Energy Exchange

2014 Year in Review: 3 Breakthroughs that Tip the Scales for Climate Action

walmartsolar_378x235As the year draws to a close, I’m grateful for three climate breakthroughs from 2014 that give me hope that we can still turn the corner toward a stable climate before it's too late.

And I’m thankful to my colleagues at Environmental Defense Fund who crunched the numbers and determined how we can actually see global greenhouse emissions peak, level off, and begin to decline in the next five years.

EDF can’t do it alone – it will take concerted action by allies and stakeholders around the world – and it won’t be easy. But we can do it.

We know we can do this, because it’s happening already:  Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Colorado, Methane, Smart Grid| Comments closed

Demand Soars for Green Bonds

By: Namrita Kapur, Managing Director of the Corporate Partnership Program  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs noted in my last post on green bonds, there has been a recent dramatic growth in green bond issuance. Supply is responding to burgeoning demand. Quite simply, investors are snapping up these debt instruments that are linked to an environmental benefit. Three recent transactions highlight this seemingly insatiable appetite:

  • Massachusetts’ sale of $350 million in green bonds in September attracted more than $1 billion in demand from retail investors and institutions. This — the state’s second green bond issuance — will fund clean water, energy efficiency, open space protection, and river preservation projects.
  • The order book for the Nordic Investment Bank’s $500 million green bond issue quickly climbed to $800 million, with more than a third of investors being new to NIB. This bond will funnel proceeds to climate-friendly projects in Nordic countries, such as renewables, energy efficiency, green transportation, and wastewater treatment.
  • In September, the World Bank tripled the size of its planned structured green bond to $30 million in response to investor demand, raising more than expected for climate projects, such as energy and forestry initiatives. Since its first green issuance in 2008, the World Bank reports raising more than $7 billion from 77 bonds in 17 currencies.

Read More »

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Energy Management Can Empower Everyone Regardless of Income Level

Source: Verizon

Source: Verizon

The holidays are upon us. As we prepare to gather with our friends and family, eat too much, and lounge around watching football, many people use this time to reflect on what they are grateful for. Being able to pay one’s electricity bill probably doesn’t make most people’s list, but for many Americans, it might.

The average household spends $1,945 annually on electricity, and homes with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly six percent of their income on energy bills. For many households, the cost of energy remains unaffordable. To put it in perspective, compared to middle- or upper-class homes, low-income households spend about twice the percentage of their income on energy. Yet, as Greentech Media points out, “many [energy management] solutions are tailored to the biggest homes, those awash in thousands of square feet of central air with a pool pump. Other solutions are tailored for middle-class homes, such as aggressive rebates for more efficient appliances. Many apartment-dwellers, however, do not own their major appliances."

The future of smart home, energy-saving technologies is often more focused on affluent, early-adopters who benefit from innovative ways to save energy because they can afford the newest gadgets. Thankfully, these people are using their buying power to lead the way, as more demand will bring prices down for everyone. While it is important for all of us to conserve and better manage energy use, low-income individuals have the most to gain. Yet the technologies that can enable savings are often out of financial reach. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Texas| Tagged | Comments closed

Clean Energy Conferences Roundup: December 2014

rp_Source-National-Retail-Federation-Flickr-300x200.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in December:

Dec 3: Abundance or Scarcity? Re-examining U.S. Oil and Gas Policy, Washington, D.C.
Speaker: Elgie Holstein, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

  • Recent growth in domestic oil and gas production is transforming the U.S. energy sector and challenging the paradigm of energy scarcity that has underpinned federal policy for the last 40 years. Join us to hear leading energy experts discuss this topic and examine policy issues related to exports, infrastructure, natural gas as a transportation fuel, and the climate.

Read More »

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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.”

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Comments closed

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.

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, Wyoming| Tagged , , | Comments closed