Options for Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance
By Patrick Falwell
Clean energy and energy efficiency technologies are decreasing in cost and demonstrating their reliability as they are deployed around the world. Financial institutions are becoming increasingly willing to offer traditional financial structures and terms for clean energy projects. At the same time, accelerated public and private investment in these technologies is needed to meet national and global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
We’re going solar!
Our middle-class, suburban family of five, with two children in college, two mortgages and a pile of other consumer debt, is getting a brand new, 7 kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop system worth roughly $31,000 – without us paying a penny out of pocket.
That’s right. We’re paying nothing upfront for the ability to generate up to one-third of the electricity our 1,500-square-foot split-foyer home would use in a typical month.
How’s that possible? With a power purchase agreement.
States could go a long way toward meeting targets for reduced power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan just by encouraging energy efficiency. One way to do that is to deploy more “intelligent efficiency” solutions at home. Interconnected systems and smart devices could not only help reduce energy use and climate-altering emissions, but also empower consumers to make money-saving choices.
More than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases comes from the residential sector – where we use about 1.4 trillion kWh of electricity annually to power our heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. Although we pay for it all, a lot of that electricity is wasted. Tried-and-true solutions like weatherization and more efficient light bulbs will continue to be common sense solutions. But increasingly, homeowners, innovators, and policy makers are looking to leverage the average home’s 25 devices to reduce that waste.
Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy
A homeowner installs a smart thermostat. Devices like this could be controlled though web platforms, along with water heaters, washing machines and LED bulbs with advanced controls.
Energy efficiency can be an attractive way for states to meet the plan’s targets because, in addition to being relatively inexpensive to deploy on its own, energy efficiency reduces the need to build new, costly power plants in the future.
C2ES examined six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the Clean Power Plan on the U.S. power mix and electricity prices. Despite starting with different assumptions, all of the studies project that energy efficiency will be the most used and least-cost option for states to implement the plan, and that overall electricity consumption will decline as a result.
The majority of the studies project either cost savings to power users under the Clean Power Plan or increases of less than $10 billion a year. That translates to less than $87 a year per household, or about 25 cents a day.
|C2ES President Bob Perciasepe moderates a Solutions Forum panel with (l to r): Steve Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation; Alyssa Caddle, Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC; and Lars Kvale, Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets.|
Our second Solutions Forum focused on how to spur more energy efficiency, especially through “intelligent efficiency” — a systems-based approach to energy management enabled through networked devices and sensors.
With the scale and complexity of climate challenges, it’s no wonder more companies, cities, nonprofits and others are pooling resources and expertise to create solutions together.
To recognize and encourage this collaboration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a Certificate for Innovative Partnerships and awarded the first-ever certificates at the Climate Leadership Conference this year. The two winners, the Chevrolet Clean Energy Campus Campaign and the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, shared their recipes for successful partnership during a recent EPA webinar.
While the speakers shared many valuable insights, two lessons were obvious: having a clear goal and getting the right people on board are crucial to success. These lessons are easier said than done, so let’s take a closer look:
The technology works. So why aren’t we using more of it?
Join top experts in efficiency, technology, and sustainability from cities, states, and business as we explore the opportunities for “intelligent energy efficiency” under the Clean Power Plan.
Energy efficiency can be a low-cost option for states to meet targets for reducing carbon pollution from power plants.
How can networked devices and sensors, smart grids and thermostats, and energy management systems reduce waste and increase reliability when we make, transmit or use electricity? What are the barriers to using these technologies? And what can we learn from city, state and industry leaders?
Monday, May 18
9 a.m. – Noon
101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Why Energy Efficiency is Smart for States and Business
Ralph Izzo – Chairman and CEO, PSEG
Intelligent Efficiency and the Power Sector; Options, Opportunities and Challenges
Steve Harper – Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation
Alyssa Caddle – Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC
Lars Kvale – Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets
Moderated by: Bob Perciasepe – President, C2ES
Delivering Intelligent Efficiency to Consumers – Why It Matters
Doug Scott – Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Great Plains Institute
Katherine Gajewski – Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
Jessica Burdette – Conservation Improvement Program Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Commerce
Rick Counihan – Head of Energy Regulatory and Government Affairs, Nest
Moderated by: Janet Peace – Vice President for Markets & Business Strategy, C2ES
To learn more:
Bob Perciasepe's blog post: How can we use intelligent efficiency to reduce power sector emissions?
I have an in-law who is, shall we say, rather skeptical about climate change. Any discussion on the topic usually begins with some contrarian science theory that he heard on one of his favorite talk shows (e.g. sun spots, deep ocean magma, urban heat islands), and then devolves from there.
Why do some Americans believe the antithesis of the scientific consensus on issues like climate change?
This topic is explored by Professor Andy Hoffman of the University of Michigan in his new book, How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate. As suggested by the title, Hoffman’s thesis – a distillation of considerable research from social scientists over the past several years – is that the public’s understanding of climate change, like other historically contentious issues such as evolution, acid rain, the ozone hole, and genetically modified food – is as much a cultural issue as a scientific one.
One of the key arguments is that a scientific consensus does not necessarily reflect a “social consensus,” the latter being something that the majority of society would consider to be true. For instance, the scientific consensus that cigarettes harm human health emerged decades before the social consensus emerged.
Market Mechanisms: Understanding the OptionsApril 2015
Climate change poses a significant risk for a broad range of human and natural systems. Policies to reduce emissions are critical if we are to avoid the most costly damages associated with a rapidly changing climate. Compared to traditional command-and-control regulations, market-based policies can more cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by creating financial incentives for GHG emitters to emit less. Ten U.S. states and many jurisdictions outside the United States have established market-based programs to reduce GHGs. Market-based policies would be among the options available to states to reduce GHGs from power plants under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This brief describes the theory behind market-based approaches; their success in cost-effectively reducing GHGs and other emissions; and a range of market-based options, including: a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program, a baseline and credit program, a clean or renewable electricity standard, and an energy efficiency resource standard.
Photo by Ellie Ramm
Elizabeth Craig of the EPA (left) speaks with three representatives of 2015 Climate Laedership Award winners, Andy Battjes of Brown Forman, Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor Bill Finch, and Alexis Limberakis of Clorox
When it comes to climate leadership, the way a message is delivered can be the key to success.
Winners of the 2015 Climate Leadership Awards found that being creative in communicating ideas on sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions helped the message resonate with constituents, customers, and employees.
Sixteen organizations, including C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council members Bank of America and General Motors, won Climate Leadership Awards this year. The awards are co-sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Association of Climate Change Officers, and The Climate Registry.
Three winners -- Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor Bill Finch, household consumer product maker Clorox, and wine and distilled spirits manufacturer Brown Forman – spoke at the Climate Leadership Conference about three ways to connect climate goals to your audience.
Photo by Ellie Ramm
Emilie Mazzacurati, founder and CEO at Four Twenty Seven, Inc., spoke at a C2ES-sponsored workshop on corporate climate resilience at the 2015 Climate Leadership Conference.
Many businesses are moving beyond identifying the potential risks posed by climate change impacts and are taking the next step: developing solutions.
More intense heat waves, rising sea levels, and heavier rainfall could lower crop yields and labor productivity, increase energy costs, damage property, and disrupt operations.
None of these impacts are good for business.
More than 80 individuals from companies, cities, and nonprofits shared their climate resilience ideas and experiences at a C2ES-sponsored workshop, “Emerging Best Practices for Identifying Climate Risk and Increasing Resilience,” at the 2015 Climate Leadership Conference in Washington.