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Energy in the News: Friday, October 19

-Congratulations to Rosina Bierbaum, who will be serving as a senior advisor to the Global Commission on Adaptation, a 17-country climate solutions organization led by the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva of the World Bank. Learn more here.

Energy Economics Weekly Briefing by Ellen Hughes-Cromwick: Energy price developments

HR note: Energy Institute Project Coordinator (and biologist by training) Nick Soberal is leaving us for the U-M Water Center. His contributions to U-M’s carbon neutrality effort, our Energy + contest, and our annual TE3 Conference have been huge. Congratulations to Nick, and best wishes!

Job opening: The MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, together with the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), are seeking candidates for a joint tenure-track faculty position starting in July 2019 or on a mutually agreed date thereafter. Scroll to the bottom of this email for full details.

 

Fusion Coolant Systems Snags $8M Series C, Plans to “Hit Go Button”
Xconomy, featuring Steve Skerlos

Fusion Coolant Systems, the Canton, MI-based industrial tech startup spun out of the University of Michigan, has raised an $8 million Series C funding round. The investment was led by Material Impact, a Boston venture capital firm, and Michigan Capital Advisors, with participation from existing investors, including U-M’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups (MINTS), Amherst Fund, and Invest Michigan.

“This is growth capital,” says Steve Skerlos, Fusion Coolant founder and CEO. The company plans to use its new funding to expand operations, hire sales and engineering personnel “that maintains our insurgent culture,” and add equipment. “It’s time to hit the go button,” he adds.
Read more


AP FACT CHECK: Trump misses on storms, science, clean air
Associated Press, featuring Jonathan Overpeck

President Donald Trump in his interview with The Associated Press said he has “a natural instinct for science.” But what he said about hurricanes, clean air and climate doesn’t quite get the science right.

More than a dozen scientists, economists and climate negotiators pointed out where his comments didn’t fit with the reality of human-caused climate change, hurricanes and air pollution.
Read more

Also featuring Jonathan Overpeck:
Climate-denying politicians are repeatedly dead wrong about this carbon certainty

 

Gas-burning cars and trucks will be left behind, futurists of SEJ panel predict at Factory One
East Village Magazine, featuring John DeCicco
A panel of automotive futurists anticipated the next great transportation transition for the human species during the first day of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ (SEJ) 28th Annual Conference in Flint, Oct. 3-7.  That transition will likely leave behind individually-owned, gas-burning cars and trucks as travelers opt for autonomous, electric, shared vehicles.

Panelists included: freelance environmental journalist Jim Motavalli who served as moderator; Michael Ableson, vice president of global strategy for General Motors (GM); John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute; and Michelle Krebs, an automotive writer for Autotrader.
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U-M celebrates its inventors, startups
University of Michigan News Service, featuring Peter Adriaens
The road to Peter Adriaens’ startup stretches back to 2008 when electricity plants in the south were experiencing droughts and had to power down.

Adriaens, a business and engineering professor at the University of Michigan, was working with MBA students on a project to figure out how to provide data to companies about water resources to navigate such fluctuations. Over time, he realized that the client for such data wasn’t the individual company, but the investors in the company.

Equarius Risk Analytics is a fintech company that provides a software platform to compute water risk in securities and financial asset portfolios. Water risk is considered a larger problem than carbon—impacting $145 trillion of securities. The company’s waterBeta model integrates water risk data with corporate financial metrics to price water risk in a security’s performance.
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Do DOE and the Pentagon march together on grid security?
E&E News
The need for guaranteed sources of electricity for America’s defense has taken a new turn in President Trump’s Washington. Here, the complex problem of how to prevent a cyberattack on multiple utilities or an extreme storm from plunging large areas into darkness is now entangled with the president’s pursuit of a federal fix for struggling coal companies.

At Trump’s request, Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s policy staff crafted a plan in the spring that would steer subsidy payments to ailing coal and nuclear plants near strategic military bases. Keeping uncompetitive baseload power plants operating, the plan says, would be insurance against worst-case scenarios that destroy natural gas pipelines or other vital infrastructure.

That proposal hasn’t made it very far.
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Palo Alto is living the electric dream
E&E News
When Becky and Ted Baer, who are in their 70s, pull their sparkling blue Tesla up to the public chargers downtown, they’re in a jovial mood. And why wouldn’t they be?

They are enjoying the fruits of two prescient decisions. Years ago, they bought Tesla stock at $19 a share. Then, much more recently, they got in line early and nabbed one of the first reservations for the Model 3, the electric car with the price of a basic luxury sedan but the acceleration of a rocket.

In May, Tesla delivered for the Baers. Their Model 3 arrived, and they got to parade their hot new gadget down the palm-lined streets. They earned some ecological cred. And — here’s the kicker — they paid for it with their Tesla stock, at that point selling for nearly $300 a share.
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Two federal courts may have just saved the nuclear power industry
Forbes
States that want to keep their aging nuclear power fleet from retiring now have a court-approved roadmap for doing so.  That’s because two federal courts of appeals last month upheld very similar state laws in Illinois and New York aimed at subsidizing those states’ under-performing and at-risk nuclear power plants. The current market conditions are, quite literally, killing the nuclear power industry. With natural gas prices low and cheap renewable energy flooding the markets, it’s been virtually impossible for many nuclear power plants to compete.

Some view this as simply the market picking winners and losers. But others see this as a problem. To significantly lower this country’s greenhouse gas emissions, they argue, we’ll need baseload power (i.e., power plants that can run all of the time). And only three current large-scale power sources fit that bill: coal, natural gas, and nuclear. Of those three, only nuclear power can generate energy without carbon dioxide emissions.
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A Great Lakes pipeline dispute points to a broader energy dilemma
The Conversation
A deal involving an aging oil pipeline in Michigan reflects the complex decisions communities across the country need to make to balance the needs for energy and safety with efforts to deal with climate change.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge, a Canadian company, have reached an agreement over a leak-prone pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the 4-mile-long waterway that divides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
While the lakes, beaches and livelihoods vulnerable to harm from a potential spill are perhaps unique to Michigan, the question of what to do about a host of aging pipelines across the U.S. is not. Nearly half of the nation’s pipelines currently operating were built before 1960.
Read more


Rick Perry’s coal rescue runs aground at White House
Politico
One of the Trump administration’s major efforts to prop up ailing coal companies has run aground in the White House, a setback to an industry that had hoped for a major resurgence after Donald Trump won the presidency.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has spent more than a year pushing various plans that would invoke national security to force power companies to keep their economically struggling coal plants running — a goal in line with Trump’s frequent pledges to revive what he calls “beautiful, clean coal.”

But the White House has shelved the plan amid opposition from the president’s own advisers on the National Security Council and National Economic Council, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.
Read more

 

SYSTEMS FACULTY POSITION

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

The MIT Department of Chemical Engineering together with the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) are seeking candidates for a joint tenure-track faculty position starting in July 2019 or on a mutually agreed date thereafter. Appointments will be at the assistant or untenured associate professor level. In special cases, a senior faculty appointment may be possible. Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Operations Research, Physics, Data Science, Computer Science, or a related field by the start of their employment. Faculty duties include teaching, research, and supervision of students.

We will consider candidates with background and interest in the general area of Systems, that is, analysis, optimization, design, and/or control of complex interconnected systems. Expertise areas of interests include, but are not limited to:

  • Systems technologies for energy, materials, chemicals, and/or biomedical applications
  • Advanced manufacturing systems, e.g., modeling, analysis, design, and control of manufacturing of products with specified molecular, micro, or mesoscale structures
  • Mathematical modeling, design, and/or control of electrochemical systems
  • Machine learning, high-dimensional statistics, data analytics for engineering applications
  • Systems biology, systems biomedicine, and metabolic engineering
  • Systems theory and algorithms for molecular and nanoscale systems
  • Renewable energy and interconnected energy-water-food systems
  • Design of products for sustainability, e.g., recycling systems, technoeconomic analysis, life cycle assessment

We are interested in candidates who have the vision and interest to contribute to the research frontier of emerging interdisciplinary fields. Appointment will be made in partnership with IDSS and the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, whose faculty come from a wide variety of disciplines that include Engineering, Mathematics, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. The objective of this position is to hire the best person, irrespective of the disciplines in which they received their degrees.

Candidates must register with the School of Engineering Faculty Search website (https://school-of-engineering-faculty-search.mit.edu/cheme/) and must submit application materials electronically to this website. Candidate applications should include a description of professional interests and goals in both teaching and research. Each application should include curriculum vitae and the names and addresses of three or more individuals who will provide letters of recommendation. Letter writers should submit their letters directly to MIT, preferably on the website or by mailing to the address below. Applications received by December 1, 2018 will be given priority.

Send all materials not submitted on the website to: systems-search@mit.edu

MIT is an equal opportunity employer. Women and underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply.