Archive for Energy – Page 2

Water & Coal for Power

Most of us know that producing electricity requires water. Our most common means of generating electricity is to boil water and use the pressure of the steam to turn turbines. An average coal-fired plant uses as much water as a medium-size city every year. When you add up all the water used by the coal plants in the world, it totals billions of gallons of water that could be used for essential purposes, such as drinking and growing food. Attached is a study by Greenpeace showing water use plant-by-plant. Given that we have plenty of other ways to generate electricity that do not waste our precious water supplies, this is a study in man’s stupidity…or the greed of a few.

Coal Water AW D26LORES

Value of Energy Efficiency

Steven Nadel, Executive Director of American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

Multiple studies looking at spending and savings across programs, over time and in multiple states, all show the same thing: energy efficiency is highly cost effective. Put another way, it keeps electricity affordable by meeting demand and environmental regulations at a lower cost than if we generated new power, including from clean energy resources. To help break down this discussion to key points, we released two new fact sheets today, one showing that energy efficiency is consistently the lowest-cost option for meeting electric demand and the other showing that including energy efficiency can lower the cost of Clean Power Plan compliance.

How Much Does Energy Efficiency Cost?” includes results from studies by Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryACEEE, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The fact sheet shows how these studies provide further evidence that energy efficiency costs less than other sources of energy, and also that the costs of energy efficiency have been level in recent years. “Energy Efficiency Lowers the Cost of Clean Power Plan Compliance” looks at the results of three studies, all finding that including energy efficiency as part of state compliance plans will lower costs to utility customers. For example, a study by Synapse Resource Economics provides state-by-state information on most of the states…

To continue reading this blog post, visit: http://aceee.org/blog/2016/03/new-studies-are-showing-what-we 

To read “How Much Does Energy Efficiency Cost?” visit http://aceee.org/fact-sheet/cost-of-ee 

To read “Energy Efficiency Lowers the Cost of Clean Power Plan Compliance” visit http://aceee.org/fact-sheet/ee-lowers-cost-cpp

100% Renewable Energy in 10 Years

Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute:

If our transition to renewable energy is successful, we will achieve savings in the ongoing energy expenditures needed for economic production. We will be rewarded with a quality of life that is acceptable—and, perhaps, preferable to our current one (even though, for most Americans, material consumption will be scaled back from its current unsustainable level). We will have a much more stable climate than would otherwise be the case. And we will see greatly reduced health and environmental impacts from energy production activities.

But the transition will entail costs—not just money and regulation, but also changes in our behavior and expectations. It will probably take at least three or four decades, and will fundamentally change the way we live.

Nobody knows how to accomplish the transition in detail, because this has never been done before. Most previous energy transitions were driven by opportunity, not policy. And they were usually additive, with new energy resources piling onto old ones (we still use firewood, even though we’ve added coal, hydro, oil, natural gas, and nuclear to the mix).

Since the renewable energy revolution will require trading our currently dominant energy sources (fossil fuels) for alternative ones (mostly wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass) that have different characteristics, there are likely to be some hefty challenges along the way.

Therefore, it makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit and with a plan in place, then revise our plan frequently as we gain practical experience. Several organizations have already formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. David Fridley, staff scientist of the energy analysis program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I have been working for the past few months to analyze and assess those plans and have a book in the works titledOur Renewable Future. Here’s a very short summary, tailored mostly to the United States, of what we’ve found.

Read more here.

Energy-Water Nexus

By Steven Nadel , Executive Director

ACEEE and many others have noted the importance of the nexus between energy and water issues. Energy is used to move, treat, and heat water. Water is vital for producing energy, such as for cooling electric generating plants. Insufficient water availability can increase energy use for pumping and decrease energy production. Flooding can damage both energy and water systems. And there are many opportunities to promote both energy and water efficiency at the same time. Next month we will release a fact sheet on our work on the energy-water nexus and how both energy and water efficiency play critical roles. But first, I want to explore how the relationship between energy and water may evolve in future years, particularly in response to climate change.

Impacts on water supply and demand from Climate change

Parts of the US—primarily in the triangle from Montana to southern California to western Texas—are already experiencing water stress, meaning that water is being withdrawn from water sources at a rate that might not be sustainable (see map on page 272 here).

According to the US Global Change Research Program, as the climate changes, some regions, such as south of the Great Lakes, will get more precipitation and other regions, like the southwest, will get less. A stylized map of expected precipitation changes from their 2008 report is below.

Water flow change in 2040-2060 relative to 1901-1970. Source: US Climate Change Science Program, p. 138. (following this report the program was renamed the US Global Change Research Program). Read more here…

Clean Power Plan

The Supreme Court recently took the unprecedented move to stall the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Given the players involved (big fossil fuel and utility companies plus some right wing states – including Arizona) and given the leanings of the 5 justices who voted for the stay, it’s not difficult to deduce why the Court took the step it did. It has nothing to do with Constitutional issues or American values or the needs of the people. Here is an article by John Farrell, the energy guru at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the go-to place for learning how to live well by living locally.
 
Several months ago, the Obama administration released the Clean Power Plan, requiring substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the electricity sector. The Plan sets targets from the top down, but largely leaves the details to states, providing a significant opportunity to craft rules that encourage energy development and ownership from the bottom up.

These 50 state plans have huge stakes.

Collectively, U.S. electric customers spend over $360 billion each year. Most of that is generated from fossil fuels, frequently extracted outside their own state. In other words, most of that money leaves their community to pay for dirty energy. But the electricity system is in the midst of an enormous transformation from the bottom up just as the federal plan pushes utilities to cleaner energy from the top down.

Driven by improvements in energy efficiency, electricity consumption peaked in 2007 and has been stagnant ever since. Distributed solar, like that found on home rooftops, has provided more than 5% of newly added power plant capacity from 2011 through 2015. In 2013, nearly one-third of all new power plant capacity was from solar energy. The profusion of smartphones is giving customers innovative ways to control energy use, from web-connected thermostats to light bulbs. Consulting firm Accenture estimates that these “disruptive” and economical technologies could save electric customers up to $48 billion over the next 10 years.

Read More→

Community Solar

Why community shared solar is ready to be the ‘great equalizer’ A new NREL study explains what could open up the other half of the distributed solar market.

About half of all American rooftops are suited to solar installations and about 0.5% now have solar. That means solar could get up to 100 times bigger than it is now. But that’s not the big news in a just-released study.

The really big news is that community shared solar is poised to reproduce the sharp upward growth that the industry has seen over the last five to six years with solar leasing, according to researchers at the Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL). That would give the other half of households and small businesses the opportunity to buy in.

“This business model opens solar up to something like 100% of the market. Everyone. It is really an equalizer,” explained NREL Senior Financial Analyst David Feldman. “Solar has a lot of benefits but not everyone can take advantage of them right now. This business model provides that.”

New data in Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation makes it possible for a more accurate accounting of available roof space than the 23% to 29% estimate made in 2012, co-author Feldman said.

“A surprisingly large number of people and businesses can host a solar system,” Feldman said. “But there is a very large number who cannot.”

An estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are currently unable to host a PV system, the study finds. “By opening the market to these customers, shared solar could represent 32% to 49% of the distributed PV market in 2020, thereby leading to cumulative PV deployment growth in 2015 to 2020 of 5.5 GW to 11.0 GW, and representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment.” Read more…

Future of Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification

Independent Reports Reach Same Conclusions on the Future of Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification

Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2015): The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) released new reports today that analyze the current and future impacts of information and communications technologies (ICT) on evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) practices. EM&V demonstrates the value of energy efficiency programs by providing accurate, transparent, and consistent assessments of their performance. Both reports provide similar conclusions regarding the potential of advanced data analytics and the availability of data to provide more timely feedback on program results and efficacy, and reduce costs associated with EM&V. 

The ACEEE report illustrates the potential of ICT to not only sustain the existing efficiency program models, but to transform them,” said Ethan Rogers, senior manager of the Industrial Program at ACEEE. “Programs may look very different in the future as a result of our ability to collect and analyze energy performance in near real-time.”

The NEEP Changing EM&V Paradigm report presents the potential for how advanced data collection and analytic tools can increasingly support EM&V activities, and provides guidance on key opportunities and challenges in advancing the use of automated measurement,” said NEEP Regional EM&V Forum director Julie Michals.

Both reports focus on the ability of ICT to support and improve existing EM&V practices, as well as create new methods that can be built into an efficiency program’s design. One important advance is the use of comparison groups of customers that are not participating in a program but are similar in their energy use to those that are. Automated and advanced analysis of comparison groups with program participants improves the accuracy and timeliness of energy savings reports, allowing programs to scale more easily and at lower costs. Read More→