Cameron Ravanbach ‘15
Environmental Engineering | Center for Sustainable Energy
The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has many programs. Which program(s) are you involved in?
I am part of CSE’s Technology Integration team and we administer research and demonstration projects focused on increasing the market penetration of emerging technologies in the energy space. I am currently supporting two projects, both of which are funded by the California Energy Commission. One is focused on identifying value streams for the integration of distributed energy resources into California wholesale markets, and the other is called SD ZN3, a project in which we are working with the City of San Diego to convert three public libraries to zero-net-energy buildings through advanced energy efficiency measures and photovoltaics.
Could you talk a bit about your work, addressing sustainability issues and how you and your company is working to resolve them?
CSE is a mission-driven, non-profit organization focused on accelerating the transition to a sustainable world powered by clean energy. The current electric grid is outdated, inefficient and more than 40% of California’s power generation mix still comes from fossil-based fuels (source: http://www.energy.ca.gov/almanac/electricity_data/total_system_power.html). The solution to reducing emissions will not only come from technical advancements but needs to make sense economically and while meeting regulatory standards. Our organization is at the forefront of this fight, providing services and information focused on electric vehicles, renewables, building and energy efficiency and energy policy.
Can you explain why you think clean energy is important and how you see it playing a role in a sustainable future?
Clean energy simply makes sense. The Earth’s resources are limited, so why would we invest in energy production methods that are depleting them? The solar industry has seen an average annual growth rate of 68% over the last decade and now employs more than 260,000 Americans (source: https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-data). If we invest in renewable technologies, we will see positive outcomes for both the economy and environment alike. Clearly, certain renewable technologies are intermittent in power generation and can only be utilized at specific times, which creates a grid reliability issue. The argument for fossil fuel based generation is that they can provide baseload generation and increase grid reliability, which is true. Currently, and in the future, we will see increased market penetration of technologies like battery storage and demand response which are leading to a greener and more reliable grid.
What got you interested in sustainability and made you want to pursue a career at a sustainability-focused company?
I first became interested in sustainability when I got my first job on campus working for Krista Mays in Housing, Dining & Hospitality Services as an EcoNaut. It was an awesome experience where we were able to be extremely creative and promote sustainability around campus. Shortly afterward, I linked up with Byron Washom, Director of UC San Diego’s Strategic Energy Initiatives, and he exposed me to the world of clean energy. He would describe UC San Diego’s energy infrastructure as an orchestra in which the energy systems would represent various orchestra sections that work harmoniously to create a beautiful melody, all at the speed of light. It was fascinating. That’s when I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in this field.