Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Daniel Kammen

Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering; Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab (RAEL)

Areas of Expertise

  • Climate Change
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • Energy, Renewable and Clean Energy
  • Energy Forecasting
  • Health and Environment
  • International R&D Policy
  • Race and Gender
  • Rural Resource Management


Daniel M. Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) and the co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment.  Kammen is the Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center.  Kammen received his undergraduate (Cornell A., B. ’84) and graduate (Harvard M. A. ’86, Ph.D. ’88) training is in physics After postdoctoral work at Caltech and Harvard, Kammen was professor and Chair of the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 1993 – 1998.  He then moved to the University of California, Berkeley.  Daniel Kammen is a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.  He hosted the Discovery Channel series ‘Ecopolis, and had appeared on NOVA, and on ’60 Minutes’ twice.

Other Affiliations

  • Professor of Energy & Society, Energy and Resources Group (ERG)
  • Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)


Curriculum Vitae

Download a PDF (97KB, updated 04-02-2014)

Working Papers

  • Oil, Energy Poverty and Resource Dependence in West Africa

    Co-authors: Morgan Bazilian, Ijeoma Onyeji, Peri-Khan Aqrawi, Benjamin K Sovacool, Emmanuel Ofori, Thijs Van de Graaf

    GSPP Working Paper (June 2013)

    Download a PDF (480KB)

  • Turning Words into Action on Climate Change

    GSPP Working Paper (April 2013)

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  • Indirect Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Biofuels

    Co-author: Richard J. Plevin

    GSPP Working Paper (April 2013)

    Download a PDF (533KB)

  • Deep carbon reductions in California require electrification and integration across economic sectors

    Co-authors: Max Wei, James H Nelson, Jeffery B Greenblatt, Ana Mileva, Josiah Johnston, Michael Ting, Christopher Yang, Chris Jones, James E McMahon

    GSPP Working Paper (March 2013)

    Download a PDF (2MB)

  • Renewable energysectordevelopmentintheCaribbean:Current trends andlessonsfromhistory

    Co-author: Rebekah Shirley

    GSPP Working Paper (March 2013)

    Island regions and isolated communities represent an understudied area of not only clean energy development but also of innovation. Caribbean states have for some time shown interest in developing a regional sustainable energy policy and in implementing measures which could help to protect its member states from volatile oil markets while promoting reliance on local resources. Here we examine four case studies of renewable energy advancements being made by public utility companies and independent energy companies in the Caribbean. We attempt to locate renewable energy advances in a broader historical framework of energy sector development, indicating a few policy lessons. We find that different degrees of regulatory and legislative sophistication have evolved in different islands. Islands should have specialized policy focus, contrasting the ad-hoc nature of current regional energy policy discussion. We also conduct a cost benefit analysis which shows that these early, innovative alternative energy projects show themselves to be both profitable and significant sources of emissions reduction and job creation. This lends support to the potential benefits of regional energy policy.

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  • Complexity and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Research

    GSPP Working Paper (January 2013)

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  • Cost-Effectiveness of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions from Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    Co-authors: Samuel M Arons , Derek Lemoine , Holmes Hummel

    GSPP Working Paper: GSPP08-014 (November 2008)

    We find that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) could significantly reduce automotive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and petroleum consumption, while improving energy security and urban air quality. Widespread PHEV adoption will depend upon technological and economic advances in batteries because the initial fuel savings do not rapidly compensate consumers for the capital costs of batteries today. For PHEV purchases to become economical to consumers, battery prices must decline from $1,300 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to about or below $500/kWh, or U.S. gasoline prices must remain at about $5 per gallon-or the federal government must institute policy innovations with equivalent effects, such as policies to lower battery cost and increase battery lifetimes (e.g. a broad and sustained program of battery RD&D), or those to widen the difference between gasoline and electricity prices (e.g. changes in energy taxes). However, even before PHEVs become cost-effective consumers, their purchase can still be highly valuable to society if their significant GHG reductions can be achieved cost-effectively (using a benchmark price of about $50/t-CO2-eq). Using the GREET model, we determine that in order for PHEVs' reductions to become cost-effective, either their purchase must approach current unsubsidized prices-requiring the same policy innovations described above-or very low-GHG electricity must be used to power them. This requires policies to decrease the GHG intensity of electricity, such as renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs or other measures. Importantly, we find that any carbon price would have to exceed $100/t-CO2-eq in order to render PHEVs' reductions cost-effective, and hence a carbon price alone represents an impractical short-term means of achieving this goal.

    Download a PDF (368KB)

Selected Publications

  • Sustainability lessons from shale development in the United States for Mexico
  • Energy: Supply, Demand, and Impacts

    Tidwell, V. C., L. Dale, G. Franco, K. Averyt, M. Wei, D. M. Kammen, and J. H. Nelson. 2013. “Energy: Supply, Demand, and Impacts.” In Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment, edited by G. Garfin, A. Jardine, R. Merideth, M. Black, and S. LeRoy, 240–266. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press.

    Energy is important to the Southwest United States, where 12.7% of the nation’s energy is produced (extracted or generated) and 12.1% is consumed. The region is in the favorable position of having low per-capita energy consumption (222 million BTUs per person) relative to that of the nation as a whole (302 million BTUs per person); nevertheless, disruption of power has significant economic implications for the region (e.g., LaCommare and Eto 2004; Northwest Power and Conservation Council 2005). Climate change itself, as well as strategies aimed at mitigation and adaptation have the potential to impact the production, demand, and delivery of energy in a number of ways. 

    • Delivery of electricity may become more vulnerable to disruption due to climateinduced extreme heat and drought events as a result of:
         − increased demand for home and commercial cooling,
         − reduced thermal power plant efficiencies due to high temperatures,
         − reduced transmission line, substation, and transformer capacities due to elevated temperatures,
         − potential loss of hydropower production,
         − threatened thermoelectric generation due to limited water supply, and
         − the threat of wildfire to transmission infrastructure.

    (medium-high confidence)

    • Climate-related policies have the potential to significantly alter the energy sector. A shift from the traditional fossil fuel economy to one rich in renewables has significant implications for related water use, land use, air quality, national security, and the economy. The vulnerability of the energy system in the Southwest to climate change depends on how the energy system evolves over this century.

    (medium-high confidence)

    Download a PDF (1,008KB)

  • Life Cycle Analysis of Distributed Concentrating Solar Combined Heat and Power

    Zack Norwood and Daniel Kammen; Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley. Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012) 044016 (10pp).

    We report on life cycle assessment (LCA) of the economics, global warming potential and water (both for desalination and water use in operation) for a distributed concentrating solar combined heat and power (DCS-CHP) system. Detailed simulation of system performance across 1020 sites in the US combined with a sensible cost allocation scheme informs this LCA. We forecast a levelized cost of $0.25 kWh-1electricity and $0.03 kWh-1thermal, for a system with a life cycle global warming potential of ~80 gCO2 eq kWh-1of electricity and ~10 gCOeq kWh-1 thermal, sited in Oakland, California. On the basis of the economics shown for air cooling, and the fact that any combined heat and power system reduces the need for cooling while at the same time boosting the overall solar efficiency of the system, DCS-CHP compares favorably to other electric power generation systems in terms of minimization of water use in the maintenance and operation of the plant.

    The outlook for water desalination coupled with distributed concentrating solar combined heat and power is less favorable. At a projected cost of $1.40 m-3, water desalination with
    DCS-CHP would be economical and practical only in areas where water is very scarce or moderately expensive, primarily available through the informal sector, and where contaminated or salt water is easily available as feed-water. It is also interesting to note that $0.40–$1.90 m-3 is the range of water prices in the developed world, so DCS-CHP
    desalination systems could also be an economical solution there under some conditions.

    Download a PDF (2MB)

  • A household carbon footprint calculator for islands: Case study of the United States Virgin Islands

    Rebekah Shirley, Christopher Jones, Daniel Kammen. Energy Resources Group, UC Berkeley. Ecological Economics, Volume 80, August 2012, Pages 8–14

    Island regions are at a heightened level of vulnerability to climate change impacts and recently a great degree of political attention has been given to planning low-carbon economic strategies for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). To develop useful mitigation strategies, an understanding of greenhouse gas emissions currently attributable to various social sectors is necessary. We use consumption-based life cycle accounting techniques to assess the carbon footprint of typical households within the US Virgin Islands. We find the average carbon footprint in the territory to be 13 tCO2e per year per capita, roughly 35% less than the average US per capita footprint. Also, electricity and food are much larger contributors to total footprint than in the US. Results highlight scope for behavioral and technological changes that could significantly reduce the footprint. The model has been developed into an open access online tool for educational purposes.

    Download a PDF (469KB)

  • Quantifying the social equity of carbon mitigation strategies

    Christian E. Casillasa and Daniel M. Kammen. Climate Policy, DOI:10.1080/14693062.2012.669097.

    Many tools that are helpful for evaluating emissions mitigation measures, such as carbon abatement cost curves, focus exclusively on cost and emissions reduction potential without quantifying the direct and indirect impacts on stakeholders. The impacts of climate change will be the most severe and immediate for billions of poor people, especially for those whose livelihoods are based on agriculture and subsistence activities and are directly dependent on weather patterns. Thus, equity and vulnerability considerations must be central to GHG emissions reduction strategies. A case study of a carbon abatement cost curve for an electricity system in two Nicaraguan rural villages is presented and is complemented with assessments based on the poverty metrics of the poverty headcount, the Gini coefficient, and the Kuznets ratios. Although these metrics are relatively easy to calculate, the study provides a general indication as to how the social impacts of mitigation strategies on the poor (whether they are in rural or urban environments, developed or developing countries) can be revealed and highlights the inequalities that are embedded in them. Further work analysing how mitigation measures affect the various more detailed poverty indices, such as the Human Development, Gender Equality, or Multidimensional Poverty indices, is needed.

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  • Energy access scenarios to 2030 for the power sector in sub-Saharan Africa

    Morgan Bazilian, Patrick Nussbaumer, Hans-Holger Rogner, Abeeku Brew-Hammond, Vivien Foster, Shonali Pachauri, Eric Williams, Mark Howells, Philippe Niyongabo, Lawrence Musabah, Brian Ó Gallachóir, Mark Radkaj, Daniel M. Kammen. Utilities Policy Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2012, Pages 1–16.

    In order to reach a goal of universal access to modern energy services in Africa by 2030, consideration of various electricity sector pathways is required to help inform policy-makers and investors, and help guide power system design. To that end, and building on existing tools and analysis, we present several ‘high-level’, transparent, and economy-wide scenarios for the sub-Saharan African power sector to 2030. We construct these simple scenarios against the backdrop of historical trends and various interpretations of universal access. They are designed to provide the international community with an indication of the overall scale of the effort required e one aspect of the many inputs required. We find that most existing projections, using typical long-term forecasting methods for power planning, show roughly a threefold increase in installed generation capacity occurring by 2030, but more than a tenfold increase would likely be required to provide for full access e even at relatively modest levels of electricity consumption. This equates to approximately a 13% average annual growth rate, compared to a historical one (in the last two decades) of 1.7%.

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  • U.S. energy research and development: Declining investment, increasing need, and the feasibility of expansion

    Nemet, G. and Kammen, D. (2007). U.S. energy research and development: Declining investment, increasing need, and the feasibility of expansion. Energy Policy 35 (2007), 746–755.

    Investment in energy research and development in the U.S. is declining despite calls for an enhancement of the nation’s capacity for innovation to address environmental, geopolitical, and macroeconomic concerns. We examine investments in research and development in the energy sector, and observe broad-based declines in funding since the mid-1990s. The large reductions in investment by the private sector should be a particular area of concern for policy makers. Multiple measures of patenting activity reveal widespread declines in innovative activity that are correlated with research and development (R&D) investment—notably in the environmentally significant wind and solar areas. Trends in venture capital investment and fuel cell innovation are two promising cases that run counter to the overall trends in the sector. We draw on prior work on the optimal level of energy R&D to identify a range of values which would be adequate to address energy-related concerns. Comparing simple scenarios based on this range to past public R&D programs and industry investment data indicates that a five to ten-fold increase in energy R&D investment is both warranted and feasible.

    Published Version (4KB)

Sustainable Energy Now and in a Livable Future (SETI Talks 2016)

Sustainable Energy Now and in a Livable Future (SETI Talks 2016)

Daniel Kammen

Event: SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium: Sustainable Energy Now and in a Livable Future

Date: December 20, 2016 Duration: 97 minutes

‘Coal doesn’t benefit the poor’: Dan Kammen on Energy Access and Poverty

‘Coal doesn’t benefit the poor’: Dan Kammen on Energy Access and Poverty

Daniel Kammen

Date: November 7, 2016 Duration: 13 minutes

Does the world need a nuclear renaissance?

Does the world need a nuclear renaissance?

Daniel Kammen, Ralph Cavanagh, Steven Chu, Burton Richter

Event: Silicon Valley Energy Summit

Date: June 3, 2016 Duration: 75 minutes

The Clean Energy Revolution: Science and Policy

The Clean Energy Revolution: Science and Policy

Daniel Kammen

Date: May 17, 2016 Duration: 90 minutes

Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Dan Kammen, Jennifer Granholm and Henry Brady

Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Dan Kammen, Jennifer Granholm and Henry Brady

Daniel Kammen, Jennifer Granholm, Henry E. Brady

Date: August 4, 2015 Duration: 28 minutes

Climate Change, Politics and the Economy: Rhetoric v. Reality

Climate Change, Politics and the Economy: Rhetoric v. Reality

Dan Kammen, Tom Steyer, Richard "Dick" Beahrs

Date: October 5, 2013 Duration: 90 minutes