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March 27, 2011 / or4green


Energy-related talks at INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research, April 10-12, 2011; Chicago, Illinois (I will be at this conference and plan to post about it here.):
– Mario Veiga Pereira, PSR; Application of Multi-stage Stochastic Optimization and Cloud Computing to the Energy Management of Multi-country Systems
– Alan Taber, Lockheed Martin; Uncertain Supply, Predictable Demand: Converting Solar Energy into Financeable Utility Scale Solar Power
– Tao Hong, Quanta Technology; Short Term Electric Load Forecasting for a Medium Sized US Facility
– Rajesh Tyagi, GE Global Research; Smart Grid- Operations Research Challenges in Managing Demand Response

Several sustainability-related sessions are being organized for the INFORMS 2011 Annual Meeting (via ENRE mailing list):
– INFORMS ENRE Sustainability Cluster chaired by Hayri Onal – see
– Impact of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) on power systems, organized by Lizhi Wang – see
– Power transmission expansion to support renewable integration, organized by Enzo E. Sauma – see

Conference on Smart Grids organized by Center for Applied Optimization (CAO) at University of Florida, in collaboration with Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) – see

Call for Papers – GECCO Workshop on GreenIT Evolutionary Computation (see , to be held as part of the
July 12-16 (Tuesday-Saturday), 2011, Dublin, Ireland

Post-doc opportunities in computational sustainability at University of British Columbia. Excerpt from the announcement: “The post holder will contribute to the Water Energy Nexus project, with the core aim of developing and testing a prototype decision-making tool to assist different stake-holders in the selection of context-specific solutions for sustainable waste water management.” See

January 26, 2011 / or4green

State of the Union

Clean energy came up in President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. He called for 80% of US electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035. He made a point of mentioning this includes clean coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. That might not sit well with environmentalists, but makes the goal eminently more achievable, particularly with natural gas and nuclear in the equation.

To see what will change, here is what 2009 looked like (via

So, essentially the coal and petroleum slices of the pie need to drop from around 46% to 20% within around 25 years, with the other slices picking up the slack.

At around the same time, the New York Times reported on the departure of Carol Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate change policy. John M. Broder of the Times writes:

Her departure signals at least a temporary slowing of the ambitious environmental goals of President Obama’s first two years in the face of new Republican strength in Congress … Mr. Obama has acknowledged that no major climate change legislation is likely to pass in the next two years.

Climate change policy, such as cap & trade and renewable portfolio standards, would certainly have helped the 80% by 2035 goal. Without them, it would seem the path to achieving the goal is off to a tough start.

Update: By coincidence, my brother wrote a very informative story about this for AP – definitely worth checking out.

Update #2: Found the EIA’s projections, seemingly before this announcement –
– has coal and petroleum at 44% in 2035, down from 46% in 2009, nuclear is down, renewables and natural gas up slightly — pretty modest change.

December 16, 2010 / or4green

What’s Been Up

I’ve been finding twitter more and more useful. I recently discovered @ACUPCC, which is the twitter feed of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. They describe themselves as working to “neutralize campus GHG emissions and to accelerate the educational efforts to equip society to do the same.” They were recommended to me by a facilities engineer I know. I highly recommend their twitter feed; lots of useful leads from them.

I really like that their mission includes not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions but incorporating sustainability into university and college curricula. And many of their tweets point to examples of both. Those two missions very much match the philosophy of green O.R. in my view.

At present I am working on developing a sustainability course. It will not specifically be about green O.R., though I do intend to inject such material where possible. The intention is for it to be quantitative but multidisciplinary, so that, for example, a government major would feel comfortable taking it. And with policy being such a huge component of sustainability, we’d want those government majors in there. I also intend to include leadership issues, that is, what does it really take to implement sustainability changes in an organization. I hope to post more about this course soon. Some texts I am considering using are ones I have mentioned on this blog, such as Cradle to Cradle; The Market for Virtue; Ecological Design, plus others including The End of Nature; Industrial Ecology; The Skeptical Environmentalist; Small is Beautiful; The Nature of Economies; For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, The Environment, and a Sustainable Future; and Cape Wind (thanks to Art. C for pointing me to some of these).

There are many sustainability courses out there. Ones I have checked out so far are some at MIT (via their open courseware site), a course on Sustainable Systems Management (Dr. Sencer Yeralan at METU), and some in the University of California system (thanks to @ACUPCC for this one).

If you have any recommendations for books, topics, speakers, other courses to check out, let me know. Stay tuned.

November 6, 2010 / or4green

Energy/Environment at INFORMS 2010

There is a useful collection of the energy/environment-related talks at the INFORMS 2010 Annual Meeting at this link (pdf) (thanks to Vishnu Nanduri, for compiling). At 13 pages, it easily lists at least 100 talks, which is … a lot. A quick scan from the green O.R. perspective winnows the list a little, and shows a lot on wind energy and cap & trade. A few of the talks that I’d attend, if I were at the meeting, would be:
– How Does Product Recovery Affect Quality Choice?
Gilvan Souza,
– Optimal Control of Energy Storage using the Knowledge Gradient with Nonparametric Beliefs
Warren Powell
[Have heard each of the above two speak before, and was impressed.]
– An Approach to Solve Discretely-constrained Linear MCPs
Steve Gabriel
– Optimization Mechanisms for Residential Electricity Demand in SmartGrids
Lawrence V. Snyder
– Optimizing the Energy Savings From Shade Tree Location
David Butry
I’d be interested to hear about these or other relevant talks from you if you attend.

October 26, 2010 / or4green

Academic Positions in Green O.R.

A couple of recent academic job postings in green O.R.:

1. Post doc at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, in the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, the business department within the engineering school. From the posting: “In this project we use unique data to analyze investor behavior and decision making for building renewable energy power plants. Empirical testing and further development of the theory of real options is core.” Applications deadline – December 1, 2010. More info here.

2. Tenure-track faculty position at the Assistant Professor level in Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. “One position is in emerging areas such as biomanufacturing, nanomanufacturing, and sustainable systems.” (Emphasis mine.) More info here.

October 24, 2010 / or4green

LCA-OR Working Group Website Updated

The website of the LCA-OR Working Group mentioned in this earlier post has been updated. Note, the group is actually called “Measuring Carbon and Energy Footprints in Supply Chains – International Interdisciplinary Working Group”, so the connection is probably more to OM than OR. The site now lists a number of centers, links to case studies (including the interesting “Canned Diet Coke Offers Smaller Carbon Footprint“), upcoming conferences, papers, and more. See also the group’s LinkedIn page.

October 4, 2010 / or4green

Electric Car Upstream Emissions

Electric cars may not produce harmful emissions, but the generation of the electricity they run on might (e.g. coal). According to a recent article in E Magazine, even factoring in the dirtiest electricity sources, electric cars still come out cleaner than traditional gas powered vehicles:

… Naysayers like to argue that EVs will simply transfer the pollution “from the tailpipe to the smokestack.” Not so. The truth is that even today, charging an EV from a 100% coal-fired grid is up to 30% cleaner in terms of global warming emissions than running an average gasoline car. But the grid is almost never 100% coal, even in the Midwest, and new rules will continually reduce the emissions from that stack, says the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). If plants are fired by natural gas (and an increasingly large number are) then the result is 40-50% better. A nuclear grid is 90-95% better. And if the electricity is from wind or solar, it’s 100% better. “We really project the grid to get less carbon-intense over time,” says Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation at EPRI.

See: Charging Ahead: The Electric Car Revolution Is Coming—But Not Fast Enough, by Jim Montavalli in Sept/Oct 2010 Issue of E Magazine.