Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Germany’s Energiewende is Shifting the Energy Paradigm – Now it’s Time to Optimize

solar-cells-491701_640Revolutionary paradigm shifts often require cohesive development of many moving parts, some of which advance more quickly than others in practice. Germany’s revolutionary Energiewende (or “energy transition”) is no exception. Set to achieve nearly 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, Germany’s Energiewende is one of the most aggressive clean energy declarations in the world. While growth of Germany’s installed renewables capacity has been explosive in recent years, optimization measures designed for Energiewende have manifested at a relatively slow pace.

Germany already has one of the most reliable electric grids in the world, but as implementation of Energiewende continues, optimization will be key to its future success. This will require better sources of backup generation to accommodate the intermittency of wind and solar, a dynamic energy market that ensures fair compensation for this backup, and a more flexible, resilient grid enabled by smart grid technologies to fully optimize demand side resources and a growing renewable energy portfolio. Read More »

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Disruptive is a Buzzword…but it’s true for Batteries

batteryFor more than 100 years, the U.S. power system relied on fossil-fueled power plants to meet our growing energy demand. Now, clean energy resources like renewables are quickly changing our energy mix. But what happens when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing? What about when power demand momentarily outpaces supply? That’s where batteries and energy storage come in, offering a fundamental, even disruptive change to the U.S. electricity system as we know it.

Batteries are energy game-changers

Today’s electricity system not only overproduces to be prepared for unforeseen problems, it also deploys dirty “peaker” plants that fire up during those few times per year when electricity demand is high (like during a heat wave) and the electric grid is stressed. With batteries, there’s no need for either overproduction or inefficient backup reserves, ultimately saving both utilities and customers money.

Batteries can provide bursts of electricity incredibly fast, often in milliseconds, and with far quicker reaction times than traditional power plants. As a result, energy storage helps the electric grid absorb and regulate power fluctuations, providing electricity fast, when and where it’s needed. Since the supply and demand of power must be carefully balanced, this ability helps prevent the grid from experiencing brownouts or blackouts. Read More »

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Utility 2.0: “REVolutionizing” the Use of Distributed Energy Resources

new-york-city-105862_640New York opened its “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding earlier this year to re-examine the utility business model. As part of this proceeding, state regulators will also look into removing market barriers preventing greater deployment of distributed energy resources (DER), which are smaller-scale clean energy resources, such as energy efficiency, energy storage, and local, on-site generation.

In recent years, DERs have made great strides due to market reforms, advanced technologies, and declining costs. Despite these advances, DERs serve less than 1% of national electricity demand as the existing utility business model and regulatory policies still favor traditional electricity distribution from a centralized grid.

Though the REV proceeding is in its early stages, the Department of Public Service Staff (Staff) has provided guidance recommendations for eliminating these market barriers. Using the Staff’s filings, EDF has drafted a white paper that compiles a Top 20 list of the changes required before we will see greater use of DERs. If adopted, these recommendations would result in a sea change for incorporating DERs into New York’s electric system and would provide a template for other states to follow. Read More »

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Investor Confidence Project Releases “Soup-To-Nuts” Guide for Energy Efficiency Project Development

By: Tracy Phillips, ICP Technical Lead

pds logoThere is a simple question that haunts building owners, energy services companies, and even utilities who invest in energy efficiency: “How do I know if I will really see the savings?

To answer this question, EDF’s energy efficiency initiative, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP), is implementing a system that creates confidence in energy savings and cash flows.

Today, ICP is pleased to launch a new component of this initiative: the Project Development Specification. This product launch, along with the recently unveiled Software Provider Credential, is part of a larger effort by ICP to accelerate the development of a global energy efficiency market by standardizing how Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ (IREE) projects are developed and verified leading to increased investor confidence in savings. Read More »

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Is Energy Efficiency a Good Thing Even with Rebound?

By: Inês AzevedoKenneth GillinghamDavid Rapson, and Gernot Wagner.

ceiling-163866_640Lighting is critical to our livelihoods. Humans have used lighting technology since long before industrialization. For many centuries, this lighting was extremely inefficient, with over 95% of the energy consumed wasted as heat. Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for their remarkable contributions towards highly efficient light emitting diode (LED) technology. A day later, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus reignited a long standing debate with an Op-Ed inThe New York Times claiming that these developments are not likely to save energy and instead may backfire. (TheTimes has since corrected a crucial point of the article, and it has published three letters to the editor, including one by a subset of co-authors here.)

As evidence for these claims, Shellenberger and Nordhaus cite research that observes the vast improvements in the efficiency of lighting over the past two centuries having resulted in “more and more of the planet [being] dotted with clusters of lights.” They take this as evidence of how newer and ever more efficient lighting technologies have led to demand increases and, thus, have “led to more overall energy consumption.” Further, they refer to “recent estimates and case studies” that suggest “energy-saving technologies may backfire, meaning that increased energy consumption associated with lower energy costs because of higher efficiency may in fact result in higher energy consumption than there would have been without those technologies.” Read More »

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Benefits of Clean Power Plan Are Measureable – Drop for Drop

Hallisburg Texas power plantSince EPA released its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) in June of this year, the plan has been a hot topic in every state. In Texas alone, the state has held a joint regulatory agency hearing and two days of legislative hearings. Unfortunately, in both cases, the general tone of testimony was that of Chicken Little. But I prefer to view the CPP as a fantastic opportunity and certainly don’t think the sky will fall because of it. In fact, our skies should be considerably brighter without all that carbon pollution clouding them up.

I’ve written before about the opportunity for Texas to amplify current trends and increase our energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet these goals. And there’s an added benefit to transitioning away from coal-fired power plants and toward cleaner energy choices, one that will be critical in a state like Texas that’s in the middle of a multi-year drought: water savings and relief for our parched state.

What if I told you that with the CPP, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which controls the power grid for roughly 80 percent of the state, could save more than 60,000 acre-feet (or nearly 21 billion gallons) of water per year by 2030? Read More »

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