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Getting Renewable Energy up to Scale: The Problem of Location

Course Description: 

As the climate continues to warm, plants and animals around the globe have a higher risk of going extinct. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 4 said in 2007 that when the global average temperature gets to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above the global average temperature in the mid 1700s, 20 to 40% of the species on the plant could be at high risk of extinction. Given that we know about two million species on the planet that means that 400,000 to 800,000 species could be at high risk. The IPCC went on to say that if the global average temperature gets to as much as 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) above natural, then as many as half of the species on the plant could be at high risk of extinction. Currently we are on a trajectory of surpassing 2 degrees C well before the end of the 21st Century. The only way to drop to a lower temperature trajectory is to decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which can be done by either scrubbing the CO2 out of the atmosphere or decreasing our emission of CO2. Techniques to do the former at the scale needed are not known as of yet, while decreasing our emissions substantially we do understand: it will require increasing substantially the amount of renewable energy used, which in turn will require deployment of renewables to a much greater amount than is planned currently. One of the main reasons holding up deployment of renewables is the debate about where the renewables will be located. This seminar will examine the arguments about the need for renewables, investigate the pros and cons of locating renewable at different sites and try to determine if and where the best locations might be.

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