Upcoming CAMEL Webinars

Upcoming CAMEL Climate Change Education Webinar Series (see attached for formatted, hyperlinked version)

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) invite you to participate in two webinars that will be hosted by the CAMEL (Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, E-Learning) project early next week – one on Monday and another on Tuesday. These webinars will introduce you to exciting resources for teaching about climate change science and solutions that are located on the CAMEL web portal (www.CAMELclimatechange.org  ).

Both webinars will feature faculty members discussing a teaching module or exercise they have developed and how to use it in teaching. The modules to be discussed are designed for undergraduate students, primarily at an introductory level.

You can find and watch a collection of past webinars here: http://www.camelclimatechange.org/articles/view/174555/

Solar’s Next Phase?

In a new study, the management consulting company, McKinsey & Company focuses on the future of the solar-photovoltaic industry, which now constitutes a $1000 billion global business with globally installed capacity of 65 gigawatts. While the study acknowledges the current travails of the industry, it concludes that its future is bright. This would be an excellent reading for students in energy courses, as it provides a very good summary of the development of the industry, an analysis of the current challenges facing it, and a solid prescriptive road map.

Among the take-aways from the study:

  1. Even with declining subsidies, photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing capacity is anticipated to double in the next 3-5 years, with costs potentially declining to $1 per watt peak for fully installed residential systems; even at double this price, anticipated additional capacity is still 400-600 GW of PV capacity by 2020;
    • Market penetration of this magnitude will “disrupt” the regulated utility industry in OECD countries, as well as bringing distributed generation to potentially millions of poor people in rural areas;
  2. As demand for PV rose in recent years, it stimulated manufacturing capacity, including in China, resulting in market oversupply, resulting in a boom-bust cycle and a number of prominent bankruptcies. However, these are temporary “growing pains.” The industry is likely to mature and dramatically reduce costs by adopting the approaches utilized by more mature industries, e.g. procurement, supply-chain management, and manufacturing. This could reduce costs of commercial-scale rooftop systems by 40% by 2015, and 70% by 2020
  3. Unsubsidized potential of distributed residential and commercial PV is 10-12 GW by the end of 2012; a tipping point could be reached that would facilitate demand to grow to between 200-700 GW by 2020;
  4. Global potential for PV is 1000 GW by 2020, but given barriers to implementation, installed capacity is likely to be 400-600 GW by 2020. Even at the latter level, installation rates could rival gas, wind and hydro, though revenue would remain flat because of anticipated price declines;
  5. Some the barriers to PV market penetration include, lack of low-cost financing in developing countries and a shortage of distribution partners, as well as regulations in developing countries, including potential efforts to alter rate structures to reduce incentives for switching to distributed sources;
  6. Extensive deployment of solar energy as an alternative traditional baseload generation isn’t likely before 2020; however, it could reach 110-130 GW by 2030, comprising about 15% of cumulative new solar constructed during this period;
  7.  “Scale will be crucial for solar manufacturers.” While manufacturers needed 50-100 MW of solar capacity to compete in the PV market a few years ago, this has jumped to 2-3 GW. This necessitates strategies e.g. development of proprietary technologies, a focus on wringing out efficiencies in production and focusing on reducing balance of system costs (solar components excluded PV panels).

Teaching Resources at Controlling Climate Change Site

Bert Metz, co-chair of the Fourth Assessment report of the IPCC published an excellent book for Cambridge University Press in 2009 entitled Controlling Climate Change. Metz has also developed an accompanying website, which includes, inter alia, the following teaching resources:

  1. Full text of all chapters of the book, which includes both an excellent scientific overview of climate change and a thorough discussion of mitigation options, including sectoral analysis;
  2. An extensive teaching resources section, including Power Point slides to accompany each chapter in the book;
  3. A news blog on contemporaneous climate issues (rather spare entries, however);
  4. An extensive number of lectures and presentations by Dr. Metz, including several video lectures. While some of these presentations are now a bit dated, many still remain highly pertinent.


Special Climate Geoengineering Issue

FYI. The Tulsa Law Review has just released a special symposium issue on climate change geoengineering; I have included the Table of Contents below. wil

Tulsa Law Review

Volume 46                                             Spring 2011                                               Number 2




Geoengineering and Climate Management:

From Marginality To Inevitability                                   Jay Michaelson       221


Framing The Social, Political, And

Environmental Risks And Benefits

Of Geoengineering: Balancing The Hard-

To-Imagine Against The Hard-To-Measure                       Gareth Davies       261


Geoengineering the Climate:

An Overview of Solar Radiation

Management Options                                               William C.G. Burns       283


Geoengineering and International Law:

The Search For Common Legal Ground                               Ralph Bodle       305


Colorado Residential Property Owners

And Their Cloudy Right To

Precipitation Capture                                                     Ryan S. Hansen       323


A Navigational System For Uncharted Waters:

The London Convention And London

Protocol’s Assessment Framework

On Ocean Iron Fertilization                                                Melissa Eick       351




Refinery Capacity in the United States and Energy Markets

There was an extremely informative article in the April 9 edition of the Financial Times describing a precipitous decline in U.S. petroleum refining capacity and its implications for U.S. energy markets. Among the article’s take-aways:

  1. Half of the refining capacity on the U.S. East Coast is set to be shut down.
    1. Many refineries on the U.S. East Coast face ;very high costs associated with importing oil from countries e.g. Nigeria, Norway and Angola, resulting in negative margins for some refineries. While oil from domestic sources, e.g. Texas, would be far less expensive, there are no available pipelines. On the other end of the equation, refineries have suffered from weak consumption in the United States, a fact mirrored in Europe;
  2. While more than 3 million barrels of daily refinery capacity have closed in western countries in recent years, while refining capacity has increased by 4.2 million barrels per day, with an additional 1.8 million barrels per day expected this year;
  3. World demand has increased in recent years, however, buoyed primarily by rising demand in Brazil, India, China and Saudi Arabia;
  4. While U.S. crude production is at its highest level,. the U.S. market is now “really four markets when it comes to products,” with substantial exports from the Gulf of Mexico, home to 43% of U.S. refining capacity, a surplus of supplies in the inland regions of the United States, a west coast largely isolated from the rest of the country, and the East Cast increasingly relying on imported fuel;
  5. One of the most likely future incremental suppliers  to the East Coast is India; however, longer supply chains could result in heightened price volatility.

This article could stimulate some good class discussion, including whether the U.S. should aggressively seek to expand pipelines between oil-rich domestic regions and East Coast refineries, as well as whether there any longer is any validity to the argument that U.S. environmental laws has interfered with the development of refinery facilities, resulting in increased prices to U.S. consumers.


Renewable Energy Trends in the U.S.

FYI. The SUN DAY campaign is an extremely helpful source of information on U.S. renewable energy policy.

News Advisory




For Immediate Release: Monday – April 2, 2012

Contact: Ken Bossong, 301-270-6477 x.11

Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources expanded rapidly during the first three years of the Obama Administration while substantially outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) grew by 27.12%. By comparison, during the same three-year period, total domestic energy production increased by just 6.72% with natural gas and crude oil production growing by 13.66% and 14.27% respectively. Moreover, during the same period, nuclear power declined by 1.99% and coal dropped by 7.16%.

Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), renewable energy sources accounted for 11.74% of domestic energy production in 2011 – compared to 9.85% in 2008. In fact, renewable energy sources provided 10.90% more energy in 2011 than did nuclear power, although nuclear still provides a larger share of the nation’s electricity. (On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.29% of total U.S. energy use during 2011.)

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, geothermal grew by 15.63%, hydropower by 26.28%, solar by 28.09%, biofuels by 46.58%, and wind by 113.92%. Only biomass dipped – by 1.21%. Hydropower accounted for 34.62% of domestic energy production from renewable sources in 2011, followed by biomass (26.75%), biofuels (22.20%), wind (12.75%), geothermal (2.42%), and solar (1.24%).

Looking at just the electricity sector, according to EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly,” with data through December 31, 2011, net electrical generation by non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) grew by 54.6% during the first three years of the Obama Administration. During the same period, conventional hydropower expanded by 27.6%. Combined, electrical output from renewable energy sources was 36.5% greater for calendar year 2011 than it was for calendar year 2008. By comparison, between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, natural gas used in electrical generation grew by 15.1% while nuclear and coal dropped by 2.0% and 12.7% respectively.

During 2011, hydro and non-hydro renewables combined accounted for 12.67% of net electrical generation compared to 9.25% in 2008. Comparing the 12-months of 2011 against the same time period in 2008, wind grew by 116.3%, solar by 110.0%, hydropower by 27.6%, geothermal by 12.5%, and biomass by 3.1%. For all of 2011, non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.75% of net electrical generation while conventional hydropower accounted for 7.91%. However, non-hydro renewables have been growing rapidly and for the last quarter of 2011, they accounted for 5.5% of net U.S. electrical generation. Among the non-hydro renewables contributing to net electrical generation in 2011, wind accounted for 61.4%, followed by biomass (29.1%), geothermal (8.6%), and solar (0.9%).

“The numbers speak for themselves – notwithstanding politically-inspired criticism, the pro-renewable energy policies pioneered by the Obama Administration have generated dramatic growth rates during the past three years, vastly outpacing those of all other energy sources,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as state and private funders have paid off handsomely underscoring the short-sightedness of emerging proposals to slash or discontinue such support.”

# # # # # # # #

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent “Monthly Energy Review” on March 28, 2012. It can be found at: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/index.cfm. The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.1, 1.2, and 10.1. EIA released its “Electric Power Monthly” with data for 2011 on February 29, 2012; see: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly. The relevant charts are Tables 1.1, 1.1.A, ES1.A, and ES1.B.


The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.