EDF’s Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technology and ideas.
By: Anna Doty, West Coast Policy Associate
Emily Kirsch calls herself a “solar-lifer.” Kirsch came onto the solar scene by way of former Obama advisor Van Jones’ green jobs campaign in Oakland. Now, as the co-founder and CEO of Oakland-based SfunCube—the world’s only solar-exclusive start-up business accelerator—Kirsch is growing California’s clean economy in an entirely new way and she knows the future of solar is bright.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Oakland, SfunCube—Solar for Universal Need—is supporting a growing “solar ecosystem” of the most promising solar startups that are making the San Francisco Bay Area the nation’s epicenter for solar innovation and entrepreneurship. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Emily Kirsch and some of the solar pioneers who are working at SfunCube to make universal access to solar a reality in California, throughout the US, and around the world.
In California today, there are over 1,889 solar companies that are part of the solar supply chain, creating more than 50,000 jobs—roughly a third of all the solar jobs in the country—and that is no coincidence. Read More
After months of anticipation, the Obama Administration this month released its new methane emissions strategy – a plan that opens up new opportunities for industry writ large, and especially for operators that want to cut waste and get ahead.
The centerpiece of the strategy are imminent rules that will help us meet a new national goal to reduce harmful methane pollution from oil and natural gas operations by 45 percent by 2025.
But the rules also bring direct industry benefits. Here are four reasons the new methane emissions strategy is a boon, rather than bane, for America’s $1.2-trillion oil and gas sector:
1. It tackles $1.8 billion in annual waste and adds market certainty
Leaky infrastructure and unnecessary venting across the oil and gas value chain cost an estimated $1.8 billion in wasted product and lost revenue annually.
The new rules require companies to include up-to-date controls as they build out new and modified infrastructure, keeping gas in the pipeline while making new facilities more efficient. Read More
Why invest? To make money.
People don’t invest in an industry to save the world or promote a cause; they invest because they believe the amount they put in will ultimately be returned to them as a much greater sum.
You’ve got to spend money to make money and, when it comes to clean energy, there is a lot of money to be made. Here are five reasons clean energy investment will continue its positive performance in 2015 and beyond.
1. Clean energy investment has been – and continues to be – on the rise
Recent buzz around clean energy investment has centered on a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report detailing the global clean energy industry’s strong 2014 investment results, results that even “beat expectations”. While 2004-2014 saw an extended recession and high unemployment for the global economy, clean energy investment grew five-fold during those 10 years, up from $60.2 billion in 2004 to an impressive $310 billion this past year, according to BNEF. Read More
In the U.S., the electricity sector accounts for over a third of the country’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions, contributing more to climate change than any other sector, including transportation.
Furthermore, electricity costs have increased dramatically over the years, and are projected to continue their upward trend. Utilities and regulators have made great strides in promoting renewable energy, increasing the efficiency of the power grid, and reducing harmful pollution. However, customers, too, can be part of the solution by better managing their use of electricity – especially during those times when it is most expensive and dirty to produce.
Electricity is more expensive during ‘critical peaks’
The cost of producing electricity – and the carbon emissions associated with it – varies significantly throughout the day, depending on electricity demand at any point in time. For example, when a heat wave occurs and many customers begin cooling their homes after work, demand skyrockets and creates what is known as a ‘critical peak.’ Read More
When the White House announced ambitious plans to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 percent, EDF President Fred Krupp called it a landmark move. And according, to a recent poll, 66 percent of Americans agree that strong federal standards are needed to safeguard our air from methane pollution, which is responsible for about a quarter of today’s warming. The oil and gas industry– the largest industrial source of this climate pollutant–wastes enough unburned methane each year to heat six million homes.
The plan has drawn widespread support among opinion leaders as well as industry experts.
A tool only has value if it’s used. For example, you could be the sort of person who’s set a goal of wanting to exercise more. If someone gives you a nifty little Fitbit to help you do that, and you never open the box, how useful, then, is this little device? The same is true about smart energy management solutions: good tools exist, but whether it’s calories or energy use that you want to cut, at some point those helpful devices need to be unpacked. The same is true for demand response, an energy conservation tool that pays people to save energy when the electric grid is stressed.
California's electricity industry stands at a crossroads. The state got an early start on creating laws and policies to cut carbon pollution, and is now reaping the benefits of these policies through reduced emissions and healthy economic growth. That said, California can’t cut carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels without having alternatives to choose from — some focusing on promoting renewable energy, others on smarter energy management tools. Demand response is one of these tools, and a critical one. This highly-flexible, cost-effective resource should play a key role in California’s clean energy future, but several barriers stand in the way of unleashing its full potential.
It’s hard to think of California as anything but forward-thinking, but, right now, the state’s demand response programs are lagging behind those in other states and regions of the country like the Mid-Atlantic. There is good news, however, because demand response is an evolving resource. And, with advances in smart grid technologies, demand response has the potential to improve our energy mix in California. In EDF’s new report, Putting Demand Response to Work for California, we offer recommendations on how to unlock demand response as an important part of the overall strategy for California’s bright energy future.