UT Austin Energy Bulletin April 2017



Application deadline nears for 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellowship
Early career journalists seeking a year away from the grind of daily reporting to work on an energy-themed book or other long-form project have until April 30 to submit their proposals for the 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellowship. The Fellowship, sponsored by UT's Energy Institute and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business, runs from September 1, 2017 – August 31, 2018. Go here to learn more about the Fellowship or apply.


UT Energy Journalism Fellow Lorne Matalon published in Revista, the Harvard Review of Latin America
UT Energy Journalism Fellow Lorne Matalon has published an article in ReVista, the prestigious Harvard Review of Latin America, on an under-reported and controversial aspect of Mexico's energy reform program, the subject of his yearlong fellowship at UT. As Matalon reports, residents in the Valle de Juárez, southeast of El Paso, have been victimized by violence for more than a decade from a shadowy mix of land speculators and organized crime figures who have forced people from their land in anticipation of energy production in the region. The story centers on construction of pipelines that will send U.S. natural gas to the Mexican interior. For more, read the entire article.


UT Energy Poll shows support for Trump to revive U.S. coal industry
Nearly half of Americans want President Donald Trump to take actions to revive the flagging U.S. coal industry, despite strong market signals that coal will continue to be displaced by cheaper and cleaner forms of energy, according to the latest UT Energy Poll. The findings reflect a disconnect between energy market conditions, which show a steady decline in the use of coal for electricity generation, and statements made by Trump, who has pledged to revitalize the industry and create coal-mining jobs. For more, read the press release or download the complete survey findings.




State program gives away tax dollars that could have been used for community public services
New research from UT Austin Government Department Prof. Nathan Jensen reveals that billions of dollars in tax abatements awarded to companies as an incentive to move to Texas have resulted in no net benefits to the state. In fact, Jensen writes in an op-ed published in several news outlets, most of the companies receiving funds under the economic development program known as Chapter 313 would have moved to the state anyway. For more, read Prof. Jensen's working paper and news coverage of his work in the Texas Observer and the Houston Business Journal.


New research shows U.S. nuclear power reactors are at a crossroads
Forces disrupting electric power markets are under the microscope in an analysis conducted by the Center for Energy Economics (CEE) as part of its Electric Power Research Forum. Economists at the CEE used the Center's dispatch modeling to test the retirement of 43 GW of nuclear capacity by 2025. The analysis also examines state interventions to save nuclear plants, which have supplied roughly 20 percent of domestic electricity since 2001, and the implications of those initiatives on competitive electricity markets. Read more.




Nanogrids, microgrids & big data: the future of the power grid
Research Professor Bob Hebner argues that the advent of distributed generation and automated transactions will change how we produce and consume electricity in a new paper published by IEEE Spectrum. Hebner, director of UT's Center for Electromechanics, asserts that while 20th century infrastructure needs to be modernized, technology is providing a path to upgrade the grid rather than simply replace it. To accomplish this lofty and thorny goal, he adds, a spate of technical, financial, and regulatory challenges must be overcome to combine infrastructure enhancement with continuous capability improvement. Read more.


Prof. Gary Rochelle participates in Congressional briefing on carbon capture
UT Austin Chemical Engineering Prof. Gary Rochelle joined a panel of experts from academia and industry for a Congressional briefing, "Carbon Capture: Tomorrow Just Happened," hosted by the American Energy Society. The briefing was designed to provide policymakers a non-partisan discussion emphasizing the technical aspects of carbon sequestration, utilization, and commercialization. Rochelle noted that, "Amine scrubbing for CO2 capture from gas and coal-fired is technically feasible and can be deployed in five years, if there is a financial or regulatory driver," and that "advanced technologies will not provide significantly improved economics or energy use." Read more about this event.




UT Austin researchers selected for NSF Early Career Development Awards
Three UT energy researchers were among eight UT Austin faculty members selected for National Science Foundation Early Career Development Awards, the most prestigious honor offered under the organization's CAREER Program. The awards provide up to five years of funding to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through the integration of outstanding research and excellent education. Faculty members honored include: Vaibhav Bahadur, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for his project, Influence of electric fields on liquid-to-solid phase change associated with clathrate hydrate formation; Sean Roberts, assistant professor of chemistry, for his project, Tracking Charge and Energy Transfer at Buried Organic Interfaces; and Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz, assistant professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, for her project, Air-Quality Effects of Atmospheric Chlorine Chemistry. Read more.




Texas Enterprise Speaker Series
Friday, May 5 | AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center

Dr. Britt Freund, Assistant Dean and Distinguished Senior Lecturer in UT's McCombs School of Business, and Dr. Michelle Foss, Chief Energy Economist for the university's Center for Energy Economics, will discuss the nature of risk analysis in a special lecture titled "Risk: Analyzing and Addressing the Unavoidable." The speakers will examine analyses of different types of risk and appropriate strategies to combat them. RSVP Required. Register here.


2017 Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo
June 25 – 28 | Austin Convention Center

UT Austin's Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) will again play a prominent role in the 2017 Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo, June 25 - 28 at the Austin Convention Center. This year's program will feature a variety of industry focus areas, including energy solutions, transportation, cyber security, buildings and efficiency, and water/wastewater management. Working with SmartAustin.org, ATI, part of UT's IC2 Institute, will help judge a pitch competition for startups working with new technologies aimed at helping cities solve major challenges in transportation, health, energy and pollution. Several UT faculty members will speak at the conference, including Dr. Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute, who will participate in a panel on March 30 entitled, "Austin Roadshow – Smart Cities Powered by Smart Grids." For more details, view the conference program or register.


Ross Baldick
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Cockrell School of Engineering

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