Energy Exchange

Could wastewater from oil and gas production help solve our water crisis? Not without better science

Climate change is drastically raising demands on the world’s fresh water supplies, and as a result, governments, scientists, and others are actively searching for new ways to manage and preserve our water resources.

One consideration includes repurposing wastewater generated from on-shore oil and gas development, which produces a whopping 900 billion gallons of water annually in the U.S. alone.

Some proponents of this option believe produced water may be a massive opportunity for water-scarce regions. Researchers at the University of Texas suggest recycling produced water for hydraulic fracturing operations could help address anticipated water shortage problems in the Permian Basin. Recycling wastewater within the oilfield is a viable option – as long as the spill and leaks, which can have significant and long-lasting negative impacts on soil and water resources, are minimized.

However, uses beyond the oilfield are much riskier if we don’t answer some critical questions first.

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Posted in Natural Gas, produced water / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: No peace of mind

This post is part 2 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 1 here.

Oil and gas operations have existed for decades in California’s Central Valley and the greater Los Angeles area, but many people may not realize that over 3,500 active oil and gas wells dot LA County alone. These wells exist near schools, hospitals, and homes – which is cause for concern since oil and gas wells are known to emit dangerous chemicals like benzene, a known carcinogen.

So, what’s being done to ensure we have accurate, timely information about pollution coming from these oilfields? Very little. Few regulations require pollution monitoring at California’s oil and gas wells.

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

A global game changer for energy efficiency investments

Three hospitals in England recently cut energy costs in half after spending the equivalent of $18 million in energy efficiency upgrades. The projects got a much-needed boost from a certification that gave investors confidence the retrofits would bring returns.

With millions of buildings in need of upgrades and the emergence of a $20-billion retrofit industry in the United States alone, there is neither a shortage of projects nor capital looking for environmental opportunities in which to invest. What has been lacking is a way to grow the market to scale.

Even with an energy efficiency market topping $1 trillion, investors have historically considered such retrofits risky. All this is changing quickly with a new and global underwriting standard mitigating the risk of such investments. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project / Comments are closed

The most important thing California can do with its clean energy could be to share it

Not often is running the electric grid as simple as applying lessons from childhood. Right now it is ─ California is learning to share with its neighbors. A bill currently in front of the Legislature from California Assemblymember Chris Holden, AB 813, aims to build a better trading platform to share California’s extra solar power with nearby states like Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, which would then share their extra wind, solar, and hydropower resources with California.

It is like the lunch table you sat around as a kid – one where you can trade that banana pudding that overflows at your house for one of your neighbor’s chocolate chip cookies. It’s a delicious deal, where everybody wins.

That deal just got better. Holden’s office yesterday released new language which represents an important, positive step in the process of creating a regional electric grid for the West. This includes key requirements and protections to ensure a regional grid lowers harmful greenhouse gas emissions and supports California’s climate and energy goals – helping the state and its neighbors to move towards a low-carbon future. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Regional Grid / Read 1 Response

Tech for change video series: Backyard oilfields

This post is the first of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which spotlights the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California.

Imagine having an oilfield in your backyard. That’s a fact of life for many Los Angeles residents. Nearly 600,000 people in the city live within ½ mile of an active oil well, and the city is home to the country’s largest urban oilfield (view on Google Maps).

Living so close to active oil and gas facilities is not without its risks. Public health studies have shown that communities near oil and gas operations are at increased risk of exposure to harmful pollution. The problem is that a lack of pollution monitoring near these well sites means neighboring residents don’t know what’s leaking into the air they breathe.

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

Compensating distributed energy resources for environmental attributes

By Elizabeth B. Stein, Ferit Ucar

Small distributed energy resources, cutting carbon emissions, and making sure people pay appropriately for participating in the electric system: These have been pillars of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), New York’s comprehensive initiative to re-think utility regulation and reduce carbon in the power sector.

Cutting carbon pollution – decarbonization – will be difficult as long as a carbon price is in effect only for large generators. That approach creates a risk of shifting emissions from large generators to small ones and creates a disincentive for environmentally-beneficial electrification.

Setting a robust price on carbon and applying it to fossil fuel users of all sizes and types would avoid such results and enable the market to drive down emissions efficiently. But in a world without such a broadly-applied price, designing an appropriate compensation mechanism for small generators that produce both environmental benefits and emissions is an interesting economic policy challenge.

There’s a lot to consider. Let’s unpack the issues. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, New York, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed