Author Archives: EDF Blogs

New report: Clean tech boosts electric grid as coal use declines

By Rama Zakaria

new report by M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that coal-fired power plants are retiring primarily due to low natural gas prices and flattened demand, and that cleaner energy keeps our electric grid reliable.

The report estimates that coal plant closures caused less than 20 percent of the overall decline in coal generation over the past six years, and it affirms a recent Department of Energy (DOE) finding that the major driver behind U.S. coal plant closures is economics – namely, cheap natural gas. M.J. Bradley’s report also shows that new clean tech may enable the grid to begin performing better than ever.

Major findings

The M.J Bradley report confirms conclusions by multiple studies that show these are the three main factors that caused coal to decline:

  • Increased competition from cheap natural gas – accounting for 49 percent of the decline,
  • Reduced demand for electricity – accounting for 26 percent, and
  • Increased growth in renewable energy – accounting for 18 percent.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

Natural gas, meet Silicon Valley. The challenge for mobile methane monitoring is now underway

 Ben Ratner and Ramon Alvarez, Ph.D. 

Three years ago, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) united with oil and gas industry leaders including Shell and Statoil to launch the Methane Detectors Challenge – a collaborative effort to catalyze the development and deployment of stationary, continuous methane monitors. With industry pilot projects now cropping up from Texas to Alberta, continuous methane monitoring on natural gas sites is on a pathway to become one of the core tools in the monitoring toolkit.

And that’s a good thing – 24/7 monitoring is the gold standard for emissions control, opening a new frontier in site-level insight. It will enable real time identification and repair of natural gas waste that pollutes the atmosphere, and the industry’s own reputation.

Now, another exciting area of innovation is emerging, as entrepreneurs, technologists, and academics pursue mobile approaches to monitor leaks. Whether by plane, helicopter, drone or truck, mobile monitoring offers the promise of surveying highly dispersed industrial facilities – including smaller and older ones – quickly and effectively. With an estimated one million well pads in the United States alone, the speed and coverage of monitoring matter. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Upstream methane reductions crucial to future of natural gas trucks

By Jason Mathers

Amid a sustained slump in sales for natural gas vehicles, a new study highlights significant challenges for these vehicles to deliver on their modest potential of climate emission reductions; the ultimate climate impact of these vehicles rests on the actions and practices of the upstream supply chain, or well-to-pump suppliers.

The central climate-related challenge of natural gas vehicles is unburned methane leaked from the natural gas supply chain, fueling stations, and vehicles. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas known to be 84 times more potent than carbon in its first 20 years within the atmosphere. A 2015 study in Environmental Science & Technology found commercial fleets converting from diesel to natural gas could lead to greater global warming over the next 50 to 90 years before providing benefits to the climate.

Heavy Truck Emissions Outpace Fuel Stations

The new study, Future Methane Emissions from the Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Transportation Sector for Stasis, High, Medium, and Low Scenarios in 2035, expands the research conducted around methane emissions from commercial fleet vehicles and refueling stations. Led by researchers at West Virginia University, the study used data from the first study published in January to evaluate emissions and explore ways to reduce emissions from the pump-to-wheels portion of the natural gas supply chain with best management practices. Read More »

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

Research competition invites students to solve real-world energy problems

Reviewing residential electricity data in Pecan Street's Pike Powers Lab.

By Maddie Venn, clean energy communications intern

Recently, it seems like everyone is competing to become the next big thing in the energy sector. Whether it’s electric vehicles, smart grid technology, or energy storage, innovation continues to pop up left and right as we work to build a smarter, cleaner electric grid.

If innovation and technology spark your competitive drive, here’s your opportunity to dive in and join a community of engaged researchers working to solve some of our most pressing energy concerns. Pecan Street is hosting its second student research competition, inviting the best and the brightest to use the organization’s extensive collection of energy-use data to help solve real-world problems.

Open to all full-time graduate and undergraduate students and with prizes totaling $10,000, the competition aims to connect Pecan Street’s well-established dataset with the innovation of young minds. As the grid gets smarter, data can help people play a more active role in how their electricity is made, moved, and used. Competitions like Pecan Street’s will get us there faster. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Texas| Comments are closed

Goodbye, internal combustion! Electric vehicles are rolling in

By Rory Christian and Larissa Koehler

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t make much noise on the road, but they’re generating a lot of buzz about the future of this technology and what it means for business and the environment.

Cars, buses, and trucks are the second biggest source of pollution in the U.S. after electricity production. They are responsible for over 26 percent of emissions that adversely affect the health and well-being of the population, and put communities located close to highways and other major thoroughfares at risk. These communities, typically low-income, are often plagued by elevated asthma rates and other pollution-induced health conditions.

When thinking about ways to reduce pollution, EVs can make a world of difference. And, when charged using renewable energy sources, they produce no emissions and can be much cheaper to operate than traditional, internal combustion vehicles. As such, let’s take a look at the global EV market and impacts in the U.S. on the electric grid in two environmentally progressive states ‒ New York and California. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, General, New York REV| Read 3 Responses

The energy sector needs to adapt to millennials—not vice versa

By Elizabeth Villedrouin, Communications Intern, Clean Energy and Kristen Moore, Research Intern, Clean Energy

As interns at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we’ve been tapped as resident experts on surviving on college budgets, social media, and all things Millennial.  Research tells us Millennials are the largest living generation. So, as Clean Energy interns this summer, we’ve learned that gives us much power to change the game for the energy sector. But in unexpected ways.

As young people, we’re working at EDF because we want to promote systemic, market-based solutions and new technologies that shift our country toward clean energy and away from our fossil fuel past (did someone say solar paint?).

We have high standards for our energy future, and our priorities differ from our parents’ (for example, millennials tend to value careers [PDF] over religious life). And although we’re the thriftiest generation, 64 percent of us are actually willing to pay more on our electric bill if it’s generated by clean energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, General, Grid Modernization| Read 5 Responses
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