Are low-pollution electricity, markets, and reliability compatible?

22 May 2018

Byens Lys

Jay Apt

American astronaut and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Before he became an astronaut, Apt was a physicist who worked on the Pioneer Venus 1978 space probe project, and used visible light and infrared techniques to study the planets and moons of the solar system from ground-based observatories. He is a Full Professor at the Tepper School of Business and the Department of Engineering Public Policy. He co-directs the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. He is the author of the book Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth, published by the National Geographic Society. Homepage

Tick Tock

Trio composed of Sebastian Zieler, Jens Skovgaard and Jacob Koefoed. Tick Tock makes otherworld pop stuff. Homepage

Jay Apt, astronaut, professor at Carnegie Mellon and researcher in electricity is coming to town.

Are greenhouse gasses the only power plant pollutants that we care about? What are the human health implications of switching to low-pollution power plants Have electricity markets worked to lower the cost of power and provide low-pollution power? How reliable is the electric power system? Are fossil fuel plants more reliable than low-pollution power plants?

Considerable efforts are going into reducing greenhouse gas pollution. But there is another important argument for transitioning to clean fuels. Conventional pollution, mostly small particles, from electric power plants is responsible for 10,000 to 50,000 premature deaths each year in the United States alone, and countless more globally.

Low natural gas prices and policies that move utilities away from coal are savings tens of thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars each year in the USA. It is not all about greenhouse gasses.

These policies have raised electricity prices and operated outside the framework of competitive markets. But they have brought about reduced prices for wind and solar power, and in some cases hydro power. Prices for these are now low enough that they can compete in the market in many places.

But we now have a new problem. The introduction of electric power markets failed to fulfill its stated goal of lowering customer prices. The very structure that caused that problem puts the markets at risk when a generation plant like a wind park can offer the next kilowatt-hour at no cost.

If power markets are to survive, they must evolve to provide the right incentives to build and maintain power plants, and enough funds to ensure that they operate reliably and with low pollution. Perhaps a combination of pollution restrictions, a bidding process for needed grid assets, and a market for power will be necessary.

Afterwards, electrified cocktails that produce almost no pollution will be served while Tick Tock takes the stage. Tick Tock have a knack for making 'otherworld pop stuff' that is also quite emotive, inventive, and detail-oriented. More or less elder statesmen in the exciting scene coming out of Denmark, they have been making music together for close to a decade, and continue to create sublime moments from disparate angles, irrespective of genre.

Entrance to the event is free. Event held in English. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00. CASH ONLY.