Florida State University
Institute for Energy Systems,
Economics and Sustainability

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Here at IESES, we would like to be a public resource to you.  This newsletter highlights our research and also identifies other newsworthy items related to sustainable energy systems research, policy and investments.  Please let us know of other news to share. 

Dave Cartes

Florida State University
Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability
Invitation to the Dedication of the Off-Grid Zero Emission Building (OGZEB) at FSU

Join FSU President T.K. Wetherell in dedicating the OGZEB building as a research test bed to further the technology developed by the Florida State's Energy & Sustainability Center.

The new research facility, dubbed OGZEB (short for "Off-Grid Zero Emissions Building"), is an 800-square-foot structure that features building-design and energy innovations.  The building was developed by local architects, engineers and environmental technology companies, as well as students and faculty from the Center. The center is an IESES partner. 

When: Friday, August 14, at 9:30 A.M.
Where: See map

OGZEB house
Research Results
Experimental Games Help Policy Makers

Societies that under-invest in environmentally friendly technologies face the risk of long-term negative economic growth due to the economic costs of pollution they and other countries generate.  This scenario can be avoided by adopting new policy measures to encourage additional technological innovation and investment that reduce pollution.  Such are the findings from games designed by FSU researchers.  Svetlana Pevnitskaya and Dmitry Ryvkin from the FSU Department of Economics are experimental game theorists. In research funded by IESES, they conduct laboratory experiments with human subjects to explore how decision makers like governments might act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still expanding gross domestic product (GDP).
These games could be designed for and used in policy making in Florida.  Important policy decisions we are facing, such as "cap and trade," need to be designed in ways that encourage industry and government behavior that increases the state domestic product while reducing pollution.  IESES is making this capacity available for decision makers with real revenue at stake.

         Photo of Svetlana Pevnitskaya       Photo of Dmitry Rvkin\
         Professors Svetlana Pevnitskaya and Dmitry Rvkin

How do the games work?  Volunteers arrive at the computer lab in the basement of the Bellamy Building on FSU's campus to participate in experiments.  Each volunteer will become a decision maker in the game where they use virtual tokens for investments, assess environmental impacts and generate profit.  During the experiment, the participants earn or lose tokens based on choices they make. At the end of the experiment, they are actually paid in dollars in proportion to the amount of profit their decisions created in the game. 
Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics used in economics.  Game theory attempts to quantify the economic impact of behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual's outcomes are affected not only by his or her own choices, but also by choices of others. For example, in the case of environmental damage and climate change, one country's economic growth increases greenhouse gas emissions and in turn affects the well being of other countries. For example, the US and Europe produce a large proportion of the world's greenhouse gas whereas the Mekong delta in Vietnam is a region with a large number of rice fields and produces very little greenhouse gas (read more).  However, the Mekong delta is much more vulnerable to climate change related-sea level rise than the US or Europe. 

In Pevnitskaya and Ryvkin's experiments, decision makers acted as local, state or federal government bodies whose decisions had global environmental impact. Under certain conditions their choices lead to investment in technological innovations that reduced pollution and increased GDP.  Ironically, the decision makers in their games could have invested more in pollution reducing technological innovations and received even higher returns on their investments.  The researchers want to know, why didn't the decision makers maximize their profits?  Policy incentives might encourage decision makers to maximize profits and reduce pollution.  Both in the game and in reality, opportunities exist to implement policies that are viable and act to encourage more investments to reach the best possible profits and pollution reduction.
Research Progress
Research Will Aid Homeowners to Become Energy Producers

Six FSU researchers are expanding science and leveraging funding to provide a solution for meeting Florida's sustainable energy needs.  Picture a house with solar panels, a small wind turbine and maybe even a fuel cell power source connected to batteries both in the house and in a hybrid-electric vehicle that stores energy created and used by the home.  Now imagine selling excess energy back to your utility company or using utility power only when needed.  A community of these homes, or something like it, is the vision for FSU researchers Chris Edrington, Helen Li, Mischa Steurer, Dave Cartes, Juan Ordonez and Jim Zheng. This team is focused on integrating new energy sources with microgrids.  

These researchers are not building houses with renewable energy sources and trying to make the system work better, they are building representations of the microgrid in computers.  Within computer models, they are able to build and test different configurations and evaluate the best way to construct resilient, smart and efficient microgrids in homes and communities.   
The project funded through a $383,000 IESES grant has reached its half way point. Based on the progress so far, the team has developed additional research proposals totaling $29 million.  The scope of these proposals extends the microgrid research further into communities, industrial products and to educate a new workforce.  Their efforts are timely, the Florida Public Service Commission recommended that one-fifth of Florida's energy supply come from renewable resources in about a decade.

Some of this renewable energy will come from people and communities rather than utilities.  Power generated by homes from using solar systems is still a tiny fraction of Florida's power generation but it's growing fast (read more). These homeowner's systems are in their infancy.  This research along with more like it will solve the problems that inhibit home energy production. Soon more people and communities will produce renewable energy right at home. 

Faculty in the News
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Biofuel Thrust from Florida State University
The following is a blog from the Journal of Renewable Energy Technology interviewing Mike Wetz a partner of IESES in the
The FSU Center for a Systems Approach to Bio-Energy Research.

Biofuels, organic fuels made from plants and vegetables, are considered to be one of the most promising means of reducing
Dr. Mike Wetz          greenhouse gas emissions and
                               increasing energy security by providing a renewable alternative to fossil fuels.  Ethanol produced from corn comprises the majority of renewable fuel in the U.S.; however, world food shortages, process inefficiencies, and concerns about sustainability have caused a reevaluation of the long-term viability of corn and other land-based biomass sources. Read More.  Listen to the Podcast of this story.
Image of Yulu Krothapalli
       Dr. 'Yulu' Krothapalli                 

Harmony teams with FSU to find new ways to power community
The following is a story of FSU Energy and Sustainability Center, an IESES partner.

A partnership was recently forged between Florida State University's Energy and Sustainability Center and and Harmony, an environmentally friendly community planned in eastern Osceola County.  The university plans to build a 5-megawatt power plant that uses solar thermal energy combined with the gas created by burning biomass, or organic
matter. That's enough to power an average
of 2,000 homes. Read More.
IESES is a public resource. The Institute performs scholarly basic research in engineering, science, infrastructure, governance and the related social dimensions to further a sustainable energy economy.  Within the Institute, centers of focus unite researchers from the disciplines of engineering, law, geography, economics, urban and regional planning to address sustainability and alternative power issues. 

The Centers include:
The Center for Advance Power Systems;
The Energy and Sustainability Center;
The Sustainable Energy and Governance Center; and The Center for a Systems Approach to Bio-Energy Research

Melanie Simmons
FSU IESES Newsletter
2000 Levy Avenue, Suite 360
Tallahassee, FL 32310
(850) 645-9165
Invitation to the Dedication of the Off-Grid Zero Emission Building (OGZEB) at FSU
Experimental Games Help Policy Makers
Research Will Aid Homeowners to Become Energy Producers
Biofuel Thrust from Florida State University
Harmony Teams with FSU to Find New Ways to Power Community
Upcoming Events:

Please Attend the Sustainable Energy and Governance Center -
Brown Bag Workshop

"Siting Renewable Energy Infrastructure in Florida: Regulatory Barriers and Key Considerations"

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Uma Outka, Visiting Scholar in Energy and Land Use Law, College of Law

When: September 11, 2009 at 12:00

DeVoe L. Moore Center
150 Bellamy Building
Florida State University

For Directions:
(850) 644-3848

Recent Events:
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       Dr. Tim Chapin

Dr. Tim Chapin and Dr. Melanie Simmons Presented at a conference held at the Florida Department of Transportation called:
FSU Graduate Appointed to Florida Energy and Climate Commission

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Commissioner Kathy Baughman McLeod

Ms. Baughman McLeod received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Florida State University.  She served as Deputy Chief of Staff for CFO Alex Sink and was appointed by Governor Crist to the Florida Energy and Climate Commission.  Read more.

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