Legacy Site

This is a legacy site from a year long Policy Research Project on climate change and the major economies. To see some of my subsequent work in this space, go to my professional webpage.

Energy Symposium Presentation on Climate Mitigation and India

Sarang Shidore and I in May 2016 recently presented our findings of our research on sectoral climate mitigation in India. We are going to be using this blog more to talk about our work in this space. We are joined by LBJ School PhD student Xue Gao who will be working with us as we extend our research to China.

We have a paper under review upon which this presentation is based. Sarang and I have carried out about 30 interviews with Indian stakeholders on the topic. More to come soon.

Vehicle Fuel Economy: The Intersection of Energy Security and GHG Mitigation

Improving fuel economy of road vehicles is an important objective for countries around the world. Even major oil exporters would benefit economically from consuming less of the oil they produce. For those countries that rely on oil imports to meet their transport fuel demand, energy security is an important priority. If action to mitigate climate change is not politically popular, as in the United States, policies aimed at improving fuel economy appeal to broad constituencies and can be used to achieve both objectives of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the need for oil imports.

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Source: EPA

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The Case for Regionally Targeted Renewable Energy Subsidies

Apparently, where you build renewables matters more than how much capacity you build. According to the results of a 2013 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the amount of carbon dioxide, SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 displaced by renewable energy generation varies widely across the United States.

Regional  Differences

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20 Under 20 “Stop Out”

Eden Full was 19 when she “stopped out” of Princeton University.  She had received a Thiel Fellowship which offered her $100,000 to drop out of school for a two year fellowship to pursue an entrepreneurial project.  The fellowship is offered to 20 students under 20 years old.  Full was a member of the inaugural class and her project is a solar panel which tracks the sun and provides clean water, known as the SunSaluter.

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The Solar Grove

All-Electric Vehicles (EVs), while great in theory, face a lot of challenges:

  • Driving range: Most EVs can only go about 100–200 miles before recharging—gasoline vehicles can go over 300 miles before refueling.
  • Recharge time: Fully recharging the battery pack can take 4 to 8 hours. Even a “quick charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 min.
  • Battery cost: The large battery packs are expensive and may need to be replaced one or more times.
  • Bulk & weight: Battery packs are heavy and take up considerable vehicle space.

Solar Energy is becoming increasingly affordable and technology has developed to use solar panels to support the infrastructure of EVs.  One of the first ways to implement solar energy to power EVs has been the creation of a “Solar Grove.”  A Solar Grove consists of numerous solar trees that provide shade in parking lots across the country.  Envision Solar worked with Dell in Round Rock, Texas to create 130kW of energy.  Dell’s solar grove is expected to help avoid 145,000 emissions of greenhouse gases every year.

Solar Grove at UCSD

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Power Africa (with Renewables)


Only about one-third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity. Last June President Obama announced the Power Africa Initiative, which aims to increase access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, starting with six pilot countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique. The Electrify Africa Act passed in the House on Thursday. Assuming it passes in the Senate, $7 billion dollars over the next five years will be spent on improving access to electricity in the six Power Africa partner countries. Concerns have been voiced that the Power Africa Initiative will negatively contribute to climate change if a conscious effort isn’t made to focus on renewables. Read more ›

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Shifting the Cost of Desalination to Renewables: How the Private Sector is Getting Involved in the US and India

The world’s largest concentrated solar plant (CSP) opened earlier this year in California, and the United States is not alone in its quest to become a major supplier of solar power, and to shift the demand for power necessary to desalinate onto renewables.

In California, where drought has reached an all-time record, companies are currently investing in using renewables to treat brackish wastewater and groundwater. In the San Joaquin Valley, for instance, entrepreneurs at WaterFX have constructed an experimental solar-powered desalination plant that uses the power of solar radiation to generate high enough temperatures to separate salt from water recycled from irrigation runoff.  This plant, which uses about half the energy necessary to desalinate water via reverse osmosis at half the cost, could inspire a revolution in a water hungry state. Reduction in energy use, particularly from thermally-generated electricity, could also do a lot to abate GHG emission production.


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The World’s Most Attractive Solar Markets

The solar energy industry is growing as a very promising, international opportunity for investment. Therefore IHS Technology,  a “global information company with world-class experts in the pivotal areas shaping today’s business landscape” compiles a quarterly assessment of the “attractiveness profile” for emerging photovoltaic markets. In early 2014, this list is topped by South Africa (score of 67), Turkey (45), and Mexico (43).

This is an exciting development, given the position of these countries in the global emissions scene. Though not individually producing a significant amount of CO2e they are part of a group, along with South Korea, that are responsible for a critical 5% of global emissions.  By considering this smaller group with the larger emitters, over 75% of global emissions are accounted for in fourteen political units (with the EU counting as one.) Therefore the fact that these countries have become a magnet for solar investments is very promising. Read more ›

Three Drivers for Energy Efficiency Emissions Reductions

There are a handful of promising venues for reducing global emissions, one of which is energy efficiency. Much of the appeal of energy efficiency is that, in addition to enabling emissions reductions, finding ways to do more with less energy also has economic benefits. However, “efficiency” is a hard concept to quantify, given the fact that it is by nature a change in status quo as opposed to a tangible source of emissions. That is, there is no efficiency sector (such as the power generation sector) that emits a certain amount of greenhouse gas per year. It is instead a matter of negative space: determining what future emissions can be “unemitted” by preemptively employing efficiency measures.

In order to address such an intractable issue, it is easier to look at subsectors, such as buildings and industry, which do have quantifiable yearly emissions that can be lessened through efficiency measures. Another area for potential emissions reductions, though not as easy to define, is the benefit of smart grid technology.

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