Energy Exchange

Long considered a “clean” energy source, hydropower can actually be bad for climate

A new EDF study published this week in Environmental Science and Technology shows that hydropower — the leading renewable energy technology projected to grow rapidly — is not always as good for the climate as broadly assumed. Moreover, continuing to assume that it is could mean that projects meant to reduce greenhouse emissions will unintentionally increase them instead.

Motivated by pervasive misconceptions of the climate impacts of hydropower, we assessed the warming impacts over time of sustained greenhouse gas emissions estimated from nearly 1,500 existing hydropower plants around the globe. We also looked at the implications of future hydropower development.

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Posted in Methane, Water / Comments are closed

How companies are using electric trucks to reduce air pollution and save money

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would purchase 100,000 electric trucks like this one as part of its efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

What do Amazon, Goodwill and PepsiCo have in common? They’re all investing in heavy-duty electric trucks. It’s a move that’s making great strides to reduce air pollution and save money.

Fortunately for these companies, making the switch to electric fleets is about to get a whole lot easier. The California Air Resources Board has just proposed a new standard that will require heavy-duty automotive manufacturers to produce more electric, zero-emission vehicles. Beginning in 2024, there could be thousands more new electric fleet vehicles on the market in California.

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

Illinois PUC decision may signal changing tide for natural gas utilities

While economic and environmental concerns have driven significant electric sector improvements, climate impacts of continued reliance on natural gas for heating and cooking has gone largely unchecked. A recent decision by the Illinois Commerce Commission sends a signal that natural gas utilities will not be permitted to invest customer dollars unchecked.

State public utilities commissions regulate natural gas distribution utilities and set their rates of return, one component of which is “return on equity.” These regulators thus have a tremendous influence on the long-term profitability of utilities and their investment decisions. Higher rates of return incentivize greater system buildout — the more the utility builds, the greater their profit.

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Posted in Air Quality, Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

California fires, electricity outages need not be “the new normal”

A dire, almost defeatist thread has been running through social media and other commentary around the California wildfires and the widespread, preemptive electricity outages across the state. The sense of urgency about catastrophic side effects of climate change is right on. And it is true that fixing our electric grid will be a long and mighty task.

But we do not —and should not — have to accept this as “the new normal.”

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Grid Modernization, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Shining new light on the toxicity of chemicals in produced water

In the United States, onshore oil and gas extraction operations generate nearly a trillion gallons of produced water annually. It is the largest waste stream associated with upstream development of petroleum hydrocarbons.

As EDF has written in numerous posts, this wastewater from oil and gas wells can be complex and toxic. In addition to the chemicals companies use during drilling and extraction, it can contain a wide range of potentially harmful material that already existed in the ground, and can be many times saltier than seawater. There’s a lot of it, too. Some wells produce up to 10 times as much wastewater as they do oil.

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Posted in produced water / Comments are closed

Methane regulations can help transform Mexico’s energy sector

One year ago this week, Mexico took an immense step forward by passing the world’s most comprehensive regulations to reduce oil and gas methane emissions. Since then, oil and gas companies and the Mexican government have been collaborating to develop concrete plans to make this happen and to ensure that the country is on track to deliver on its climate goals. In June 2016 Mexico, along with the US and Canada, committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% by 2025, a target that is in line with the stated goals of the United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change.

But, is this enough? That is a question Mexico’s government and its national oil company, Pemex, should be asking today, because the country deserves more.

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Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, Texas / Comments are closed