The Breakthrough Institute

The Breakthrough Institute The Breakthrough Institute is a pioneering research institute changing how people think about energy and the environment.
(20)

Operating as usual

We're excited to welcome Professor Chris Foreman as one of the newest members of the Breakthrough Institute's Board!Prof...
01/20/2021

We're excited to welcome Professor Chris Foreman as one of the newest members of the Breakthrough Institute's Board!

Professor Foreman has been affiliated with the Governance Studies Program at the Brookings Institute since July 1989, first as a research associate, later as a senior fellow, and now as a non-resident fellow.

Since 2000, has been a professor and director of the social policy program at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy where he teaches courses on political institutions and the politics of inequality.

His book Signals from the Hill: Congressional Oversight and the Challenge of Social Regulation (Yale University Press, 1988) won the 1989 D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress.

Learn more about Professor Foreman:
https://thebreakthrough.org/people/chris-foreman

The Breakthrough Institute is delighted to welcome Jennifer Hernandez as one of the newest members of its board! Jennife...
01/20/2021

The Breakthrough Institute is delighted to welcome Jennifer Hernandez as one of the newest members of its board!

Jennifer has practiced land use and environmental law for more than 30 years and leads Holland & Knight's West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group. She has received numerous civil rights awards for her work on overcoming environmentalist opposition to housing and other projects needed and supported by minority communities.

Learn more about Jennifer:
https://thebreakthrough.org/people/jennifer-hernandez

"[F]ederal involvement has often made the key difference in whether new innovations eventually reach commercial viabilit...
01/19/2021
The Biden Administration Needs to Invest in Early-Stage Climate-Friendly Energy Tech

"[F]ederal involvement has often made the key difference in whether new innovations eventually reach commercial viability or not," and the Biden administration has the opportunity to do the same for #cleanenergy innovation.

Check out Alex Trembath's latest in Slate.com

https://slate.com/technology/2021/01/early-stage-climate-friendly-energy-biden.html

Much of the conversation around federal clean energy policy has focused on solar, wind, and personal electric vehicles. That’s not enough.

01/14/2021
Technological Solutions to Environmental Challenges

We're hiring!

BTI is searching for a senior energy analyst to help accelerate decarbonization of the economy!

Excellent candidates will have expertise in grid modeling and/or nuclear, but any highly qualified candidates are encouraged to apply:

https://thebreakthrough.org/about/jobs

The Breakthrough Institute is an environmental research center based in Oakland, California. Our research focuses on identifying and promoting technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges in three areas: energy, conservation, and food and farming.

China’s #netzero pledge has positioned it as a leader on global #climateaction. BTI's Ted Nordhaus and Seaver on what ma...
01/12/2021
China Breaks Decades of Climate Gridlock

China’s #netzero pledge has positioned it as a leader on global #climateaction. BTI's Ted Nordhaus and Seaver on what made this moment possible and what it means for climate efforts going forward.

Check it out in Foreign Policy:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/01/11/china-climate-diplomacy-decarbonize-net-zero-separate-and-differentiated/

By overturning the principle that the West must decarbonize before developing countries, Beijing has opened the way for real action.

Need a new year resolution?Why not apply to Breakthrough's 2021 Generation Fellowship? Every summer from June to August,...
01/07/2021
Generation Fellowship

Need a new year resolution?

Why not apply to Breakthrough's 2021 Generation Fellowship?

Every summer from June to August, Generation offers a small number of paid, highly competitive, ten-week fellowships to recent college graduates and postgraduates from around the world.

Learn more and apply below:

https://thebreakthrough.org/fellowships/generation-fellowship

Breakthrough Generation is an initiative in the Breakthrough Institute’s research program, founded in 2008 to foster the development of a new generation of thinkers and writers capable of finding pragmatic new solutions to today’s greatest challenges in the areas of energy, economy, and…

10/16/2020

"It has become undeniable that the world is undergoing an energy transition, and it is quite possible that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels peaked last year in 2019, based both on our own analysis and the newly released IEA World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2020."

New analysis from Zeke Hausfather:

https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/peak-co2-emissions-2019

"The choice is not between renewable and nuclear power, it is between severe climate change and decarbonized energy syst...
10/14/2020
We Need Both Nuclear and Renewables to Protect the Climate

"The choice is not between renewable and nuclear power, it is between severe climate change and decarbonized energy systems. Building as much zero-carbon power as possible ... is necessary for global decarbonization."

Nuclear Innovation Alliance's Alex Gilbert responds to Sovacool et. al.

Read more here:
https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/we-need-both-nuclear-and-renewables

The balance of peer-reviewed literature, international energy organizations, and national energy policies are unequivocal: nuclear is carbon-free energy.

10/06/2020

Tackling agriculture's air pollution footprint — which accounts for half of US air pollution — would help mitigate climate change and improve health outcomes for Americans.

Learn more here:
http://ow.ly/xq4650BL02t

10/01/2020

Hydroelectricity is one of the largest and most useful sources of clean energy in the United States and around the world. But that electricity has come at a great cost to both humans and the environment.

Environmentalists frequently call for dam removal, but is that a compatible goal with climate action? It appears that they aren’t, but a thorough analysis reveals that many of the riskiest dams are quite small, and could be removed without major impacts on clean energy.

That lost capacity could be made up in numerous, less damaging ways, but dam removal will always have human impacts that must be considered.

Learn more from here:
https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/climate-and-dams

There’s more value to trees than their limited ability to store carbon, and it’s about time that our tree restoration an...
09/30/2020
Don't Make Forest Management All about Climate Change

There’s more value to trees than their limited ability to store carbon, and it’s about time that our tree restoration and forest management policies recognize that too.

The health of forests requires the restoration of natural fire regimes and smarter logging practices — two things that might seem contradictory to a singular goal of lowering emissions but support forests’ ability to balance legitimate competing priorities and store carbon over the long term.

Fire and flood prevention, wildlife conservation, clean water, and support for rural economies are all essential services that forest workers and policymakers should prioritize when weighing new forest management approaches.

https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/conservation/forest-management-climate

There's more value to trees than their ability to store carbon. Let's create a forest management policy that acknowledges that.

09/29/2020

In substituting fossil fuels for clean energy, there is hope that many energy security concerns around the world will vanish as countries are freed from the need to import large amounts of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Decarbonization will dramatically alter the relationship between energy and geopolitics, but we should expect this relationship to evolve, not disappear.

Clean energy comes accompanied with its own new strategic considerations, meaning that energy will likely remain an important security issue for many governments even in a decarbonized future.

Learn more about these considerations here:
https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/clean-energy-security

Is World War II the right model for climate mobilization? BTI’s Seaver Wang and Alex Smith believe we can do better.Adeq...
09/24/2020
Bold and Fair Climate Mobilization Looks Different from WWII

Is World War II the right model for climate mobilization? BTI’s Seaver Wang and Alex Smith believe we can do better.

Adequately responding to climate change requires ambitious action on a global scale — action that many policymakers and climate advocates liken fondly to the total war mobilization of America in WWII. But nostalgia for wartime America applies a Western-centric frame to the climate challenge that erases WWII’s record of unequal burdens and outcomes.

During the war and in its wake, colonial empires leveraged power imbalances in service of their interests. At the same time, national governments papered over social inequalities in favor of industrial production and military victory. Efforts to truly model a climate mobilization based on this total war model risk omitting history’s lessons and repeating our mistakes. It is no leap of imagination to envision humanity imposing decarbonization’s costs unfairly in this model — several climate equity challenges present themselves even in its absence.

The best climate policies, in truth, fundamentally diverge from the WWII model by promoting democratic participation and accommodating economic and equity considerations, even if that means messier, measured progress.

Get the full history lesson here:
https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/ww2-climate-mobilization

Pulling back the veil on history reveals the overlooked inequities of war.

Are we underestimating geothermal’s potential? BTI’s Erik Olson thinks so. To date, geothermal energy’s deployment has m...
09/22/2020
It’s Time to Take Geothermal Energy Seriously

Are we underestimating geothermal’s potential? BTI’s Erik Olson thinks so.

To date, geothermal energy’s deployment has mostly been limited to niche, geologically-active regions where it can easily be accessed, like Iceland and Indonesia. However, propelled by the shale gas revolution’s breakthroughs in drilling and advances in geology, Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) have the potential to vastly expand the world’s access to geothermal energy.

Nonetheless, estimates of geothermal’s potential remain modest. The US Department of Energy, for example, suggests an upper limit of 120 Gigawatts of domestic geothermal by 2050. But such estimates fail to take into account that successes in EGS demonstration already exist — some dating back to the 1980s — and that EGS could increase access to geothermal energy at around 1300 times what used to be available using only conventional geothermal extraction techniques.

Tapping this potential, however, will require smart innovation policies that accelerate innovation and reduce deployment costs. As BTI’s Erik Olson puts it, “[t]he concept of EGS has been proven...and the first test wells drilled. The challenge now is not to build the first EGS plant, but the 10th.”

https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/take-geothermal-seriously

No matter its ultimate role, the need for scalable, affordable, and firm clean energy tech makes geothermal worth the investment.

ICYMI: Catch up on our conversation with MIT Technology Review's James Temple, RIPE's Aliza Wasserman-Drewes, Gordon Val...
09/17/2020
Webinar: The Limits of Soil Carbon Sequestration

ICYMI: Catch up on our conversation with MIT Technology Review's James Temple, RIPE's Aliza Wasserman-Drewes, Gordon Valley Farms' Phil Gordon, and BTI's Daniel Blaustein Rejto, now on Youtube.

https://youtu.be/Qct62UiJB4M

Regenerative agriculture has been heralded by policymakers, corporations, and farmers as a way to offset greenhouse gas emissions. But there’s a roiling deba...

In a landmark moment for the nuclear industry, NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) became the first advanced nuc...
09/17/2020
Can NuScale’s SMR Compete With Natural Gas?

In a landmark moment for the nuclear industry, NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) became the first advanced nuclear reactor to be certified as safe by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a two-and-a-half-year long application process.

Why the celebration? Well, SMRs like NuScale’s have the potential to transform the economics of nuclear energy by making reactors faster, easier, and cheaper to build, since they can be mass-produced off-site and have lower operating costs than traditional nuclear reactors. As a zero-emissions technology, this mass-producibility makes SMRs a strong contender to challenge dirtier types of firm generation (like natural gas plants) and complement variable renewables (like solar and wind) in ongoing efforts to decarbonize electricity grids.

While it's unclear exactly how much a NuScale SMR will cost before the company has actually built one, Breakthrough Generation Fellow Andrew Fletcher and Director of Climate and Energy Zeke Hausfather estimate that the reactors could be competitive with natural gas plants under a range of circumstances.

Read more here:
https://thebreakthrough.org/issues/energy/nuscale-vs-gas

NuScale's ability to garner both public and private investment depends largely on natural gas prices, discount rates, and the availability of low-carbon energy subsidies.

09/10/2020

Enhanced geothermal greatly expands the accessibility of geothermal energy beyond niche, geologically active regions. And there are compelling reasons to think it can play a larger role in clean energy than assumed today if we make smart policy decisions.

http://ow.ly/zKhC50BnfEY

A mission-oriented, federally-funded soil science research initiative could drive innovation and enable long-term econom...
08/31/2020
Restructuring Soil Science R&D for US Farmers and the Climate

A mission-oriented, federally-funded soil science research initiative could drive innovation and enable long-term economic profitability and environmental sustainability in US Agriculture.

New from Alex Smith:

Publicly funded soil science R&D could greatly increase farm productivity while also reducing the GHG emissions and environmental impacts of US farming.

The environmental footprint of cultivated meat depends on what it replaces. To minimize the risk of cultivated meat incr...
08/28/2020
Can Cultivated Meat Live up to Its Environmental Promise?

The environmental footprint of cultivated meat depends on what it replaces. To minimize the risk of cultivated meat increasing emissions, the industry should act now to decarbonize and increase the energy efficiency of production.

Learn more here:

Replacing pork or chicken with cultivated meat could well raise emissions, depending on how energy-intensive commercially-cultivated meat production is.

Address

436 14th Street, Suite 820
Oakland, CA
94612

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when The Breakthrough Institute posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to The Breakthrough Institute:

Videos

Nearby government services


Other Oakland government services

Show All

Comments

The Breakthrough Institute on Energy Decarbonization.
I think Breakthrough Institute is running under some pressure and they have not adequate skills and expertise to judge environmental problems independently
To Jessica Lovering, Breakthrough Dear Madam, In continuation to my earlier message, I like to inform you that a nuclear power unit is only 28% efficient. That means they reject 72% of their heat generated in nuclear reactor into environment and this much heat is directly heating the atmosphere and environment. Hence this nuclear power plant can not run in sustainable manner. With running of this plant , environment will go on heating. This plant is not emitting carbon dioxide that is all right, but it is emitting water vapor from their cooling tower and this is a green house gas responsible for global warming. And since they are non-technical they are saying water vapor is not a GHG. They have engaged false reporters to publish their fake claim for public awareness, but very few people/public know this fact. They have planned to install additional capacities of nuclear power throughout the world to cool the present hot earth for ongoing extreme heating of the earth as a solution. But to everybody's surprise, it will be seen that the temperature of earth is/will be rising in stead of falling. It will happen and their fake reporters and they themselves will be punished/ blamed for their lack of knowledge and expertise. Thanks and regards Radhashyam Muduli Bhubaneswar, India Engineer/ Scientist 02/04/2020
To Jessica Lovering,Breakthrough Dear Madam, From your writings and declarations on Energy Policy,I came to know that you have taken nuclear power as green and renewable energy. Nuclear power is carbon free but not green/renewable energy for it is not sustainable. That means with its use and application, it will not maintain the environment in good stead and is degrading the environment by heating it. A nuclear power plant warms environment more than a same capacity fossil fuel fired thermal power plant. The scientist dominated organisation with less technical know how, they are claiming like this from inception and due to low cost of nuclear power, few influential states have allowed them to continue operation. As such nuclear power is a global warmer and it should not be allowed to continue their operation/business. To our greatest surprise, they have planned to add extra nuclear power capacities to cool earth, but it will end in heating the present hot earth. The details of these I shall write in my next letter. Please convey your email ID to [email protected] Thanks and regards Radhashyam Muduli Bhubaneswar, India Engineer/Scientist 02/04/2020
Because the albedo/atmosphere reflect 30% of the incoming solar energy the earth is cooler with that albedo/atmosphere than without. Without an atmosphere the earth would receive 30% more kJ/h becoming a barren rock much like the moon, hot^3 on the lit side, cold^3 on the dark. This observation is easily confirmed by comparisons with the moon as Nikolov, Kramm suggest and UCLA Diviner mission observes. This refutes the RGHE theory which postulates just the opposite, that the earth sans atmosphere would be a -430 F ball of ice or 288 K w/ - 255 K w/o = 33 C cooler. (Rubbish!) Because of the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the contiguous participating atmospheric molecules, 396 W/m^2 of BB LWIR upwelling from the surface is not possible. As I demonstrate in the grand science tradition of performing experiments: https://principia-scientific.org/debunking-the-greenhouse-gas-theory-with-a-boiling-water-pot/ Without the 396 W/m^2 upwelling LWIR there is no net 333 W/m^2 for the GHGs to "trap", "back" radiate or warm anything anywhere. There is no radiative greenhouse effect and the non-existent GHGs do not "warm" the terrestrial surface.
Forget 'net zero'! 'Absolute Zero' for all of humanity's energy needs from nuclear power and hydrogen [even much of the air travel] - and the absolute minimum environmental footprint possible: --------------------//---------------------- Just sent the email below to Dr Finkel. Don't know if I'll get a reply. Going to put in as a comment on the video too [if it lets me]: -----------------------//------------------------- Subject: Dr. Alan Finkel AO | Energy: Australia's national hydrogen strategy Dear Dr Finkel, The subject matter is the title of your recent YouTube 'ceda' presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96oqkFkJADc At 2:32 in, you explain that nuclear power is not available in the Australian 'zero-emissions tool kit'. Further in, you describe the scale of hydrogen production envisioned and concentrate on solar power as the simple means of explaining the electricity capacity needed to produce the 30 million tonnes of H2 exports. 900 GW of solar at the typical Australian 25% capacity factor, will give you the 1,980 TWh per year necessary. This would be equivalent to 4091 Bungala-sized Solar Power Projects, with a capital cost of A$1,913 billion, occupying 33,000 km2 with a lifespan of 30 years. In view of the fact that your video presentation appears on the CEDA News YouTube channel [ceda: committee for economic development of australia], would you know if the burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear reactors figure in the Committee's forward planning? For example, do you think they are aware of the COD for GE-Hitachi's 300 MW [Small Modular Reactor] nuclear power plant [npp], the BWRX-300, has recently been pulled forward from 2030 to 2028. This implies that in the early years of the 2030s, this npp will be available at the NOAK capital cost of A$890 million. That's A$890 million for a 300 MW npp, operating at 90% capacity factor, generating 24/7, low-carbon electricity for a 60 year design life. 837 BWRX-300s, maybe grouped onto 100 or so sites, would have a capital cost of A$745 billion. Bearing in mind all of that solar capacity would have to be built a second time to generate for 60 years, the total capital cost of solar power would be A$3,826 million, which is >5X the capital cost of the npp alternative. Developing Australia economically by foisting upon the tax and bill-paying public, a low-carbon energy technology, with >5X the capital cost of advanced npps, takes the money out of their pockets to pay for lifestyle decisions of their own choices, in order to pay a lot more to take a hot shower, boil the kettle, or run the car. At 81 years old, and the UK's No.1 BWRX-300 supporter, I hang on to the hope I will see the breakers thrown on that FOAK. And in the meanwhile, I'll be pushing all I can to promote it in a facebook group page [new members always welcome] and in the blogosphere: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1032713003519847/ https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/ It would be really good to know what you think . Kind regards,
OMG how can this ever be happening? The CCC in full flow with their Government-targeted crap. Please HELP! HELP! Anybody who can, please have a dig at these morons!!!!!!!!!!! Just put this on their facebook link to the announcement: -------------------------------//------------------------------- "...A decade ago we said, “decarbonise electricity generation, then electrify the economy where you can – there is a cost, but it’s worth it”. It turns out we were very right about that strategy; but pleasingly wrong about the cost. The key technologies – wind, solar, batteries – globally have fallen in price, to become cost competitive in some cases with fossil-fuelled systems...........But it is equally true that ten years ago, the CCC were overly optimistic about cost falls in some other technologies – nuclear for example..." These morons at the CCC are manifestly pro-renewables/anti nuclear and under a cloud of dubious integrity with recent revelations about Lord Deben, its Chair. Their weasel-words about the cost competitiveness of renewables can be shown up for what it is by the simplest of arithmetic an 11 year old child could do. And their nasty dig at the cost of nuclear demonstrates a complete ignorance, or the wilfull ignoring, of burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear power reactors. In 15 years time the GE-Hitachi, BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor [SMR] will be available. It is a uniquely simple and therefore cost effective nuclear power reactor at an overnight cost of $2000/kW, which is a quarter of the cost of Hinkley and competitive to gas. If 100% of the 340 TWh of electricity the UK uses every year were to be supplied by wind and solar, it is likely we would not be prepared to put up with the landscape desecration the Germans accept. So a reasonably 'permutation' might be 10% solar, 30% onshore wind and 60% offshore wind. It will never be truly emissions' free because renewables will forever require fossil-fuelled backup. This would cost £527 billion to cover generation for 60 years - the design life of a nuclear power plant. 340 TWh of 24/7 electricity, requiring no fossil-fuelled backup could be supplied by BWRX-300s for a cost of £65 billion. True zero-emissions electricity for 60 years at 1/8th of the cost. But as significant to Claire Perry should be the ruling in the USA that the Emergency Planning Zone [EPZ] for SMRs can be at the boundary fence of their tiny sites. This is what James Conca recently said: "...the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission just agreed that any emergencies that could possibly occur at a small modular nuclear power plant probably won’t even get past the fence..........No need to come up with huge evacuation plans for nearby cities or anyone living near the plant, like we did for older plants. You can just stand there at the fence and watch what’s going on..." SMRs can be sited near centres of population. The BWRX-300 has a rating of 900 MW thermal and plenty of potential to supply much of the heating and hot water to buildings - 40% of UK energy use - when used as a Combined Heating& Power [CHP] plant. A cost-effective solution to one of the Government's worst energy headaches, with an infrastructure cost nowhere near that of a 100% renewables [electricity only] UK. If there's a God up there, to which most of the politicians, genuinely or otherwise, pay lip service, please put a force field around the Department of BEIS and Parliament, so nothing from the CCC can get through. For the simple cost figures: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/2019/03/butwhat-about-100-low-carbon.html For the insane comment from Chris Stark about batteries - "...globally have fallen in price..." - just have a look at this: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/2019/03/just-4-windless-days-in-100-wind-and.html ------------------------------------------//------------------------------------- https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/03/19/chris-stark-towards-net-zero/