Energy Efficiency

The Ecology of Energy Technologies — Ed Vine

This week we speak with Ed Vine, who made his career at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working on assessing and improving energy efficiency policies, technologies and programs.

He is an early pioneer in the area of improving how people use energy. He received his PhD from the University of California Davis. Ed provides us with a big picture of change over time.

In fact, we have a wide-ranging discussion on many topics with lots of twists and turns. But as you’ll hear is a fascinating discussion we have on how energy technologies and policies have changed over time.

One of the areas we discussed is when solar was just getting its feet in California, and being experimented with by hobbyists and the challenges of integrating it into buildings and the electricity system itself.

Now in California, solar is mandated into new buildings, we discussed the shift from producing energy, like solar or wind to technologies that save and prevent energy from being used.

As long career provides us with an exciting look at how we move from policies to build nuclear power plants, up and down the Pacific Coast, to phasing out coal power plants and promoting high energy efficiency standards around the world.

Ed’s PhD is in ecology, and we discussed the benefits of a multidisciplinary perspective and bringing together a multidisciplinary team. This includes tackling problems highlighted by the Sustainable Development Goals, and was also part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

We discuss energy cultures, which includes how we design homes, how people use their homes, and how social norms influence consumption habits. We discussed the impact women have on improving air quality, which results in fewer people going to the hospital. By understanding the impact of gender in the energy system, lives can be saved and improved. As you will hear, we do cover a lot of ground.

The Vicuna of Tomorrow: The justice of fossil fuels – Michael LaBelle

Recently, different things I’ve been reading came together to force me to question what is an equitable energy transition. I cover a view from the 1970s. I bring in Ivan Illich, Kurt Vannegut and apply some recent concepts from Amartya Sen on equity. The result in an examination of the limitations of the Earth and the inequality within our social and energy system. I pursue a line of thought around the limits to our time on Earth and the carrying capacity of the Earth.

The purpose is to prompt some thoughts on what is an equitable energy transition and the time it takes to implement. Please consider the work here a draft of thoughts rather than a definitive position I am taking. There is a lot of concepts and connections that need to be clarified and made. Nonetheless, we all have to begin to thinking along new lines at some point. So here is where I begin to redefine and address what a just energy transition is.

The Seeds for an Energy Research Revolution – Benjamin Sovacool

Benjamin Sovacool talks about how he didn’t want to get involved in energy, but Professor Richard hearse kidnapped him into the field, but only after Benjamin’s car was broken into and all of his research stolen. He also goes into detail about the benefits and challenges of scholarly multidisciplinary collaboration and ongoing training for researchers.

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