ETA staff frequently conduct research to helps policymakers better understand the scientific, technical and economic dimensions of energy-related issues, efficient products, healthier air, coping with climate change and other issues. The Division's goal is to provide independent, peer-reviewed, high-quality scientific research and analysis. ETA research:
- Helps policymakers understand the outcomes of a range of different policies on, for example, energy use in a particular sector
- Provides technical information to assess risks
- Informs consumers about energy-efficient choices available
- Indicates directions for research and development to meet future needs
Here are some areas where policymaking officials, agencies and advisory bodies have commissioned ETA research and development to better understand the underlying science of an issue.
Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
China is fueling its phenomenal economic growth with huge quantities of coal. The environmental consequences reach far beyond its borders—China is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases.
While daunting, the challenge of meeting China's energy needs presents a wealth of opportunities, particularly in meeting demand through improved energy efficiency.
The China Energy Group is committed to understanding those opportunities, and to exploring their implications for policy and business. We work collaboratively with energy researchers, suppliers, regulators and consumers in China and elsewhere.
Berkeley Lab researchers continue to provide analytical support for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The staff researches and writes about the report topics, attends meetings, and presents research results, emphasizing the analysis of end-use energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Staff attends and makes presentations as requested on the findings of the IPCC reports at the Climate Change Convention negotiating sessions.
Climate Change and International Studies
Researchers participate in the work of the IPCC and study methods to best assess the potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. They help governments develop national action plans and trains experts in developing countries.
Climate Change and Forestry
This research supports efforts to develop effective policies and programs to advance the widespread use of climate change mitigation technologies, especially in developing countries and economies in transition.
Climate change can adversely affect insurance affordability and availability, potentially slowing the growth of the industry and shifting more of the burden to governments and individuals. Most forms of insurance are vulnerable, including property, liability, health and life. This work can help insurers, their regulators, and the policy community develop a better grasp of the physical and business risks. Insurers are well positioned to participate in public-private initiatives to monitor loss trends, improve catastrophe modeling, address the causes of climate change, and prepare for and adapt to the impacts.
CLASP is an outgrowth of an initiative begun in 1996 at Berkeley Lab to help developing countries pursue energy-efficient standards and labeling (S&L) policies. CLASP helps S&L policymakers and practitioners foster socioeconomic development, alleviate poverty, improve the environment, and stimulate global trade. Since 1999, CLASP has assisted with the implementation of 21 new minimum energy performance standards, energy efficiency endorsement labels, and energy information labels that will save 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2014.
The Energy End-use Forecasting and Market Assessment Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory works to transform market and technology data into information to provide a sound basis for policy decisions promoting the development and adoption of cost-effective energy-efficiency technologies.
- Policy Analysis
- Industrial Energy Analysis
Public policy can be highly effective in encouraging greater industrial energy efficiency if the policy instruments are carefully matched to the desired energy efficiency goals. Researchers in this group study the effectiveness, cost and applicability of such policies for state and national government. Research and information is also available to policymakers in energy-efficiency and other influential organizations.
Collaboration with industries potentially affected by proposed policies is an integral part of this process. The goal is to link what is known about energy efficiency improvements with the drivers that can motivate industrial facilities to take action, and to study and/or demonstrate policy instruments with the best, lowest-cost opportunity for supporting more energy-efficient practices.
PePS (Promoting an Energy-Efficient Public Sector) was a collaborative effort funded by multiple sources to promote and assist energy conservation programs in governments around the world.
Direct benefits from more efficient energy management in government facilities and operations include:
- Lower energy bills, which translate to savings in tax dollars
- Reduced environmental damages (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions)
- Less demand on electric utility systems
- Reduced dependence on imported oil
Even more significantly, government "leadership by example" can be a powerful force to shift the market toward energy efficiency.
Electricity Markets and Grid
The U.S. electric power system is in the midst of a fundamental transition from a centrally planned and utility-controlled structure to one that will depend on competitive market forces for investment, operation and reliability management. Electricity system operators are being challenged to maintain the reliability of the grid and support economic transfers of power as the industry's structure changes and market rules evolve. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy depends more than ever on reliable and high-quality electricity supplies. New technologies are needed to prevent major outages.
The vision of the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions is to:
- Transform the electricity grid into an intelligent network that can sense and respond automatically to changing flows of power and emerging problems
- Enhance reliability management through market mechanisms, including transparency of real-time information on the status of the grid
- Empower customers to manage their energy use and reliability needs in response to real-time market price signals
- Seamlessly integrate distributed technologies—including those for generation, storage, controls and communications—to support the reliability needs of both the grid and individual customers
Researchers in this group analyze public interest policy issues and conduct research projects on key electricity market issues, including electric power system reliability, energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy, distributed energy resources, and retail energy services.
Improving Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Consumer Goods, Equipment, and Industrial Processes
The Energy Efficiency Standards group analyzes technical, economic and environmental aspects of energy use in all sectors, both in the United States and internationally.
Indoor Environmental Quality
Pollutant Exposure and Health Risk
The Exposure and Risk Analysis Group conducts research on current and emerging technologies for anticipating and monitoring exposures of human and ecological receptors to harmful agents. Its work focuses on the development and use of multimedia exposure measurements and models in health-risk assessments, chemical transport and transformation in the environment, and the health and environmental impacts of energy, industrial and agricultural systems.
This group evaluates state and federal renewable energy policies, such as renewables portfolio standards (RPS) and system benefits charge (SBC) programs dedicated to the development of renewable energy, and provides expert assistance in effective policy design to state and federal policymakers.
Transportation, Safety and Air Quality Analysis
Using vehicle emissions test results, this group analyzes how the combination of vehicle technology, land-use patterns, and driving behavior affect urban air pollutant emissions in the transportation sector.
Research has demonstrated that reductions in vehicle weight to improve fuel economy do not necessarily reduce the crashworthiness of vehicles, or compromise passenger safety. This group analyzes the effect of vehicle weight on safety, independent of vehicle size characteristics, using the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) database developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
- Analysis of In-Use Vehicle Emissions Using Data from State I/M Programs
- Vehicle Fuel Economy and Safety