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, Climate, Community Solar, Energy Equity, Energy Storage, Methane, Natural Gas, Solar Energy / Comments are closed

The latest trends in renewable-energy tech, markets, and policy

By Energy Dialogues

Renewable energy, and its role in energy future, is an intense topic that spans across all corners of the energy spectrum. For example, our recent Mexican Energy Series featured a lively discussion of whether Mexico is on course for the 2024 target of 35% renewable energy, and what this pledge means for the country. Each year, as new corporations, municipalities, and countries make bold and vocal commitments to offsetting energy consumption, and to pursuing clean energy resources at a higher level, the conversation intensifies.

For an insider perspective about the current state of renewable energy, we called upon Lenae Shirley, Senior Director, Technology Innovation and Market Adoption for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Lenae is working at the nexus of technology, markets and policy, leading efforts with EDF’s demonstration partners to prove the impact of clean technology innovations. As a result of these initiatives, Lenae identifies trends and market opportunities to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector, with data-driven decisions that push forward market adoption for renewable methods. Here is our conversation. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

Clean energy boom played key role in recent U.S. carbon emissions drop, study shows

After rising for nearly two decades, carbon dioxide emissions from United States energy use began to fall sharply and unexpectedly in 2007.

For years now, experts attributed this decrease to the drop in energy demand during the economic recession that began late that year, and to the huge surge in cheap natural gas that displaced coal in our energy mix during this period. But they overlooked another key change that drove the drop in emissions just as much: the rapid rise in renewable energy production.

By 2013, our country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions had decreased by 11 percent – a decline not witnessed since the 1979 oil crisis. Our research shows that the growth of renewable energy sources accounted for 31 percent of that 640-million metric ton carbon drop.

The impact from renewables is just below the 34-percent contribution the switch from petroleum and coal to natural gas made to the emissions decline – a fact that, until now, has previously gone largely unrecognized.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Compensating distributed energy resources for environmental attributes

By Elizabeth B. Stein, Ferit Ucar

Small distributed energy resources, cutting carbon emissions, and making sure people pay appropriately for participating in the electric system: These have been pillars of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), New York’s comprehensive initiative to re-think utility regulation and reduce carbon in the power sector.

Cutting carbon pollution – decarbonization – will be difficult as long as a carbon price is in effect only for large generators. That approach creates a risk of shifting emissions from large generators to small ones and creates a disincentive for environmentally-beneficial electrification.

Setting a robust price on carbon and applying it to fossil fuel users of all sizes and types would avoid such results and enable the market to drive down emissions efficiently. But in a world without such a broadly-applied price, designing an appropriate compensation mechanism for small generators that produce both environmental benefits and emissions is an interesting economic policy challenge.

There’s a lot to consider. Let’s unpack the issues. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, New York / Comments are closed

Trump kills solar jobs, taxes families and businesses, but he can’t kill solar competitiveness

With President Trump’s announcement this week to slap a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules, the solar industry once again finds itself in the firing line, targeted by the political whims of elected officials.

This political posturing has created uncertainty in the marketplace. In the last decade, solar has suffered from seven changes to the investment tax credit. And in the last few months, the industry got a double whammy of the BEAT tax – which will negatively affect equity investments in solar development – and the threat from the Department of Energy’s plan to prop up dirty coal while undermining solar. The tariff decision this week – a protectionist attempt by Trump to appeal to his anti-free trade base – is the latest assault on clean energy and a tax on American families, businesses, and utilities who want to go solar. Republicans once considered such actions a “tax on consumers.”

Despite these attacks, solar is still booming. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that in the last five years, the U.S. solar industry has attracted more than $100 billion in investment, realized year-over-year growth rates of 21 percent, and now employs more than 260,000 people. The tariff may slow the growth of solar, but it doesn’t kill its competitiveness. Read More »

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

We already know which grid fixes can keep lights on during bad storms. Here are 3.

After a record-breaking hurricane season and catastrophic wildfires in California, the vulnerabilities of our electric system – and the urgent need to upgrade it – have never been clearer.

It took more than 10 days of around-the-clock work to restore electricity to 350,000 customers after fires struck California wine country last month. Returning service to all 4.4 million power customers in Florida after Hurricane Irma took almost as long – and 70 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack power six weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Such crippling outages contribute to $250 billion in economic losses globally every year.

But there are solutions available on the market today that can reduce the impact of these outages. By investing in technologies that modernize our electric grid, and with careful planning, we can also create a cleaner and more efficient electricity system overall. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, General, Grid Modernization, Voltage Optimization / Tagged , | Comments are closed