PESD - News Page
On June 17, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) Associate Director Mark Thurber talked with Nikos Tsafos from CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies) on the CSIS Energy 360° podcast. During the podcast, Thurber discussed his new book, Coal, and the geopolitics and economics of continued coal use in energy versus the needs and concerns at the local, national, and global levels.
In no other developed country is the role of coal in the energy mix more hotly debated than in Germany. The country has been a leader in renewable energy development, but it also continues to mine and burn substantial quantities of coal, which has thus far blunted its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Germany hopes to phase out all coal use by 2038, though this target is made more challenging by its concurrent effort to phase out nuclear energy.
Flaring of natural gas that can't be utilized represents both an economic loss and a major environmental problem. Writing for Energy for Growth Hub, PESD associate director Mark Thurber describes why gas flaring is stubbornly persistent around the world, and what can be done to productively use more of the gas that is currently going up in flames.
On November 2 at the University of Hawaii, PESD Director Frank Wolak gave a special seminar "How Should the Public Utilities Commission Regulate Hawaiian Electric Company for Better Integration of Renewable Energy?" in which he recommended a "cost based" market for Hawaiian Electric Company.
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) Director Frank Wolak, Associate DIrector Mark Thurber, and doctoral candidate Trevor Davis led an Electricity Market Simulation Workshop as part of the 2018 Western Electricity Market Forum September 20-21 in Boise, Idaho. The audience was comprised of regulators and regulatory staff as well as policy makers representing states from across the western U.S.
The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and Office of International Affairs (OIA) launched a pilot collaboration last year to provide a rigorous, immersive teaching and training program for students interested in international fieldwork. The result was a program that included a quarter-long course in the spring of 2015 followed by three weeks in Mexico during the summer to design and conduct a field research study.
Coal is the leading energy-related cause of climate change and creates serious local air pollution; it also remains, for now, an essential energy source for many growing economies. PESD's new volume studies key coal producing and exporting countries--China, India, Indonesia, Australia, South Africa, and the United States--for insights into how coal production, transport, and consumption will evolve in the future, and what this may mean for the environment.
On August 13th, 2015, Professor Wolak was interviewed along with Monica Padilla and Ted Ko by KALW, a public radio station in San Francisco. The particular topic of interest for the hour-long segment was CCAs (Community Choice Aggregation), which provide an alternative way for communities to recieve electricity other than the commonplace utilities. Although the CCA bill came out in 2002, there are only three remaining CCAs today.
Professor Frank Wolak was recently interviewed by Julian Spector of CityLab regarding the use of nuclear energy in a zero-carbon grid. According to Professor Wolak, "It makes very little economic sense to phase [nuclear energy] out, particularly given how successful the U.S. nuclear industry has been over the past 30 years". Professor Wolak also points out that American nuclear generators are safer than ever while still boasting an impressive capacity factor.
In a recent article by Sarah Tory, Professor Frank Wolak states that in the near term consumers should not expect a rise in electricity bills. This fear of soaring electricity costs comes from the decreased generation of Hoover Dam due to the low water levels of Lake Mead. However, Professor Wolak says that utilities frequently buy "future" contracts, which limits their ability to raise prices. Professor Wolak also states that, because of the mix of renewable resources in the West, other energy sources may help to alleviate the strain on the system from the loss of hydropower.
Stanford students, under the guidance of the Stanford Program on Energy and Sustainable Development and in partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), are currently administering surveys throughout Puebla, Mexico. The surveys primarily consist of three stages: determining a household's energy consumption, educating the household on how their electricity bill is calculated, and suggesting at least one cost-saving strategy the household could adopt.
Stanford students traded carbon allowances and renewable energy certificates as part of a new web-based simulation developed at PESD. The game taught students how complex energy and environmental markets work while also yielding insights that could help policymakers design better markets.
As California heads into a fourth year of drought, water agencies are scrambling for new ways to conserve.
Gov. Jerry Brown has mandated 25 percent water reductions and has called on resource managers to create new incentives for conservation. Tiered pricing – charging more per gallon to customers who use more – could be an effective mechanism. In fact, many water utilities in California and elsewhere already use tiered pricing structures. However, a recent court decision in a case brought by ratepayers in San Juan Capistrano may stymie such efforts.