Energy Exchange

Rooftop solar and EVs save water and cut pollution – and data can help us go further

Thanks to improvements in technology, it’s easier than ever to be green.

Solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs) are two prime examples of technologies that can help people minimize their environmental footprint, without sacrificing comfort or having to radically change their daily behavior. But the question still remains: How much of an environmental benefit do these technologies actually produce? And, are there actions that owners of these technologies can take to minimize their pollution footprint even more?

A new paper by my colleagues and me, recently published in Energy Economics, attempts to answer these two questions for households in Austin, Texas. These homes are part of Pecan Street Inc., a living smart-grid laboratory with the largest customer energy-use database on the planet. Using detailed household-level data from 2013-2015, we were able to track solar panel performance and EV use and charging patterns, and match these actions to two important environmental impacts: water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Our paper confirms that, in Texas, residential solar panels uses less water and pollutes the air less than using the central-grid power (based on its electricity sources during those years), and driving an EV instead of a gasoline vehicle generally reduces the household’s water and emission footprint, even though EVs charge from the grid. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates how carefully examining energy-use data can help us make sure we’re maximizing clean energy’s benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Solar Energy, Texas / Comments are closed

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, Climate, Data Access, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Voltage Optimization, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Here’s how New Jersey can capitalize on its best clean energy investment opportunities

Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s clean energy agenda has the potential to be a game-changer for New Jersey. His influence can position the state to regain its leadership in the fight against climate change, and create a clean energy economy that will lead to more jobs, and improve the health and well-being of all New Jerseyans.

To capitalize on this opportunity and achieve the state’s goals of clean, resilient, and affordable energy and transportation systems, we need to build on the progress we’ve made with new policies and programs that will allow the adoption of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and clean transportation infrastructure at scale.

With New Jersey’s many competing investment needs, how will we pay for a much needed clean energy transformation? Public funds, whether from tax payers or utility customers, are not enough. EDF’s latest report, Financing New Jersey's Clean Energy Economy: Pathways for Leadership, analyzes three innovative financial approaches that leverage public resources to catalyze private investment in these technologies. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing / Read 1 Response

New Jersey’s new governor campaigned on a robust clean energy plan. Let’s get started.

The election of Phil Murphy as New Jersey’s next governor represents an opportunity for the state to adopt technologies that will make our electric grid more efficient and permit the integration of large amounts of renewable energy, as well as provide customers with the ability to better manage their energy use and save money.

The Governor-elect’s agenda includes a robust clean energy plan, including goals to power 1.5 million homes with offshore wind by 2030; add 600 MW of energy storage by 2021, and 2000 MW by 2030; and to increase energy-efficiency investment.

Governor-elect Murphy is well-positioned to achieve his goals, as New Jersey is abuzz with clean energy activity from both the public and private sectors. Here’s a sampling. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, New Jersey / Comments are closed

‘Eastside Sol’ envisions the clean energy future we want to build together

California has made great progress rolling out programs intended to make clean energy technologies like solar power and electric vehicles more affordable for all Californians. However, if we are going to continue to lead the vision for what a clean energy future can look like, we still have a lot of work to do. These programs still need effective ways to reach low-income communities who are most impacted by pollution and climate change, and who oftentimes lack the resources and information to access them.

Enter Eastside Sol – the city’s first 100 percent solar powered arts and music festival. Eastside Sol celebrated its third anniversary this summer, with an event that has grown bigger and better every year. The event showcases zero-pollution energy and mobility programs for residents of the greater Eastside Los Angeles area ‒ wrapped in a fun, festive celebration of Eastside culture and community.

Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Community Solar, Energy Equity / Comments are closed

New utility settlement will unlock millions in clean energy funding for Ohio

Enhancing EV infrastructure is one of the many ways AEP's new settlement advances clean energy.

BLOG UPDATE – APRIL 25, 2018

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio today approved AEP's electric security plan, described below.

AEP, one of Ohio’s largest utilities, just reached an exciting new milestone that takes the state further down the path to a clean energy economy.

The utility has reached a settlement that will unlock millions in funding, lower pollution, avoid unnecessary electricity bill increases, and provide customers with more clean energy options.

New benefits

In AEP’s recent electric security plan case (a process that sets generation rates charged to customers) through 2024, the utility, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), and others have reached a settlement that includes the following:

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Ohio / Comments are closed