Solar Energy


Solar energy development over the past three decades has focused almost exclusively on efficiency, producing significant gains in our ability to transform light into other forms of energy. Research in the SAGE program will insure that the next generation of technologies are genuinely sustainable and generate net social gains, from the perspective of environmental health and economics. This will require new public policies and managerial capacities to ensure that the potential environmental, social, and health impacts are minimized at every stage of the life cycle of new technologies. This research will include an impact assessment of current generation of photovoltaic technologies and facilitate the tandem development of new solar energy technologies with next-generation toxicity screening.

Project Opportunities:

Impacts of PV Technology (Schwarzman, Iles): Fellows in the SAGE research program will investigate the potential impacts of emerging PV technologies and methods for improving the net environmental health gains by incorporating this knowledge into the design phase.

Solar Energy to Chemical Fuels (Yang, Tilley): Solar-to-fuels projects at Berkeley are geared toward using the latest advances in nanoscience, charge transport, and catalysis to create systems that use solar energy to drive chemical transformations of water and carbon dioxide to transportation fuels.

Integrating Metabolism into High Throughput Toxicity Assays (Smith, Vulpe): The new collaborations under the proposed SAGE IGERT program will produce the capability to apply predictive computational approaches and direct testing via High Content Screening (HCS) toward the toxicological assessment of chemicals used in a variety of industrial applications, such as catalysis.

Understanding Current Patterns of Industry Behavior (Rosen, Kammen, Callaway, Iles): IGERT fellows will investigate the ways that companies in the biofuel, solar, and energy storage sectors are integrating green chemistry principles into their businesses. They will examine questions such as:

·         What management systems are helping firms make this transition?

·         What life cycle and alternatives assessment tools are they using to inform their investment, raw materials and parts procurement, energy infrastructure, and product and process design decisions?

·         What green chemistry metrics and benchmarks are they using to measure progress and set firm goals?

IGERT fellows will also evaluate the relative importance of the key drivers of cleaner design and production strategies.

Campus Connection: Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: