the UK and South Australia. We’ll also get an inside view of her campaign to revise the design of the capacity market in the UK, so that it actually benefits consumers in accordance with the law, rather than distorting markets in favor of fossil fuel incumbents.

Geek rating: 8

(more…)

[Episode #59] – Lifecycle Assessment

When we need to compare the environmental consequences of energy technologies — between an internal combustion vehicle or an EV, or between a compact natural gas generator and a big wind farm — what’s the best way to understand the full picture? Should we just look at pollutant emissions? Or should we take a broad view, and consider the total lifecycle, including mining, manufacturing, transport and waste? The latter is what lifecycle assessment (LCA) is all about, and although it can be used to compare very complex sets of things in a helpful way, it can also be abused to suit an agenda.

To really be sure we’re comparing apples with apples, we need to understand the right ways and the wrong ways to do LCA. And then we need to think carefully about the implications of our research, and how to communicate them to a lay audience in such a way that they can inform policy without being misunderstood or misrepresented. It’s a tricky art, but our guest in this episode is an LCA veteran from NREL who can show us the way.

Geek rating: 6

(more…)

[Episode #58] – Solar with Storage

Historically, thermal concentrating solar plants were the only type of solar power equipped with storage. But as cheaper PV systems became dominant, thermal solar plants fell into disfavor. Now solar PV systems are beginning to integrate storage based on lithium-ion batteries, and this storage isn't just used to supply power when the sun is down; it is providing grid stabilization services too, which only adds complexity to an already-complicated picture for the future of storage - confounding attempts to model how much storage we’ll need, and of what kind, and when will we need it. Is a large amount of seasonal storage required on a high-RE grid, as some analysts have suggested? Or will other technologies reduce the amount of storage we’ll need? And can we even forecast that need, years or decades in advance? We’ll delve into all those questions and more in this deep dive into combined solar and storage systems.

Geek rating: 7

(more…)

[Episode #57] – Climate Science Part 7 – Carbon Budget

In this seventh episode of our mini-series on climate change, we explore what carbon budgets really mean, and what they indicate about the pathways that might allow us to keep global warming below two degrees C.

Amid all the unavoidable uncertainty in modeling warming and the effects of our actions, what do we really know about how much warming we might see in the future? If it turned out that our carbon budget is larger than we used to think it was, would that change our policy direction? And which policy paths should we advocate?

Our guest in this episode, Dr. Glen Peters, is a veteran researcher on climate change whose current research focuses on the causes of recent changes in carbon dioxide emission trends at the global and country level, and how these changes link to future emission pathways consistent with global climate objectives. And after listening to this nearly two-hour conversation, as well as our previous six episodes on climate science, you will have a much better idea of how much warming we may yet expect!

Geek rating: 8

(more…)