Making Good Energy Choices: The Role of Energy Systems Analysis

The important role energy systems analysis plays in revealing good energy choices.
Sally Benson
Co-Director, Precourt Institute for Energy and Director, Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Location: 4-270




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Sally Benson.


Driven by concerns about global warming, air pollution, and energy security, the world is beginning a century-long transition to a decarbonized energy system. Building blocks for decarbonization include dramatic efficiency improvements, renewable energy, electrification, nuclear power, natural gas as a substitute for coal, and carbon capture and storage. Given the long-term nature of the energy transition, the question becomes, how do we make good energy choices? Energy systems analysis can augment economic analysis and by providing additional perspectives for answering questions such as:

  • Is storing renewable energy in batteries a good idea and which batteries are best?
  • How fast can the PV industry grow before it consumes more energy than it produces?
  • What’s better, a battery electric vehicle or a fuel cell vehicle?
  • For new technologies, what aspects need to improve the most: efficiency, lifetime, materials, or cost?

This talk will provide examples of the important role energy systems analysis plays in revealing good energy choices.

View the slides

About the speaker

Sally M. Benson joined Stanford University in 2007. She holds three appointments at Stanford: professor of energy resources engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, the campus-wide hub of energy research and education; and director of the Global Climate and Energy Project. An internationally recognized scientist, Benson is responsible for fostering cross-campus collaborations on energy and guiding the growth and development of a diverse research portfolio. Formerly, Benson was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she held a variety of key positions, including Associate Director for Energy Sciences and director of the Earth Sciences Division. A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson is regarded as a leading authority on carbon capture and storage. She also uses energy systems analysis to help guide decisions about the most promising pathways for clean energy development.