News and Events
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.
Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Industry and Support the Power System
December 8, 2016 — Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (N-R HESs) can enable low-carbon, on-demand electricity while providing reduced-emission thermal energy for industrial processes. However, the economic feasibility of these systems may depend on future natural gas prices, electricity market structures, and clean energy incentives. N-R HESs are physically coupled facilities that include both nuclear and renewable energy sources and produce electricity and another product such as a fuel, thermal energy, hydrogen, and desalinated water. Energy and materials flows among energy production and delivery systems are dynamically integrated so that the production rate of each product can be varied.
A series of new reports from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) examines various hybrid system configurations to provide a basis to identify opportunities for clean energy use and examine the most economically viable configurations.
In one report, Generation and Use of Thermal Energy in the U.S. Industrial Sector and Opportunities to Reduce its Carbon Emissions, researchers from INL and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) identify key greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources in the industrial sector and propose low-emitting alternatives using targeted, process-level analysis of industrial heat requirements. The report examines emissions generated during process heat generation from the industrial sector. The study focuses on the 14 industries with the largest emissions as reported under the Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program in 2014. Approximately, 960 plants from those industries represent less than one half of one percent of all manufacturing in the U.S., but they emit nearly 25 percent of all industrial sector emissions—5 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2014. The report also identifies non-GHG-emitting thermal energy sources that could be used to generate heat without emissions. Those potential sources include small modular nuclear reactors, solar heat for industrial processes, and geothermal heat. The report identifies potential opportunities for each source, identifies implementation challenges, and proposes analyses to identify approaches to overcome the challenges.
In a second report, Status on the Component Models Developed in the Modelica Framework: High-Temperature Steam Electrolysis Plant & Gas Turbine Power Plant, INL details a modeling and simulation framework to assess the technical and economic viability of an N-R HES. INL, with support from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, developed a dynamic, physics-based modeling capability of N-R HESs using the Modelica programming language. The report presents details on newly developed high-temperature steam electrolysis (for hydrogen production) and gas turbine power plant subsystems. Simulations of several case studies show that the suggested control scheme could maintain satisfactory plant operations even under rapid variations in net load. The study finds that the N-R HESs modeled could provide operational flexibility to participate in energy management at the utility scale by dynamically optimizing the use of excess plant capacity.
In a third report, The Economic Potential of Three Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Providing Thermal Energy to Industry, NREL researchers explore the economics of an N-R HES that sells a thermal product (steam or a high-temperature heat transfer fluid) to one or more industrial customers. Under each scenario examined, the economically optimal system configuration includes a nuclear reactor generating a thermal product such as steam or a heat transfer fluid — a configuration that can economically reduce GHG emissions from industry. In addition, configurations that include a thermal power cycle can support resource adequacy for the electricity grid while maximizing production of the thermal energy product if the markets sufficiently incentivize that option.
Together, these three reports indicate nuclear renewable hybrid energy systems can reduce industrial emissions and support the power system.
The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Enrgy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.
New JISEA Monograph Explores Potential of Low-Carbon Natural Gas for Transportation
December 2, 2016 — A new report in JISEA's natural gas and the evolving U.S. power sector monograph series explores the market potential of low-carbon natural gas for transportation in California. The monograph analyzes economic and lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and finds that low-carbon natural gas production potential in California could result in natural gas vehicle adoption by 2030. Read the monograph.
JISEA Partner Offers Energy Systems & Technologies Course to Students Worldwide
November 17, 2016 — The University of Colorado – Boulder, a JISEA founding partner, will offer an online course this spring, open to students around the world.
The global energy system is at the beginning of a massive and fundamental transformation; from a centralized and carbon-intensive system to one that is lower-carbon, distributed, and technologically nimble. How does the energy system work, what is driving its rapid change, and what changes are ahead?
The Energy Systems and Technologies course provides a strong basic grounding in energy science and technology. The course starts with basic energy concepts such as power, resources, and carriers, and then moves on to how we produce, transform, and consume energy. The course explores how energy use contributes to environmental challenges, notably climate change. The course also assesses alternatives, including renewables and energy efficiency, to better understand their potentials and limitations. Read the course flyer for more information.
Study Traces Majority of Methane Emissions to Small Number of Sources
Nov. 1, 2016 — When it comes to natural gas leaks, only 5% of the sources are responsible for more than 50% of the total volume of leakage in the United States. This is according to a new study, Methane Leaks from Natural Gas Systems Follow Extreme Emissions.
The study was a collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Stanford University, and Colorado State University.
Colorado Public Radio interviewed one of the study's authors, Senior Scientist Garvin Heath of NREL. Read the interview.
Arent Named a Judge for 100&Change
September 30, 2016 — Doug Arent has been named an expert judge for 100&Change. 100&Change is a MacArthur Foundation competition that will award one grant of $100 million for a proposal that promises to make real progress toward a significant problem. Applications are accepted from non-profit and for-profit organizations from around the world. Applicants must identify the problem as well as the proposed solution. A panel of expert judges will analyze each proposal, score the proposal based on a set of criteria, and give feedback. The judges were chosen based on their experiences and body of knowledge. The highest-scoring proposals will go through further review. Learn more about the competition.
UNU-WIDER Interviews Arent
September 30, 2016 — United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) recently interviewed JISEA executive director Doug Arent. During the interview, Arent discussed the importance of clean energy and the impacts of climate change. Watch the interview.
After Paris, the Smart Bet is on a Clean Energy Future
July 12, 2016 — In a new GreenMoney article, JISEA's executive director Doug Arent highlights the changing power system and investment landscapes, the Paris commitments, and the state of play in the green investment market.
"Filling the growing demand for clean energy solutions is anticipated to spur increased growth across the industry and new innovation, particularly with new ambitious targets to double clean energy research and development by 20 leading countries to more than $20 billion per year. These innovative solutions will not only help achieve the bold climate mitigation targets, but will also represent unprecedented opportunities for smart investors," says Arent in the article titled, "After Paris, the Smart Bet is on a Clean Energy Future."
May 4 Webinar Discusses Spatiotemporal Considerations in Energy Decisions
Energy-related projects are developed in evolving natural and political environments, and their impacts and economics are neither fixed in time nor distributed evenly in space. Energy and environmental research has often focused on snapshots of particular regions, as many evaluation tools do not consider spatiotemporal factors. The gap in understanding such factors poses a significant challenge for those evaluating energy decisions. For example, the water-energy nexus becomes increasingly significant for decision support when local resources are scarce, yet technology assessments typically do not consider spatiotemporal variability across regions. The costs associated with environmental mitigation can and often do differ by region as well as over time. Climate-related policies are developed according to a region's political influences even as greenhouse gas emissions vary geographically according to several factors, such as available resources, the technology in use, the vintage of the existing infrastructure, and local climate. Related challenges involve comparing the land use of energy technologies when impacts are locally dependent and comparing spatial requirements of renewable and non-renewable projects over time. In this webinar, we will discuss a suite of emerging approaches covering climate, water, and land with the goal of overcoming some of these challenges.
Dr. Sarah Marie Jordaan is an Assistant Professor of Energy Policy and Politics at the University of Calgary. She has over a decade of experience researching energy and the environment with award winning publications on climate policy and the water implications of energy technologies. Her foundations in government and public policy were strengthened at Harvard University with the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group at the Kennedy School of Government and she gained greater insight into climate science at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. She has held positions with the Electric Power Research Institute, the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, and the Ocean Sciences Center at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. She earned her Ph.D. in 2010 at the University of Calgary in Environmental Design at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Economy, and Environment. Her Bachelor's degree is in Physics with a minor in Computer Science from Memorial University.
April 20 Webinar Explores Environmental, Economic, and Technological Effects of Methane Emissions and Abatement
Methane accounts for approximately 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and one-quarter of those emissions come from the natural gas sector. This Pathways to Decarbonization webinar on April 20 will review JISEA's work to illuminate areas of opportunity for abatement and the economic effects of various abatement scenarios. The presenters will discuss methods of estimating methane emissions from the natural gas sector and opportunities for improving these approaches, the economic potential of methane reduction, and opportunities for cost-effective emissions reduction throughout the natural gas supply chain.
Garvin Heath is a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). His areas of expertise include life cycle assessment, sustainability analysis, air quality modeling, and exposure assessment. He was an author of JISEA's first major natural gas report in 2011, Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity. His other research interests include health and environmental impacts of energy technologies.
Ethan Warner is an energy systems analyst at NREL. His areas of expertise include life cycle assessment, system dynamics modeling, energy policy. His research interests encompass systems modeling and sustainable analysis, especially focused on increasing understanding of the interconnections between technology supply chains, the economy, and the environment.
David Keyser is research analyst at NREL. His areas of expertise include economic impact studies, time series analysis, and analysis of labor and demographic data. His research interests span static and dynamic economic impact models, labor data estimation, econometric modeling and forecasting, and regional economics.
April 13 Webinar to Provide Insights on Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, and the Evolving Power Sector
April 13, 2016 — Natural gas—in combination with other technologies, practices, and policies—is fundamentally reshaping the U.S. power sector. On April 13 at 10 a.m. MDT, researchers from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) will present results from three recent studies on natural gas and the U.S. power sector. The first study reviews regional and sectoral trends of natural gas use in the power sector. The second presents scenarios of natural gas as a "bridge" to a decarbonized power system and explores the question of how long we can continue to produce electricity from gas while staying on a path toward long-term climate sustainability. The third study focuses on potential synergies of natural gas and renewable energy in a two-part analysis: the first summarizes key takeaways from a series of regional stakeholder meetings that focused on challenges and opportunities of pairing renewables with natural gas, while the second quantifies the value proposition of investing in the two sources of energy together in specific applications. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience. View slides.
Second Report in JISEA Monograph Series Explores Natural Gas as a Bridge to Sustainability
February 16, 2016 — In the second in a monograph series, JISEA examines the role of natural gas as increasingly strict carbon emission targets are imposed on the electricity sector. Do electricity sector trends mean that natural gas can serve as a bridge fuel, replacing the more carbon-intense coal generation in the near term and eventually phasing down in favor of zero-carbon emission resources? This analysis indicates that the answer may depend on the price of natural gas and the level of carbon reduction targets in place. Learn more about the report.
Arent: Let's Get Gas Right
December 15, 2015 — In a new blog post for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, JISEA executive director Doug Arent discusses possible synergies between renewable energy and natural gas. "While the two resources were historically viewed as competitors, natural gas and renewables are increasingly recognized as complementary," says Arent. Read the full blog here.