Selected tag(s): climate change

Rural Communities Need Extra Support In Light Of Energy And Water Constraints

Source: Winning Communities

Around 20% of the US population lives in an area that is classified as “rural.” The US Census Bureau defines an urban area as a territory with a population of at least 50,000, or a cluster of 2,500 to 50,000 people. Rural is then defined as anything outside of that definition. Rural areas face particular challenges when it comes to energy and water use. For example, utilities are met with higher costs and often find it harder to implement new clean technologies to modernize their energy infrastructure because of the great distances between customers and an irregular patchwork of reliable resources. Besides, many system planners and thought leaders for innovative energy technologies live in urban or suburban areas and may find it harder to relate to the specific challenges of rural settings.

It’s likely that climate change will impact rural communities in different ways than it will urban areas, due to a number of factors including the types of common occupations, poverty levels and demography. Of particular concern is the “climate gap”, which refers to the lower economic and physical adaptability of rural communities.  It will vary based on region, but research indicates that rural communities in the Southeast and Southwest could face particularly dire circumstances due to changes in electricity prices and water scarcity.

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Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus, Utility Business Models| Also tagged , | Comments are closed

How Smarter, More Flexible Energy Can Help Communities Weather Future Storms

Last week, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released a Rebuilding Strategy, which aims to rebuild communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in ways that are “better able to withstand future storms and other risks posed by climate change.”  From an energy perspective, the main goal of these recommendations is to make the electrical grid smarter and more flexible.  This effort would minimize power outages and fuel shortages in the event of similar emergency situations in the future.

The Task Force is led by President Obama and chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan.  The recommendations put forth in the report were developed with Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, and a number of federal agencies and officials from across New York and New Jersey, representing an unusual opportunity to make changes that will help communities weather future crises.

This key idea – smarter, flexible energy – is central to resilience, safety and quick recovery in a storm, as well as reducing the harmful pollution linked to climate change in the first place.  This has been a key theme of EDF’s efforts to help the Northeast region respond to Sandy.

When the power grid went down on most of New York City following Hurricane Sandy, a number of buildings were able to keep their lights on thanks to existing microgrids and on-site, renewable energy sources.  The Task Force report lays out a path forward for taking these isolated success stories to scale and making these clean technologies available to everyone.

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Posted in Climate, Grid Modernization, Investor Confidence Project, New York, On-bill repayment| Also tagged , , , | Read 1 Response

America’s Aging Energy Infrastructure Needs An Overhaul

No one likes being told “I told you so.”  But since DOE released its report last week, I’ve been tempted.

The report warns that the existing American energy infrastructure is highly vulnerable to climate change.  That increasing temperatures will stress the U.S. water system and enhance the likelihood of drought. That because conventional power plants require huge volumes of water to operate, lower water availability will mean less reliable power.  And that the changing climate will prompt more extreme and frequent storms, increasing energy demand due to extreme temperature changes and threatening our aging and already stressed electric grid with potential blackouts.

In essence, the affirms the many the calls-to-action that EDF and many other groups have been leading for years and the lessons we learned from Superstorm Sandy made painfully real and salient:  Our existing energy technologies and policies were designed for a 20th century climate.  To weather the extremes of a 21st century climate, we need to a 21st century energy system – one  that promotes energy efficiency, enables widespread adoption of homegrown, renewable sources of power and allows people to control their own energy use and reduce their electricity costs.

I have been very encouraged by President Obama’s recent movement on climate change, and the DOE report provides research backing the urgency of his Climate Action Plan.  Hopefully, this recent movement will translate into real national momentum, as our national approach to energy truly needs an overhaul. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models| Also tagged , | Read 1 Response

President Obama’s Plan To Accelerate The Transition To A Clean Energy Economy

Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Today President Obama took an important step toward meeting the promise of his inaugural address to “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”  The headline, of course, is the commitment to take serious action to address the most significant challenge our generation faces – climate change. And, with it, the extreme weather and public health burdens that are already making life harder for vulnerable regions and people nationwide, and that stand to become so much worse as the root cause remains unaddressed.

In his Climate Action Plan announced at Georgetown University, the President laid out his vision for putting in place common sense policies that will cut harmful carbon pollution while driving innovation, cutting energy waste and energy bills, creating jobs and protecting public health. 

Most Americans would be shocked to know that there are no current limits on carbon pollution from power plants. By setting the first standards in history for carbon pollution from power plants in the United States – which produce 2 billion tons of this pollution each year, or about 40% of the nation’s total – the President will help modernize our power system, ensuring that our electricity is reliable, affordable, healthy and clean.  And we can do this in a way that can give industry the flexibility it needs to make cost-effective investments in clean energy technologies.

A modern, intelligent, interactive electricity system will help minimize problems that arise from extreme weather events and other disruptions and maximize renewables, efficiency and consumer choice.  Since the President took office, our country has seen the beginnings of a revolution in the energy sector – technological innovations have put us on track to energy independence and clean, homegrown energy resources constitute a growing share of electric generation capacity.  Reducing wasted energy and using more clean energy offer enormous potential for our health, economy and climate, including:

–          Little to no harmful pollution = improved public health

–          An unlimited, homegrown energy supply = less reliance on foreign oil

–          Economic development = more jobs

–          Stable energy prices = lower electric bills and improved economic stability  

–          A more reliable, resilient energy system = less costly, scary blackouts

–          A global leadership position in the multi-trillion dollar clean energy economy = reclaimed pride and competitiveness for America’s manufacturers

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Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Washington, DC| Also tagged , | Read 1 Response

Study Intends To Determine Methane Leakage Associated With A Growing Natural Gas Transportation Sector

This blog post was written by Jason Mathers, Senior Manager of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Program.

Source: Waste Management

The use of natural gas to power our nation’s freight fleet vehicles is a hot topic in these days of rising diesel and falling natural gas prices. There are several reasons to be excited about this opportunity, including operating cost savings, use of a domestic fuel source, and the potential for a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to diesel heavy-duty trucks. However, significant concerns remain with the development of new gas supplies, including the threat of fugitive methane emissions from natural gas vehicles and the fuel supply chain.

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas and a GHG pollutant many times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal contributor to man-made climate change. Even small amounts of methane leakage across the natural gas supply chain can undermine the climate benefit of switching to natural gas from other fossil fuels for some period of time.

In a paper published last year, EDF scientists and other leading researchers examined the impact of potential fugitive emissions on the climate benefits of a switch from diesel to natural gas heavy-duty trucks. The study found that, according to the best available data, methane leak rates would need to be below 1% of gas produced in order to ensure that switching from diesel to natural gas produces climate benefits at all points in time. They also found that – using the EPA leakage rate estimates at that time – converting a fleet of heavy duty diesel vehicles to natural gas would result in increased climate warming for more than 250 years before any climate benefits were achieved.

EDF is working with leading researchers and companies in a series of studies designed to better understand and characterize the methane leak rate across the natural gas supply chain. The studies will take direct measurements at various points across the production, gathering and processing, long distance transmission and storage, local distribution, and transportation. The first study, led by researchers at the University of Texas, is measuring emissions from natural gas production. Results will be released in the coming months. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged | Read 1 Response
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