ECE Distinguished Lecture Series: Understanding Technical and Economic Limits to Power Grid Decarbonization

wind turbines

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Location: Burchard 430

Speaker: Reiner Kuhr ’72, alumnus rep on the Board of Trustees, and Energy Technology Economist at the Center for Academic Collaboration Initiatives


Affordable and reliable electricity is critical to our economy and quality of life. Current energy policies in New England and New York target carbon emissions by supporting the rapid expansion of wind and solar generation and the retirement of natural gas power plants. However, gas fired power plants currently provide most of the flexible and reliable generation needed to respond to changes in loads and variable generation. Also, wind and solar generation and associated transmission and distribution improvements have already caused our electric bills to double relative to most of the country. Existing nuclear power generation provide the least expensive clean energy to our grid, but will face early retirement if we flood the power market with competing, heavily subsidized wind and solar generation. Battery storage has little value in supporting extended periods without wind and solar generation. Power grid operators are warning that retiring gas and nuclear plants will lead to power shortages and loss of reliability. Plans to expand the electrification of buildings and transportation will double power generation needs, while new emission-free, flexible and reliable generating options will take decades to develop and may be very expensive. Results of regional studies to understand the practical and economic limits of pursuing NetZero will be presented and discussed.


Reiner Kuhr

Reiner Kuhr graduated from Stevens in 1972 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and served as alumnus rep on the Board of Trustees. He spent 45 years in the energy industry with a wide range of experience in new technology development, power plant engineering, design construction and operations. His work included project management, environmental engineering, economics and power grid analysis, business planning, marketing, and project development and financing. He was technical advisor on 70 projects and major transactions valued over $70 billion of investments for a wide variety of power technologies and first of a kind projects. He has presented at many US and international conferences on energy technology and economics. After retiring, he taught energy technology, economics and policy in the engineering graduate school at the University of Massachusetts for three years, and then co-founded the Center for Academic Collaboration Initiatives ( to coordinate energy related studies among multiple universities and to develop innovative on-line training and teaching initiatives.

Join via Zoom: