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[Episode #38] – Getting from Here to There

There’s nothing to give you a little perspective on what’s happening on planet Earth like getting off it and seeing its beauty—and it’s human-caused destruction—from space. In this wide-ranging interview, former astronaut Jay Apt, a professor of technology and business at Carnegie Mellon University, shares some insights from his voluminous body of research on energy transition topics, including: what the power grid of the future could look like; how we’ll balance it with increasing levels of renewable energy; how to smooth out the fluctuations in wind farm power output; utility business model evolution and resource adequacy planning; what the optimal amount of storage on the PJM Interconnection might be; the economics of behind-the-meter battery systems; the potential future for EVs providing services to the grid; whether carbon capture and sequestration technology and geoengineering can play significant roles in addressing climate change; the new era of electricity de- and re-regulation; and of course, what it’s like to look down on Earth from space. You’ll never see an hour go by as quickly as this one.

Geek rating: 8

Guest: Dr. Jay Apt is a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and Engineering and Public Policy. He is also the director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. He is an extensively published researcher on energy transition subjects, as well as an astronaut who flew four missions on the US space shuttle and spent more than 35 days in space. His background includes study in experimental atomic physics, lasers, and energy technologies, and he has worked at Harvard, MIT, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and NASA.

On the Web:  Jay Apt's faculty page at Carnegie Mellon University

Recording date: February 16, 2017

Air date: March 8, 2017


Jay Apt interviews and lectures on video:

Jay Apt’s Google Scholar page

Jay Apt’s bio page at NASA

Apt, Jun. 2007. The spectrum of power from wind turbines. Journal of Power Sources 169 (2), 269-374. doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2007.02.077

Lueken, J. Apt. The effects of bulk electricity storage on the PJM market. Energy Systems, 5 (2014): 677. doi:10.1007/s12667-014-0123-7

Fisher, J. Apt. Emissions and Economics of Behind-the-Meter Electricity Storage. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (3), pp 1094–1101. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03536

Peterson, J. Apt, J.F. Whitacre, Lithium-ion battery cell degradation resulting from realistic vehicle and vehicle-to-grid utilization, Journal of Power Sources, Volume 195, Issue 8, 15 April 2010, Pages 2385-2392, ISSN 0378-7753, doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2009.10.010.

S.B. Peterson, J.F. Whitacre, J. Apt, The economics of using plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery packs for grid storage, Journal of Power Sources 195 (8), 2010, 2377-2384.

Kempton, J. Tomić, Vehicle-to-grid power implementation: from stabilizing the grid to supporting large-scale renewable energy, doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2004.12.022 (2005)

K.J. Arrow and G. Debreu, “Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy”, Econometrica, vol. 22, pp. 265–290. (1954)

University of San Francisco MS in Energy Systems Management program

Jeff St. John, “With Net Metering Secure, California Solar Now Faces Uncertainty From Time-of-Use Changes,” GTM. (Feb 16, 2017)

Ryan Randazzo, “Utilities vote to close Navajo coal plant at end of 2019,” The Republic. (Feb 13, 2017)

David O. Williams, “Navajo Generating Station blamed for haze over Grand Canyon, respiratory illnesses,” The Colorado Independent. (Sep 16, 2011)

Tom Kenning, “Solar becomes ‘cheapest new power source’ in India as auction winners revealed,” PV Tech. (Feb 10, 2017)

Debjoy Sengupta, “India's thermal power generation to reduce by half in next five years,” Economic Times. (Mar 4, 2017)

Mike Munsell, “US Solar Market Grows 95% in 2016, Smashes Records,” GTM. (Feb 15, 2017)

Sammy Roth, “Who will profit from the grid of the future?” The Desert Sun. (Feb 1, 2017)