Energy Efficiency News from TreeZero

The cities leading the transition to renewables

by Deutsche Welle
Around the world, 570 cities have reported their achievements to non-profit group CDP. CDP says over 100 of them get least 70 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, and more than 40 already have a 100-percent renewable power supply.

New Reports on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Show Healthy Residential Market

by Zachary Shahan
The quick explanation of PACE financing is that it lets homeowners finance clean energy and energy efficiency projects through higher property taxes instead of bank loans or leasing. Higher property tax assessments are put on the property, and then homeowners pay back the cost of the projects over time — for up to 30 years at a fixed rate. A homeowner’s payments are woven into their normal property tax payments instead of via separate, monthly payments to a bank if they had gotten a bank loan. As such, one of the major benefits of PACE is ability to have much longer and non-variable financing. PACE has helped nearly 200,000 American families make energy & water efficiency upgrades and install solar panels. It has also created 35,000 jobs in many communities that need new economic activity (often blue-collar jobs in red communities). “As of early 2017, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia have commercial PACE enabling legislation and approximately $400 million in projects have been financed with commercial PACE,” according to DOE.

Wind turbines ‘only lasting for half as long as previously thought’

Wind farms have just half the useful lifespan which has been claimed, according to new research which found they start to wear out after just 12 years. A study of almost 3,000 turbines in Britain – the largest of its kind – sheds doubt on manufacturers claims that they generate clean energy for up to 25 years, which is used by the Government to calculate subsidies. Professor Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University and former energy advisor to the World Bank, predicts in the coming decade far more investment will be needed to replace older and ineffective turbines – which is likely to be passed on in higher household electricity bills.

Climate Action Makes (Business) Sense for U.S. Utilities

Here is a sample of the commitments made by utilities representing nearly 49 million customers: Consumers Energy in Michigan pledged to cut carbon pollution 80 percent by 2050, phase out its coal generation within two decades, and replace it with at least 40 percent renewable energy by 2040. National Grid, with customers in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, maintains its commitment to reduce its carbon pollution 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. Xcel Energy, with utilities in Colorado, Minnesota and six other states, has set near-term goals of a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions and 40 percent renewable generation by 2021, with a 60 percent reduction in carbon and 60 percent renewables by 2030. Ameren Missouri established a goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, and committed to increasing its energy generated from wind (700 megawatts by 2020) and solar generation (50 MW by 2025). Duke Energy, with customers in North and South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida, announced a goal to reduce carbon pollution 40 percent by 2030 and invest in cleaner electricity generation. Already working to meet California’s target for an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, Southern California Edison proposed increasing the use of large-scale, carbon-free generation such as wind, solar and large hydroelectric power plants to at least 80 percent of electricity delivered to customers by 2030. American Electric Power (AEP), which serves customers in 11 Southeast and Midwest states, set a goal to slash carbon emissions 80 percent from 2000 levels by 2050 through investments in energy efficiency, renewable resources, and other cleaner energy investments. MidAmerican Energy in Iowa has established a goal of 100 percent renewable energy (with 95 percent expected in 2021 for its portfolio). PPL Corporation announced its goal to reduce carbon emissions 70 percent by 2050, which will require near elimination of its Kentucky coal fleet and improved efficiency in its U.K. and United States operations. WEC Energy Group, based in Wisconsin, set the goal of a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. DTE Energy in Michigan committed to a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution by the early 2020s, 45 percent by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and more than 80 percent by 2050. The company will achieve these reductions by incorporating substantially more energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other cleaner sources. DTE also announced the shutdown of 11 coal plants by the early 2020s. First Energy, serving customers in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, committed to reducing carbon pollution at least 90 percent from 2005 levels by 2045. Utilities are backing up their long-term pledges by taking actions now to slash their emissions. Carbon pollution from the power sector has fallen by 28 percent since 2005, with reductions expected to continue over the next several years as utilities double down on their investments in clean energy resources. The cost declines of renewables continue to outpace expectations, and utilities are often making big clean energy investments while delivering economic benefits for their customers at the same time. In Colorado, for example, Xcel’s new 600 megawatt wind farm is expected to save customers over $1 billion over the project’s 25-year lifetime. In Iowa, MidAmerican is building a new wind project—as part of its path to 95 percent renewables by 2021—without raising customer rates. And in New Mexico, the CEO of a co-op that is building a community solar project declared that the installation “delivers renewable power to our members while also saving them money.” With the business case so clear, in spite of the uncertainty created by the current administration’s actions, wouldn’t it make more sense for the nation’s electric customers, utilities, and the health of our economy to establish a clear economy-wide carbon policy that encourages all utilities to join in?

New dual-atom catalyst shows promise to yield clean energy by artificial photosynthesis

Looking for new solutions to more efficiently harvest and store solar energy, scientists from the U.S. and China have synthesized a new, dual-atom catalyst to serve as a platform for artificial photosynthesis, the team reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team developed an iridium catalyst with only two active metal centers. Most significantly, experiments revealed the catalyst to be a well-defined structure, capable of serving as a productive platform for future research on solar fuel synthesis. “Our research concerns the technology for direct solar energy storage,” said Boston College Associate Professor of Chemistry Dunwei Wang, a lead author of the report. “It addresses the critical challenge that solar energy is intermittent. It does so by directly harvesting solar energy and storing the energy in chemical bonds, similar to how photosynthesis is performed but with higher efficiencies and lower cost.”

China’s War on Pollution will Change the World

China is cracking down on pollution like never before, with new green policies so hard-hitting and extensive they can be felt across the world, transforming everything from electric vehicle demand to commodities markets. BNEF projects global investment in new power generation capacity will exceed $10 trillion between 2017 and 2040. Of this, about 72 percent is projected to go toward renewable energy, roughly evenly split between wind and solar.

New York announces $1.4B renewables funding as largest single state commitment

by Robert Walton
New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday announced $1.4 billion in funding for 26 renewable energy projects, calling it the single-largest commitment to renewable energy by a state. The projects include 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and a single hydroelectric project. The largest project will be Invenergy’s 340 MW wind farm in Western New York. All told the projects will add almost 1,400 MW. The projects were selected following a solicitation to support the Clean Climate Careers initiative Cuomo launched last summer with a target of 40,000 new clean energy jobs by 2020.

How Does Move To Renewables Shake Up World Energy Market?

By Mark Brodie
There are a handful of countries that dominate the world’s oil supply. But as more and more countries are moving to green, renewable energy, how does that shake up the energy market? Andrew Barron has been thinking and writing about this. He’s a professor at Swansea University in South Wales, where he’s chair of Low Carbon Energy and Environment. He joins The Show’s Mark Brodie to talk about it.

Increasing Clean Energy Access Worldwide

Energy Saving Trust has joined forces with CLASP – an international not-for-profit organization that promotes energy efficient appliance market development – to increase global access to energy and drive forward the Efficiency for Access Coalition. The UK and US Coalition will bring together a range of international governments, co-funders and partners, and will co-ordinate a range of initiatives including the Low Energy Inclusive Appliances (LEIA) program. It is backed by £18 million of UK aid from the UK Government, to accelerate global energy access through energy-efficient appliances. LEIA aims to drive the market for highly energy efficient products such as refrigerators, solar water pumps and fans which work off the electricity grid. It will also support innovation for products and technologies that will benefit energy constrained communities in the future, looking at advanced electric cooking, connectivity, compatibility and how different technologies work together.