Research Projects

WE EXPLORE CRITICAL ISSUES and address challenges that have regional, national, and global implications. Our growing body of academic research is informed by regular conversations with scholars, industry leaders, and policy makers—who help shed light on today's most urgent research questions.
 

About Our Grants

Each year, the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy awards grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 to support new research or supplement existing research. To date, we have distributed 43 research grants in Engineering, Design, Arts and Sciences, Law, and Wharton. This year, we gave over $134,000 in funding to Penn faculty, postdocs, and doctoral students for research projects in the areas of energy and climate policy. 

Note: Our 2018-2019 call for proposals is now closed. Join our mailing list to hear about next year's call.

 

Funded Projects

2018-2019

Author:
Sabrina Arias, Ph.D. Student, International Relations, SAS
Co-author(s):
Christopher Blair, Ph.D. Student, International Relations, SAS

Little academic work has examined public perceptions of the causes and consequences of climate migration. This project seeks to redress the gap in the literature linking climate change and migration.

Author:
Daniel Barber, Associate Professor, Historic Preservation, PennDesign

How have energy transitions—including material, technological, and policy changes—impacted architectural ideas and projects? This study applies this question to the iconic Bauhaus Dessau building in Germany.

Author:
Stephanie Carlisle, Lecturer, Landscape Architecture, PennDesign
Co-author(s):
Nicholas Pevzner, Lecturer, Landscape Architecture, PennDesign

As air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia becomes a major public health crisis, a change in energy supply seems inevitable. Envisioning what that transformation looks like is the goal of this research.

Author:
Stephanie Carlisle, Lecturer, Landscape Architecture, PennDesign
Co-author(s):
Nicholas Pevzner, Lecturer, Landscape Architecture, PennDesign

This project dedicates a special issue of Scenario Journal to the topic of power. This focused edition will feature articles that delve into today's energy transition and its political and technological dimensions.

Author:
Xiaoxia (Summer) Dong, Ph.D. Student, City and Regional Planning, PennDesign

What are the affects of transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft on travel behavior and the transportation system? And what are the implications for energy consumption and emissions? This research explores these issues in the Philadelphia region.

Author:
Tulia G. Falleti, Associate Professor, Political Science, SAS

This project explores the environmental conflicts surrounding extractive industries and indigenous demands, particularly as they pertain to the southern Argentine province of Neuquén, where indigenous communities are interacting with oil companies. 

Author:
Felipe Flores-Golfin, Ph.D. Student, Business Economics and Public Policy, Wharton

This study attempts to build a structural model of solar panel demand and supply that accounts for endogenous entry of solar installers. Using micro data on solar installations, the author will estimate the effect of subsidies on solar adoption.

Author:
Caitlin Gorback, Ph.D. Student, Real Estate, Wharton

When Uber enters a city, far-flung areas become more accessible—implying an increase in Uber trips and emissions. This project tests this growth of emissions and several policy interventions that might affect the flow of ridesharing. 

Author:
Steven Kimbrough, Professor, Operations, Information and Decisions, Wharton

As the recent literature indicates, risk assessment in power systems is underdeveloped and there is no general agreement on how to do it. This research explores critical assessment of methods for measuring risk, as relevant to fuel price risk in electric power systems.

Author:
Ioana Marinescu, Assistant Professor, SP2

What drives support for a carbon tax? This project looks at the Washington State carbon tax referendum through a nationally represented survey—delving into specific questions about what drives support of a carbon tax.

Author:
Vincent Reina, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning, PennDesign
Co-author(s):
Constantine Kontokosta (NYU)

How does energy efficiency and energy cost vary across demographic and income groups, neighborhoods, and regions? This study explores those variables and the implications of energy retrofits for renters and owners.

Author:
Franca Trubiano, Associate Professor, Architecture, PennDesign

This project reviews existing research focused on the health impact of fossil fuel polymer-based materials used in buildings. The author will also explore where fossil fuel polymer-based materials are most typically used and what alternatives are being developed.

2017-2018

Author:
Jose Miguel Abito

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a CO2 emissions allowance program that covers Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In this project, we look at Pennsylvania's incentives to join RGGI. 

Author:
Aymeric Bellon, Ph.D. Candidate
Co-author(s):
Tong Liu, Ph.D. Candidate

This project aims at understanding how the selling of exploitation rights for mineral reserves as well as the contractual terms between landowners and gas firms shape the speed at which the exploitation of resources is made.

Author:
Daniel Aldana Cohen

This project will establish a third-generation, household-based, neighborhood-level carbon footprint database for the United States. It aims to clarify how carbon moves spatially through the economy, built environment, and everyday life; how these processes intersect with a range of social and spatial inequalities that also shape well-being; and how exposure to potential carbon-pricing would impact different communities.

Author:
Paul Décaire, Ph.D. Candidate

"Oil field unitization” enabled firms to assemble all tracts of land that shared a common access to an oil pool and to operate them as one individual unit, distributing the entire costs and benefits from the pool across all members. This study investigates the role of a joint venture, such as unitized tracts of land, on investment decisions. 

Author:
Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

Part 1 of the project asks: what can we learn from the history of energy about how transitions from one source of energy to another have occurred? Part 2 of the project asks: what can we think, formally and quantitatively, about the new world of the oil industry after the tight and shale gas revolution? 

Author:
Erick Guerra
Co-author(s):
Ricardo Daziano

In this study, researchers propose to try to separate out residents’ willingness to pay for convenient charging systems from their willingness to pay for convenient parking spaces.

Author:
Jonah Rexer, Ph.D. Candidate

The aims of this study are twofold: 1) to combine data on oil spills and economic outcomes to estimate the effects of spills on investment and productivity, and 2) to study the dynamics of oil-related violence in the context of a 2009 policy in which the Nigerian Federal Government granted militants of the region amnesty from prosecution in return for ceasing attacks on the oil industry. 

Author:
Nikolai Roussanov

Since expenditures associated with commuting (e.g., gasoline) are more significant as a share of income for low-skill workers, fluctuations in oil prices have a larger impact on their labor supply. This project aims to understand the role of energy costs, and specifically oil prices, in skill-biased technological change. 

Author:
Jorge Santiago
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) is one of the most rapidly growing renewable energy source around the world. For sunny tropical locations such as Puerto Rico, and after the electric energy debacle following Hurricane Maria, forecasting solar power is necessary for the efficient application of the solar resource.
Author:
Christina Simeone
Co-author(s):
De Shaun Bennet, Theodora Okiro

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), along with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy received a federal grant to identify strategies to assist businesses impacted by changes in Pennsylvania’s coal economy.  

Author:
Gabrielle Vasey, Ph.D. Candidate

Renewable energy development is of utmost importance in Brazil, a country facing future energy supply shortages. This study examines the role of renewable energy in Brazil’s electricity grid and compares the different methods of awarding renewable energy contracts. 

2016-2017

Author:
Jose Miguel Abito
In the U.S., laws that are enacted at the federal level have to be implemented by individual states. In general, although a single market for the environmental externality is ideal, only separate markets may be feasible.
Author:
Stefan Al
While much attention on reducing carbon emission has been paid to alternative fuels and electric vehicles, better urban design is an important yet overlooked opportunity. The urban form of cities can play a substantial role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. First, energy consumption for transportation drops when urban form gets more compact and dense.
Author:
Arthur van Benthem
Local air pollution from vehicles is an enormous global problem, yet vehicle emissions policies are under‐studied and their effectiveness is not well‐understood. Emissions standards for new vehicles are ubiquitous, but a substantial share of pollution is emitted by old vehicles with broken emissions control equipment.
Author:
William Braham
Co-author(s):
Multiple (view project listing)
The way to reduce GHG emissions is the crux of virtually every energy policy debate right now in the Philadelphia region, and indeed, in cities and regions around the world. 
Author:
Sara Byala
This project will study Coca-Cola’s relationship with the governments of Ghana around energy. Because of its franchise bottler model, in Africa Coca-Cola is deeply embedded in the community. And because of its size and sheer force as both an employer and a taxable entity, it carries enormous weight.
Author:
Jorge Santiago-Aviles
As part of their Senior Design Projects, Penn engineering students will help the people of Gashora in Rwanda by designing and implementing of an alternate water supply for the village clinic, by pumping water through a solar energy system driven  from the nearest lake (Lake Rumira) to the clinic, a distance of approximately 1.5 km.
Author:
Shana Starobin
The purpose of the proposed research is to discern policy lessons on innovation in “energy smart” agriculture in Cuba.
Author:
Hongyu Xiao, PhD Candidate
This project studies the impact of sustained drought over the past decade on urban growth, economic activity and energy usage patterns in California. Using the changes brought by the interaction of water right seniority and drought conditions this project will study the impact of water availability on cities and towns in California.
Author:
Shu Yang
The design of new lightweight and environmentally responsive building envelopes and technologies is crucial for energy saving and CO2 emission reduction.

2015-2016

Author:
William Braham
Co-author(s):
Barry Silverman

Urban designers have long recognized the value of using simulators and games to evaluate sustainability initiatives. In this project, we develop a prototype for a community game generator that lets users rapidly model their community in terms of energy balances, affordability of options and residents’ values. 

Author:
Witold Henisz

The Global Infrastructure Project Research Network (GIPRN) is developing a unique data resource that allows for the quantitative analysis of the factors, conditions, governance structures, and stakeholder engagement strategies influencing major energy and transportation infrastructure projects across the world. This project will code 65 energy projects in the U.S., South America, Asia and Africa. 

Author:
Randall Kamien
Though there have been incredible advances in the efficiency of lighting, we still waste much of our natural light. To retrofit existing space it is necessary to develop simple, scalable and inexpensive technologies; only then can we keep the corners brightly lit for free.
Author:
Megan Ryerson
Major federal and international policy changes such as Open Skies—which allow a number of large cities to directly subsidize airlines—in addition to airlines reshaping through mergers and the introduction of “capacity discipline” practices, are radically transforming the global aviation sector. These changes leave gaping holes in our understanding of the future of global and U.S.
Author:
Jorge J. Santiago-Aviles
Rwanda, a small nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, became the subject of a project in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) in 2014 related to the introduction of sustainable energy utilization. In this region, wood and charcoal are the primary sources of energy, and Rwanda faces costly health and environmental problems.
Author:
Shu Yang
Residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 40% of total energy consumption in the U.S., which includes 72% of the nation’s electricity use and 39% of carbon dioxide emissions each year due to heating, cooling and lighting. There has been tremendous interest in economizing energy uses in buildings through house roofing, skylights and architectural windows.

2014-2015

Author:
Professor Cary Coglianese

The Best-in-Class Regulator Initiative generates a framework for identifying and achieving important organizational, legal, policy, and deliberative responsibilities facing energy regulators and other regulatory authorities around the world.  The Best-in-Class Initiative explores the core attributes of regulatory excellence so as to develop a forward-looking, generalizable framework.

Tags:
Regulation
Author:
Arthur van Benthem
Co-author(s):
Sébastien Houde and Kenneth Gillingham

Car manufacturers in the U.S. are required to meet corporate average fuel-economy (CAFE) standards. These standards consist of yearly targets that take the form of sales-weighted fuel-economy averages that must be met for the entire fleet offered by each manufacturer (or by purchasing compliance credits from other manufacturers). This study explores the economics of mile per gallon (MPG) claims.

Tags:
MPG, MPG Claims, Resource Economics, CAFE Standards, Fuel Economy, Advertising, Fuel Efficiency
Author:
Robert Carpick
Co-author(s):
Andy Jackson

Through a research grant from ARPA- E, the Kleinman Center supports this project, which aims to identify, investigate, and quantify engineering advances with commercial potential in the field of tribology. The project focuses on identifying strategies with the optimal combination of energy savings and potential for commercial deployment in energy production, transportation, and conversion. 

Tags:
Tribology
Author:
Erick Guerra

Funded by the Urban Transportation Center of Penn and Carnegie-Mellon University, and the Kleinman Center, this study evaluates the extent to which electric motorcycles or e-bikes are a potential replacement for gasoline-powered motorcycles. This research will determine the price point at which consumers are willing to adopt e-bikes in Solo, Indonesia, a historically quintessential motorcycle city. 

Tags:
Transportation
Author:
Megan Ryerson
Co-author(s):
Mark Hansen

Should the FAA set limits on the quantity of discretionary fuel that can be loaded? How would airlines adopt such limits? This study investigates changes in FAA policy regarding airline discretionary fuel loads. Upon establishing the cost to carry discretionary fuel, authors focuse on the structure and the impact of new federal regulations on discretionary fuel. 

Tags:
Transportation