Energy & Technology
A lot has changed in the two years since I made my first visit to the Washington Auto Show. Back then, gas prices averaged $2.68 per gallon and the Nissan LEAF looked like a “car of the future” compared to the other vehicles on the showroom floor. Now, prices at the pump are 25 percent higher, averaging $3.50 per gallon in 2011, and fuel costs are eating up the largest share of the average American’s income in over 30 years. Meanwhile, the auto industry is adapting their product line to their new environment and cooperating more closely with regulators. The 2012 auto show includes many more alternative vehicles like the all-electric Ford Focus (see picture below) and the Prius V, a 42 mile per gallon hybrid station wagon.
The White House Jobs Council recently released its year-end report outlining a plan to strengthen the United States’ economic future. While the tax and regulatory reform proposals are bound to cause disagreements, the Council developed pragmatic recommendations regarding energy’s role in improving the economy. The report recognizes the state of politics and low-carbon energy deployment, while highlighting the economic opportunities—including energy savings, leading emerging technology markets, and enhanced energy security—made possible by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The Council’s energy recommendations include:
Learn about the Climate Leadership Conference, Australia's new carbon pricing mechanism, the Make an Impact energy conservation challenge, and more in C2ES's January 2012 newsletter.
Climate change is the global innovation challenge of our time. That was the theme of a Green Innovators in Business Network “Solutions Lab” in Cambridge, MA, last month co-hosted by C2ES, EDF, Innocentive, and others. Dr. Andrew Hargadon, a leading expert in technology management and author of “The Business of Innovating,” articulated for participants the enormous scale of innovation needed to achieve a clean energy economy. “Low-carbon innovation” is about dealing with new problems—carbon emissions, skyrocketing energy costs—that emerge from traditional solutions for making our economy work, such as for transporting goods or lighting our buildings. Transforming energy-consuming activities to emit less carbon requires that we deploy new technologies that will work with conventional behaviors, and develop entirely new behaviors.
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 24, 2012
We share President Obama’s enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America’s energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America’s energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint.
Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we’re working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
Read the full transcript of the 2012 State of the Union Address
C2ES's December 2011 features updates from the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, policy options for a clean energy standard, a blog post on the landmark new fuel economy standards, and more.
Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
Published December 14, 2011
The Dec. 8 front-page article “Obama’s green-car push struggles to pass ‘go’?” missed the mark with respect to the emerging electric vehicle industry. The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market is less than a year old. Americans have already purchased 50 percent more PEVs than they bought hybrids in the first year those cars were introduced a decade ago. Furthermore, the amount of private capital that has gone into the PEV market dwarfs public investments. These private companies did not invest hard-earned capital just because President Obama set a national goal. Focusing on public investment ignores the much larger efforts to develop the PEV market, undertaken by thousands of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Experienced companies and start-ups in the PEV market are still trying to figure out their positions. Battery technology is evolving rapidly, and, as a result, costs are coming down. There will be ebbs and flows as consumers decide what kind of PEVs they want to purchase. Demand will drive the winners and losers here.
But the government can help jump-start the market, as it did with the 2009 Recovery Act. And the recently announced fuel economy standards should help, too. It’s simply far too early to make a call about where we’ll end up.
Judi Greenwald, Washington
The writer is vice president for technology and innovation at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Click here to visit The Washington Post site.
This is Part 2 of a series on the new EPA-DOT vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards. Part 1 took a first look on the goals of the standards.
These days, most cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in a pretty short time – but can the nation’s car fleet go from 27.3 to 49.5 mpg in 15 years flat?
As we mentioned in Part I, a 49.5 mpg CAFE standard (or 54.5 mpg by the EPA’s calculation) is the new vehicle standard for 2025. Considering that the current CAFE level is 27.3 mpg, closing the 20 mpg gap will need some pretty quick acceleration, efficiency-wise.
Though the new standard may seem daunting, the key takeaway is that passenger vehicles will use many technologies we already know about and still deliver the freedom of mobility and convenience found in today’s cars. In fact, most of the fleet will still be powered by diesel and gasoline but with under-the-hood technological improvements that improve the bang for each buck of gas.
This post is the first of a two-part series on low-carbon innovation in the defense industry. It looks at how the DOD is uniquely positioned to drive low-carbon innovation. The second part in the blog series looks at how businesses are working with the DOD to bring low-carbon solutions to market.
From GPS to the Internet, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has a history of driving the creation of innovative technologies now used every day by Americans. With low-carbon policies a major challenge in Washington today, many clean energy advocates are seeking leadership from the DOD, which is the single largest consumer of energy in the country, to help drive clean energy solutions. Motivated by the need to better protect troops and support its operations, the DOD is becoming more involved in low-carbon technology research, development, and deployment. As stated in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), this work will shape the future commercial potential of energy technologies, as “military installations [serve] as a test bed to demonstrate and create a market for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.”
This post is the first of a two-part series on the new joint EPA-NHTSA vehicle standards. It will give an overview of the new standards. The second part dives deeper into details on how the new standards will be met.
As the Pew Center for Global Climate Change has transformed into the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the transportation sector is undergoing some major transformations itself.
The eagerly anticipated model years 2017-2025 vehicle standards for greenhouse gases and fuel economy have been officially proposed and inked into the best of formal Federal prose – an extensively detailed 893-page behemoth of a report to be exact. The new vehicle standards would nearly double the efficiency of the nation’s passenger vehicle fleet. And based on its contents, these proposed standards appear to be a tremendous victory for most, creating benefits for the economy, national security, public health, vehicle buyers, and the global climate.
It’s been a long time coming. Together with last year’s rulemakings on 2012-2016 light duty standards and 2014-2018 heavy duty standards, vehicle standards haven’t seen an overhaul of this magnitude since, well, the creation of such standards in the 1970s.