LightWorks Blog

LightWorks: A Year in Review

published December 30, 2014, 11:30 am

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, we would like to take a moment to reflect upon some highlights and accomplishments made during this year. With a proven performance of swiftly and strategically partnering with a diverse set of institutions, LightWorks continued to unite resources and researchers across Arizona State University to confront global energy challenges. Confronting these challenges leads to a vision that ASU will continue to inspire and develop ways to revolutionize the global use of energy and the large scale conversion of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into useful products.

March:


Left to right: Gary Dirks, director of ASU LightWorks, Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of AORA Solar and John Riley, associate vice president of university business services and sustainability operations officer at ASU finalize the ASU/AORA collaboration on 24/7 hybrid solar technology at ASU. Photo by: Andy DeLisle

AORA Solar NA has agreed to install the first ever Solar Tulip, a hybrid concentrated solar system, in the United States which will be located at ASU. The Solar Tulip produces power 24/7, moving seamlessly from solar to natural gas or biogas. AORA Solar NA signed a contract with ASU to provide research options aimed to increase efficiency, improve reliability, utilize the exhaust heat and decrease the cost of this Israeli-developed technology. University faculty, research staff and students are already working with AORA to enhance the system.

May:



Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations and Environment, discusses algae-based fuels and products while at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. Photo by: Sarah Mason

The U.S. Navy through the Office of Naval Research Global and LightWorks are looking forward to furthering collaboration specifically in accelerating research and technology to market. Future forums centering on U.S. energy security, U.S. Navy participation in the DOE Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3), and projects aimed to progress ASU’s Zero Waste goal are a few among many efforts predicted to come out of the partnership. In May 2014, Dennis McGinn [https://asunews.asu.edu/20140527-navy-visits-asu-algae-test-bed], U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations and Environment, visited the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) at ASU Polytechnic campus and discussed the potential of algae-based biofuels and products.


Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction. Photo taken by Alex Snyder.

Elisabeth Graffy, Arizona State University professor and ASU LightWorks faculty in energy policy co-wrote an article about the impact of solar installations to energy markets and electric utilities. The article, “Does Disruptive Competition Mean a Death Spiral for Electric Utilities,” was an effort of Graffy and Steven Kihm, director of market research and policy for the Energy Center of Wisconsin. In a sector that is central to social, economic, security, and environmental necessities, Graffy and Kihm note that utilities must change in order to confront competition.

June:


Gary Dirks, director of ASU LightWorks and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU Provost Robert Page and U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. discuss sustainability at Arizona State University. Photo by: Sarah Mason

LightWorks signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Virgin Islands to establish a long-term partnership. The collaboration is intended to further development of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and education on the island territory. In June 2014, the U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jong, Jr. along with representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands government, utilities, and industry met with ASU Provost Robert Page at ASU Tempe campus to formalize the partnership.

September:

LightWorks furthered plans to optimize the area of anaerobic conversion of organic wastes to energy through collaboration with Proteus and Midwestern Bioag (MBA). Plans include working with ASU’s Biodesign Institute to focus on microbiology of anaerobic digesters to maximize nutrient value, establishing online training and certification platforms, as well as consulting experts from ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability to conduct life-cycle and economic assessments of the products from anaerobic digestion processes.


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), visited ASU on September 4, 2014 to deliver a presentation on the relationship between agriculture and the renewable energy industry. Secretary Vilsack noted the importance of research and innovation in ensuring farmers meet the needs for food, feed, fiber, and biomass in a sustainable way. The presentation highlighted the USDA’s support for AzCATI and ATP3’s research and development of algae products that fulfill demand in near term pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Opportunity for USDA support in the areas of energy efficient production technologies, CO2 and carbon reuse policies, and fostering business innovation to accelerate algae research outcomes was also a main topic of discussion.

October:


ASU researchers Dan Buttry (right) and colleagues Helme Castro (left) and Poonam Singh work in the lab. Photo by: Mary Zhu

ASU researchers were awarded a grant from the Department of Energy to further develop an efficient and cost-effective carbon capture technology aiming to reduce carbon emissions. The project will be led by Dan Buttry, professor and chair of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the grant is part of a special Department of Energy program designed to pursue high-risk, high –reward advances in alternative energy research.

December:


Energy Secretary Moniz tours research projects at ASU with Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, senior vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU (left) and Gary Dirks, director and distinguished sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and LightWorks director. Photo by: Robin Kiyutelluk

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz visited ASU to meet with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students, and explore Department of Energy research projects at the university. During a tour of research projects at ASU, Moniz was able to explore groundbreaking endeavors, such as the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, which advances carbon management technologies that can capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air. Photovoltaic installations and research information was also presented during the secretary’s tour.

Looking forward to 2015, LightWorks will continue its mission to pull light-inspired research at ASU under one strategic framework with greater integration of arts, humanities, and social sciences. We aim to continuously support creation of new industries not just to power the world, but to empower it; not just to create wealth for a few, but to enrich people’s lives everywhere; not just to light an energy revolution, but to enlighten communities across the globe; not just to achieve energy security but to secure energy justice. LightWorks’ strategic goals reflect our mission and vision to make the spaces outlined above world class in their respective areas of focus and to make positive contributions to the global energy transition in a multitude of ways.

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks.

Arizona’s Building Blocks: Energy Efficiency (part 4 of 4)

published December 19, 2014, 3:37 pm

In our last few posts we started walking through the EPA’s calculation of state goals for CO2 emissions, covering Building Block 1, Building Block 2 and Building Block 3. In this post, we’ll conclude the walk-through with Building Block 4: Energy Efficiency.

Like Building Block 3, energy efficiency can be thought of as a way to meet energy needs with zero emissions. Energy efficiency is the fourth and final building block included in the EPA’s proposal. When we add this to the other three Building Blocks it yields the state’s final emissions rate of 702 lbs/MWh (states are also subject to an interim goal which we’ll describe in a later post).

 

Arizona was actually recognized in the EPA’s proposal as a top-performing state in terms of achieving energy efficiency savings. This is largely attributed to the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which applies to investor owned utilities such as APS and TEP. SRP has also set ambitious energy savings goals as part of its Sustainable Portfolio Principles. Given Arizona’s past performance and ambitious policy goals, the EPA anticipated that energy efficiency can lower electricity use in the state by about 1.5% each year (as a percent of the prior year’s electricity sales). 1.5% annual savings is a relatively high amount, although Arizona utilities such as APS and SRP have surpassed it in recent years. Yet, there is some concern about whether this level of savings can be sustained and questions about what new types of energy efficiency measures might be needed to do so (we’ll explore these questions in later posts).

Overall, Arizona ranks 15th out of states in terms of the overall EE savings expected by EPA in 2030 (based on cumulative annual savings as a percent of retail sales).

Expected energy efficiency deployment according to EPA’s proposal.

 

State

Cumulative EE Savings (% of 2012 retail sales)

Rank

Maine

12.13%

1

Connecticut

11.88%

2

Wisconsin

11.79%

3

Massachusetts

11.77%

4

Michigan

11.77%

5

New York

11.76%

6

Minnesota

11.72%

7

Pennsylvania

11.69%

8

Iowa

11.66%

9

Illinois

11.63%

10

California

11.56%

11

Rhode Island

11.56%

12

Ohio

11.56%

13

Maryland

11.51%

14

Arizona

11.42%

15

Oregon

11.41%

16

Washington

11.26%

17

Indiana

11.11%

18

Idaho

11.10%

19

Utah

11.03%

20

Colorado

11.01%

21

New Hampshire

11.00%

22

Montana

10.90%

23

Nevada

10.69%

24

New Mexico

10.60%

25

Nebraska

10.40%

26

North Carolina

10.26%

27

Tennessee

10.26%

28

South Carolina

10.23%

29

West Virginia

10.11%

30

Kentucky

10.02%

31

Florida

9.98%

32

Oklahoma

9.97%

33

Missouri

9.92%

34

Texas

9.91%

35

South Dakota

9.91%

36

Georgia

9.83%

37

Wyoming

9.73%

38

North Dakota

9.71%

39

Arkansas

9.71%

40

Mississippi

9.59%

41

New Jersey

9.58%

42

Hawaii

9.52%

43

Kansas

9.52%

44

Alabama

9.48%

45

Delaware

9.47%

46

Alaska

9.45%

47

Louisiana

9.33%

48

Virginia

9.33%

49

 

This level appears to be somewhat higher than what Arizona’s current policies require. While Arizona utilities currently have one of the most ambitious EE savings goals of any in the country, the state’s existing policies and utility plans expect EE savings to level off after the year 2020 and thus their effect on helping the state meet EPA’s requirements will be diminished unless changes are made. In order to achieve or surpass the EPA’s expectations for Block 4, Arizona would need to continue the current trajectory of EE savings beyond the 2020 timeframe.

 

Written by Eddie Burgess, Energy Policy Innovation Council

 

Arizona’s Building Blocks: Cleaner Generation Sources (part 3 of 4)

published December 17, 2014, 9:30 am

In our last two posts we started walking through the EPA’s calculation of state goals for CO2 emissions, covering Building Block 1 and Building Block 2. In this post, we’ll continue the walk-through with Building Block 3: Cleaner Generation Sources.

Neither nuclear power nor renewable energy (“RE” e.g. wind and solar) generation create any CO2 emissions. One could think of these as having a lbs/MWh emissions rate with a “0” in the numerator. Thus, to the extent that states add nuclear and renewable energy to their energy resource mix, they can lower their overall emissions rate.

While few states are actively building new nuclear plants, EPA proposes that states would get credit for a small fraction (6%) of energy from any existing nuclear power plants that are “at risk” of being retired. This credit would apply to Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, despite the fact that the plant’s operating license is not set to expire until 2045.

 

In addition to nuclear, EPA assumes that each state could ramp up its renewable resources over time. In Arizona’s case, the EPA anticipates RE to increase from 2% of total generation recorded in 2012, to 4% of total generation by 2030.

 

This final amount is considerably lower than most states. In fact, Arizona ranks 37th in terms of the overall amount of renewable energy generation anticipated (we’ll discuss the reasons for this low expectation in another post).

Expected renewable energy deployment according to EPA’s proposal.

 

State

Renewable Energy (MWh) in 2029

Rank

Texas

85,962,502

1

California

41,150,704

2

Pennsylvania

35,330,855

3

New York

24,261,905

4

Florida

22,109,614

5

Illinois

17,818,004

6

Washington

17,725,558

7

Oklahoma

15,579,318

8

Alabama

14,292,801

9

Ohio

13,775,594

10

Oregon

12,567,372

11

Georgia

12,230,636

12

North Carolina

11,668,176

13

Virginia

11,192,008

14

Colorado

10,839,820

15

West Virginia

10,273,036

16

New Jersey

10,147,466

17

South Carolina

9,675,568

18

Wyoming

9,427,996

19

Kansas

8,884,938

20

Massachusetts

8,613,477

21

Iowa

8,565,921

22

Michigan

8,055,859

23

Minnesota

7,888,544

24

Indiana

7,547,086

25

Louisiana

6,891,619

26

Wisconsin

6,859,301

27

Nevada

6,405,939

28

Maryland

5,982,069

29

North Dakota

5,459,957

30

Mississippi

5,458,430

31

New Hampshire

4,822,223

32

New Mexico

4,721,996

33

Arkansas

4,708,823

34

Tennessee

4,305,814

35

Nebraska

3,819,427

36

Arizona

3,663,325

37

Maine

3,611,728

38

Idaho

3,196,687

39

Connecticut

3,114,375

40

Missouri

2,763,528

41

Montana

2,722,706

42

Utah

2,373,069

43

South Dakota

1,818,850

44

Kentucky

1,713,556

45

Hawaii

1,046,927

46

Delaware

1,038,351

47

Rhode Island

476,110

48

Alaska

163,089

49

 

EPA’s expectation seems to underestimate Arizona’s likely performance in this category. For example, based on recent reporting from the states largest utilities Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) had a combined renewable energy portfolio of 3,305,021 MWh in 2013, which is much higher than the EPA’s assumed starting point of 2,150,930 MWh. By the end of 2015, APS and TEP alone are planning to have combined renewable energy generation equal to 3,886,173 MWh, thus surpassing EPA’s target 15 years early. There are some complicating factors regarding how out-of-state generation might be counted (we will explore this in future posts), but in short, Arizona appears positioned to outperform the EPA’s proposal for Building Block 3. If that occurs, it would offer some flexibility for underperformance in the other Building Blocks.

 Written by Eddie Burgess, Energy Policy Innovation Council

Arizona’s Building Blocks: Redispatch from Coal to Natural Gas (part 2 of 4)

published December 12, 2014, 8:28 am

In our last post we started walking through the EPA’s calculation of state goals for CO2 emissions, covering Building Block 1. In this post, we’ll continue the walk-through with Building Block 2: Redispatch from Coal to Natural Gas.

Compared to burning coal, burning natural gas emits roughly half the amount of CO2 for each unit of energy generated. (This ignores any upstream methane emissions associated with the extraction and transmission of natural gas. If included, these “fugitive” emissions could exacerbate the global warming potential of natural gas. Many efforts are under way to quantify and reduce fugitive emissions, but that’s outside the scope of this discussion). Thus, switching (or “redispatching”) from coal to natural gas can lower the overall emissions rate from fossil fuel generation sources. Additionally, many states have natural gas power plants that are not fully utilized and in theory could be used to displace coal. In fact, the EPA’s calculations suggest that there is enough natural gas capacity in Arizona to displace nearly all of its coal-fired generation, excluding plants on tribal land, which are initially exempt from the proposed rule. In total, Arizona ranks third among states in terms of energy from coal that EPA anticipates can be replaced with natural gas (behind Texas and Florida). Whether or not this is technically feasible will be a subject for future discussion on this forum.

 

State

Coal Redispatched to Natural Gas (MWh)

Rank

Texas

 72,006,905

1

Florida

 40,406,038

2

Arizona

 24,335,930

3

Arkansas

 18,160,138

4

North Carolina

 16,723,261

5

Oklahoma

 15,067,759

6

Georgia

 13,781,486

7

Illinois

 13,008,442

8

Louisiana

 12,761,626

9

Michigan

 12,119,216

10

Colorado

 11,836,718

11

Minnesota

 11,290,583

12

Alabama

 10,044,069

13

Pennsylvania

 8,723,668

14

Wisconsin

 8,050,599

15

Missouri

 7,926,942

16

Mississippi

 7,503,114

17

Utah

 6,534,930

18

Ohio

 6,480,067

19

Iowa

 6,276,042

20

South Carolina

 6,160,480

21

Virginia

 6,040,987

22

Indiana

 4,178,725

23

Nevada

 4,133,662

24

New York

 4,128,561

25

New Mexico

 3,759,668

26

Washington

 3,735,730

27

Tennessee

 3,297,176

28

Oregon

 2,640,259

29

New Jersey

 2,602,990

30

Nebraska

 2,452,114

31

Massachusetts

 2,268,133

32

South Dakota

 1,965,115

33

New Hampshire

 1,281,341

34

Delaware

 1,221,623

35

Maryland

 933,543

36

California

 933,157

37

Kentucky

 843,264

38

Wyoming

 289,872

39

Alaska

 215,407

40

Connecticut

 99,461

41

Hawaii

 -  

42

Idaho

 -  

43

Kansas

 -  

44

Maine

 -  

45

Montana

 -  

46

North Dakota

 -  

47

Rhode Island

 -  

48

West Virginia

 -  

49

 

Block 2 is perhaps the most controversial for Arizona because it will likely necessitate the retirement of several coal-fired power plants. The coal plants in Arizona potentially affected by the rule include:

  • Apache Generating Station (408 MW, owned by AEPCO),
  • Cholla (1129 MW, owned by APS and PacifiCorp),
  • Coronado (822 MW, owned by SRP),
  • Springerville (1750 MW, owned by TEP, SRP, and Tri-State)

 

 

Additionally, many of the natural gas plants needed for redispatch in Arizona are located near the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, a trading hub for electricity. Some policymakers have suggested that this could be a problem if the power grid is not robust enough to deliver all the energy from plants clustered in this one location after the coal plants are shut down. However, much more analysis of this issue is needed to draw any firm conclusions.

 

 Written by Eddie Burgess, Energy Policy Innovation Council

Arizona’s Building Blocks: Introduction to the EPA’s Goal Calculations (part 1 of 4)

published December 10, 2014, 9:36 am

While there is no shortage of legal questions or political rhetoric surrounding the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for Arizona, there are also many technical details that need to be unpacked. For instance, some policymakers have suggested that the EPA’s proposed requirements for Arizona are more stringent than any other state in the country. So what exactly are the requirements being proposed for Arizona? And how do these stack up to other states? To answer these questions, we thought it would be helpful to walk through some of the calculations that underpin the EPA’s proposal for Arizona.

As explained previously, the core of the EPA’s proposal is a requirement for each state to achieve a CO2 emissions rate (in lbs/MWh) unique to that state. Here’s the basic equation for the state’s emissions rate, which must be lowered over time:

 

States will be able to reduce their emissions rate (on the left hand side), by either lowering the pounds per megawatt hour (lbs/MWh) for fossil generation sources or by adding carbon-free sources (i.e. renewable energy, nuclear, and energy efficiency) to the mix. The EPA calculated each state's final goal based on what the agency thought each state could achieve through a combination of four primary emissions reduction measures, or “Building Blocks”:

  • Block 1: Improving power plant efficiency (“heat rate improvements”)
  • Block 2: Switching from coal to natural gas (“redispatch”)
  • Block 3: Increasing the amount of clean generation resources (including both nuclear and renewable energy or “RE”)
  • Block 4: Increasing the amount of end-use energy efficiency (“EE”)

The EPA estimates that this combination of measures will enable Arizona to reduce its emissions rate to 702 lbs/MWh by 2030. In this post and the next few we’ll walk through these steps individually. It’s important to note, however, that the proposal does not prescribe any particular measure and the EPA ultimately intends for states to use whatever combination of building blocks or other measures they choose to meet the goal.

 Building Block 1: Power Plant Heat Rate Improvements

A power plant’s “heat rate” is a measure of how efficiently it converts fuel (e.g. coal, natural gas) into electricity. Steps to make a power plant more efficient can improve its heat rate. That means fewer emissions for each kWh of electricity generated. EPA assumes that all coal plants throughout the U.S. can achieve a 6% heat rate improvement and used this as the basis for Building Block 1. (Later we’ll discuss why this Building Block doesn’t play a big role for Arizona.)

Written by Eddie Burgess, Energy Policy Innovation Council

Carbon Farming: Healthy soil and ecology go hand in hand

published November 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

When we think about the main sources of greenhouse gases, we don’t typically consider dirt as being one of them. But, it’s true. Just by plowing their fields, farmers have released large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. According to the Marin Carbon Project, “As much as one third of the surplus carbon dioxide in the atmosphere driving climate change today has come from land management practices.” Peter Byck, professor of practice at ASU’s School of Sustainability and director/producer of Carbon Nation™, is working with a team of researchers to provide a solution to this problem by encouraging farmers across the nation to practice soil carbon sequestration.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/2789694551_37beafc438_b_-_Grass_Fed_Beef_-_Ryan_Thompson_-_Flickr_-_USDAgov.jpg

Soil carbon sequestration is the process of transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the soil through crop residues and other organic solids. This transfer can help off-set emissions from fossil fuel combustion as well as enhance soil quality thereby influencing long-term agronomic productivity. In other words, soil sequestration benefits the environment in twofold, by reducing emissions and improving rangeland soils. Watch the Carbon Nation™ short film Soil Carbon Cowboys, which discusses soil carbon sequestration, also known as carbon farming, below:

On November 3, 2014, Peter Byck moderated a panel discussion on soil sequestration at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability with Richard Teague, rangeland specialist at Texas A&M, and Russ Conser, innovation specialist at Shell Game Changer (retired). Conser, Teague, and Byck also work together as part of the ASU Soil Carbon Nation™ Team. This team is made up of leading soil, livestock, biodiversity, and communications specialists all working toward providing an answer to a crucial question: What is the best rangeland management can do to contribute significantly to sequestering carbon in rangeland soils and improve rangeland social-ecological systems?

The panel discussion focused on exploring multiple areas of rangeland socio-ecological issues. Topics included conventional grazing compared to regenerative grazing techniques, the possibility of film as an education piece, and the significance of soil sequestration on the reduction of carbon dioxide on a global scale. Watch a video of the entire discussion below:



Similarly to soil carbon sequestration, anaerobic digestion technologies also work to promote healthy soils as well as further efforts against climate change. Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which organic waste is converted into biogas. The captured biogas can be upgraded to biomethane or renewable natural gas via pipe from a digester. Separated digested solids not used in biogas can be composted and directly applied to cropland or converted into other nutrient rich products. This year, LightWorks has furthered plans to optimize the area of anaerobic conversion of organic wastes to energy through collaboration with Proteus and Midwestern Bioag (MBA). Plans include working with ASU’s Biodesign Institute to focus on microbiology of anaerobic digesters to maximize nutrient value, establishing online training and certification platforms, as well as consulting experts from ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability to conduct life-cycle and economic assessments of the products from anaerobic digestion processes. As we step closer to a new year, LightWorks aims to continue its efforts to respond to the rapid pace of climate change by seeking out solutions that aim to enhance ecosystem functions as well as promote a future powered by renewable energy.

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks

Additional Information:
http://www.midwesternbioag.com/
http://www.carbonnationmovie.com/
http://www.marincarbonproject.org/about
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11951725

EPA Blog Post: Background on the Supreme Court, the Clean Air Act, and Carbon Dioxide Regulations

published October 23, 2014, 1:25 pm

The Supreme Court has affirmed on multiple occasions that the EPA not only has the authority but also a legal obligation to regulate CO2 emissions as an air pollutant through the Clean Air Act. Following is a summary of the most relevant case law.

Some background on the Clean Air Act and Air Pollutants.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed in 1970 in large part to protect the public’s health and welfare by setting air pollutant and reduction standards. The CAA authorizes the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and hundreds of other types of air pollutants from stationary sources, such as existing and new power plants, and from mobile sources, such as automobiles and trucks.  Until recently, however, CO2 was not regulated as an air pollutant.

The Supreme Court Justices, 2014. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

Two Supreme Court cases authorized EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant.  The first case involved a disagreement with the argument being made at the time by the EPA (Massachusetts v. EPA, 127 S. Ct. 1438),  that the CAA did not authorize the agency to regulate CO2 emissions as an air pollutant, and, even if it did, the EPA asserted it didn’t have to exercise its authority over greenhouse gases under the CAA if they chose not to. The Supreme Court disagreed and held that CO2 emissions “fit within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of ‘air pollutant.’” Under the CAA, if something falls under the definition of "air pollutant" the EPA must determine whether that pollutant endangers public health or welfare. If the EPA makes an "endangerment finding," the agency must regulate the producers of that air pollutant. 

A second Supreme Court case further solidified the EPA's regulatory authority over CO2 emissions. American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, 582 F. 3d 309 (2011). This case was filed before Massachusetts v. EPA but took longer to wend its way through the court system and was not heard by the Supreme Court until four years later.. In American Electric Power Co., eight states, the City of New York, and three nonprofit land trusts filed suit against the five electric utilities that were the largest emitters of CO2 in the U.S. At the time of the filing, the plaintiffs were dissatisfied with federal efforts on climate change mitigation, so they asked the Court to implement an annually decreasing emissions cap on the utilities' operations. As already noted, however, by the time the Court heard the case, Massachusetts v. EPA had already been decided, and in its opinion the Court underscored that it had already delegated the authority to regulate CO2 emissions to the EPA.

_____

In future posts we’ll look at more nuanced legal issues, such as whether the EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 under section 111(d) of the proposed rule, whether the EPA can regulate CO2 sources that are already subject to regulation under section 112, and the critical question of whether the EPA’s Building Blocks approach does or does not step outside of its authority, and, if a court were to overturn only a portion of the rule, including Building Blocks Three and Four, what that might mean for Arizona’s ability to comply with our 2030 goal.  

Written by Maren Mahoney, EPIC

 

 

Technology to Market: What’s holding us back?

published October 15, 2014, 1:32 pm

From the invention of the computer mouse to the world’s first video game console, the 1960s marked a time of huge technological achievements. The animated sitcom “The Jetsons” spurred whimsical visions of a futuristic utopia where household robots, flying cars, and regular space travel would be commonalities. The 1960s marked a time when people were constantly asking, “What if?” and was described by historians as the ten years that have had the most significant changes in history. People were aware of the possibilities of technology and were not hard-pressed to believe that flying cars were not too far away.


The Jetsons Intro

Nearly 55 years later, there is no doubt that we’ve made significant strides in our technological advances. But where is our space-based solar power? Where are our effective and highly efficient batteries? Even though it may seem that technology is moving fast, there are plenty of times where innovative research comes to a standstill. This is the challenge of bringing technology to market. Brilliant minds across the world may have ideas that could further our goals to a futuristic utopia like what we see in “The Jetsons,” but there are certain roadblocks that prevent technology from being a commercial product.

Judy Giordan, managing director of ecosVC®, has over 33 years of experience translating research to commercial opportunities, an integral part of bringing technology to the market. Among many projects, Giordan has been a National Science Foundation Program Officer for the IGERT Program, which provides traineeships to graduate students  to work on interdisciplinary challenges, and has been a Fortune 500 corporate officer and Chief Technical Officer. I was very excited to speak with Giordan to discuss the issues of bringing tech to market as well as what steps have been taken, and what is needed, to spur progression. 

Interview with Judy Giordan below:

1. What are the problems of bringing tech to market?

When you think about all the components of bringing tech to market there are some key considerations. First, how do human beings think about the technology – what is needed; what is the problem to be solved? Second, how much time will it take to actually commercialize the technology? Third, how much will the technology cost and where will it be integrated into a given market and what is the value it will provide?

People:
Academic institutions need to play a larger role in commercializing innovative science. Humans are like pack animals, not in a bad way, but we want to know our roles, how we can contribute, and how will we be rewarded? We therefore must ask the question, how do we work to achieve the outcome we want? If the outcome is that we want true commercialization, we must reward faculty and students with the tools to bring the constructs to market and not simply by allowing them to gain a patent.

Time:
Most people never appreciate the time it takes to commercialize a scientific or engineering achievement. Unlike a mobile app where you can ask 20 people how they feel about using it, write the code and launch, it takes significant time to figure out how scientific technology meets a demand in the market and then how you will develop and scale that technology. You have to understand the market structure and how your innovation will impact and address challenges in that market.

Cost and integration:  
In the end, innovators must think critically about how much their innovation will cost to develop and commercialize and how and where it will be integrated in the value chain in a market. There are many ways to scale a product – from making it yourself, to toll manufacturing to partnering with others to licensing it to others to make.  You need to be the type of person who has the time and tenacity to go through the iterations required to develop, scale and sell your product with cost and market integration in mind.

2. What does ecosVC® do to help bring tech to market?

The bottom line is this, most researchers need to understand what society wants and needs from scientific innovations. This is particularly true for those who have not done this before, particularly undergraduates, graduates, and post-docs. ecosVC® works to touch as many universities as we can to aid students and post docs in gaining the skills required to understand how markets and technology commercialization works so that they can use this information along with their excellent backgrounds on science and engineering to address technological challenges armed with both the skills and vocabulary of science and technology commercialization.  I contend that it’s no longer possible to come out with a 4.0 in the best university and be guaranteed a great career. Regardless of the career path you would like – academe, industry, government, a non-profit –
having both scientific and market strategy skills and understanding can help you build not only a dream career – but also address real challenges facing us in the 21st Century. That way you have the tools and ideas ready for development and production of a device, as well as the knowledge of how to market it!

3. How is ASU LightWorks providing a solution to this problem?

ASU President Michael Crow has always been a leader and visionary in innovative science. This vision in an academic institution can play a key role in making this transition of bringing technology to market. Research not only needs to fill a demand but it also needs to bring something “to light” that can solve issues for people on this planet. ASU LightWorks works with people like me and organizations like ecosVC®, those who are not always internally or academically focused, to put together the right group to address not only the lab to market problems that initiatives like the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) face, but also Arizona as a whole.

Conclusion of interview.

LightWorks is working diligently to find solutions for the problem of bringing energy technologies to market. LightWorks-supported ATP3 is currently working with analysts to detect financial and operational barriers to algae based business models to assess the current state of technology. ATP3 is using data generated by the national network of their algae testbeds to engage techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) stakeholders who will examine the economic and environmental impacts of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts. ATP3 hopes to advance algae-based products and biofuels by providing open and free data to the algae community via the Department of Energy’s Open Energy Information Initiative. For more information about ATP3 services and data, visit www.atp3.org. To learn about the data provided by ATP3 and to learn how to access it, read more here.

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks.

Additional Information:
http://researchmatters.asu.edu/stories/asu-igert-sun-students-visit-sandia-national-lab-experience-real-world-energy-challenges-327
http://adage.com/article/media/jetsons-world-a-reality/237394/
http://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-site-page/tech-market-t2m

Light Technology Wins Nobel Prize for Physics

published October 7, 2014, 3:08 pm

This year, three researches from Japan and the U.S. were deemed to be no dim bulbs in the science and research community. Professors Isamu Asaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura were nominated this week for the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
LED macro, blue. Retrieved via WikiCommons.

This breakthrough not only brings a whole new light to the bulb and smartphone industry, but has an incredible impact on global energy use.

In 2012, Americans used about 461 kilowatthours (kWh) for lighting alone, according a U.S. Energy Information Administration lighting report. This represents about 12-percent of all energy used in the states that year.

Globally speaking, about 19 percent of the energy used on this planet is for the purpose of lighting, according to the IEA.

About 1 900 million tons of carbon dioxide is emitted each year in the process of generating the energy used for global lighting purposes. According to the IEA, this is equivalent to 70-percent of the emissions from the world’s light passenger vehicles.

The LED bulb, as designed by Asaki, Amano and Nakamura, represents an opportunity to reduce this energy use around the globe. LED bulbs can use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs.

Red and green LEDs have been around for many years, but blue LEDs have long since been a struggle for scientists in both academia and industry. According to the BBC, the trio had made the first blue LEDs in the early 1990s and have since enabled a new generation of “bright, energy-efficient white lamps as well as color LED screens.”

The improvement of the blue LEDs will advance the lights and screens of smartphones, but also improve traditional incandescent and florescent lamps. The blue LEDs are able to convert electricity directly into photons of light, instead of using the inefficient mixture of heat and light generated inside traditional incandescent bulbs. In the award citation, the Nobel committee declared: “incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th Century; the 21st Century will be lit by LED lamps.”

The BBC also reported that the Nobel jury “emphasized the usefulness of the invention, adding that the Nobel prizes were established to recognize developments that delivered ‘the greatest benefit to mankind.’” The Nobel Prize not only commemorates the success of the blue LED invention, but also enables us all to think about how innovative energy technology has a huge impact on shaping our world. It is truly momentous for a light-inspired, energy-efficient technology to be recognized as a fundamental need for our future.

Asaki, Amano and Nakamura were named at a press conference in Sweden on Oct. 7 and join a prestigious list of 196 other physics laureates recognized since 1901.

Written by Gabrielle Olson and Sarah Mason, ASU LightWorks

Additional Information:
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2014/press.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29518521
http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/07/world/europe/nobel-prize-physics/index.html
http://www.theguardian.com/science/live/2014/oct/07/nobel-prize-physics-2014-stockholm-live

LightWorks’ Clark Miller calls for rethinking of sovereignty, energy policies

published September 30, 2014, 1:11 pm

Clark Miller, associate director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes (CSPO) and associate professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University, wrote an article discussing the potential of a national referendum on climate change in the United States. The article, “Are we sovereign?” was featured as a contributing piece in The Hill. Read the article here.

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"63 Years of Climate Change." This visualization shows how global temperatures have risen from 1950 through the end of 2013. Retrieved from NASA.

The article reflected on Scotland’s recent challenge of its people to vote on whether to remain a part of the United Kingdom or to become an independent nation. Miller correlated this historic vote to the current challenge of the United States to confront climate change, specifically the ways in which we produce and consume energy. According to Miller, the United States will soon face the issue of whether to agree to make changes to our current energy system or to live with the consequences of not doing so. Miller explores areas of philosophy, our constitution, and economical markets to conclude that it is indeed possible for the United States to be sovereign over our energy systems and the future that they will bring us. The only thing that appears to be holding us back is ourselves. Whether we like it or not, every choice we make determines our future. We have agency over our decision to mitigate climate change and transform our current energy systems whether we are conscious of it or not. Below is an excerpt from Miller’s article explaining this further:

Will we get the chance to have a national referendum on climate change in the United States? It might seem not, but the answer is yes. This November, we will vote on climate change. And next. And 2016. Every vote we take; every purchase we make; every time we plug a new technology in. Every time we make a choice, whatever it's about, it has ramifications for how tomorrow's energy systems will evolve.

Just as Scotland was able to determine their future as a nation, we will soon be able to concretely determine ours in terms of our energy systems. Miller brings up an important point to exercise our right to vote in order to create the world we wish to see. If we choose to work together to mitigate climate change, we can create the low-carbon and just energy system that we need for our future. The question is, will this be the choice we make?

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks.