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December 05 2013

00:16

Diversified Renewable Energy Base Emerging in the US Northeast

A mix of renewable energy sources are emerging in the US Northeast

Renewable energy initiatives and investments in the northeastern US are producing results and paying dividends economically, socially and environmentally, according to a report from ACORE, the American Council on Renewable Energy.

Northeast region state governments have been at the leading edge of the drive to craft and implement policies to foster development and use of a distributed, diversified mix of renewable energy resources. With supportive policies in place in nearly every state in the 12-state region, the Northeast ranks second in the US for both solar and biomass power capacity. This progressive policy framework, which includes establishment of the pioneering Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), is driving renewable energy deployment and driving down costs to the point where they are competitive with fossil fuel power, ACORE’s “Renewable Energy in the 50 States: Northeastern Region,” the third in a four-part series of reports on renewable energy conditions and prospects nationwide.

As the ACORE report authors highlight:

“Renewable energy is steadily becoming more cost competitive in the Northeast. Three large utilities in Massachusetts recently signed long-term contracts to purchase renewable energy at less than $0.08 per kilowatt hour, below the cost of most conventional sources. If the contracts are approved by state regulators, they would save customers between $0.75 and $1.00 a month.5 Likewise, if it doubles the amount of wind power it plans to build, the PJM Interconnection could actually reduce wholesale energy market prices and save nearly $7 million per year in the mid-2020s.”

Renewable Energy Resource Diversity: The Northeast’s Strength

“Renewable Energy in the 50 States: Northeastern Region,” ACORE

Heavily dependent on imported energy and affected by retirements of fossil fuel power plants, Northeastern states have good reason to develop and deploy local renewable energy sources, ACORE notes in its latest regional report. Supportive state and local policy initiatives are proving instrumental in helping residents, businesses and the public sector realize the economic, social and environmental benefits that renewable energy resource development, along with greater energy conservation and energy efficiency, offer.

Eleven of the 12 states profiled in the report have instituted renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that mandate power utilities increase their use of renewable energy resources. Vermont, the 12th, has instituted a standard contract program along the lines of a renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT), the first of its kind in the US, ACORE highlights in its report. Established to spur clean energy and energy efficiency investments across the region and reduce the regional greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change, the RGGI, is also helping fund New York’s $1 billion Green Bank, the report authors note.

With less in the way of large, utility-scale wind and solar farms, the US Northeast ranks lower overall than other regions profiled in ACORE’s “Renewable Energy in the 50 States” series. It’s comparatively strong when it comes to local, distributed renewable power capacity, as well as the diversity of renewable energy resources available, however.

“An array of policies and incentive programs, including feed-in tariffs, renewable energy credits (RECs), green banks, and rebates, support the development of renewable power, heat, and fuels in the Northeast.

“Many Northeastern states have set targets for solar energy generation, which, coupled with financial incentives, are largely responsible for driving more solar power capacity in the Northeast than in the Midwest or the Southeast. In fact, ISO New England, the regional transmission organization serving six Northeastern states, anticipates distributed generation installations within its territory to increase from 250 MW in 2012 to 2 GW by the end of 2021, with generation forecast to be mostly solar power.”

Moreover, most of the states in the region are working to produce clean energy from waste and biomass by  making use of municipal solid waste, wood waste and landfill gas. They’re also looking to produce more and make greater use of biodiesel and ethanol to reduce reliance on petroleum, an area where they have lagged other regions.

“To reduce reliance on expensive heating oil, some states, such as New Hampshire, have set goals for renewable thermal energy use. With the availability of wood waste from the forestry sector, homes in New England use wood for space heating, water heating, and cooking at nearly twice the national rate, and growth in this sector is expected to continue.”

Large-scale hydropower has and will continue to play a large role in the Northeast region’s energy mix. Meanwhile, recent developments suggest that offshore wind power could play a significant role in fueling renewable energy growth.

“The Northeast’s wind power market has grown more slowly than other regions’, but this fact could change soon,” the report authors state.

“Coastal states in the region have identified immense offshore wind power potential, and developers are in the advanced stages of planning what would be the first offshore wind projects in the country. In August 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior held the nation’s first offshore wind lease sale off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the scale of which could support enough turbines to power one million homes.”

“Renewable Energy in the 50 States: Northeastern Region,” ACORE

 

Main and featured image credit: All Earth Renewables

The post Diversified Renewable Energy Base Emerging in the US Northeast appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

June 11 2013

18:33

UN, World Bank, IEA Gear Up to Achieve Sustainable Energy for All

The UN and World Bank seek to motivate the international community toward sustainable energy with the "Sustainable Energy for All" initiativeLast year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon created and set in motion “Sustainable Energy for All,” a global initiative that aims to realize what to many may seem irreconcilable goals: mitigating climate change by fostering deployment of green, renewable energy systems and boosting energy efficiency while also stimulating socioeconomic development and growth by providing access to modern energy services for all those who lack it.

A year on, some 170 national governments have signed on to SE4ALL, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doubling renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency, and providing access to modern energy services to all those living in their countries. Private sector businesses and other organizations have pledged to invest billions of dollars to achieve SE4ALL’s goals. Aiming to raise the public profile of the initiative, the UN General Assembly has declared the decade 2014-2014 a “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.”

While notable gains in energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment have been made worldwide, rapid industrialization, population growth and ongoing growth in the use of fossil fuels has all but negated progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating green, responsible socioeconomic development. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to a record high of 31.6 billion tons, that despite reductions in the world’s developed economies (emissions in the the US were at their lowest level since the mid-1990s), the IEA announced while presenting its latest annual World Energy Outlook in Stockholm this week.

An institutional “Sustainable Energy for All” framework emerges

Fossil fuels continue to account for more than 80 percent of the world’s energy mix, while “a population four times the size of the United States still lives without access to electricity,” according to the recently launched Global Tracking Framework, a multi-agency effort led by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank.

SE4ALL’s ambitious goals are to help foster a doubling of energy efficiency, a doubling of renewable energy capacity and universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Putting an institutional framework and mechanisms in place to monitor and track progress and share information is critical to success. To that end, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and World Bank launched the Global Tracking Framework.

“The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is a rallying cry to tackle the twin crises of energy poverty and climate change, and this Global Tracking Framework is an important first response,” Maria van der Hoeven, IEA executive director and a member of the Advisory Board of the SE4ALL initiative, was quoted in a press release.

“By measuring the scale of the challenge, it provides a crucial reference against which the partners of the SE4ALL initiative, and all of us, can track progress towards building a cleaner energy system for all. The IEA has advocated stronger action to tackle energy poverty for more than a decade as part of its World Energy Outlook, but more needs to be done to tackle the problem. It is a moral imperative and we cannot afford to ignore it.”

Local challenges to achieving global “Sustainable Energy for All”

Renewable energy made up 18 percent of the global energy mix and energy efficiency had increased an average 1.3 percent per year since 1990 as of 2010, according to the Global Tracking Framework’s initial report. An estimated 17 percent of the global population lacked access to electricity and 41 percent “still relied on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes.”

Focused, determined action is needed worldwide if SE4ALL goals are to be achieved, but “the nature of the challenge differs across countries and, for each of the SE4ALL goals,” the report authors note. Looking to address this, the report singles out “20 ‘high-impact’ countries that are crucial to making major progress.”

In addition, the IEA and World Bank found that realizing SE4ALL goals will require green energy investment increases of at least US$600 billion per year out to 2030 as compared to the current level. Of that total, investment in boosting energy efficiency will need to increase $394 billion, that for renewable energy by $174 billion per year, that for universal access to electricity by $45 billion per annum, and that for universal access to modern cooking by $4.4 billion per annum.

The post UN, World Bank, IEA Gear Up to Achieve Sustainable Energy for All appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

January 12 2012

18:46

Climate Change a Growing Factor in Pension Funds’ Strategic Asset Management Allocation


Climate change is becoming a key, high-level factor in the strategic asset allocation and risk management decisions of a growing number of the world’s institutional investment organizations, a group that includes the world’s largest pension funds.

More than half of 14 “asset owner partners” participating in the Mercer Group’s “Climate Change Scenarios – Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation” now include climate change considerations in future risk management and/or strategic asset allocation decisions- including Calpers (California Public Employees Retirement System), the largest pension fund in the US.

Moving into a third year, Mercer is leading a global collaborative effort to develop a strategic risk management and asset allocation framework that institutional investors can use to evaluate the risks and opportunities global climate change presents for their portfolios, retirees and investors.

“Collectively, large pension and sovereign funds (and other asset owners) have the power (and perhaps the resources) to determine objectives, fund vehicles and structure deals. Potentially, they may also have the capacity to create new entities to effectively deploy assets as necessary to fund (and profit from) a transition to a lower carbon economy,” write the authors of a project update report released January 12.

Assessing Climate Change Impact on Investments: Mercer’s TIP Framework

Mercer has developed the three-point TIP framework to represent and assess the impacts of climate change on asset class returns.

  • ‘T’ for Technology: Investments in carbon efficient technologies could accumulate to $3 trillion – $5 trillion by 2030
  • ‘I’ for Impacts: Costs of physical damage could accumulate to $4 trillion by 2030
  • ‘P’ is for Policy: Costs of delayed, uncoordinated policy could accumulate to $8 trillion by 2030.

In addition to the three TIP factors, fundamental economic factors (economic cycle inflation) and market factors (ERP, for Energy Resource Price, Volatility) are key elements of Mercer’s climate change asset allocation and risk management framework.

Climate Change Scenarios for Asset Allocation, Risk Management

In its latest project report update, Mercer analysts developed four climate change scenarios as a means “of understanding how asset classes may respond to the TIP factors under different conditions.” The four scenarios – Regional Divergence, Delayed Action, Stern Action and Climate Breakdown – were developed to indicate how climate change “might have an impact on a portfolio’s asset mix from now until 2030.”

Using the TIP model and four scenarios to look a little more closely at each of these three key factors, Mercer finds that the value of additional investments in technology assets (T) will grow between $180 billion to $260 billion per year for all climate mitigation scenarios.

Regarding the impacts of climate change on investment portfolios (I), the costs range in the order of $70 billion to $80 billion per year in terms of adaptation and residual damage costs. In terms of climate policy (P), the increase in the cost of emissions from 2010-2030 ranges between $130 billion and $400 billion per annum, with costs highest under the model’s “Delayed Action” scenario.

As Mercer has clearly recognized, mitigating and adapting to the risks associated with worldwide
climate change requires comprehensive action on a global scale. The active engagement of private sector investment and investors is critical. Among the largest investment organizations in the world, the participation of pension funds and other institutional investors is likewise critical to making the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy economy.

The resources and research challenges required to realize the project’s objectives are enormous and virtually unprecedented. It’s going to require consistent, coordinated, broad-based collaborative working relationships between supra-national and national government agencies, investor and industry participants and associations, and other stakeholders in order to carry out. The Mercer Group’s groundbreaking Climate Program makes for an excellent, if belated, start.

“It will be no small task to accomplish this across regions, market segments and asset classes, but the stage has been set through membership organizations and established intermediaries to explore alternative investment structures, outsourcing opportunities and agreements on requirements. Focus should be put on developing these solutions and the associated deployment of assets – as a priority,” the authors of latest project update report wrote.

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