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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.

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The Future's Bright for Oil & Gas and Renewables

October 19, 2017 — With the shale gas revolution and the dramatic price declines in wind turbines and solar panels, these two rising energy sources are looking bright. But, can the oil and gas industry work with renewable energy industry to bring about a clean energy future? That question was the basis for the recent workshop on the Nexus of Oil & Gas and Renewables in the Energy Future held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and sponsored by the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s Gas and Oil Technologies Collaboration Program (GOTCP). The two days were packed with presentations and tours, and there was time for lively discussion—and maybe a bit of debate—about what's needed for the two "sides" to work more closely together. One thing's for sure: what used to be an "us vs. them" mentality must now shift to an "us is them" mindset.

IEA GOTCP Chairman Jostein Dahl Karlsen kicked off the workshop talking about how oil and gas and renewable energy, hand-in-hand, are the most reasonable way forward to a sustainable future.

Keynote speaker John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado, encouraged us to focus on how to create cleaner energy at lower cost and least environmental impact. He believes there will be a slow transition away from hydrocarbons, and clean tech is one of the fastest growing sectors in Colorado.

Bobi Garrett, NREL's Chief Operating Officer, highlighted that we are in the midst of an energy transition, with natural gas providing 35% and renewables 15% of the electricity in the U.S. with many countries leading the way toward clean energy. NREL's recent Annual Technology Baseline has shown the life cycle cost of electricity from both onshore wind and gas powered combined cycle plants are comparable at less than 5 cents/kWh and utility scale solar and geothermal electricity life cycle costs are well under 10 cents/kWh.

Our final keynote, Christophe McGlade from the IEA, also noted that a major energy transition is underway. Natural gas will remain an important fuel as it helps integrate variable renewables, but methane emissions from natural gas cannot be ignored. The oil and gas industry may take up renewables in their operations and as an investment, especially in technologies with important synergies such as offshore oil/gas and offshore wind power.

Inspired by these opening talks, the participants delved into four timely, challenging topics discussed during the two-day workshop:

  • Incorporating Renewable Energy Technologies into Oil and Gas Operations
  • Recovering and Using Process Heat and Water in Oil and Gas Operations
  • Optimized Delivery of Gas and Renewable Electricity and Heat for Utilities
  • Petroleum Industry Investment in the Business of Renewable Energy

The workshop built off a series of reports and insights developed by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis on natural gas and renewable energies:

You can view the presentations and photos from this exciting workshop. We look forward to working together with colleagues from both these energy sectors to create a clean energy revolution. As our closing speaker encouraged us, electrons are as important as elections, and it's time to move from words to watts!

New Book: The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions

April 12, 2017 — A new book, prepared by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and co-edited by JISEA's Doug Arent, examines the political and economic factors of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Published by Oxford University Press, The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions features a broad survey of relevant international experiences with a focus on both developing and developed countries. A downloadable copy of the book is freely available to anyone.

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change shifted the nature of the political economy challenge associated with achieving a global emissions trajectory that is consistent with a stable climate. The shifts generated by COP21 place country decision-making and country policies at center stage. Under moderately optimistic assumptions concerning the vigor with which COP21 objectives are pursued, nearly every country will attempt to design and implement the most promising and locally relevant policies for achieving their agreed contribution to global mitigation. These policies will vary dramatically across countries as they embark on an unprecedented era of policy experimentation in driving a clean energy transition. This book steps into this new world of broad-scale and locally relevant policy experimentation.

Dr. Pavel Kabat: Reconciling Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability

February 28, 2017 — "Single-disciplinary science alone cannot adequately underpin policies and solutions to resolve major sustainability challenges," according to Dr. Pavel Kabat, Director General and CEO of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a JISEA Research Affiliate. Earlier this month, JISEA hosted Professor Kabat at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he spoke to a group of researchers and analysts about a systems approach to sustainability and IIASA's Global Energy Assessment (GEA). Released in 2012, the GEA links energy to climate, air quality, human health and mortality, economic growth, urbanization, water, land use, and other factors. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 7—Affordable and Clean Energy—uses the GEA as a primary scientific underpinning.

Professor Kabat is also full professor of Earth System Science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, founding chair and director of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and Arts Institute for Integrated Research on the Wadden Sea Region (the Wadden Academy), a member of the Leadership Council for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and co-founder of the high-level Alpbach — Laxenburg Group. The latter brings global leaders from academia, governments, businesses, and civil society together to support and advocate for sustainable transitions and sustainable development. Trained as a mathematician and hydrologist, Professor Kabat's almost-30-year research career has covered earth system science and global change, with a specific focus on land-atmosphere interactions, climate hydrology, the water cycle, and water resources. He is an author and coauthor of over 300 refereed publications (including 9 books), a member of 3 international editorial boards, and (co)editor of numerous special issues of peer-reviewed international journals. He has also contributed as lead author and review editor to the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Download Dr. Kabat's presentation.

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, 2016Doug 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, 2016United 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.

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