Fall 2015
Mort Webster
Associate Professor of Energy Engineering
John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Over the next few decades, the electric power system will transformed into one with significantly lower carbon emissions, reduced water impacts, using different combinations of technologies and fuels, and possibly very different industrial and regulatory structures.  One of the key challenges to making robust near-term investments in this system is the high degree of uncertainty in how the system will evolve. Future regulations (e.g., what emissions limits may exist), future fuel prices, and future technology cost and performance are all uncertain. Furthermore, there is significant path-dependency, by which near-term investments can enable or constrain future choices. In this talk, I will discuss both challenges in the design of policies that are intended to guide this transition, and also challenges in the current state-of-the-art of analysis and planning tools.

Prof. Webster is an Associate Professor of Energy Engineering, with a focus on uncertainty in energy and environmental systems.  Prof. Webster specializes in risk analysis, uncertainty analysis, and decision-making under uncertainty.  He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in energy and environmental science, engineering, economics, and policy, and has served on several national and international panels, including the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.  Current research projects include stochastic dynamic modeling of the electric power system focusing on the integration of intermittent renewable generation (NSF), modeling technological change as a stochastic process and implications for near-term R&D portfolios (NSF, DOE), and flexible air quality strategies under uncertainty using integrated economic/energy/chemistry regional models (NSF, EPA).  Prior to joining Penn State, Prof. Webster was Assistant and Associate Professor of Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006-2013) and Assistant Professor of public policy in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2001-2006).  He received a Ph.D. (2000) in Engineering Systems and a M.S. (1996) in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a B.S.E. (1988) in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.