Smart Villages Podcast 4 – Renewable energy & going “beyond coal”: A conversation with Daniel Kammen (21.5 minutes)

This is the second podcast (21.5 minutes) in our two-part series of interviews with Professor Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy in the Goldman School of Public Policy and Founding Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley. (Listen to Part 1)

Sir Brian Heap, Senior Advisor to the Smart Villages Initiative, and Dan have an insightful conversation around three main themes:

1. City-integrated renewable energy and its relevance to rural development: You have been writing about the problems of coal as a primary source of energy. It is quite a brave move when you remember that the UK and the industrial revolution were built on coal and it has been a key source of industrial energy for over 200 years. You were in London recently speaking about going beyond coal. How did you feel about coming into the lion’s den?

Countries like China and India surely have no option other than to use coal. They cannot build alternative renewable power sources to keep up with the demands of their economies – right?

You have written recently in Science about the importance of integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability. How does this work for rural development?

2. How did you come to be working on future electricity options for Kosovo? Are renewables really competitive compared with a new coal plant?  What are the challenges to scaling-up renewable energy systems? Does it work o the scale required for a modern city or a rural community?

3.  Matt Ridley wrote an article in the Times towards the end of October about energy storage and batteries. He was dubious if batteries will ever manage to store enough energy as we would need nearly ten times as many car and lorry batteries as there are on the entire planet to store just two days’ worth of power for a typical winter’s day in Britain. He said that solar power makes no sense in cloudy Britain, nor does growing biofuels since the tractors and chemicals use up about as much energy as is produced from the crop. What do you think the prospects are for energy storage?

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