Jesse Jenkins, Princeton University
"Clean Electricity: the Linchpin for a Net-Zero Economy"
About the Speaker: Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment and courtesy appointments at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and Princeton Environment Institute. He is a macro-scale energy systems engineer with a focus on the rapidly evolving electricity sector, including the transition to zero-carbon resources, the proliferation of distributed energy resources, and the role of electricity in economy-wide decarbonization. Jesse leads the Princeton ZERO Lab (Zero-carbon Energy systems Research and Optimization Laboratory), which works to improve and apply optimization-based energy systems models to evaluate low-carbon energy technologies and generate insights to guide policy and planning decisions in national and sub-national jurisdictions transitioning to net-zero emissions energy systems. Jesse earned a PhD in Engineering Systems and a Masters in Technology & Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked previously as a postdoctoral Environmental Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. His work has been recognized and supported by competitive fellowships from the National Science Foundation, MIT Energy Initiative, Martin Family Society for Fellows in Sustainability, and Harvard University Center for the Environment.
About the Talk: The electricity sector is the linchpin in any successful transition to a net-zero emissions economy. Getting the United States to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner entails twin challenges for the electricity sector. First, as the source of more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and with a variety of cost-effective low-carbon substitutes for fossil fueled power plants available today, the electricity sector must reduce emissions faster and further than any other sector. Second, electricity generation must simultaneously expand to fuel a wider range of end-use activities currently dependent on fossil fuels, including: transportation; building space heating; and low and medium-temperature industrial process heat. In this talk, Prof. Jenkins will focus on the central role of electricity in deep decarbonization of the U.S. economy and the challenges of building a 100% carbon-free electricity system, including the complementary roles of variable renewable energy, firm low-carbon resources, and energy storage technologies. This talk will draw on insights from several recent publications and preliminary findings of Princeton's Net-Zero America project, which is mapping pathways for the United States to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.