Achieving zero carbon emissions in energy distribution is an inherently complex problem; it involves multiple interdependent complex systems running in radically different time scales. In a recent SFI working group, Seth Blumsack, Paul Hines, Cris Moore, and Jessika Trancik considered this challenge in the context of New Mexico, which they outlined in "The Energy Transition in New Mexico: Insights from a Santa Fe Institute Workshop".
In the video below, as part of our ongoing series on the Complexity of Sustainability, Seth Blumsack reported out on that Working Group and led a discussion with two of his working group co-organizers, Jessika Trancik and Cris Moore, exploring the policy implementation process for transitioning the power grid to zero-carbon sources of energy, which is essential for avoiding or minimizing climate change. Many technologies such as solar photovoltaic systems continue to improve, and states and regions now routinely generate a significant fraction of their electricity from renewable sources, at least intermittently. Many of the needed technologies for low-carbon or zero-carbon power grids already exist and continue to decline in cost. A successful transition process, however, requires additional innovation in how we think about encouraging technology deployment, the models that we use in making investments, and how formulating clean energy goals to think beyond just the power grid.