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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)

Daniel Kammen

Biography

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)

Websites

Curriculum Vitae

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

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

Last updated on 09/18/2018

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)

    Download a PDF (3MB)

  • 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.

    Download a PDF (407KB)

  • Complexity and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Research

    GSPP Working Paper (January 2013)

    Download a PDF (270KB)

  • 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.

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Selected Publications

  • Sustainable silicon photovoltaics manufacturing in a global market: A techno-​​economic, tariff and

    Solar photovoltaics (PV) manufacturing has experienced dramatic worldwide growth in recent years, enabling a reduction in module costs, and a higher adoption of these technologies. Continued sustainable price reductions, however, require strategies focused in further technological innovation, minimization of capital expenditures, and optimization of supply chain flows. We present a framework: Techno-economic Integrated Tool For Tariff And Transportation (TIT-4-TAT), that enables the study of these different strategies by coupling a techno-economic model with a tariff and transportation algorithm to optimize supply chain layouts for PV manufacturing under equally-weighted objectives.

    We demonstrate the use of this framework in a set of interacting countries (Mexico, China, USA, and Brazil) and two extreme tariff scenarios: no tariffs, and high tariff levels imposed. Results indicate that introducing tariffs between countries significantly increase the minimum sustainable price for solar PV manufacturing, alter the optimal manufacturing locations, and render a more expensive final solar PV module price which can hinder the adoption rates required to mitigate climate change. Recommendations for stakeholders on the optimization process, and techno-economic drivers are presented based on our results. This framework may be utilized by policymakers for the spatially-resolved planning of incentives, labor and manufacturing programs, and proper import tariff designs in the solar PV market.

    View Article (4KB)

  • Rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in cities: how scalable are assessment approaches?

    Distributed photovoltaics (PV) have played a critical role in the deployment of solar energy, currently making up roughly half of the global PV installed capacity. However, there remains significant unused economically beneficial potential. Estimates of the total technical potential for rooftop PV systems in the United States calculate a generation comparable to approximately 40% of the 2016 total national electric-sector sales. To best take advantage of the rooftop PV potential, effective analytic tools that support deployment strategies and aggressive local, state, and national policies to reduce the soft cost of solar energy are vital. A key step is the low-cost automation of data analysis and business case presentation for structure-integrated solar energy. In this paper, the scalability and resolution of various methods to assess the urban rooftop PV potential are compared, concluding with suggestions for future work in bridging methodologies to better assist policy makers.

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  • Declaration of the Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility Climate Change, Air Pol

    With unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on Earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk. We propose scalable solutions to avoid such catastrophic changes. There is less than a decade to put these solutions in place to preserve our quality of life for generations to come. The time to act is now. We human beings are creating a new and dangerous phase of Earth’s history that has been termed the Anthropocene. The term refers to the immense effects of human activity on all aspects of the Earth’s physical systems and on life on the planet. We are dangerously warming the planet, leaving behind the climate in which civilization developed. With accelerating climate change, we put ourselves at grave risk of massive crop failures, new and re-emerging infectious diseases, heat extremes, droughts, mega-storms, floods and sharply rising sea levels. The economic activities that contribute to global warming are also wreaking other profound damages, including air and water pollution, deforestation, and massive land degradation, causing a rate of species extinction unprecedented for the past 65 million years, and a dire threat to human health through increases in heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, mental health, infections and cancer. Climate change threatens to exacerbate the current unprecedented flow of displacement of people and add to human misery by stoking violence and conflict. The poorest of the planet, who are still relying on 19th century technologies to meet basic needs such as cooking and heating, are bearing a heavy brunt of the damages caused by the economic activities of the rich. The rich too are bearing heavy costs of increased flooding, mega-storms, heat extremes, droughts and major forest fires. Climate change and air pollution strike down the rich and poor alike.

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  • Defeating energy poverty: A call to invest in scalable, solutions to energy access for the poor

    Energy poverty, is arguably the most pervasive and crippling threat society faces today. Lack of access impacts several billion people, with immediate health, educational, economic, and social damages. Furthermore, how this problem is addressed will result in the largest accelerant of global pollution, or the largest opportunity to pivot away from fossil-fuels onto the needed clean energy path. In a clear example of the power of systems thinking, energy poverty and climate change together present a dual crisis of energy injustice along gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic grounds, which has been exacerbated if not caused outright by a failure of the wealthy to see how tightly coupled is our collective global fate if addressing climate change fairly and inclusively does not become an immediate, actionable, priority. While debate exists on the optimal path or paths to wean our economy from fossil fuels, there is no question that technically we have today a sufficient knowledge and technological foundation to launch and to even complete the decarbonisation (IPCC, 2011). Critically needed is an equally powerful social narrative to accelerate the clean energy transition. Laudato Si’ provides a compelling formulation of the injustice that is both greed and pollution, but an ongoing outreach and partnership effort is needed to truly leverage its powerful message. In this essay we present examples across scales of the evolving knowledge base needed to build universal clean energy access. This leads to a formulation of an action agenda to defeat energy poverty and energy injustice.

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  • Sustainability lessons from shale development in the United States for Mexico

  • Taking the Long View: The “Forever Legacy” of Climate Change

    Climate change projections often focus on 2100. But the geological record shows that unless we rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will be locking in drastic increases in temperatures and sea levels that will alter the earth not just for centuries, but for millennia.

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  • Sustainable Low-​​Carbon Expansion for the Power Sector of an Emerging Economy: The Case of Kenya

    Fast growing and emerging economies face the 9 dual challenge of sustainably expanding and improving their 10 energy supply and reliability while at the same time reducing 11 poverty. Critical to such transformation is to provide affordable 12 and sustainable access to electricity. We use the capacity 13 expansion model SWITCH to explore low carbon development 14 pathways for the Kenyan power sector under a set of plausible 15 scenarios for fast growing economies that include uncertainty in 16 load projections, capital costs, operational performance, and 17 technology and environmental policies. In addition to an 18 aggressive and needed expansion of overall supply, the Kenyan 19 power system presents a unique transition from one basal 20 renewable resource−hydropower−to another based on geo21 thermal and wind power for ∼90% of total capacity. We find 22 geothermal resource adoption is more sensitive to operational degradation than high capital costs, which suggests an emphasis on 23 ongoing maintenance subsidies rather than upfront capital cost subsidies. We also find that a cost-effective and viable suite of 24 solutions includes availability of storage, diesel engines, and transmission expansion to provide flexibility to enable up to 50% of 25 wind power penetration. In an already low-carbon system, typical externality pricing for CO2 has little to no effect on technology 26 choice. Consequently, a “zero carbon emissions” by 2030 scenario is possible with only moderate levelized cost increases of 27 between $3 and $7/MWh with a number of social and reliability benefits. Our results suggest that fast growing and emerging 28 economies could benefit by incentivizing anticipated strategic transmission expansion. Existing and new diesel and natural gas 29 capacity can play an important role to provide flexibility and meet peak demand in specific hours without a significant increase in 30 carbon emissions, although more research is required for other pollutant’s impacts.

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  • Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition

    The clean energy transition requires a co-evolution of innovation, investment, and deployment strategies for emerging energy storage technologies. A deeply decarbonized energy system research platform needs materials science advances in battery technology to overcome the intermittency challenges of wind and solar electricity. Simultaneously, policies designed to build market growth and innovation in battery storage may complement cost reductions across a suite of clean energy technologies. Further integration of R&D and deployment of new storage technologies paves a clear route toward cost-eective low-carbon electricity. Here we analyse deployment and innovation using a two-factor model that integrates the value of investment in materials innovation and technology deployment over time from an empirical dataset covering battery storage technology. Complementary advances in battery storage are of utmost importance to decarbonization alongside improvements in renewable electricity sources. We find and chart a viable path to dispatchable US$1 W−1 solar with US$100 kWh−1 battery storage that enables combinations of solar, wind, and storage to compete directly with fossil-based electricity options.

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  • Energy return on investment (EROI) of mini-hydro and solar PV systems designed for a mini-grid

    With dramatic cost declines and performance improvements, both mini-hydropower and solar photovoltaics (PV) now serve as core options to meet the growing demand for electricity in underserved regions worldwide. We compare the net energy return on energy invested (EROI) of mini-hydropower and solar electricity using five existing mini-hydropower installations in northern Thailand with grid-connected solar PV simulations. Both assessments use a life cycle perspective to estimate the EROI. We find that distributed mini-grids with penetrations of solar PV up to 50% of annual generation can exceed the EROI of some fossil-based traditional centralized grid systems. The analysis will help planners and engineers optimize mini-grids for energy payback and utilize local resources in their design. The results suggest higher EROI ratios for mini-hydropower plants than solar PV, though mini-hydropower plants typically yield lower EROI ratios than their large-scale hydropower counterparts.

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  • Scenarios to decarbonize residential water heating in California

    This paper presents the first detailed long-term stock turnover model to investigate scenarios to decarbonize the residential water heating sector in California, which is currently dominated by natural gas. We model a mix of water heating (WH) technologies including conventional and on-demand (tank-less) natural gas heating, electric resistance, existing electric heat pumps, advanced heat pumps with low global warming refrigerants and solar thermal water heaters. Technically feasible policy scenarios are developed by considering combinations of WH technologies with efficiency gains within each technology, lowering global warming potential of refrigerants and decreasing grid carbon intensity. We then evaluate energy demand, emissions and equipment replacement costs of the pathways. We develop multiple scenarios by which the annual greenhouse gas emissions from residential water heaters in California can be reduced by over 80% from 1990 levels resulting in an annual savings of over 10 Million Metric Tons by 2050. The overall cost of transition will depend on future cost reductions in heat pump and solar thermal water heating equipment, energy costs, and hot water consumption.

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  • Pulling Out of Paris: Why the United States’ Withdrawal Will Not Much Matter

    The Article reviews the United States’ recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord and recounts some of the most prominent policy discussions surrounding this decision. The Article goes on to explain, that these policy discussions reject science in favor of short-term political gains. The Article reviews new scientific reports which indicates that sea level rise may be far worse than expected, due in large part to the fact that previous computer models never looked beyond the year 2100. As this Article highlights, our policy discussions have become so heavily focused on the near future that we have created a distorted perception of time that doesn’t mesh with reality. This Article urges policy-makers to take real action on climate now, before it is too late. 

    Download PDF (468KB)

  • Three years to safeguard our climate

    Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020. Three years to safeguard our climate

    Download PDF (547KB)

  • Sustainable Design of Communities

    Moving beyond a focus on solar roofs for single-family homes, ambitious projects are attempting to join blocks of buildings into sustainable units

    Download PDF (194KB)

  • Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar

    A number of analyses, meta-analyses, and assessments, including those performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency, have concluded that deployment of a diverse portfolio of clean energy technologies makes a transition to a low-carbon-emission energy system both more feasible and less costly than other pathways. In contrast, Jacobson et al. [Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA, Cameron MA, Frew BA (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(49):15060–15065] argue that it is feasible to provide “low-cost solutions to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of WWS [wind, water and solar power] across all energy sectors in the continental United States between 2050 and 2055”, with only electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers. In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant shortcomings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. 

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  • Strategic siting and regional grid interconnections key to low-​​carbon futures in African countries

    This study identifies, characterizes, and values wind and solar electricity resources for 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa Power Pools. We find that many countries possess potential many times their projected demand. However, because the most competitive wind and solar resources are spatially uneven, international transmission could allow the region as a whole to benefit from “no-regrets” or low-cost, low-impact, and highly accessible resources. International energy trade also lowers system costs by reducing the need for conventional power plants and allows lower impact, more accessible renewable energy sites to be cost competitive. Regional interconnections planned around strategic siting opportunities are crucial for realizing no-regrets wind and solar energy development that can be competitive with conventional generation in African countries.

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  • Methodology for Monitoring Sustainable Development of Isolated Microgrids in Rural Communities

    Microgrids are a rapidly evolving and increasingly common form of local power generation used to serve the needs of both rural and urban communities. In this paper, we present a methodology to evaluate the evolution of the sustainability of stand-alone microgrids projects. The proposed methodology considers a composite sustainability index (CSI) that includes both positive and negative impacts of the operation of the microgrid in a given community. The CSI is constructed along environmental, social, economic and technical dimensions of the microgrid. The sub-indexes of each dimension are aggregated into the CSI via a set of adaptive weighting factors, which indicate the relative importance of the corresponding dimension in the sustainability goals. The proposed methodology aims to be a support instrument for policy makers especially when defining sound corrective measures to guarantee the sustainability of small, isolated microgrid projects. To validate the performance of the proposed methodology, a microgrid installed in the northern part of Chile (Huatacondo) has been used as a benchmarking project.

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  • Promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in Africa: a framework to evaluate employment gener

    The ongoing debate over the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) deployment often hinges on the current cost of incumbent fossil-fuel technologies versus the long-term benefit of clean energy alternatives. This debate is often focused on mature or ‘industrialized’ economies and externalities such as job creation. In many ways, however, the situation in developing economies is at least as or even more interesting due to the generally faster current rate of economic growth and of infrastructure deployment. On the one hand, RE and EE could help decarbonize economies in developing countries, but on the other hand, higher upfront costs of RE and EE could hamper short-term growth. The methodology developed in this paper confirms the existence of this trade-off for some scenarios, yet at the same time provides considerable evidence about the positive impact of EE and RE from a job creation and employment perspective. By extending and adopting a methodology for Africa designed to calculate employment from electricity generation in the U.S., this study finds that energy savings and the conversion of the electricity supply mix to renewable energy generates employment compared to a reference scenario. It also concludes that the costs per additional job created tend to decrease with increasing levels of both EE adoption and RE shares.

    The ongoing debate over the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) deployment often hinges on the current cost of incumbent fossil-fuel technologies versus the long-term benefit of clean energy alternatives. This debate is often focused on mature or ‘industrialized’ economies and externalities such as job creation. In many ways, however, the situation in developing economies is at least as or even more interesting due to the generally faster current rate of economic growth and of infrastructure deployment. On the one hand, RE and EE could help decarbonize economies in developing countries, but on the other hand, higher upfront costs of RE and EE could hamper short-term growth. The methodology developed in this paper confirms the existence of this trade-off for some scenarios, yet at the same time provides considerable evidence about the positive impact of EE and RE from a job creation and employment perspective. By extending and adopting a methodology for Africa designed to calculate employment from electricity generation in the U.S., this study finds that energy savings and the conversion of the electricity supply mix to renewable energy generates employment compared to a reference scenario. It also concludes that the costs per additional job created tend to decrease with increasing levels of both EE adoption and RE shares.

    Download PDF (975KB)

  • Why the Democrats and Republicans are Both Right on Climate

    Over the past two years, two thoughtful, innovative, and dramatically different plans to address global warming have been presented to the American public by the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Both plans would move the nation significantly toward a sustainable future. 

    Download PDF (428KB)

  • Can the US keep the PACE? A natural experiment in accelerating the growth of solar electricity

    Growing global awareness of climate change has ushered in a new era demanding policy, financial and behavioural innovations to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Dramatic price decreases in solar photovoltaics (PV) and public policy have underwritten the expansion of solar power, now accounting for the largest share of renewable energy in California and rising fast in other countries, such as Germany and Italy. Governments’ efforts to expand solar generation base and integrate it into municipal, regional, and national energy systems, have spawned several programs that require rigorous policy evaluations to assess their effectiveness, costs and contribution to Paris Agreement’s goals. In this study, we exploit a natural experiment in northern California to test the capacity of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to promote PV investment. PACE has been highly cost effective by more than doubling residential PV installations.

    Download PDF (777KB)

  • An analytic framework to assess future electricity options in Kosovo

    We have developed an analytic platform to analyze the electricity options, costs, and impacts for Kosovo, a nation that is a critical part of the debate over centralized versus distributed electricity generation and the role of fossil fuels versus cleaner electricity options to meet growing demands for power. We find that a range of alternatives exists to meet present supply constraints all at a lower cost than constructing a proposed 600 MW coal plant. The options include energy efficiency measures, combinations of solar PV, wind, hydropower, and biomass, and the introduction of natural gas. A 30 EUR ton–1 shadow price on CO2 increases costs of coal generation by at least 330 million EUR. The results indicate that financing a new coal plant is the most expensive pathway to meet future electricity demand.

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  • City-​​integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability

    To prepare for an urban influx of 2.5 billion people by 2050, it is critical to create cities that are lowcarbon, resilient, and livable. Cities not only contribute to global climate change by emitting the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases but also are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather.We explore options for establishing sustainable energy systems by reducing energy consumption, particularly in the buildings and transportation sectors, and providing robust, decentralized, and renewable energy sources. Through technical advancements in power density, city-integrated renewable energy will be better suited to satisfy the high-energy demands of growing urban areas. Several economic, technical, behavioral, and political challenges need to be overcome for innovation to improve urban sustainability.

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  • SWITCH-China: A Systems Approach to Decarbonizing China’s Power System

    We present an integrated model, SWITCHChina, of the Chinese power sector with which to analyze the economic and technological implications of a medium to longterm decarbonization scenario while accounting for very-shortterm renewable variability. On the basis of the model and assumptions used, we find that the announced 2030 carbon peak can be achieved with a carbon price of ∼$40/tCO2. Current trends in renewable energy price reductions alone are insufficient to replace coal; however, an 80% carbon emission reduction by 2050 is achievable in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Target Scenario with an optimal electricity mix in 2050 including nuclear (14%), wind (23%), solar (27%), hydro (6%), gas (1%), coal (3%), and carbon capture and sequestration coal energy (26%). The co-benefits of carbon-price strategy would offset 22% to 42% of the increased electricity costs if the true cost of coal and the social cost of carbon are incorporated. In such a scenario, aggressive attention to research and both technological and financial innovation mechanisms are crucial to enabling the transition at a reasonable cost, along with strong carbon policies.

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  • Switching to Sustainability

    Emerging economies will account for more than 90 percent of new energy-generation capacity by 2035, and Latin America is no exception to this trend. In the last 40 years, the region’s primary energy demand has more than doubled. In a global environment of increasingly volatile fuel prices, emerging technologies, and climate-change impacts, the continued increase in demand presents challenges and opportunities to Latin America and the Caribbean. To manage the next phase of development, the region’s governments will need to develop new energy sources and pay more attention to sustainability. By some measures, Latin America is already ahead of the game. The region has a low carbon footprint due to the large share of hydropower in its energy mix. Hydropower can’t be expanded indefinitely, however, and proposed mega-dams in countries such as Chile and Brazil have generated protests from indigenous and environmental groups. Developing alternative forms of sustainable energy will require focused effort. Challenges include the inflexibility of the region’s grid systems, the difficulty of siting new transmission lines, and the political and technical problems inherent in serving politically disconnected and geographically remote populations. Using examples from Chile, the Caribbean, and Nicaragua, we present energy technology and policydesign tools being developed at UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) that address Latin America’s sustainability and development needs. 

    Download PDF (3MB)

  • Renewable energy sector development in the Caribbean: Current trends and lessons from history

    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.

    Download PDF (407KB)

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

    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.

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  • Estimating biodiversity impacts without field surveys: A case study in northern Borneo

    In many regions of the world, biodiversity surveys are not routinely conducted prior to activities that lead to land conversion, such as development projects. Here we use top-down methods based on global range maps and bottom-up methods based on macroecological scaling laws to illuminate the otherwise hidden biodiversity impacts of three large hydroelectric dams in the state of Sarawak in northern Borneo. Our retrospective impact assessment finds that the three reservoirs inundate habitat for 331 species of birds (3 million individuals) and 164 species of mammals (110 million individuals). A minimum of 2100 species of trees (900 million individuals) and 17 700 species of arthropods (34 billion individuals) are estimated to be affected by the dams. No extinctions of bird, mammal, or tree species are expected due to habitat loss following reservoir inundation, while 4–7 arthropod species extinctions are predicted. These assessment methods are applicable to any data-limited system undergoing land-use change.

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  • 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)

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • The Power of Rivers: A Business Case

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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

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