Graduate Studies in Energy, Environment, and Society

Article written by Arne Jacobson

Note: The title of the program was changed to Energy Technology and Policy, ETaP, in Fall 2011. The curriculum and program remain the same.

Stephen Kullmann taking pathfinder measurements at Rock Creek Ranch

EES graduate student Stephen Kullmann works on a renewable energy feasibility study for the Yurok Tribe. (Photo by Stephen Kullmann)

We are pleased to launch a new and exciting graduate program at Humboldt State University. This semester we welcomed the first class of students in the interdisciplinary “Energy, Environment, and Society” (EES) program. Students in EES earn a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Environmental Systems with an emphasis in Energy, Environment, and Society. We begin this fall semester with a solid group of 10 graduate students, and we expect that the program will grow quickly from this initial base. You can check out the program at www.

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SERC & U.S.F.S. Team Up On Biomass Energy

Richard Engel at Orleans

SERC Engineer Richard Engel (foreground) collects propane usage data for the Orleans Ranger Station. (Photo by Ranjit Deshmukh)

The U.S. Forest Service recently asked SERC to look into the feasibility of using woody biomass as a fuel to replace propane and electricity for space and water heating at the Orleans Ranger District Office in Six Rivers National Forest. Large amounts of woody debris are generated by Six Rivers’ forest thinning operations aimed at reducing wildfire risk. The Forest Service is interested in ways of disposing of this debris other than open pile burning, which is wasteful and can create air quality problems. SERC conducted an energy use audit at the facility and is now investigating commercially available equipment that could be used to heat the building with wood. We have interviewed several nationally recognized experts on commercial-scale biomass heating equipment. We also created a computer model of the building to estimate energy use and energy costs under different heating scenarios. In addition, the model will help us to recommend an appropriately sized replacement heating system for the building.

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Learning About Biomass Thermal Gasifiers in India

Article written by Ranjit Deshmukh

Ranjit lights a Gasifier

Schatz Energy Fellow Ranjit Deshmukh fires up the GAS-11 gasifier during a four-day training at Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies in India. (Photo courtesy of Ranjit Deshmukh)

India’s economy is growing at a tremendous rate, but corresponding rise in energy demand has left the country in a severe power crisis. Blackouts and brownouts are common, with rural areas experiencing the bulk of it. Decentralized village electrification projects offer the possibility of predictable electricity supply for rural areas as well as a source of community income by feeding electricity to the grid. The Indian government currently offers up to 50% in capital subsidies for electrification projects using biomass thermal gasification. For those of you new to this technology, gasification is the incomplete combustion of biomass that results in the production of combustible gases that can be cleaned, filtered and fed into an engine running a generator to make electricity.

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Spreading the Word About Grid- Connected Solar Electricity

Yurok PV Array

Jim Zoellick checks the shading profile for the Weitchpec solar electric array. (Photo credit SERC.)

When people ask me, “Does solar work in foggy Humboldt County?” I answer with a resounding “Yes,” adding that the large number of solar electric systems gracing our local rooftops is a good indication that solar works here. In fact, although coastal Humboldt County only receives about two-thirds as much solar energy as the rest of California, we have installed about three times more solar electric systems than the rest of the state on a per capita basis.

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A Message from the Director

Peter and Jim summit Glacier Peak

What we did on our summer vacation: Schatzers Peter Lehman and Jim Zoellick on the summit of Glacier Peak in Washington state. Mt. Baker and the North Cascades are in the distance. (Photo Credit Peter Kuhnlein)

The big news at the Schatz lab is that after 15 years at our present location in the Humboldt State University Annex, we’ve begun the process of building a new facility on the HSU campus. Though our present home has served us well, we are severely space limited and this poor old building, built as a hospital in the 1940s, has seen better days.

Our new Center will be located on a picturesque, hillside site only a few hundred yards from our present location. The new building will be about 50% larger than our current space and will provide us with room to accommodate more graduate students and a more complete lab and shop. In keeping with our values, the new building will be energy and resource conserving and blend in with its beautiful North Coast environment. We’ll keep you informed as we progress toward a completed design.

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