agrea logo Stephen R. Connors
AGREA - Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives
MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment
Room E19-341P • tel: 001_617_253_7985 •
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  Recent Talks
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     Photo: Jan-Olof Yxell

Recent Talks

Below are some are several recent talks which cover the range of my recent research activities and interests. I apologize for their large size. My presentations tend to be "graphically dense." This was as small as I could get them. Each is a two-page-per slide PDF. Please contact me if you require a version in a different format.

Design and Implementation of Future Energy Systems

The Devil is in the Details - or Is It?
      Designing Clean Energy Technologies and Pathways
      Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (June 2006, Washington DC)
           (download.. 2,964k )

Whether solar, wind or biofuels, or the efficient use of energy, tomorrow's clean energy options will be most successful when they embrace the details of renewable resource and other dynamics, and put that information to productive use. These dynamics occur all along the value chain, encompassing technology development, deployment and use.

MIT, as part of the Alliance for Global Sustainability, has been working on these challenges for the last ten years. In 2005 the AGS initiated its Energy Pathways Program focused on how alternative portfolios of energy technologies can transform regional energy infrastructures to ensure clean, reliable and affordable energy services, and deliver those insights to decision makers.

This talk focuses on the challenges of pathways energy research, drawing from AGS and MIT research activities from Mexico, China, Europe and the USA. How big a role can hydrogen and biofuels play? How compatible are strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy security? How radical a change in how we source and utilize energy might be required over the coming decades?


All Energy Is Local
      NIMBY and Why Should We Worry About Competition or Kyoto?
      Presentation to the Knight Science Journalism Fellows (Feb. 2006, MIT)
           (download.. 1,285k )

From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, my dad was head of public relations for Boston Gas (now Keyspan, soon to be National Grid). He was part of the team that put the rainbow on the LNG tank in downtown Boston. Could such a tank be sited there today? (Uh, no.) There is lots of controvery over the siting of energy facilities— all across the world. Lots of LNG terminals proposed in the Northeast. However, if cannot even site a renewable energy facility in international waters (e.g. the Cape Wind wind 'park'), can we site anything at all?

This talk to the Knight Journalism Fellows here at MIT talks about real energy challenges, and the problem of communicating complexity and the management of energy infrastructures in the face of NIMBY. As nobody is volunteering to go without modern energy services, "Not In My Backyard" is actually "Yes In Their Backyard." How do we as a society balance the desire for energy, and the need to site energy facilities?

Emissions Reductions from Wind, Solar and Energy Efficiency


Avoided Emissions from Renewables:
    Timing is Everything

      NREL Energy Analysis Seminar
        (June 2005, Washington DC)
           (download.. 4,198k )

Calculating the avoided emissions from renewables such as wind and solar is tricky business, especially when the amount of renewables is small relative to the regional grid. The dynamics of fossil unit dispatch, the cost of natural gas versus coal, and changes in electricity demand, all play as important a role as the solar and wind resource in determining whether a kWh of PV or wind offset a clean or dirty fossil generator.

In 2003 and 2004, a team of MIT researchers data-mined the EPA's continous emissions monitor (CEM) database, to look at what avoided emissions from solar-PV would have been at different times and places in the Continental USA. A subsequent research project asked similar questions regarding windpower in the Northeast. The results have been counter-intuitive, and suggest additional integration opportunities such as electricity storage.

This presentation provides an overview of the "Load Shape Following" approached developed at MIT, with examples from the EPA and Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust studies, concluding with a discussion of the analytic challenges this poses for determining the emissions reduction benefits from continued deployment of renewable generation.

Mexico City Traffic

Sustainable Mobility

Technological Opportunities and Challenges
    to Achieving Sustainable Mobility

      AGS Technical Meeting: "Critical Barriers to a Sustainable
      Energy Future (Nov. 2005, Chalmers Univ. Sweden)
           (download.. 732k )

Next to power generation, the use of energy for transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike electricity, it is highly distributed in space and time, with quite different dynamics associated with the development, deployment and use of new technologies.

Sustainable Unmobility
Have fun working at home!


This talk highlights many of the challenges a transition to a cleaner transportation system. This includes both personal transportation and freight. Although new vehicle technologies (hybrids, HCCI, hydrogen) and alternative fuels (CNG, biofuels, hydrogen) are important, they are only part of the story. Improved (smarter) power trains and lighter vehicles are also important. Also essential is the "demand for transportation (right)." City design and zoning, as well as investments in public transportation and road networks, all affect how far—and fast—people and packages go, affecting overall fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.

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