ErbWire: Energy and Climate

Thought in Action at the Erb Institute

Paper explains issues, opportunities surrounding the Smart Grid

Vermont Energy Investment Corp. intern David Fribush, Erb ’10, is the lead author of a white paper that provides a big-picture understanding of the Smart Grid for Vermont Energy Investment Logoconsumers, legislators, regulators and utilities. MORE about the white paper “Electric Evolution: Issues Posed and Opportunities Presented by the Emergence of the Smart Grid.”

Read the Paper:

Erb students dominate sustainable business competitions

Walmart LogoRussell Baruffi and Brian Katzman, both Erb ’10, and Matt Schaar, MBA/MPP ’10, won the $20,000 first prize at the 2010 Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge held April 22-23 in Bentonville, Ark.  Their plan, “Silutions,” is a revolutionary and less environmentally harmful method to produce silane gas for the electronics industry.  Silane is a chemical critical for the manufacture of electronics such as flat-panel displays, semiconductors and solar panels.   The students will use the prize money to implement their business plan.


Baruffi, Katzman and Schaar, working together as the Green Silane team, also won The Erb Institute’s Sustainability Award at the Michigan Business Challenge in February.  The team was one of eight regional winners to compete in the national Walmart challenge; students invent sustainable products or develop sustainable business solutions and present them to a panel of Walmart executives, suppliers and environmental organizations.

Another clean energy prize imageU-M team called Enertia, including Adam Carver, Erb ’12, won the $50,000 top prize at DTE Energy’s statewide 2009-2010 Clean Energy Prize Competition in February.  Thirty-two teams from six schools competed.

Carver and his teammates, two Ph.D.  Fellows at the U-M’s Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, won with a business plan for an invention that aims to displace toxic electrochemical batteries in the market.  The technology developed at U-M includes a patented device that can harness tiny kinetic vibrations from industrial machines, bridges or human movement to power small electronics such as remote sensors and surgically implanted medical equipment.

DTE Energy and the U-M established the Clean Energy Prize competition to encourage entrepreneurship in Michigan and the development of clean-energy technologies. The Masco Corporation Foundation and The Kresge Foundation were Clean Energy Prize founding sponsors and continue to support the competition. Additional sponsors include UBS Investment Bank, Google and Nth Power, a clean-tech venture capital company.


Brian Katzman and David Cieminis, both Erb ’10, co-founded the Renewable Energy Case Competition, which was hosted in January by The Erb Institute and the Ross School with the support of Acciona Energy and the Karl Friedman Family Foundation.  Twelve teams from the nation’s leading business schools competed.


Master’s projects

Master’s projects are a way for students to demonstrate the skills they’ve gained through course work and internships at the Ross School and the School of Natural Resources & Environment.  Here are a few examples of recent master’s projects that focused on climate:

Taka Isshiki

Taka Ishhiki

Taka Isshiki, Sean Killian and Laura Palombi, all Erb  ’11 students, were members of a 10-member master’s project team that recently completed an assignment for The Wilderness Society.   The students provided the client with analyses and tools to use when deciding where to site proposed utility-scale solar energy facilities in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of California.  The project included examining the ecological impacts of solar development on species, natural communities and landscape-scale ecological processes.  The students also evaluated the solar-permitting process and policy for solar development on public lands and looked at how the technology would impact the environment.  View the Project (pdf)

Area Based Development and Climate Change in West Africa and Latin America by Nemanja Babic,  Erb ’10; Amanda Bednarz, MS Conservation Biology; Sidney Brown, MS Environmental Justice/Master of Public Policy; Clair Leighton, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Master of Urban Planning; Ashwina Mahanti, MS Environmental Policy and Planning; and Michel Sintetos, MS Environmental Policy and Planning. View the Project (pdf)

Corn Ethanol and Wildlife: How Are Policy and Market-driven Increases in Corn Planting Affecting Habitat and Wildlife by Elizabeth Griffin and Becca Brooke,  both Erb ’10; Aviva Glaser, MPH/MS Conservation Biology and Environmental Health Science, Conservation Biology; Kristen Johnson, MS Environmental Policy and Planning; and  Greg Fogel, MPP/MS Environmental Policy Planning. View the Project (pdf)

Residential Electricity Usage in Michigan:  Implications of Dynamic Pricing and PHEVs by Arie Jongejan, Brian Katzman, Thomas Leahy and Mark Michelin, all Erb ’10. View the Project (pdf)

Koch family and US Renewables  create scholars award

Alumnus Jonathan Koch, MBA/MS ’96, co-founder and managing director of the equity fund US Renewables Group (USRG), believes in investing in renewable energy and in people.  The Koch Family and USRG recently established the Renewable Energy Scholars Award.

The award is a merit-based grant for Erb Institute MBA/MS students who are pursuing a business idea or writing an essay for publication focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency or carbon mitigation.  Up to four scholarships of at least $1,000 will be awarded per year.

“If we’re going to meet the projected market demand and mandated requirements for renewable power and fuel in the near future, we will need a lot of smart, energetic and creative people entering the field.  We hope these scholarships help spark their interest,” says  Koch, who is featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Dividend magazine.

Speaker Series shines light on solar shingles, green power

Dow LogoSolar shingles and green power programs were two of the topics featured at the Erb Speaker Series this spring.   Patricia Nugent, senior leader of new business development at Dow Solar Solutions, presented “The DOW™POWERHOUSE™ Solar shingle: 
A Case Study in Entrepreneurship within a Corporate Environment” in February.  In March, panelists from DTE Energy, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, The Ecology Center and U-M’s Facilities and Operations Department discussed how green power programs work.  University representatives also shared information about U-M’s efforts to develop renewable energy resources.

Raising awareness

offshore drilling rigExpanding offshore oil and natural gas drilling along U.S. coasts will not lower gas prices, write Andrew Hoffman and Thomas Lyon in an April 2 opinion piece titled “The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling.”

“However, expanding drilling will transfer wealth from oil producers like Chavez, Putin and the Saudis to the oil companies that develop these offshore assets.  This can have some benefits.  It may help us reduce the flow of funds to terrorist organizations and it will certainly help investors in the oil companies that exploit our domestic oil resources,” Hoffman and Lyon assert.

In a recent interview posted on ClimateBiz, David Hone, climate change adviser for Shell, told Andrew Hoffman that the U.S Congress needs to deliver “a clear and unambiguous piece of legislation designed to drive the economy along the emissions reduction pathway that President Obama has now announced.”



2 Responses to ErbWire: Energy and Climate

  1. Through the process of collecting solar energy industry is becoming more and more solar panels and the response to air pollution, global warming and a host of other factors does not mean quality air. The building of their own solar panels is now available for almost all homeowners, then you will have an impact on our overall lifestyle.

  2. gaf shingles says:

    Great info, thanks. I think we all could do a little bit more.

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