21 March 2016

Videos & Highlights: California’s Distributed Energy Future 2016

Image Credit: Greentech Media
The Greentech Media California's Distributed Energy Future Conference provided the audience with great insight into the current direction of distributed energy.
Below you'll find two videos featuring:
1. Keynote Panel: Distributed Energy Resources as Grid Assets
2. Fireside Chat: Michael Picker, President, California Public Utilities Commission
3. Audience Vote Feedback on Various topics.

1. Keynote Panel: Distributed Energy Resources as Grid Assets
California is at the forefront of the push to consider distributed energy resources as assets to the grid. On this panel, leading experts discuss the benefits and challenges of shifting the lens through which distributed energy is viewed, and how markets must adjust to enable this transformation.
Caroline Choi, Vice President, Energy & Environmental Policy, Southern California Edison
Mark Ferron, Member, Board of Governors, CAISO, Former Commissioner, CPUC
David L. Geier, Vice President, Electric Transmission & System Engineering, San Diego Gas & Electric
Moderator: Rick Thompson, President & Co-Founder, Greentech Media
2. Fireside Chat: Michael Picker, President, California Public Utilities Commission
3. Audience Questions and Answers
1. What will be the primary benefit of the shift toward distributed energy in California?
B) Decreased greenhouse gas emissions (38.7%)
A) Increased customer choice (27.1%)


2. What will be the primary negative consequence of the shift toward distributed energy in California?
B) Increasing integration costs of intermittent generation. (28.9%)
C) Growing wealth divide (26.9%)

3. What remains the greatest challenge for California's distributed energy future? 
D) Regulatory - distribution planning, rate reform (40.6%)
C) Structural - utility business model evolution (34.7%)

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4. What technology will have the greatest impact on the growth of DER in California?
B) Energy Storage (45.1%)

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5. What will be the primary solution to the so-called "duck curve" phenomenon?
B) Energy Storage (59.6%) 

14 March 2016

Economist Wins Tyler Prize for Lifetime of Work Illuminating Connections between Poverty, Sustainable Development and Environmental Health

43rd Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement honors Sir Partha Dasgupta’s contribution to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment

Los Angeles, CA (March 14, 2016) – The Executive Committee of The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement today announced the selection of Sir Partha S. Dasgupta, PhD, as the 2016 Tyler Prize Laureate. He is recognized for developing economic theory and tools to measure the relationships between human and environmental well-being, poverty, population, economic growth and the state of natural resources. Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge.

“Sir Partha Dasgupta’s contributions to economics have driven fundamental and ongoing changes in the international conversation about sustainable and just development, and use of natural resources,” said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar at Yale University.

“From co-chairing the committee that advised Pope Francis on the scientific basis of climate change to helping shape the Sustainable Development Goals, Sir Partha’s work has ensured that we keep in mind both people and the way we use our natural resources to benefit present and future generations,” added Marton-Lefèvre.
Dasgupta’s work challenges the conventional thinking on how nations measure their well-being and places an emphasis on population and environmental sustainability.

“We have long measured the progress of nations in terms of what they produce and consume as expressed in the gross domestic product (GDP),” said Dasgupta. “We need to be working with an entirely different measure. GDP doesn’t tell us if we are growing in a way that benefits all in society, including future people; it ignores factors like inequity and whether we are using our natural resources in a way that can also benefit future generations.”

Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.

“Sir Partha’s work to create a framework for sustainable development and his commitment to addressing poverty and the environment have made him unsurpassed among environmental economists in the world,” said Simon Levin, the 2014 Tyler Prize Laureate.      

As the winner of the Tyler Prize, Dasgupta will receive a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medallion and join the ranks of Laureates that include Edward O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, Jared Diamond, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, M.S. Swaminathan, Thomas Lovejoy, Jane Lubchenco and Madhav Gadgil. A full list of past winners is available at www.tylerprize.usc.edu/pastlaureates.html. The Prize, awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California, honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences and policy—qualities that mirror the prescience of the Prize’s founders, John and Alice Tyler, who established it while the environmental debate was still in its infancy.

Chasing Questions in Economics: From the Streets of Calcutta to the Vatican

“I didn’t have a big vision or an agenda when I started my career,” says Dasgupta. “This has been a 40-year chase in which I started with narrow problems and then found that I needed to understand them in a larger context.”

For Dasgupta, one part of this chase began while walking the streets of Calcutta to see his parents. “I saw women begging and some had children with them. It was part of life,” explained Dasgupta. “On one occasion I saw a baby about a year old lying next to her mother with flies on her face. It was a moving sight, but I began wondering why she wasn’t swatting the flies away.”

Thinking about how this girl was using—or not using—very limited energy led Dasgupta to explore broader questions on the relationship between nutrition and health and what they meant for human productivity. These interests expanded quickly to the use of and value placed on natural resources, population, and sustainability.

Forty years later, Dasgupta is recognized as a leading global expert for his work studying economic and environmental issues and incorporating other disciplines. Notably, Dasgupta co-chaired the joint report for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences—entitled Climate Change and The Common Good—which served as the scientific basis for Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change, the encyclical on the environment (Laudato si').

Rethinking a Nation’s Ledger: Challenging Our Understanding of Wealth and Economic Growth

Dasgupta’s work across economic questions led him to recognize that a more comprehensive and complex measure of national and economic well-being is necessary to help governments craft better economic and development policies.

“Judging the wealth and health of countries using GDP captures just a moment in time and not where the country is headed. It’s like judging the current and future prospects of a household by only noting its annual expenditure on goods and services and not enquiring whether that expenditure was drawing down the household wealth,” explained Dasgupta.

Instead, Dasgupta and colleagues advocate that nations should measure their “inclusive wealth,” which includes not only the value of a country’s infrastructure and tools for production—such as roads, buildings and factories—and education and health of its citizens (human capital), but also the value of natural capital (environmental health, ecosystems, sub-soil resources). Inclusive wealth measures a nation’s potential productivity.

Dasgupta and his colleague Karl-Goran Maler showed that future generations will have a higher quality of life if an economy’s inclusive wealth grows at a faster rate than its population. “It’s no good talking about sustainable development without moving to a system that incorporates inclusive wealth,” said Dasgupta.

Dasgupta serves as the Scientific Advisor to the Inclusive Wealth Project, a UN-sponsored initiative that seeks to measure the wealth and long-term sustainability of countries. This approach, he argues, must be put to work in global discussions around sustainability, including the recently agreed upon UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).         

“We can’t trick ourselves into thinking that reaching the SDGs benchmarks—such as no poverty or no hunger—is success alone. We have to reach them through smart development policies or that success will be fleeting,” said Dasgupta. “We’ll only know if we’ve done that by asking whether the development policies that will be adopted to meet the SDGs will raise inclusive wealth at a faster pace than the population grows.”

Engaging Diverse Perspectives to Answer Big Questions: From Environmental Stewardship to Population

Over the course of Dasgupta’s career, he has collaborated with experts from many other disciplines, including ecologists, epidemiologists and anthropologists. While Chair of the Board of the Beijer Institute, Dasgupta and colleagues brought together economists and ecologists from around the world to address problems of environmental stewardship and helping the world’s most disadvantaged people.

“Sir Partha had the intellectual leadership to help bring together partners that had never worked together in this way,” said Levin.

In 2013, Dasgupta chaired a diverse expert committee for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which constructed a framework for measuring India’s national well-being that incorporates not only economic output, but also the health and value of environmental and natural resources.

“Doing economics is like peeling an onion. ‘Why’ is a persistent question,” said Dasgupta. “The problem, as well as the attraction, for me has always been that at each stage I discovered that I needed other disciplines to help me answer the questions.”

Dasgupta’s efforts to engage diverse perspectives extend to regional views as well. He co-founded the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) to elevate the work of scholars from developing countries, and launched the journal Environment and Development Economics, which publishes research on poverty and environmental resources by scholars in poor countries.

“In the developed world the environment is often thought of as an amenity—is the beach polluted or is the national park a place I want to go on vacation—but most of humanity does not enjoy the environment solely as an amenity,” explained Dasgupta. “People in poorer countries understand this complexity, but their voices aren’t heard enough.”

04 March 2016

EERE’s FY2017 Renewable Power Budget Webinar

The Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a Renewable Power Budget Webinar this week hosted by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Doug Hollett. Wind & Water Technologies, Solar Technologies, and Geothermal Technologies are discussed. Please see the Slideshow below.

03 January 2015

A Citizen's Guide to Sustainable Urban City Planning For 2030

Mary Vincent - Shenzhen China
In 2007, I ran for City Council in my city on a Sustainable Economic Development Platform while working a technology job in Silicon Valley, California.

At the time it was a visionary platform but very doable in my opinion. The city wanted to build housing and a business on land that will be covered by water due to rising sea levels in San Francisco by 2050. The city was not looking at the long term strategy incorporating both environment and economic needs. Now, many cities have implemented long-term sustainable economic principles for their cities while involving businesses and citizens in these planning decisions.

A sustainable city has a long-term plan in place for citizens to live, work, learn, and play. Transit Oriented Development is an important concept that I campaigned on. Urban planning, includes sustainable development in water, waste, energy, food production and transportation using fewer resources, creating thriving communities, promoting a healthy lifestyle, inspiring new ideas and driving economic growth. I spoke about these topics at a Google conference in San Francisco, a Technology conference in Silicon Valley, Technology Groups in the UK, and at a Net Impact Conference on Organics and Business. I created Green Star Solution, a consulting firm to help create and enable these innovations and I've shared updates on various digital platforms including my Smart Tech News blog and Twitter http://www.twitter.com/MaryVincent .

I became a Stakeholder Advisory Group Member to the World Resources Institute Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Department of Energy Literacy Education Group Stakeholder, Advisor on Technology and Environment Global Health Research Foundation, and Mentor for the Stanford Engineering for Good and Technology Entrepreneurship classes. Also while living and working near Budapest Hungary, I established an Earth Week in my city and worked with business owners to add environmental solutions into their business operations.

The City of San Francisco has a great Environmental Plan here for reference that can serve as a model for other cities http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/general_plan/I6_Environmental_Protect ion.htm.
ICLEI also has a great platform and community for sustainable city models.

The Masdar Engage Blogging Contest is an innovative concept to help folks share their ideas and I hope to travel to Abu Dhabi to participate in the conference.

09 November 2014

Must Read: Rewilding Our Hearts by Marc Bekoff

Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has written a new inspirational and constructive book called Rewilding our Hearts, Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence.

"We live in a wounded world that is in dire need of healing," as he makes an impassioned call to reverse unprecendented global losses of biodiversity and habitat by changing ourselves. Rewilding means "to make wild again" and it is frequently used in wildlife conservation to refer to re-creating wildlife habitat and creating corridors between preserved land for wildlife to travel through, thus allowing declining populations to rebound. Bekoff applies the Rewilding concept to human psychology and attitudes. We need to rewild both ourselves and other nature, Bekoff claims. He details the growing, global compassionate conservation movement and gives action oriented advice to individuals, city planners, governments, and business leaders.
I highly recommend you read this book and share with friends, business colleagues, political leaders, and on digital media. Let's all work to help rewild our hearts and make sure all of our decisions incorporate all species.
Purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Rewilding-Our-Hearts-Compassion-Coexistence/dp/1577319540