Archive for energy

We Need Stronger Fuel Economy Standards

Vehicles driving on a crowded freeway.Now that the power sector is making strong gains on reducing emissions, transportation is the greatest source of climate pollution – accounting for a third of US greenhouse gases.

How do we reel in pollution from millions of cars and trucks? The easiest way that’s a win-win is to make cars and trucks more efficient, so they use less gas. In exchange for being bailed out of bankruptcy by the Obama Administration, automakers – after decades of blocking progress – agreed to produce much more efficient vehicles; 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 and 54 mpg by 2025. But now, they want the Trump Administration to relieve them those “expensive, hard to meet targets” and the heavy toll of “burdensome regulations.”

This is exactly why we need regulations. The private sector will not act on its own. All Americans benefit from vastly more efficient cars, trucks and buses – driving a car that gets 54 mpg is a huge step forward from the 24 mpg cars were stuck at for decades.

Individuals and businesses really like going further on a tank of gas. Americans have already saved $35 billion on gas, while avoiding consumption of 270 million barrels of oil, cutting cancer-causing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, all since 2011. The trucking industry actually ASKED for standards – turns out, getting 6 mpg isn’t great for trucking companies!

Fuel economy standards were the single biggest energy efficiency policy of the Obama administration and automakers successfully met the first milestone in 2016 – fleet-wide averages of 35.5 mpg.

Reaching 54 mpg requires innovation and selling lots of hybrids and plug-ins, but right now automakers are mostly selling very profitable gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. Besides, electric car sales are slow, they opine. Have you ever seen an ad for plug-in or electric cars? The answer is No or Rarely. Have you seen ads for SUVs? Yes, Constantly.

Research on national TV ads confirms this, and there’s also a dearth of electric vehicles (EVs) at dealerships. They either don’t stock them or have a few hidden in the back. Forget a test drive! Salespeople aren’t trained on their benefits and often aren’t aware of state and federal tax credits and rebates. Another survey finds that 60% of Americans don’t even know that plug-ins exist and that 80% have never been in an EV.

Read more…

 

An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump on Clean Energy

Smart Solar EnergyDear President-Elect Trump,

For nearly two decades, we’ve been tracking and chronicling the transition to a clean-energy economy. While we know that we don’t see eye-to-eye with you on all of the issues, we wanted to send you the following “open letter” to update you on the clean-energy business opportunity, and what you might do as president to enable a massive infrastructure build out which supports American jobs and home-grown energy.

First, let us lay out some of the significant facts and figures regarding the transition to clean energy that’s taking place in the U.S. and across the globe:

  • Global investments in clean energy have grown from $62 billion in 2004 to $329 billion last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
  • In the U.S., clean energy, in the form of solar and wind power, now represents the largest share of new additions to electricity capacity. In 2015, wind, solar, and geothermal sources represented nearly 63% of all electricity capacity additions across the country, outpacing natural gas at 34%.
  • Many of the largest, most iconic U.S. corporations, such as General Motors, Google, Nike, and Walmart, are now working to achieve 100% renewable electricity in all of their U.S. and/or global operations. Companies that have reached at least one of these goals include Apple, Kohl’s, and Microsoft.
  • Five states now have mandates and target years to get 50% or more of their electricity from renewable sources. And clean energy deployment crosses the red state/blue state divide. In fact, among the top 10 states last year for percentage of clean-electricity generation, six voted for you in the 2016 presidential election (Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Idaho), and four for your opponent.
  • Americans of all political stripes resoundingly support clean energy. In the latest poll from Pew Research released last month, 89% of Americans favored expanding solar power, and 83% supported expanding wind farms. Backing this up, on Election Day pro-solar policies passed in Nevada, where voters moved forward a constitutional amendment that could break up utility NV Energy’s monopoly, and Florida, where voters rejected a measure that would have prevented third-party ownership of solar.

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Does Renewable Energy Increase Electricity Costs?

By Daniel Fleischmann, Renewable Energy World

Since the big push from the U.S. government for investment in renewable energy in 2009, we’ve had the opportunity to see how prices have changed between states that have made large investments in renewable energy, and those that have not.

Critics of renewable energy investment say that renewable energy will never be as cost-effective as fossil fuels and could give customers sticker shock.

But is that the case?

To make the comparison, I took a sampling of 40 states; 20 states that have clearly invested heavily in increasing generation from renewable energy, and 20 states that have clearly been lagging behind on investment. I left out Alaska and Hawaii, where electricity prices are affected by different market forces than in the lower 48 states. I focused on the increased generation from geothermal, solar, and wind energy. Biomass has only grown measurably in New Hampshire and Virginia over the past several years.

I focused on generation rather than consumption, since the practice of actually constructing and operating these facilities within the state is more of an “investment” than buying power from hundreds of miles away. To do this, I compared the average price of power provided by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for each of these states from 2010 through 2015 with the approximate average price over the last 18 months.*

In selecting the states for each list, I found it pretty clear to differentiate those that had invested heavily in renewable energy and significantly increased generation, with those that had not. This list takes into account EIA estimates on generation from distributed solar.

The obvious states that have invested heavily include California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont. As for the remaining six states, I found Arizona worthy for the list, growing from 0.2 percent of its generation from wind and solar in 2010 to nearly 5.8 percent through the first half of 2016.

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Businesses Support Clean Power Plan

This is an interesting article for us here in Arizona where our Senators have sued to stop the Clean Power Plan. The leading businesses understand the value of the Clean Power Plan to the economy, communities and jobs. Our Senators seem to place more value on the benefits to dirty power and the contributions they make to their political campaigns.

Tech titans Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon as well as global brand companies Ikea, Mars, Adobe and Blue Shield Blue Cross Massachusetts told a U.S. court Friday that they need the federal Clean Power Plan for economic reasons.

In two separate Amici Curiae briefs filed in U.S. Circuit Court supporting the EPA’s plan for reducing carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 32 percent, the corporate giants said without a “national carbon mitigation plan,” they face “undesirable business risk,” energy price volatility and higher costs.

With these arguments, the businesses seem to have flipped prospects for the Obama administration’s centerpiece climate change policy, which only a month ago looked dim after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to delay its enforcement.

Since the eight companies collectively employ about 1 million people, account for nearly $2 trillion in market capitalization and are major energy consumers — the tech companies alone use 10 million megawatt hours of electricity a year — they have clout.  

Read more here.

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

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…