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If a Tree Falls in the Forest…Should We Use It to Generate Electricity?

Author(s): Meredith Fowlie
Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
University of California, Berkeley
Date: September 27, 2016 at 11:30 AM

California is experiencing what has been dubbed the worst epidemic of tree mortality in the state’s modern history, with the death of an estimated 66 million trees since 2010. There seems to be widespread – but not unanimous – agreement that leaving close to 40 million dry tons of wood in the forest will increase wildfire risk to unacceptable levels. A tree-mortality task force is working to safely remove the dying trees, some of which can be harvested for timber. But given the current trajectory, lots of wood will be burned on-site. This begs the question: are we better off… [more]

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Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

Author(s): Gail Tverberg
Editor / Researcher
OurFiniteWorld.com
Date: September 20, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity, which in the U.S. was 5.4% of 2015 electricity consumption. In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines… [more]

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Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: September 14, 2016 at 10:29 AM

The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment’s (FCEA) overarching objective is to assess the social, ethical, political, and legal implications of emerging technologies that fall under the broad rubric of climate engineering (sometimes referred to as “climate geoengineering”). We produce high-quality and policy-relevant research and commentary, and work in a variety of ways ensure that the climate engineering conversation maintains a focus on issues of justice, equity, agency, and inclusion.

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Are Government Projections Underestimating Clean Energy’s Potential?

Author(s): Jane Twitmyer
Principal
CACW|Watts
Date: September 12, 2016 at 4:30 PM

As we continue to debate what the future mix of grid generation will be, we should also critique projections of grid demand that suggest the largest share of future generation will continue to derive primarily from central power sources. Distributed resources like on-site wind, solar, and energy efficiency are filling U.S. power needs in greater amounts every year while also offsetting central generation requirements. The structure of our system is changing in ways many policymakers and investors are not seeing. It would be a mistake to underestimate the potential of clean energy. In 2015, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) figures… [more]

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Leaders in Energy

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: September 6, 2016 at 2:54 PM

Leaders in Energy is an educational, professional networking, and advisory services organization which focuses on energy, environmental, and sustainability topics. We help to connect leaders and other committed professionals via on-line forums and in-person events to create an environment that nurtures the creation of innovative solutions leading to a sustainable energy system, economy and world. Topics include clean energy; renewable, fossil, nuclear, and energy storage technology; the circular economy; green finance, green jobs; “Four Generation” talent, Showcases at universities; green infrastructure, energy and water; biodiversity; community and corporate responsibility, project implementation, etc. Key building blocks of the organization involve utilizing… [more]

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Is Offshore Wind Finally Ready To Serve U.S. Power Needs?

Author(s): Rod Adams
Publisher
Atomic Insights LLC
Date: August 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Deepwater Wind recently completed construction on the last of five massive, 6 MWe peak capacity wind turbines that make up the 30 MWe Block Island Wind Farm. By the end of 2016, the developer expects that the project will enter commercial operation and begin providing the first electricity from offshore wind turbines to the U.S. electricity grid. It is a development with far-reaching implications and several lessons available to be learned. This modest-sized installation has been in the works since 2008. Initially, the public utility commission (PUC) rejected the project’s negotiated power purchase agreement (PPA) on the basis of excessive… [more]

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The Road from Paris: Implications of COP21 for Fossil-Fuel Suppliers

Author(s): Joseph Caggiano
Partner
PiPRO Consulting
Date: August 22, 2016 at 10:00 AM

If carried out as envisioned, the Paris Agreement on climate change signed in April 2016 will have enormous environmental and social effects. It will also shake the oil and gas industries to their foundations and transform their business models. In the U.S., the Paris Agreement will become the legitimizing framework for a national energy policy, based on climate peril, not security of supply. Given the prospects, my paper sketches a scenario in which carbon-intensive oil and gas suppliers evolve from their current form into highly-regulated fuel utility businesses with significant accountability for climate action at regional and city levels. The… [more]

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Do We Have The Raw Materials For The World To Become 80% Renewable By 2050?

Author(s): James Conca
Senior Scientist
UFA Ventures, Inc.
Date: August 15, 2016 at 10:30 AM

There have been many voices lately saying that renewables could produce 80% or more of the world’s energy by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 2.5°C, as long as we develop sufficient energy storage and bring up efficiency and conservation. But the real issue is raw materials. It takes about 500 tons of steel and 1000 tons of concrete per MW of wind power. Even more to connect them to the grid. The United States has used 40 million tons of steel to build 48,800 wind turbines totaling 74,512 MW and costing about 150 billion dollars. Wind energy… [more]

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If Cities and States Can Cut CO2 Without Raising Energy Bills, Shouldn’t They?

Author(s): Marilyn Brown
Professor of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology
Date: August 8, 2016 at 10:30 AM

City skylines have long been a symbol of innovation and prosperity. What you can’t see is that these same buildings are some of the largest energy consumers in the United States and are therefore responsible for significant amounts of the nation’s carbon pollution. In August 2015, President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the final Clean Power Plan, regulating carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time. Since then, many cities have released Climate Action Plans, setting targets for carbon emissions. The success of these two initiatives are mutually dependent. EPA’s Clean Power Plan requires strong… [more]

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The NY REV: Utility Engagement with Low-Income Communities

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: August 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM

On July 20th, the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the New York Governor’s office, organized a workshop focused on New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. A number of leading energy professionals participated, including representatives from the utility sector, capital markets experts, as well as current and former state utility regulators. Participants worked together to craft practical policy recommendations designed to advance the various NY REV goals. Participants discussed approaches utilities could take to engage low and moderate-income (LMI) customers. Currently, New York has 2.3 million LMI households, representing one-third of the state’s population. At current funding levels,… [more]

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