Clean Energy in California

Day two: nuclear, utility and car
by -- March 17th, 2014

Day two started at 8am with Tom Anklam’s presentation on Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL). Tom talked about the way to build a “miniature sun on earth” to provide significant energy – laser fusion. According to Tom, it takes sun 50 million years to initiate fusion, but it can be done in a 10 meter-diameter-chamber (inside) in a second. 192 laser beams are sent to and absorbed by (inside) the chamber, where deuterium and tritium react and generate 1.8 million joules of energy.

Challenges include low tritium inventory, the ability to use conventional structural materials, water disposal and fuel performance. Despite that, UK, Russia, China, Japan, Korea and EU have all been into laser fusion researches.

For more information, please visit LLNL’s website: https://lasers.llnl.gov/science/icf.

Trolley to PG&E.

Trolley to PG&E.

On our way to PG&E.

On our way to PG&E.

After presentations by STEM and PC Systems, we jumped on a trolley, heading for our first company visit: California’s largest utility PG&E. PG&E gave us a holistic introduction of the company from corporate sustainability, renewable portfolio standards, to electricity market design and implementation of cap-and-trade policy.

A majority of the presenters are Nicholas MEM alumni. One course that almost all of them recommended was Electric Power Markets by Dalia Patino Echeverri. Some even suggested we take all Dalia’s courses.

The next stop was Tesla, a promising electrical carmaker.  After listening to Tesla’s managers of sales, operation, and engineering, we all wanted a test drive when we are back in Raleigh and even wanted to buy one someday in the future. Unfortunately we were not able to visit the company’s facility because two groups of visitors before us already made its facility crowded.

Tesla cars.

Tesla cars.

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