Energy Exchange

As L.A. temperatures rise, so does interest in cleaner air and cleaner energy

This blog was co-authored by Annie Cory, Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Intern for EDF's Oil & Gas Program

Just like many cities that have experienced record high temperatures in 2018, Los Angeles was hit with a heat wave of record proportions in early July, with temperatures topping 113 degrees in several parts of the county. As air conditioners across the region struggled to keep up, the heat pushed our energy grid over the brink, with blackouts leaving at least 80,000 Angelinos sweltering without electricity.

Such elevated temperatures are not typical for Los Angeles. Yet weather events like these are becoming both more frequent, and more intense. Burning more fossil fuels, of course, only compounds the warming problem.

To put a dent in the causes and impacts of man-made climate change, cities, states and nations will need to implement a portfolio of solutions aimed at cutting carbon across the board and boosting the resiliency of our energy grid. By increasing the share of renewable energy used to power our homes and businesses, and incentivizing technology like battery storage while expanding focus on energy conservation, the threat of blackouts can be greatly diminished during hot summer days.

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Community Solar, Energy Equity, Energy Storage, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Comments are closed

In Permian, company leadership and state standards are critical for reducing oil and gas methane emissions

By Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden 

This May, ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, announced targets to limit methane waste from its global operations. We’ve also seen commitments to cut methane from a range of leading companies like BP and others.

But as more companies step forward with methane targets, it begs the question: Is voluntary action from companies enough to move the needle on methane? A look at what could become the world’s largest oil field points to the answer being a solid no. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

New global underwriting standard for the buildings sector helps cities tackle pollution

Cities around the world are taking the lead on fighting climate change, making huge commitments to reduce pollution and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. And it’s a good thing they are.

According to C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, and about half of this pollution comes from buildings alone. All in all, buildings account for about 40 percent of all energy use – and up to half of this energy is wasted. With 70 percent of the world’s estimated 9 billion people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, addressing energy use in buildings (and the carbon emission it creates) is essential to catalyzing cities’ efforts. Reducing “building emissions” will require a toolbox of policy, finance, and engagement with public and private sector building owners, managers, and investors.

This week, a tool Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) began designing about five years ago to help investors weigh and value energy efficiency projects is becoming a global underwriting standard for building upgrades. Following successful momentum in the United States, Europe, and Canada, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) officially joined the portfolio of global certification programs delivered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) including LEED (for green buildings), GRESB (for real estate portfolios), and WELL (for healthy buildings).  GBCI is now providing world-class training and support for ICP’s Investor-Ready Energy Efficiency ™ (IREE) certification. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project / Comments are closed

Clean energy – not natural gas – drove decarbonization in 2017

Despite attempts by the Trump administration and the coal industry to limit clean energy in favor of fossil fuels – including a tariff on solar energy, a thinly-disguised bailout for coal and nuclear power plants (that was rightly rejected), and a dramatic proposed cut to energy research – we are accelerating the transition to a cleaner electric grid. In fact, last year was the first time the reduction in power sector emissions can be attributed more to energy conservation and renewable energy than switching from coal to natural gas.

The new 2018 Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) Factbook* highlights the electric power sector as the driving force behind the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. In total, power sector emissions declined 4.2 percent in 2017, mostly due to the 18.4 GW of new renewable energy we added to the grid (a 14 percent increase over the previous year’s total U.S. renewable capacity). In 2017, renewable generation represented about 18 percent of total U.S. generation (around10 percent from non-hydro renewables alone).

This explosive growth further cements renewable energy’s role in reducing emissions from the U.S. power sector. Let’s dig into the factors that led to this growth, and how we can extend this trend of emissions reductions from renewables beyond 2017. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Equity, Grid Modernization, Natural Gas, Solar Energy / Read 3 Responses

A roadmap for a clean, modern grid – The 6 areas that should guide our efforts

Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change. Farmers can use new methods to rotate their crops that keep more carbon safely in the ground. Consumers can act with their wallets – buying goods and services that produce less carbon than competitors. Our elected officials, of course, have a lot of influence in setting the narrative and enabling support for climate progress.

But around the country, in municipal buildings, state offices, and corporate headquarters, separate groups of people are busy designing and implementing changes that could have the biggest impact of all: a better, smarter, more modern grid.

Improving our electricity system could be the single largest climate fighting opportunity we have. But it’s not as simple as just putting solar panels on rooftops. Our grid was built over a century ago by different companies, cities, and co-ops. Pieces of it are owned and run by a dizzying web of stakeholders. Even if we could snap our fingers and spur all of these pieces to action, each player would manifest different versions of a “modern grid.”

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) thus released a guide titled, “Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress” [PDF], which outlines the six key categories that make up a sustainable grid modernization strategy. All of them are connected, either physically or digitally, or by legislation, regulation, or management. Most importantly, they’re connected by efficiency: If each of them is executed well, the whole grid modernization process will yield the best, most reliable, most affordable, and cleanest electricity system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Data Access, Electric Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Voltage Optimization, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Oil & gas CEOs up their methane pledge: Here’s what to watch for as promises turn to action

This post was co-authored by Drew Nelson

The CEOs of ten leading oil and gas companies today announced intentions to move toward “near-zero” methane emissions, pledging to set a quantitative reduction target by this time next year. At first blush, it might sound like a modest step – a promise to make a promise. In fact, the CEOs announcement constitutes an important and welcome recognition that oil and gas methane emissions impact the climate, are too high, and must be reduced. The new pledge comes just days after the International Energy Agency previewed its analysis showing that methane is a “critical issue for the long term natural gas outlook” and steep emission reductions are possible with today’s technology, and enormously cost effective.

From Social Issue to Business Issue

The 10 companies, which together are responsible for 20 percent of global production, joined forces three years ago to form the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. Last year, they invested $1 billion to accelerate commercial deployment of low carbon energy technologies. The new pledge is the next important step on the road to decarbonizing their operations, with methane playing a central role. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged | Comments are closed