Please join us for a seminar featuring Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science. This seminar is hosted by the Earth Institute and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
We have been engaged in a an effort to try to understand, and communicate to people who can influence decisions, fundamental aspects of our electricity system. Complicated models are important for making near-term and geographically specific energy system decisions. However, when it comes to century scale transitions, we are making decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty, where understanding fundamental dynamical relationships is more important than representing detail. Simple models have the advantage of being transparent and understandable, and in some configurations they execute rapidly which allows a deeper exploration of parameter space. On the other hand, the question of "How simple is too simple?" looms over our heads, and we risk eliminating important detail which can affect fundamental conclusions. In this talk, Ken will discuss some of his work using a very simple electricity system model, looking at electricity storage, the degree to which nuclear power might facilitate further penetration of wind and solar power, and how we might think about rational allocation of clean energy R&D portfolios aimed at a long-term transition to a near-zero-emission energy system.
Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where his job is “to make important scientific discoveries.” He also serves as a Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. Caldeira is a member of the committee producing the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Sciences report "Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts". He is also a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. In 2010, he was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America's Climate Choices report and was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009 and ocean acidification panel in 2005. Caldeira was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage.