News Archive:

Dan Kammen: Renewable Energy, the Effects of Climate Change on Tropical Storms, and his Science Envoy Resignation

Photo: Lizette Kabré

After a few hectic weeks in the news, Energy and Resources Professor Dan Kammen reflects on his resignation as State Department Science Envoy and highlights the continued importance of renewable energy sources.

Read his most recent statements to UC Berkeley News and Vox.

Kammen has also commented on the effects of climate change on tropical storms, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Find his full statements at the links below:

Democracy Now!

KQED Radio

Town Hall – Congresswoman Jackie Speier


ERG Professor David Anthoff Receives Hellman Faculty Award

David Anthoff joins previously awarded ERG Professors Isha Ray and Duncan Callaway as a 2017 Hellman Fellowship recipient for his work on the Social Cost of Carbon Estimation for Climate Policy.

For more information about the Hellman Fellows Program, visit the Founders page.

DACA Rescinded – Information for Undocumented Students and Prospective Applicants

Photo: Adrienne Shih – The Daily Californian

Following President Trump’s decision on Tuesday morning to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and UC President Janet Napolitano announce the UC system’s continued support for undocumented students. For more, read Carol Christ and Janet Napolitano‘s statements.

Further resources for undocumented students regarding DACA can be found here.

Kammen Resigns State Department Science Envoy post, Adds Plug for Impeachment

ERG Professor Dan Kammen resigned as US State Department Science Envoy on Wednesday morning, August 23. His letter is attached below.

Read more about his resignation at the following links:

UC Berkeley News
The Washington Post
Scientific American
USA Today
Highlight Hollywood
Sacramento Bee
KQED Radio
The Guardian
Teen Vogue
SF Gate
Business Insider

Many other news and media outlets have covered this story.


Dan Kammen Discusses Climate Change Initiative Being Developed by California Universities

In a recent Nature article, ERG Professor Dan Kammen comments on the potential establishment of a California-based climate change research institute. The proposal is backed by all University of California campuses, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, amongst others.

The leading panel of researchers hopes to have a proposal to the California state legislature prepared by the end of the year in order to have the research institute established in time for Governor Jerry Brown’s global climate summit in September 2018.

The complete article in Nature can be read HERE.

ERG Professor Emeritus John Holdren and Alum Nicky Sundt Comment on the EPA’s Proposed Red-Team/Blue-Team Exercise

In a Climate Science & Policy Article co-authored by Nicky Sundt, an ERG alum (MA ’79), former ERG chair John Holdren criticizes the “red-team/blue-team” exercise proposed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and DOE Secretary Rick Perry, amongst others. He claims that the exercise would serve not to reach a consensus on climate change, as Pruitt and Perry claim, but to obfuscate the legitimacy of climate science and the dangers of climate change.

Sundt analyzed the use of adversarial proceedings, similar to the proposed “red-team/blue-team” exercise, in her ERG Master’s thesis, “Adversary Proceedings and Nuclear Policy: The Windscale Inquiry of 1977.” In the paper, she concludes that adversarial proceedings have “grave intrinsic problems” and should be avoided in favor of other consensus-developing alternatives.

The full article can be read HERE.

Dan Kammen Featured in Recent WIRED Article

ERG Professor Dan Kammen was quoted in a recent WIRED article addressing the effective withdrawal of US funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He notes that, due to a lack of US funding, “the topics we are mostly concerned about, like climate change and drying soils, and the impacts of that on US farmers, will get less attention.”

Dr. Kammen has served as a contributing or coordinating lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999.

The full WIRED article can be read HERE.

Paper Authored by PhD Candidate Noah Kittner and Professor Dan Kammen Published in Nature Energy

Noah Kittner and Dan Kammen worked with colleagues at the Technical University of Munich to write “Energy stor­age deploy­ment and inno­va­tion for the clean energy tran­si­tion.” The paper was published online by Nature Energy on July 31, 2017.

The full report is available through the Nature Energy website here.



New Study Find That Energy Storage Prices are Falling Faster than Solar PV or Wind Technology Costs, Outcompeting Coal and Natural Gas Plants

Berkeley, CA, July 31, 2017 — Storage prices are falling faster than solar PV or wind technologies, according to a new study published in Nature Energy. The fall in prices is allowing new combinations of solar, wind, and energy storage to outcompete coal and natural gas plants on cost alone.

A research team from the University of California and TU Munich in Germany found that R&D investments for energy storage projects have been remarkably effective in bringing the cost per kWh of a lithium-ion battery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to a trajectory that could reach $100/kWh next year. The pace of innovation is staggering.

Ordinarily, public research investment and private venture capital money undergo tough scrutiny before money can be spent on research and the results from years of work are not immediately visible. However, this study shows that long-term R&D spending played a critical factor in achieving cost reductions, and a recent lack of investment for basic and applied research may miss the $100/kWh target for cost effective renewable energy projects. Modest future research investment from public and private sectors could go a long way to unlock extremely low-cost, and low-carbon electricity from solar, wind, and storage.

As Tesla moves to install a Gigafactory in Nevada and the largest lithium-ion storage facility in the world in southern Australia, new combinations of energy storage in terms of size, scale, and chemistry are emerging quicker than ever.

Tesla’s storage projects are not the only examples. Cities like Berlin have already embraced grid-scale storage. Berlin plans to install a 120 MW flow battery underground to support wind and solar efforts at integrated prices as low at 15 cents/kWh, in line with forecasts made in this paper. California is home to the first energy storage mandate on the grid, requiring utilities
procure 1.325 GW of storage by 2020. These innovative policies showcase the range of storage options that may benefit clean energy, from small Powerwall batteries in the home to city-scale storage facilities providing back-up to utility-scale wind and solar farms.

There is an important co-evolution of battery developments for electric vehicle usage, grid-scale storage that supports solar and wind electricity, and other consumer applications for new electronics. To forecast future energy storage prices, the researchers compiled a new dataset looking back to prices from the early 1990’s and development of new lithium-ion batteries through international patent databases. The team also looked at how storage co-evolved with solar and wind innovations. They found that for storage technologies, investment in applied research may actually be a more effective in $/kWh cost reduction than pure economies of scale mass production.

This past year (2017) the US reached its goal of $1/W SunShot solar power three years early. However, low-cost solar is usable during the day and experiences intermittency, which causes researchers to question the reliability of solar power. That’s why energy storage makes a big difference.

The study follows a string of research investigating the relationship between research funding and deployment of new technologies for solar panels and wind turbines. The team highlights the need for more research in emerging storage technologies, as there is not a clear winner, and a diverse range of options may outlast lithium-ion batteries. There may be room for a number of different battery chemistries that all provide different services on an evolving grid, some providing voltage regulation and frequency control, and others serving long duration outages and providing back-up for buildings and communities.

The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF, 1144885), Karsten Family Foundation, and Zaffaroni Family Foundation.

Kittner, N., Lill, F. & Kammen, D. M. Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition. Nature. Energy 2, 17125 (2017). Paper and supplemental data are available online at: energy-storage/

Cite and access this paper directly from NATURE ENERGY in Volume 2, 17125 (2017), DOI:
10.1038/nenergy.2017.125 |

Media contacts:
Daniel M. Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley, Chair of the Energy and Resources Group, and Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy; also Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department (, 510-642- 1760)

Noah Kittner, (, 919-614- 8825)


ERG Student Valeri Vasquez Awarded Prestigious Fellowship

Vasquez, ValeriWe would like to congratulate ERG PhD student Valeri Vasquez on receiving a 2017 ACM SIGHPC/Intel Computational and Data Science Fellowship.

From the SIGHPC website:

“ACM SIGHPC and Intel have partnered to create Computational and Data Science Fellowships, a 5-year program to increase the diversity of students pursuing graduate degrees in data science and computational science. Specifically targeted at women or students from racial/ethnic backgrounds that have not traditionally participated in the computing field, the program is open to students pursuing degrees at institutions anywhere in the world.”

Valeri and her fellow recipients will be honored during an awards ceremony at SC17, the “International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis,” in Denver this November.

The official announcement from AMC SIGHPC can be read here.

ERG Faculty Margaret Torn Honored in the American Geophysical Union’s 2017 Class of Fellows

We are pleased to announce that ERG faculty member Margaret Torn has been selected in the 2017 class of American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fellows.

From the official announcement:
“AGU Fellows are recognized for their outstanding contributions to scholarship and discovery in the Earth and space sciences. Their work not only expands the realm of human knowledge, but also contributes to the scientific understanding needed for building a sustainable future,” said Eric Davidson, AGU President. “The diversity of disciplines and career backgrounds of this year’s Fellows is demonstrative of the breadth and depth of expertise of AGU’s global membership of more than 60,000. We are pleased to recognize and honor the newest class of Fellows for their significant and lasting contributions to the Earth and space sciences.”

The full announcement can be read on the AGU website here.

To find more information on Dr. Torn and her research, visit her profiles on the ERG or Lawrence Berkeley Lab websites or the announcement made by the College of Natural Resources.