Please join us in welcoming Erin Baker, professor from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She will be discussing the integration of equity into power systems.
4290 Fitts-Woolard Hall
Integrating Equity into Complex Energy Models: Carbon Capture and Co-pollutants in a Networked Power System
In this talk, Erin Baker will briefly review inequities in the energy system and ways in which complex energy models can play a role in addressing them. She will focus on a particular example, using an Optimal Power Flow Model to examine how greenhouse gas policy may impact local, health-harming pollutants in the presence of plant level carbon capture. She evaluates how the availability of carbon capture in a networked electricity system affects the emissions of both carbon and of health-harming co-pollutants, under a range of technical, economic, and policy scenarios about carbon capture technology, the pace of renewable deployment, the structure of the power grid, and climate policy. Baker will employ a power flow model of a three-node, mixed-source network in which fossil fuel power plants may invest in carbon capture (CC) via retrofit. Outcomes include the extent of Carbon Capture adoption, the energy source mix, emissions of carbon, and emissions of local co-pollutants. The availability of carbon capture may alter the configuration and duration of the mid-transition, a period when both carbon and non-carbon electrical generation is active. The introduction of CC can lead to an increase in co-pollution even as the energy system transitions away from CO2 emissions, and, surprisingly, co-pollution outcomes can be worse under a stronger decarbonization policy. This insight is important and timely in light of recent rules incentivizing the use of CC (EPA, 2023). Systems in the early stages of the energy transition might experience a surge in co-pollution if the short and midterm solutions rely on carbon capture. If the co-pollutant dynamics are not considered in the first steps of CC policy design, there can be stark consequences for public health, which raises particular concerns for Environmental Justice communities.
Erin Baker is a Distinguished Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the faculty director of the Energy Transition Institute, which is focused on stakeholder-engaged research at the intersection of energy technology and social equity. She has a Ph.D. in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research from the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and a bachelor’s in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley. She combines operations research methods and economics to decision-making under uncertainty, with a focus on Energy Justice and publicly-funded energy technology research and development portfolios in the face of climate change.