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Issues of energy, environment, technology, and trade in agriculture and natural resources.


Selected Research Topics:

Policy durability: In democracies, different political parties place different values on the environment. While considering a two-party democratic system and capital-intensive technologies, forward-looking governments incorporate the probability of losing power into their policy design and tie future governments’ hands. Current work aims to understand better the importance of policy durability.

Regional Greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI) and electricity prices: In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland Interconnection (PJM), and following the announcement of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2005, wholesale electricity prices declined overtime without statistical significance. However, at the same time, retail electricity prices increased by 25%. In current work, we build on these observations and strive better to understand renewables’ effect on the price of electricity and thus the spatial distribution of renewables’ impacts on the U.S. economy.

Bioenergy carbon capture usage and storage: Energy generation using biomass has fluctuated in the U.S. over the past decade after a period of sustained growth in its adoption. Bioenergy offers the possible added benefit of improving domestic energy security by reducing reliance on unsustainable energy supplies. While bioenergy is a promising technology for improving rural residents’ livelihoods, efforts should integrate bioenergy systems into cofiring operations or utilize carbon capture and storage (CCS) with forestry residue and agricultural waste utilized as a key input. In the latter case, the lack of viability of bioenergy carbon capture and storage plants (BECCS) due to high transportation or storage costs can inhibit bioenergy’s ability to deliver improved quality of life for rural regions. Meanwhile, given their current configuration, national forests’ ability to efficiently provide the necessary biowaste is unknown. Simultaneously, estimates on the cost of BECCS plants, though increasing in this past decade, remain paltry.

Multi-trophic aquaculture systems: The overarching goal of this project is to understand better the differences in economic (overall production and profitability) and environmental footprint of extensive (e.g., estuarine net-pen) and intensive (land-based and often closed) aquaculture systems, focusing on the modeling and prototype development of an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) system.

Renewable natural gas and organic waste: Production of biogas and biomethane affects humanity’s two key challenges: dealing with the increased organic waste produced and the imperative need to reduce anthropogenic global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A fundamental concept guiding the production of these gases is the circulating economy, whereby the continuous use and reuse of organic waste generate renewable energy while delivering environmental benefits. The sustainable accounting of biogas and biomethane production may generate value to segments of communities, including companies. However, what are these environmental, social, and economic benefits? How sensitive are these processes to the various technologies and waste streams? What is the viability and likelihood of these processes generating environmental, economic, and social-corporate values?

Load shifting technologies, storage, and decarbonizing the U.S. economy: The increasing utilization of renewable energy systems and load shifting technologies offers the possibility of improving the profitability of agriculture in the U.S. Uncertainties on the relationship between implementation of renewable energy and economic outcomes and prices arise, however, from conflicting accounts from the literature. It is further unknown how key domestic industries would be affected by an increase in renewable electricity and how would these benefits be distributed, suggesting a need to make a full assessment of the economic impacts of ongoing and future shifts towards renewable energy systems and load shifting technologies such as electrochemical fertilizer production.