From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Just Transition to Zero on Climate Change

Here are my notes on two of the best talks on energy that I’ve listened to in some time.  They both get the scale and the tactical outline correct, according to everything else I’ve seen and my own gut instinct.

An Energy Plan the Earth Can Live With
Daniel Kammen (, Director of Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (

[Part of a Radcliffe symposium on climate and data]

A just transition is a more apt title
RAEL began working on PACE financing in 2009
SWITCH model to define utility energy storage needs
Morocco is the only country which has met its climate goals so far
Demonstrate climate change in a model free way to speak with doubters - NASA's Arctic ice animation over time, the loss of 50% ice cover displays the reality of climate change better than numbers
US-China climate agreement in 2014 was the tipping point.  China will reach peak emissions and then decline around 2025
We have already warmed the planet by 1 degree C [since 19th century, 280 ppm CO2e]
Getting to 1.5 degrees requires carbon negative policies as well as zero emissions [Ray Anderson’s Interface now making 80-100 year carbon negative products and on track for zero environment impact according to their metrics]
CA has had the same energy per capita since about 1978, energy sector has increased only as population has increased [USA annual energy production has been 100 quads or less since 2000]
Carbon and time are more useful in sustainability than money measures
CA does not count large hydro or nuclear as renewables
60% renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2045 now law in CA
All new homes [low rise residential] zero net energy by 2020 in CA
All commercial buildings net zero by 2030 [he is still trying to figure out high rises [July 12, 2013 edition Zero Net Energy links list:  Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China 71 floor zero net energy skyscraper, whether it performs to specs is an open question -]

Carbon budget of 600 gigatons in 2017, according to Christiana Figueres
20% (?) drop in price for every doubling of production (in solar) - Moore's Law
Nuclear costs have been rising in the USA in the last few decades [Vogtle seems to be pushing back their completion date on two reactors under construction in USA]
Energy storage is declining in cost as quickly as solar ever did
Kenya is the Silicon Valley of East India
Pay as you go solar is growing quickly - 50 cents a day for small solar - now TVs, [computers,] and DC refrigerators are available [the future is high efficiency, low energy, I build from Solar IS Civil Defense/entry level electricity - light, phone, small batteries - to household, neighborhood, and town systems, different scales of islanding microgrids]
Solar is 30% more prevalent in white neighborhoods even when you control for income
Cool CA carbon footprint calculator which also gives recommendations about how to reduce - also for Germany and Japan: [We need a World Game for the benefit of all who will allow the benefit of all to work out how to provide bare minimums (and bare maximums) without destroying more than homo sap sap (the sap) already has]
Clean energy creates many more jobs than fossil fuels [and fastest growing jobs in most places are solar and wind, at least as a thought experiment]
40% of all USA renewables venture capital is in CA
Brazil's bagasse biofuel is now extending into the Amazon with disastrous results, food and forest production is being turned over to biofuels [too much of a good thing isn’t, balance portfolio of options within zero emissions framework - zero as an approachable goal as in TQM]
Carbon price should put back some money for research [and revolving loans]

Getting to Zero on Climate Change
Hal Harvey @hal_harvey, author of Designing Climate Solutions, founder of Energy Foundation, Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC

By changing the averages moderately we've changed the extremes a lot
Electric grid, transportation, buildings, and industry - four sectors [he did not talk about agriculture but it’s in the book]
75% of all ghgs come from 20 countries [about 100 companies responsible for 71% of ghgs by one count - Pareto rules!! -] 
$5 trillion per year on energy and $6 trillion on infrastructure that establishes consumption patterns 
Converting brown $ to green $ is key [no mention of stranded assets or carbon bubble]
A few key policies for each sector are available [in the book]
Offshore wind smooths load when combined with land-based wind as onshore/offshore winds are different in time of day and speed [see bagasse comment above]
Demand response can make 100 million buildings into thermal batteries [electric vehicles are rolling batteries too]
RPS and grid flexibility are two proposals that work here [microgrids for resilience and disaster preparedness, which we will definitely need in the near term]
A green grid plus an electric car solves transportation [rolling batteries] but internal combustion engines will still be out there
50 mpg is probably the most effective standard, 60 mpg doesn’t buy you much more
ZEV mandates and fuel efficiency standards are the policies here, continuous improvement in standards; don't set a number set a rate of change
Building codes and appliance standards are effective levers [CA and EU net zero building standards, mass retrofit of existing building to net zero standards from EnergieSprong, pilot in NY state, other net zero energy resources I know of are available from Switzerland and Belgium]
Agriculture, iron and steel, chemicals and plastics, cement, and waste management are the most ghg intensive industries
Carbon pricing, carbon standards for products, device efficiency standards [no mention of removal of subsidies for fossil foolishness]
Concentrate on the USA public utility commissions which means you need to talk to a little over 100 people
NRDC, Advanced Energy Economy, CLF, UCS know about working with PUCs

These are the information resources I publish: - Energy (and Other) Events around Cambridge, MA - notes on lectures and books - renewable energy and efficiency - zero net energy links list - city agriculture links list - geometry links list - articles, ideas, and screeds

Please let me know if you are interested in any of them and I’ll put you on the relevant listserv.  They are all free.