Reducing CO2 Emissions: Technology, Uncertainty, Decision Making and Consumer Behavior

October 31, 2012 - 4:00pm
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In this talk I will cover two topics: 1) Efficient lighting technologies: engineering, economics and consumer decision-making. Lighting constitutes 20% of total U.S. electricity consumption. However, many of the current lighting technologies are highly inefficient. Therefore, improved technologies for lighting hold great potential to save energy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) show great promise as a source of efficient, affordable and color-balanced white light. In the first part of my talk, I will provide an overview of past and projected performance of LEDs. I will provide estimates of Levelized Annual Costs (LACs) for several lighting technologies under a number of different scenarios and I will show that LEDs LACs will be lower than those of the most efficient fluorescent bulbs by the end of this decade. While most of the current policy focus is still on trying to increase LED efficacies and lifetime, my results show that policy efforts should instead focus on reducing upfront costs. I will also highlight some of my current work on lighting perceptions and choices and discuss how this information can be used to design effective energy efficiency policies. 2) Regional variations in health, environmental and climate benefits from wind and solar: a marginal emissions factors approach. There is a growing interest in reducing emissions from electricity generation in the U.S. Renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation are typically among the suggested solutions. Both supply- and demand-side interventions will displace energy and emissions from conventional generators. However, there is large uncertainty on which generators are being displaced by these interventions. In the second part of my talk, I will present the first systematic calculation of marginal emissions factors (MEFs) for the U.S. electricity system. I will show how MEFs for CO2, NOx, SO2 and PM2.5 can be applied to estimate climate, environmental and health benefits from displaced emissions from wind and solar, highlighting regional differences. Depending on location, combined health, environmental and climate benefits from wind or solar range from about $10 to $100 per megawatt-hour. The key conclusion of this work is that the sites with the highest energy output not always yield the greatest social benefits.     A recording of this talk is available on the UCB Energy and Resources Group website at:

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