Energy Exchange

Europe’s Love Affair with the Investor Confidence Project Gets Serious

By: Panama Bartholomy, Director of ICP Europe

Flag_of_EuropeThe European Commission is putting its weight behind an initiative designed to increase private investment in energy efficiency, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP). ICP is accelerating the development of a global energy efficiency market by standardizing how energy efficiency projects are developed and energy savings are calculated.

In late February, the European Commission released a landmark report on energy efficiency in Europe that was 18 months in the making, and it had ICP all over it. The report, Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy, was issued by the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG), a group of financial and energy efficiency leaders and building owners convened by the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

Earlier that same month, the European Commission awarded a €1.92 million grant to the European version of the project, ICP Europe. The grant will pay for a consortium of companies to:

  • develop ICP’s project protocols for the European market;
  • work with financial institutions to embed them into their financing process; and
  • organize National Steering Groups in five countries: (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and the U.K.) to take the protocols to markets in those countries.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Here Comes the Sun: How California is Bringing More Renewables to the Grid

Have a sunny dayAsk most people what the Beatles and California have in common and they might very well be at a loss. However, the answer is pretty simple: they are both unabashed trendsetters in the face of resistance – the former in their musical style and the latter in its clean energy policies.

Not content with setting a Renewable Portfolio Standard that ends at 2020, Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators are pushing for the Golden State to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

To meet this ambitious target, California must build a system that is largely based on renewable electricity, like wind and solar. This is not an easy task. The primary reason? Sunshine and wind are only available at certain times of the day and can be variable during those times.

Traditionally, managers of the electricity grid have relied upon dirty “peaker” power plants – usually fossil fuel-fired and only needed a couple of days a year – to balance the grid during periods of variability or when electricity demand exceeds supply. But, in a world where 50 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources as a means to achieving a clean energy economy, we can’t rely on these dirty peaker plants to balance the variability of wind and solar.

Luckily, technology is available today that can help fill the gap of these peaker plants – and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is starting to embrace it. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Energy-Water Nexus, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Read 1 Response

A Little-Known Federal Rule Brings Invisible Pollution Into Focus

Cropped rig houseLegal fellow Jess Portmess also contributed to this post.

Unlike an oil spill, most greenhouse gas emissions are invisible to the naked eye. Though we can’t see them, this pollution represents a daily threat to our environment and communities, and it is important to understand the extent of this pollution and where it comes from.

This is why in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule requiring facilities in the oil and gas industry to report yearly emissions from their operations.

The Rule is part of a larger greenhouse gas measurement, reporting, and disclosure program called for by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. By coincidence, the rule is known as Subpart W.

The emissions data required by the Rule helps communities near oil and natural gas development better understand pollution sources, and gives companies better ways to identify opportunities to reduce emissions.

As these policies have gotten stronger under the Obama administration, industry has continued to fight them in federal court. Read More »

Posted in Military, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Clean Energy Industry is Not Yet Mature – and that’s a Good Thing

graph-163509_640Last year, global investment in clean, renewable sources of energy grew by a better-than-expected 16 percent to $310 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Industry watchers applauded the strong showing, but the numbers imply more than just robust growth. A careful analysis leads us to two additional illuminating conclusions about the industry’s current level of development and its future.

 

  1. The clean energy industry is in a development phase

In 2013, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 8.5 percent, with investment comprising 47 percent of GDP. By contrast, GDP in the United States expanded 1.9 percent, with investment comprising 16.8 percent. As a developing country, China’s growth rate is significantly higher, and a telling characteristic for developing countries is that investment makes up a relatively large percentage of GDP.

This pattern doesn’t just hold true for countries; we also see a similar dynamic when looking at industries. According to BNEF, the oil & gas (O&G) industry spent $913 billion on capital expenditures, or capex, last year, while the market capitalization, or market cap, for the top ten companies in the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index stood at $1.63 trillion. By contrast, the market cap for the top ten companies in the Wilder Hill New Energy Global Index was much smaller at $164 billion. The Wilder Hill New Energy Global Index comprises 107 companies from around the world that cover a broad spectrum of clean energy technologies. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing| Comments are closed

Military Experts in Texas Call for Plan of Action on Climate Change

By: Marita Mirzatuny and Kate Zerrenner

National Guard responding to flood emergencies.  Source:  flickr/DVIDSHUB

National Guard responding to flood emergencies.

When the U.S. military calls climate change a “threat multiplier” and “a serious threat to national security,” it makes anyone stand up and pay attention. From direct land impacts and food and water shortages, to the displacement of millions of people, climate change is not taken lightly by our armed forces.

Earlier this week, two military experts, Lt. Gen. Ken Eickmann (USAF, Ret.) and British Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (Royal Navy, Ret.), testified at a Texas House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Hearing and later at an event hosted by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the British Consulate-General University at University of Texas' LBJ School. As a senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute and Former UK Foreign Secretary Special Representative for Climate Change, Eickmann and Morisetti, respectively, bring a level of trust and confidence to this issue, disarming the politics, if just for a moment, and replacing it with pragmatic duty.

Eickmann and Morisetti’s message was loud and clear: We need to diversify our energy options and shift more toward a clean energy economy. The potential for Texas is boundless. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Smart Grid, Texas| Comments are closed

The UT Methane Studies: Critique and Response

452548129Science is a process of asserting a hypothesis, collecting data, presenting results, and then having those data and results tested by other researchers. Peer-reviewed journals routinely allow for comments on papers and responses by the authors precisely in order to ensure that knowledge evolves and the dialogue is part of the public scientific record.

People paying close attention to the growing body of research on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry may note of a recent exchange in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) between Mr. Touché Howard and a team of scientists lead by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas. The studies by Allen et al. are among of a group of 16 studies on methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain being coordinated by Environmental Defense Fund. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed
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