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Students showcasing research posters at the 2015 GCEP Symposium

CANCELED - ERE Seminar: Ken Caldeira (Carnegie Institution for Science) - Adventures in Macro Energy System....

April 27, 2020 - 12:30pm to 1:20pm
Room 104, Green Earth Sciences Building, 367 Panama Street, Stanford
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Energy Resources Engineering
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Ken Caldeira, PhD | Carnegie Institution for Science

TITLEAdventures in Macro Energy System Modeling

ABSTRACTWe have been engaged in an effort to try to understand, and communicate to people who can influence decisions, fundamental aspects of our electricity system using a fairly simple model representing energy system capacity and hourly dispatch decisions. We call this model MEM, for Macro Energy Model. Complicated models are important for making near-term and geographically specific energy system decisions. However, when it comes to century scale transitions, we are making decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty, where understanding fundamental dynamical relationships can be more important than representing detail. Simple models have the advantage of being transparent and understandable, and in some configurations they execute rapidly which allows a deeper exploration of parameter space. On the other hand, the question of "How simple is too simple?" looms, and we risk eliminating important detail which can affect fundamental conclusions. In this talk, I will discuss some of our work using a simple electricity system model, looking at electricity storage, the degree to which nuclear power might facilitate further penetration of wind and solar power, and how we might think about rational allocation of clean energy R&D portfolios aimed at a long-term transition to a near-zero-emission energy system. I will also discuss our efforts and plans to extend this model to consider both fuels and energy services.

BIOKen Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where his job is “to make important scientific discoveries.” He also serves as a Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. Among Caldeira’s key contributions to science are his relatively early recognition of the threats posed by ocean acidification, his pioneering investigations into the environmental consequences of intentional intervention in the climate system (“geoengineering”), and the first peer-reviewed study to estimate near-zero-emission energy needs consistent with a 2°C climate stabilization target. He has also played a central role in helping to elucidate what our understanding of long-term geochemical cycles implies for the fate of today’s carbon dioxide emissions. More recently, he has been focusing on trying to understand what sorts of energy systems could facilitate a transition to a near-zero emission economy that will allow both human and natural systems to flourish.