The Dynamics of Change in Global Energy Systems

Wednesday, April 2, 2008
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Reuben W. Hills Conference Room
  • Rajan Gupta
The world’s energy infrastructure stands on the brink of a major revolution. Much of the large power generation infrastructure in the industrialized world will need replacement over the next two to three decades while in the developing world, including China and India, it will be installed for the first time. Concurrently, the risks of climate change and unprecedented high prices for oil and natural gas are transforming the economic and ethical incentives for alternative energy sources leading to growth of nuclear and renewables, including solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal technologies. The transition from today’s energy systems, based on fossil fuels, to a future decarbonized or carbon-neutral infrastructure is a socio-technical problem of global dimensions, but one for which there is no accepted solution, either at the international, national, or regional levels.

This talk describes a novel methodology to understand global energy systems and their evolution. We are incorporating state-of-the-art open tools in information science and technology (Google, Google Earth, Wikis, Content Management Systems, etc.) to create a global real time observatory for energy infrastructure, generation, and consumption. The observatory will establish and update geographical and temporally referenced records and analyses of the historical, current, and evolving global energy systems, the energy end-use of individuals, and their associated environmental impacts. Changes over time in energy production, use, and infrastructure will be identified and correlated to drivers, such as demographics, economic policies, incentives, taxes, and costs of energy production by various technologies. As time permits Dr. Gupta will show, using Google Earth, existing data on power generation infrastructure in three countries (South Africa, India and the USA) and highlight examples of unanticipated crisis (South Africa), environment (USA) and exponential growth (India). Finally Dr. Gupta will comment on how/why trust and transparency created by democratization of information that such a system would provide could motivate cooperation, provide a framework for compliance and monitoring of global treaties, and precipitate action towards carbon-neutral systems.

Rajan Gupta is the leader of the Elementary Particles and Field Theory group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Laboratory fellow.  He came to the USA in 1975 after obtaining his Masters in Physics from Delhi University, India, and earned his PhD in Theoretical Physics from The California Institute of Technology in 1982. The main thrust of his research is to understand the fundamental theories of elementary particle interactions, in particular the interactions of quarks and gluons and the properties hadrons composed of them. In addition, he uses modeling and simulations to study Biological and Statistical Mechanics systems, and to push the envelope of High Performance Computing. Starting in 1998 his interests broadened into the areas of health, education, development and energy security. He is currently carrying out an integrated systems analysis of global energy systems. In 2000 Dr. Gupta started the forum “International Security in the new Millennium” at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Its goals are to understand global issues dealing with societal and security challenges.