Daniel Kammen

Research Expertise and Interest

public policy, nuclear engineering, energy, resources, risk analysis as applied to global warming, methodological studies of forecasting, hazard assessment, renewable energy technologies, environmental resource management

Research Description

Daniel Kammen is the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability and a Professor of Energy with appointments in the Energy and Resources Group (where he is the Chair), the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). Kammen’s research is focused on energy systems science in the context of decarbonizing the energy systems in the United States/North America, and in a range of field-based programs in Africa, Latin America, southeast Asia, and Europe.  He is the author of over 400 publications, over 50 technical reports and over 40 Federal and State testimonies.  These are all online at his laboratory website:  http://rael.berkeley.edu

Kammen was trained in physics and develops analytic and computational methods derived from a physical science/engineering perspective to inform and engage in analysis of energy futures.

During 2010 – 2011 Kammen served as the first Chief Technical Specialist / Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. He now serves as a World Bank Fellow in Energy. In April 2010 Secretary of State Hilary Clinton introduced Kammen as the Energy Fellow / Envoy of the U. S. State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA).  He resigned his position as Science Envoy in August, 2017 in protest over administration policies on climate and justice.

Kammen’s research and the RAEL and TSRC is based in physical science modeling to inform interdisciplinary sustainability approaches to the systems science of energy. His current research efforts are focused around:

In the News

The Transformation of Africa’s Energy Sector

To meet the development needs of a growing population, Africa’s electricity sector requires a major transformation. New research, co-authored at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, identifies five sets of complementary actions to put Africa’s electricity sector on track to sharply increase electrification rates and secure long-term access to affordable and cleaner energy.

America on edge: Berkeley scholars’ early election thoughts

UC Berkeley scholars awoke Wednesday, Nov. 4 to signs of a deeply divided U.S. electorate, and no blue wave on the horizon. Despite a surge in early voting, ballots were still being counted in several battleground states. As of noon that day, the race between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden remained too close to call. 

Climate change and COVID-19: Can this crisis shift the paradigm?

Ever so slowly, communities around the globe are cautiously easing shelter-in-place orders, and people are heading back to work — bringing with them damaging behaviors that hurt the environment and impact climate change, such as increased reliance on single-use plastic grocery bags.

Newly released climate change report reinforces need for action

The release today (Friday, Sept. 27) of Assessment Report 5, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), bolsters the conclusions of its 2007 report that humans are responsible for global warming, and it highlights the need for immediate action to reduce carbon emissions.

When it comes to carbon footprints, location and lifestyle matter

A UC Berkeley analysis of the carbon footprints of households around the country shows that consumers need different strategies in different cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. An online “carbon calculator” helps consumers decide how to change their lifestyles for the maximum reduction in their footprints.

Dan Kammen Appointed to World Bank

Energy-policy expert Dan Kammen has been appointed to a new position at the World Bank, where he will help distribute billions of dollars to developing countries to improve energy efficiency and foster low-carbon, renewable sources of energy.

Error in climate treaties could lead to more deforestation

A team of 13 prominent scientists and land-use experts has identified an important but fixable error in legal accounting rules for bioenergy that could, if uncorrected, undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by encouraging deforestation.

Cheaper materials could be key to low-cost solar cells

Unconventional solar cell materials that are as abundant but much less costly than silicon and other semiconductors in use today could substantially reduce the cost of solar photovoltaics, according to a new study from the Energy and Resources Group and the Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
January 23, 2024
Kenza Bryan

Goldman's Barbara Haya, co-author and founder of the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project, said the credits were trying to "convince consumers they can continue consuming, driving and flying without impacting the planet, which is simply not true." 

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August 20, 2020
Associated Press
As if the pandemic and economic recession weren't bad enough, millions of Californians now face recurring threats of abrupt blackouts during a heat wave in the nation's most populous state. UC Berkeley professors Daniel Kammen and Severin Borenstein discuss the state's problems with managing and storing power, and the complications of climate change and the pandemic.
April 1, 2020
Bill Weir
Asked in an interview about what global drops in air pollution due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic can tell us, energy and public policy professor Dan Kammen, chair of Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group, says: "Well, it shows how quickly we can change our system. We've seen 30% to 40% drops in pollution over many of the world's cities. And it also shows us how quickly we could switch to clean energy if we took climate change as seriously as coronavirus. ... But it also shows us that actions do matter. Our individual decisions, whether we take an extra trip, whether we just drive to go get one thing at the store and come back, those actions all add up. And we scale it up to industry and to countries and regions. It really shows us that if we put our mind to it and if we invested in science we could not only do a far better job on climate change but we could also do it in a much more equitable way than we're doing now." Warning that overconsumption and its attendant pollution resurged after 9/11, and the same thing could happen when the coronavirus threat subsides, he says we'll be battling climate change for decades. "And so the real question is can we learn the positive lessons out of this horrible experience with coronavirus and say we want to switch to clean energy now? It's cheaper in many places and we want to invest in better systems so that low-income communities can actually generate their own power. Make themselves more resilient. And we're not doing that with coronavirus today by denying some of the poorest communities testing and respirators. And we're doing the same thing on climate. So we're making a natural disaster into a social disaster when we have all the tools to make this into a chance to really build a green stimulus." Link to video.
April 4, 2019
Jeremy Hsu
The solar power industry is not serving Americans equally, and the reasons are not just economic, suggests a recent study co-authored by energy professor Dan Kammen, director of Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. Controlling for financial, environmental, and other factors that could affect installation rates, the researchers found a distinct link between race and ethnicity and rooftop installations of photovoltaic panels. "I was not surprised to see that race and ethnicity were important, but once we controlled for income I thought the effect would be reduced significantly. "But alas, it was not," Professor Kammen says. One way he believes policymakers could help overcome the problem is by recognizing that the situation is analogous to the way credit scores have been used to discriminate against minorities in the approval of home loans. To counteract that, they could apply "positive pressure" by offering bonuses to loan applicants who add rooftop solar panels or other energy-efficiency measures. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News.
January 28, 2019
James Ellsmoor
The solar power industry is not serving Americans equally, and the reasons are not just economic, suggests a new study co-authored by energy professor Dan Kammen. Controlling for financial, environmental, and other factors that could affect installation rates, the researchers' analysis found a distinct link between race and ethnicity and rooftop installations of photovoltaic panels. The study results are "depressing," Professor Kammen says, but they're also "a clear sign we can do things differently and more equitably." Noting that the problem is likely "an effect of more solar installers and more seed programs in more advantaged areas," he suggests the gap could be addressed through the Green New Deal, with solar education, sales, and financing programs that directly target low-income communities and people of color. Without intervention, the authors say, the injustice is likely to grow, with the financial benefits of solar denied certain groups of people. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News.
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