Photo: User: / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. Ben Franklin
This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. Thomas Jefferson
My heart is in the work.Andrew Carnegie


Energy Bite Episodes

You can listen to me (and other researchers) explain important energy topics in 60 seconds or less at EnergyBite, which airs on WESA every Friday. I created episodes 178-182:

Photo: Adrian Michael / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Does information and communication technology (ICT) save energy?

October 10, 2016

You might reasonably think that working from home saves energy compared to commuting to an office, or that buying online uses less energy than purchasing from a local store. It turns out, you might also reasonably think these ICT-enabled options use more energy. My recent review of dozens of studies on the net energy impact of ICT services found mixed results. The answer you get is highly dependent on the deployment details of the system and the higher-order "ripple" effects, which are very difficult to nail down.

Photo: Adrian Michael / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Decarbonization in the Brazilian energy sector

September 20, 2016

Benefitting from both natural resources and early energy policies, Brazil's energy system is singular in its level of decarbonization. Renewable resources constitute large percentages of both electricity (hydro) and transport (ethanol) sectors. A new paper in Foresight, written with colleagues at RAND and Brazil's Center for Strategic Studies and Management Science, Technology, and Innovation discusses recent stagnation vs. prospects for Brazil's continued decarbonization.

Photo: Adrian Michael / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

New paper on data center electricity metrics

June 7, 2016

My new paper, "Power usage effectiveness in data centers: overloaded and underachieving," summarizes the critiques of PUE, the de facto industry standard metric for energy efficiency in data centers. Many in the industry are well aware of the issues raised in the paper, but PUE continues to dominate the discussion in the trade press, corporate reporting, and data center energy-related policymaking. It's time to expand the suite of metrics we use--and make more performance data available to the research community.

Image: ©2016 NC Horner

1st-place finish at 2015 USAEE Case Competition

October 27, 2015

My colleague, Erin Mayfield, and I won this year's case competition at the United States Association for Energy Economics North American conference held this year in Pittsburgh! Home court advantage? Nope, just some solid analysis of oil refinery economics.

As usual, a great conference. This year, the current low-price oil and gas environment took center stage.

Photo: US government / Public Domain

Presentation at World Sustainable Energy Days

March 3, 2015

I presented a talk, "Energy Efficiency in Data Centers: Moving Beyond PUE," at the Young Researchers' Conference on Energy Efficiency during World Sustainable Energy Days in Wels, Austria. This was a great conference on energy efficiency, with a healthy mix of technology and policy. The other half of WSED is devoted to biomass, and I went on a really neat series of site visits to a wood pellet production tower, residential and industrial wood-fuel heating plants, and a manufacturing facility for residential boilers.

Photo: ©2015 NC Horner

Op-Ed on Shale Gas Severance Tax Published in the Post-Gazette

January 18, 2015

Parth Vaishnav and I have written a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opinion piece with our professor, Lee Branstetter, advocating for a severance tax on shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania. Based on analysis we completed last year, we debunk the idea that such a tax would cause the industry to leave the state. We further argue that the employment numbers often quoted by the industry are exaggerated, and in any case are offset by decreases in public sector employment caused by state budget cuts in education and public safety, which such a tax could alleviate.

Image: US Energy Information Administraion / Public Domain

New Blog Post at The Energy Collective

December 8, 2014

I've written a blog post at The Energy Collective describing my research on innovation policy dynamics in the wind energy industry. The history of wind turbine development in the U.S. hints that we need government involvement to develop innovative technologies. The best means of involvement? Technology-forcing regulations and--to some extent--R&D subsidies are likely good policy choices. However, the details of the policy design are critical to success.

Photo: US Government / Public Domain

White paper on shale gas severance tax in Pennsylvania

March 25, 2014
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has published a white paper Parth Vaishnav and I wrote comparing industry IRR and state revenue under the current impact fee and under a 5% severance tax. The bottom line? Despite the cries to the contrary, a severance tax would have minimal impact on industry drill/no-drill decisions while greatly benefitting the Commonwealth.
Photo: User:meredithW / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Top honors at DOE's Better Buildings case competition

March 15, 2014
Our interdisciplinary student team from CMU won "Best Proposal" honors for the two cases we entered in this year's Better Buildings Case Competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy.

3rd-place finish at USAEE annual case competition

August 1, 2013
My EPP colleague, Parth Vaishnav, and I placed third in the annual case competition sponsored by the United States Association for Energy Economics, held this year in Anchorage, Alaska! We found that daily charging of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could have a significant impact on the electric grid.