Category Archives: Climate

So, how do we Make Sustainability… Sustainable?

alternative-21761_640Last week the New York Times reported that, for the first time in history, clean energy resources like solar and wind are becoming cost competitive with conventional coal in some markets. This paradigm shift, where clean energy is beginning to compete head-to-head with traditional energy sources, calls for a change in perspective.

This ‘change in perspective’ is a movement toward what I would describe as “sustainable sustainability” – in which “sustainable” means the ability to stand the test of time, and “sustainability” refers to an environmentally responsible approach to making, moving, and using energy. In other words, we must find a way to ensure clean energy resources remain competitive in the marketplace and become ‘business as usual’ resources in the overall energy mix. The International Energy Agency (IEA) does a great job of explaining the need for this shift:

In the classical approach, variable renewables are added to an existing system without considering all available options for adapting it as a whole. This approach misses the point. Integration is not simply about adding wind and solar on top of ‘business as usual’. We need to transform the system as a whole to do this cost-effectively.”

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What We Can’t See Can Hurt Us: New Study Provides Insights to Find, Fix Oil and Gas Pollution

natgasworkerHow do you detect a colorless, odorless gas? It’s an important question especially when that invisible gas is as damaging as what comprises oil and gas pollution. We are talking about hazardous air pollutants (benzene), ozone precursors (volatile organic compounds), and greenhouse gases like methane – a gas that is more than 80 times more damaging than carbon dioxide to the climate in the short term.

Widely available tools like infrared cameras and hand-held hydrocarbon detectors are very effective at detecting leaks from oil and gas equipment, but new technologies and new science are always welcome.

That’s what makes a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology exciting. Led by experts from EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and co-authored by EDF’s David Lyon, this study uses a new technique to identify and measure methane emissions at oil and gas facilities.

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US-China Climate Pact a "Game Changer" for Clean Energy

By: Karin Rives, EDF Voices editor

climatepact_378x235For the first time, the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters have pledged to reduce carbon pollution. This is a game changer, writes Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

The agreement between the United States and China will be a giant boost for clean-energy markets.

Having the world’s two largest economies competing to accelerate the adoption of no-carbon and low-carbon technologies will send one of the most powerful market signals we have ever seen, Fred writes.

China, spurred by its smog-burdened cities and the growing costs from the impact of climate change, will be increasing its already substantial investments in solar and wind, working with the U.S. on new approaches to cleaner energy and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Read More »

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History 101: Pollution Rules Good for Economy and Pocketbooks

money_378x235So our political landscape is morphing yet again, and the future looks uncertain. But there are some things we know will happen over and over, like rituals.

We know that next time it snows, someone will make a tired joke about how global warming must be over. And next time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveils another plan to reduce air pollution and protect public health, opponents will claim it’ll cost a fortune and ruin our economy.

I'm sure they're now trying to sell a recent study claiming that EPA’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will hit consumers, when the best available data points to the complete opposite.

History shows that opponents of environmental regulations consistently miss the mark on costs. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan| Comments closed

Three More Reasons to Cheer Clean Energy Job Growth in North Carolina

powerplantruleBusiness-friendly clean energy policies in North Carolina continue to support the success of clean energy companies – boosting job growth and economic development.

In the past 30 days alone, three corporate announcements illustrate the power of the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to expand their use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit, which rewards companies for investing in clean energy.

Strata Solar

Strata Solar announced it has invested $1 billion in North Carolina solar energy, including 65 solar facilities in 40 counties, and employed 2,000 workers during the past five years.

The Chapel Hill-based company has the attention of Governor Pat McCrory, who praised its investment: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, North Carolina, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Comments closed

USDA Loan Improves Energy Efficiency in Rural North Carolina

carolina houseA rural electric cooperative in North Carolina is one of the first in the country to receive funds from a new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on-bill finance program that will help customers improve energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and reduce carbon pollution. Roanoke Electric Membership Cooperative, which serves 14,ooo rural customers, is in my home state.

Roanoke Electric’s membership base is similar to other economically distressed rural areas, which have a growing elderly population and residents with homes that need energy-saving upgrades.

The cooperative diligently promotes energy efficiency, yet there are still customers with utility bills that are higher than their mortgage payments some months. Securing upfront capital to finance home improvements can be challenging. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, North Carolina, On-bill repayment| Comments closed