Designing net-zero emissions energy systems to address environmental and societal objectives


Achieving economy-wide net-zero emissions will entail transformational changes in engineered systems across sectors. As part of this, future energy and industrial infrastructure systems will need to be designed to balance the often-conflicting objectives of multiple actors. Macro-energy system models are increasingly used to plan systems and typically adopt least-cost objectives to select optimal technoeconomic pathways to achieve climate goals. In contrast, non-cost objectives, related to pollution or jobs, for example, that may influence decision and design processes are often treated as outcomes rather than explicit objectives. This presentation will review potential technological scenarios for infrastructure deployment to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. An approach for operationalizing non-cost objectives associated with air quality, labor, and land use in macro-energy system models will presents. This approach will be demonstrated through case studies of coal electric power retirements, natural gas supply chain development, and utility-scale solar siting.


Erin Mayfield is an assistant professor at Dartmouth College in the Thayer School of Engineering. Her research is in the areas of sustainable systems engineering and public policy, with a focus on energy and environmental system transitions in the context of climate change. Previously she was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. She also worked as an environmental engineer on natural resource damages litigation and hazardous waste remediation, and has held positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Congress, and Environmental Law Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in environmental science from Rutgers University, master's degree in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.


Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 4:00pm
Virtually ZOOM