Monthly Archives: April 2017

New studies: Methane emissions from Canadian oil & gas industry are worse than reported

Two studies released this week make it clear that Canada’s push toward methane regulations for the oil and gas industry is a smart move. And, while data of Canada’s oil and gas methane problem is still limited, these studies reinforce what research of the U.S. oil and gas industry found: oil and gas facilities are leaking far more than the industry reports — and more than it would like us to believe.

The first study, focused on Alberta and released by the Canadian environmental action organization Environmental Defence, concluded that industry is underreporting the amount of equipment located at their facilities, which means they emit more than official emission inventories report. Additionally, the study found that Alberta’s oil and gas facilities average about one large emission source per well.

The second, conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation and focused in British Columbia, measured methane emissions at existing oil and gas facilities and found that emissions are large and widespread. In fact, in just one development area of British Columbia, facilities could leak 111,800 tons of methane each year – the climate pollution equivalent of burning more than 4.5 million tons of coal or more than two million cars over the next two decades. Further, methane emissions from this area were shown to be at least 2.5 times higher than reported by the B.C. government but may be much higher.

This new research is troubling for several reasons. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged , | Comments are closed

New report offers long-awaited answers about reusing oil and gas industry’s wastewater

A new report from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s (OWRB) Produced Water Working Group indicates that oil and gas companies looking for ways to dispose of large volumes of wastewater should focus on recycling those liquids within the oil and gas fields, and not – as some suggest – use it for irrigation or other surface applications where human and environmental exposure is a risk.

The Produced Water Working Group, a panel of 17 state experts convened by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in December, 2015, to study various options for wastewater reuse, determined that treating wastewater for use outside of the oil field is not economical, nor are the environmental and health risks well understood.

In fact, the Working Group didn’t evaluate health and environmental risks for any of the 10 alternative uses evaluated. While research into reducing the cost of desalination, by powering treatment facilities with solar or excess lease gas, for example, may be promising, it won’t be sufficient to green light uses that introduce oil and gas wastewater into contact with communities and ecosystems.

To that end, the OWRB recommends that scientific efforts should be devoted to “identifying toxicological risks and protective water quality targets to ensure that the environment and public health are adequately protected under various reuse scenarios.” This is exactly right. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, produced water, Water / Read 1 Response

This Earth Day, 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible

More than 25 U.S. cities, 12 countries, and at least 89 companies have all committed to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. That’s because they all recognize the unstoppable potential clean energy has to create jobs, strengthen and protect the economy, and fight climate change.

Now, U.S. states are throwing their hats into the 100-percent renewable ring. California and Massachusetts have proposed plans to get there, while Hawaii has made the pledge. This 100-percent dream does not come from fantasy, but is actually the result of a number of coalescing factors.

Earth Day is our time to recognize what’s more: With the right mix of clean energy technologies and solutions, 100 percent renewable is 100 percent possible.

100 percent is possible

Cost competitive and scalable renewable energy has taken off over the past 10 to 20 years. The hungry solar market in California for example, has resulted in exponential growth of utility-scale and rooftop solar over the last decade, creating over 150,000 jobs throughout the Golden State.

Recently, California powered 40 percent of its midday energy demand with solar power. A steady stream of policy actions at the state and local level – timed with the dramatic drop in costs of renewables – have helped make this possible. Across the U.S., current RPS policies alone could result in these benefits:

  • Renewables contributing 40 percent of total electricity generation in the U.S. by 2050;
  • Reducing climate change-causing greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants like SOx and NOx (which together form ozone) by 6 percent; and
  • An almost 20 percent increase in jobs.

The bold inspiration, urgency, and benefit of 100 percent renewables is without question, but the pathway for getting there is less clear and will vary by state and region. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Time of Use, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

Four reasons to be optimistic this Earth Day

I’m going to stay positive this Earth Day. I know that’s not what you might expect from me this year, but really, when it comes to America’s shift to cleaner, smarter, advanced energy, there’s reason to be optimistic.

  1. Business is booming…

The advanced energy industry is booming. This includes everything from solar and wind power, to new energy innovations that are smarter and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, like energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and demand response.

The industry grew 29 percent in the last five years, and last year was worth $200 billion – about the same size as the pharmaceutical industry. Tesla – a sort of poster child for the advanced energy industry – just passed Ford Motor Company and General Motors in market cap. In fact, the company dropped “motors” from its name last year, a simple recognition that it’s far more than a car company. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Illinois, Ohio, Solar Energy, Time of Use, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Business owners share clean energy success stories

Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire uses clean energy incentives to succeed.

By Roger Stephenson, EDF’s senior adviser for New Hampshire affairs

In New Hampshire, the clean energy economy is at a crossroads. On one hand, the legislature and governor remain ambivalent at best about clean energy and its role in our state moving forward. But local businesses are confident that renewable energy and energy efficiency choices already are making a positive impact. And many are calling for clean energy policies in the state to be strengthened.

Several owners were kind enough to share their time and explain what clean energy means to them and their businesses.  Through a series of videos, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is now sharing those stories with lawmakers, fellow business community leaders, and the clean energy sector.

Last fall, EDF sought out businesses that were growing, competing, and thriving in the Granite State with the help of existing clean energy policies. We worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority, and the NH Clean Tech Council.

The search did not take long: Manufacturers; restaurants; construction companies and hotels; advanced manufacturing facilities; and Main Street mom and pops are investing in their competitive future with clean energy.

Here are two samples of these enlightening clean energy videos. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

Proving the negative: The challenge of calculating energy efficiency

Andrew Barbeau, senior clean energy consultant for EDF, contributed to this post.

“Efficiency is good.” That’s the mantra, a known truth, shared by both business executives and environmentalists, who eliminate waste to increase profits and reduce pollution.

When it comes to electricity, efficiency also has proven effective. Whereas power consumption a few decades ago was rising annually at more than 7 percent, the introduction of inexpensive and efficient lightbulbs, refrigerators, and smart heating and cooling has recently led to slight declines in energy consumption, even as the economy boomed and population increased.

Efficiency may be good and effective, but it is inherently hard to calculate. How do you prove the negative? Virtually every state has wrestled with the same questions of how and why electricity use didn’t happen. States with energy efficiency standards – requirements for local utilities to incentivize customers to reduce their energy use year after year – want to know if the investments are cost-effective. With new approaches to calculating energy efficiency, Illinois is tackling that question head on. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Illinois / Read 6 Responses