[Episode #65] – Climate Science Part 9 – Jet Stream

In this ninth part of our mini-series on climate science, we turn to one of the key suspects in extreme weather events we have experienced in recent years—the shifting shape of the North Atlantic jet stream. And the fingerprints of the changing jet stream can be found in tree ring data. The guest in this episode has studied three centuries of European tree rings and found that the shape of the jet stream, along with clear deviations from historical weather, began in the 1960s, pointing to a connection to the changing climate. Other researchers have come to similar conclusions by studying things like the difference between Arctic and mid-latitude temperatures over time. And they conclude that increases in greenhouse gas emissions will make the jet stream increasingly wavy in the future, exacerbating such extreme weather events.

Geek rating: 3

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Guest:

Valerie Trouet received her PhD in Bioscience Engineering at the KULeuven (Belgium) in 2004. After a post-doctoral research position in the Geography Department at the Pennsylvania State University (2005-2006), she worked as a research scientist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL (2007-2010).  She now is an Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona and leads the Spatiotemporal Interactions between Climate and Ecosystems research group.  She is currently writing a broad audience book about tree rings, climate history, and human history under the working title “Treestory.”

On Twitter: @epispheric

On the Web:  Trouet Lab

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[Episode #64] – Ask Eric

In this episode, energy expert Eric Gimon answers questions submitted by Energy Transition Show subscribers on a wide range of topics, including the non-climate effects of climate change; whether we even need to keep investing in climate research; what the reliable indicators of the global energy transition might be; how much seasonal storage we’ll need; whether science adequately informs energy policy; the outlook for market reforms that value storage; the outlook and potential role for solar thermal plants equipped with storage; and we finish with a deep dive down the rabbit hole of resource adequacy and reserve margins.

 

Geek rating: 5

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Guest:

Eric Gimon is an active researcher and policy adviser on the power sector transformation to a clean, reliable and affordable low-carbon future. His career path has spanned 15 years of researching quantum gravity and high energy physics at some of the world’s top research institutions, to work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, to an AAAS fellowship with the Department of Energy, and finally to a personal transition to climate and energy policy. Eric is currently a Senior Fellow with Energy Innovation: an energy and environmental consulting NGO. His interests and writing cover everything from residential energy management systems to large grids and wholesale electricity markets.

On Twitter: @EricGimon

On the Web: Eric’s writing on Power Sector Transformation at Energy Innovation

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[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

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Guest:

Mackay Miller is Principal Analyst in the US Strategy division of National Grid.

On Twitter: @mackaymiller

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[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

Geek rating: 2

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Guest:

Thad Moore is a business reporter at The Post and Courier and a member of the newspaper’s team covering South Carolina’s failed nuclear project. He’s previously reported for The Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times, The Denver Post and The Virginian-Pilot.

On Twitter: @thadmoore

On the Web:

Thad Moore’s personal home page

Thad Moore’s page at the Post and Courier

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[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?

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

Geek rating: 8

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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

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[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?

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

Geek rating: 8

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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

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[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?

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

Geek rating: 1

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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

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[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

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Guest:

Tad Pfeffer is a glaciologist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and professor of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research areas include the mechanics and dynamics of glaciers and heat and mass transfer in snow. He has worked on glaciers for 30 years, traveling to Alaska, Arctic Canada, Greenland, Antarctica, and mountain locations in North America and Europe. He has done fieldwork on Alaska’s Columbia Glacier for two decades. Most recently, Professor Pfeffer has become involved with Natural Hazards and assessments of future vulnerability in the water/energy nexus in a future of changing climate. Tad is also active in photography and photogrammetry of glaciers and landscapes, using imagery for both description and analysis of glacier changes. In addition to scientific publications, his photographic work has appeared in exhibitions in the Boulder/Denver area, in American Scientist, GEO (Germany), Geotimes, BBC television productions, and in the movie and book, An Inconvenient Truth, by Nobel laureate Al Gore. Tad’s book, The Opening of a New Landscape: Columbia Glacier at Mid-Retreat, was published by the American Geophysical Union in December 2007.

On the Web:  Tad Pfeffer’s page at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder

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[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

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Guest:

Sara Bell is the founder and CEO of Tempus Energy, an AI-based platform for demand flexibility. Sara is a Director of the Association of Decentralised Energy, a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Energy for the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and a member of the High Level Group of i24c, the Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness initiative, a platform dedicated to developing and promoting an industrial strategy that secures European industry’s competitive advantage through innovation. Sara is also an Innovation Ambassador for Innovate UK.

On Twitter: @sarabelltempus

On the Web: https://www.tempusenergy.com/technology/

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[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

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Guest:

Garvin Heath is a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a member of the Technology Systems & Impacts Analysis Group in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center.

On the Web: Garvin Heath’s staff page at NREL

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