The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) increases the impact of its analysis by staying engaged in and helping to shape the global energy dialogue. News about JISEA, JISEA leadership, and JISEA partners is highlighted below.
February 18, 2014 - A new study published in the journal Science says that the total impact of switching to natural gas depends heavily on leakage of methane (CH4) during the natural gas life cycle, and suggests that more can be done to reduce methane emissions and to improve measurement tools which help inform policy choices.
Published in the February 14 issue of Science, the study, "Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems," presents a first effort to systematically compare North American emissions estimates at scales ranging from device-level to continental atmospheric studies. Because natural gas emits less carbon dioxide during combustion than other fossil fuels, it has been looked to as a 'bridge' fuel to a lower carbon energy system.
"With this study and our larger body of work focusing on natural gas and our transforming energy economy, we offer policymakers and investors a solid analytical foundation for decision making," said Doug Arent, executive director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and a co-author to the study. "While we found that official inventories tend to under-estimate total methane leakage, leakage rates are unlikely to be high enough to undermine the climate benefits of gas versus coal."
The article was organized by Novim with funding from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and led by Stanford University's Adam Brandt. It was co-written by researchers from Stanford University, JISEA, Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Calgary, U.S. State Department, Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Santa Barbara, and the Environmental Defense Fund.
"Recent life cycle assessments generally agree that replacing coal with natural gas has climate benefits," said Garvin Heath, a senior scientist at the NREL and a lead author of the report. "Our findings show that natural gas can be a bridge to a sustainable energy future, but that bridge must be traversed carefully. Current evidence suggests leakages may be larger than official estimates, so diligence will be required to ensure that leakage rates are actually low enough to achieve sustainability goals."
Among other key findings of the research:
February 7, 2014 — To support the U.S. need for cleaner energy sources now and in the long term, a new study by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) identifies compelling business models that build from the synergies of two abundant, domestic forms of energy: natural gas and renewable energy.
"Natural gas and renewable energy each contribute to economic growth, energy independence, and carbon mitigation, sometimes independently and sometimes collectively," said Douglas Arent, JISEA Executive Director. "With this paper and a larger line of study, JISEA is examining ways these two domestic forms of energy can work in greater concert."
The paper, Exploring the Potential Business Case for Synergies between Natural Gas and Renewable Energy, identifies revenue opportunities that emerge from systems-level perspectives in "bulk energy" (large-scale electricity and natural gas production, transmission, and trade) and four "distribution edge" subsectors: industrial, residential, commercial, and transportation end uses. Example areas of potential business collaboration include transmission corridors that serve both technologies, and flexible fuel turbines that allow for fuel diversification, added energy security, and reduced price risk.
"To advance a cleaner, decarbonized energy system, we have to look at energy and economic systems in new ways. With this study, JISEA provides a valuable and unique perspective on collaboration rather than competition between natural gas and renewables, and practical insights that can help spur the clean energy economy," said former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, director of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University. CNEE and JISEA co-hosted a workshop to gather expert input on the business models for gas and renewables.
"Some of the synergies at the commercial level can be illustrated through an example of a big box store that generates, consumes, stores, and sells energy and provides energy services," said Jaquelin Cochran, lead author of the study. "In this example, we identified numerous potential revenue opportunities for the utilities, energy providers, car manufacturers, municipal waste firms, and many other businesses and service providers. This analysis could potentially inspire entrepreneurial action to transform our energy system."
JISEA conducts leading-edge interdisciplinary research and provides objective and credible data, tools, and analysis to guide global energy investment and policy decisions. JISEA is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, on behalf of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.
In a report airing December 2 on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, JISEA's Doug Arent discussed findings of NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures Study, which he co-authored.
The report aired on the eve of a release of a new National Academies of Science report on climate change, and examined changes in energy systems that would be needed to curb it.
While fossil fuels still comprise the bulk of the world's energy diet, RE Futures looked at a scenario in which the United States relies on wind, solar and other renewable energy supplies for at least 80 percent of electricity needs by the middle of this century.
"Our results, from a technical nature, show that you could meet demand every hour of the year, with up to 80 percent of it coming from renewable resources," said Arent. "What we found was that there were many pathways, and there wasn't a red flag that said it was impossible, at least at the level that we looked at it."
The story also featured Stanford University's Sally Benson, a frequent collaborator with JISEA.
"I think there's lots of good news on the technology side, and I think [many of] the smartest engineers and scientists at universities around the world … are focused on this challenge," Benson said. "And the students love this. This is what they want to devote their life to. So from that perspective, I am quite optimistic."
October 2013 — Two new works funded through JISEA's Innovative Research Analysis Award Program (IRAAP) have been published in scientific journals.
"Renewable energy potential on marginal lands in the United States," authored by a team from NREL and Stanford University, appears in the January 2014 issue of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. This study identifies several marginal land categories suitable for renewable energy development, and calculates the technical potential for various technologies on these lands.
"Power systems balancing with high penetration renewables: The potential of demand response in Hawaii," authored by a team from NREL and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, appears in the December 2013 issue of Energy Conversion and Management. This analysis indicates that demand response has the potential to smooth power system operation in Hawaii with high RE penetration, and that production cost savings could arise from improved thermal power plant operations and increased wind production.
Through IRAAP, JISEA funds collaborative, multi-disciplinary research that works toward a more sustainable global energy economy.
October 2013 — Doug Arent is among the authors of a new, multi-institutional report for the 21st Century Power Partnership—Market Evolution: Wholesale Electricity Market Design for 21st Century Power Systems.
Variable renewable energy resources comprise an increasing share of electricity generation globally. At the same time, opportunities for addressing the variability of renewables are being strengthened through advances in smart grids, communications, and technologies. A key challenge of merging these opportunities is market design—creating incentives and compensating providers justly for attributes and performance that ensure a reliable and secure grid.
This report reviews the suite of wholesale power market designs in use and under consideration to ensure adequacy, security, and flexibility in a landscape of significant variable renewable energy.
Authors from China National Renewable Energy Center, Energinet.dk, Global Green Growth Institute, IBM, International Copper Association, NREL, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland also contributed to the report.
October 2013 — JISEA Deputy Director Morgan Bazilian has been named to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation's Innovation Network.
The JREF Innovation Network was established in 2012 to facilitate the exchange of information and proposals geared toward the evolution of Japan and the world into a sustainable society based on renewable energy. Network members are experts in renewables, energy efficiency, and climate change policies.