Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015 - (Page 6)

in my own words The Energy to Change the World Daniel Kammen, Ph.D. Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy University of California, Berkeley Daniel Kammen earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Cornell and master's and doctoral degrees in physics at Harvard. Today he is a professor in both the Energy Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, where he also directs the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). He was a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In all these endeavors, Kammen is working to overcome a lack of basic energy resources and inefficient and unsustainable energy practices-problems that he believes may be the largest contributors to human, environmental, and global health problems  today. Defining my focus As a post-doctoral fellow, I had the opportunity to work on energy systems in Central America, including solar ovens and wind energy. I was able to explore both on-grid and off-grid energy issues, and that's when I really began to appreciate how central energy is to human development. Access to electricity correlates with significant improvements in quality of life, schooling, and the ability to do productive work. I realized that I could use my physics background to make a significant impact on society. At the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, our focus is on designing, testing, and promoting renewable and appropriate energy systems in industrialized and developing nations. Putting "appropriate" in the title was a way to ensure that we think in an interdisciplinary way about energy. Using science, engineering, and economics, we create models of renewable energy technologies and policies, from finding healthier alternatives to biomass fuels in developing countries to assessing electrical grids of entire countries. Small energy is big Energy can transform people's lives, but we're not likely in the near future to be able to provide it in developing areas through large traditional grids, or even mini grids. This means 6 imagine utilizing electricity off-grid, through distributed individual energy services-often called nano grid or pay-as-you-go systems. These pay-as-you-go systems work much like prepaid phones. People with little regular income can buy an inexpensive solar charger kit that allows them to power LED lights and charge their mobile phones. Then, using their mobile phones, they can pay for small amounts of energy when they need it. Many services today-from lighting to radios to television to freezers to communication towers- are increasingly powered by distributed individual off-grid products such as small amounts of solar, biomass, and wind. It's remarkable how much you can do with very small amounts of energy. And these device-specific amounts of energy provide services that are often more reliable or tailored to the individual than bigger systems can provide, particularly with solar. People in remote areas, in homes with no electrical wiring, can charge their phones. They can have light without having to burn wood, charcoal, or kerosene. These distributed off-grid products are safer, cleaner, and cheaper. They're transforming the system. Living in an off-grid world The off-grid world is probably the most rapidly changing aspect of energy service, but the ability to interact between devices is also very important. If several people in an area have these small pay-as-you-go systems, are they able to integrate them? Can one connect more and more devices together to build up distributed systems that function as tiny mini grids? The availability of distributed energy systems opens the door to these possibilities. We need to define ways to bring down the barriers that exist against distributed renewables, whether it's a matter of establishing meters or utilizing rooftops for distributed clean energy generation. It's interesting that the places where the off-grid world is doing best also have the most reliable mobile banking. Kenya, for example, has very widely used, trustworthy, and reliable mobile money commerce technology that allows people to buy small amounts of energy through their mobile phones. Small-scale energy providers receive payment directly from customers, who might otherwise have to travel long distances under difficult conditions. Having reliable mobile banking enables this whole off-grid world. May/June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015

Big Picture
In My Own Words Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley
A Solar-Powered Solution to the Water Crisis Using the sun to purify water
The PolluCell Generating electricity using waste and pollution
More than a Race The Solar Car Challenge
Energy Agenda The power of teen research
Energized! A crash course in fuels of the future
Grease Is Good Helping the environment and the community with biofuel
Fueled by Algae Sara Volz and the powerful potential of pond scum
The Future of Energy Five careers in green power
My Sanskrit Yaatra Connecting with my culture through language
Devoted Awareness My internship with Until There’s a Cure
Selected Opportunities and Resources
Off the Shelf Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options Interview with green architect Andrew Thompson
One Step Ahead Six things incoming college students should know
Planning Ahead for College Developing your passions
Students Review: University of Pennsylvania
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015