This issue of RAND Review reports on smart-grid technologies, the nuclear deal with Iran, the education crisis among Syrian children, diversity in the biomedical scientific workforce, and recent philanthropic gifts to RAND.
A modernized, “smart” grid could change how much you pay for electricity, where it comes from, and how likely you are to lose it in a summer storm. But has the reality of the smart grid kept pace with the promise?
The U.S. economy depends on reliable and affordable distribution of energy, but distribution systems are vulnerable to disruption. If energy infrastructure is to become more resilient, better use of metrics will be crucial to guiding planning and evaluating progress.
If the U.S. military increases its use of alternative fuels, there will be no direct benefit to the nation's armed forces. It makes more sense for the military to direct its efforts toward using energy more efficiently.
The authors perform a technical and economic assessment and estimate the economic costs and net GHG reductions from U.S renewable electricity mandates. GHG emissions reductions from such policies could be as much as 670 million metric tons per year. Depending on technological development, economic costs are $13-$45 billion per year. Lower costs depend on favorable technological progress.
The authors explore the limits of current knowledge about grid electricity in LCA and carbon footprinting for the U.S. electrical grid, and show that differences in standards, protocols, and reporting organizations can lead to important differences in estimates of CO2, SO2, and NOx emissions factors.
Misestimation of the capital costs and performance of innovative energy and chemical process plants creates fundamental problems in planning the development and commercialization of advanced technologies -- including synthetic fuels.