Energy & Technology

Energy in the News

Each week, C2ES provides a roundup of top energy news. Each headline below links to the full story at the original news outlet, which is solely responsible for its content.  Additional links to relevant C2ES resources are also provided.

Week of January 12, 2015

  • South Korea launches cap and trade system (The Hill)
    Last week, South Korea launched the world’s second largest cap-and-trade system, behind Europe, covering 525 companies. The country pledged in the 2010 Cancún Agreements to reduce emissions 30 percent below business-as-usual levels by 2020; the carbon market is a key piece of its strategy.
    More from C2ES on International
  • Suncor cuts jobs and spending amid oil price collapse (Bloomberg)
    Suncor, Canada’s largest oil company, will cut 1,000 jobs and reduce its 2015 capital budget by 13 percent due to the recent slide in oil prices. Specifically, the company plans to defer the second phase of its MacKay River oil sands project and the White Rose Extension project offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Wholesale electricity prices were higher in 2014 (Energy Information Administration)
    According to data from SNL and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wholesale electricity prices increased at major trading locations across the United States last year, primarily due to increases in natural gas prices and high energy demand caused by cold weather in the beginning of 2014.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • EIA issues U.S. coal production forecast (Energy Information Administration)
    In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that 2014 U.S. coal production will rise around 1 percent above 2013 levels to 994 million short tons. However, this is around 15 percent lower than the U.S. peak production level in 2008. The EIA projects that production will fall to 977 million short tons in 2016.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • New turbine technology will open Southeast to wind development (Utility Dive)
    New maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which incorporate taller wind turbine heights, show that the Southeast United States could produce wind energy at much higher capacity factors.
    More from C2ES on wind power

Week of January 5, 2015

  • Nebraska court clears hurdle for KXL (Wall Street Journal)
    The Nebraska Supreme Court threw out a lower-court ruling, and found that the law passed by the state legislature, granting the governor the power to review and approve certain major pipelines, including Keystone XL was constitutional. The Obama administration put the State Department led Keystone XL approval process on hold in April 2014, pending the outcome of this court challenge.
    More from C2ES on Keystone

  • Illinois identifies options to support existing nuclear power (Energywire - Subscription)
    Four Illinois agencies produced a report outlining a range of policy actions that could be taken to help support three in-state nuclear plants that are struggling economically. The options range from relying solely on changes in federal regulation and regional wholesale markets to drive change to a cap-and-trade policy, carbon tax and making nuclear energy part of a low-carbon portfolio standard.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

  • PJM seeks permission to postpone plant closures (Greenwire - Subscription)
    PJM, the operator of the nation’s largest wholesale power market, has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to pay plant owners to keep generating beyond their scheduled retirement dates. PJM is concerned about system reliability, particularly in the event of severe weather such as the polar vortex.
    More from C2ES on electricity

  • IEA releases medium-term coal report (International Energy Agency)
    According to the IEA’s latest report, coal is the fastest growing fossil fuel in the world. However, the annual rate of coal consumption growth is slowing, especially compared to the 10-year average. Coal is expected to grow at a rate of 2.1 percent per year over the next 5 years, down from 2.3 percent per year in last year’s forecast.
    More from C2ES on coal

  • 5. Russian oil production hits a post-Soviet high (Reuters)
    According to the Energy Ministry, Russian oil output averaged 10.58 million barrels per day in 2014, an increase of 0.7 percent over the previous year. The International Energy Agency expects production to fall by 1 percent in 2015.
    More from C2ES on oil

  • India launches energy conservation program (Times of India)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a plan to distribute two subsidized, energy efficient LED light bulbs to all registered electricity consumers.
    More from C2ES on energy efficiency – on-bill financing

December 15-31, 2014

  • Top five factors affecting oil prices in 2015 (OilPrice.com)
    Oil prices declined around 50 percent during the last six months of 2014 with Brent crude currently trading around $54 per barrel. The future trajectory of oil prices will depend on China’s economy, U.S. shale production, elasticity of demand, OPEC’s next move, and geopolitical flashpoints among other things.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Natural gas prices plunge in December (ABC News)
    Natural gas prices have fallen nearly 30 percent since late November to below $3.20 per 1,000 cubic feet; abundant supply and relatively mild December temperatures were the primary drivers.
  • Governor bans ‘fracking’ in New York State (New York Times)
    Citing health risks, Governor Cuomo announced that the state would ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’, which involves injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to release oil and/or natural gas from rock formations.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Minnesota PUC stands by oil sands pipeline expansion decision (Pioneer Press)
    The Minnesota Public Utility Commission unanimously voted against revisiting its August decision to allow expansion of Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline. The expansion will raise the Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin pipeline’s capacity from 450,000 to 800,000 barrels per day.
  • GOP prepares legislation that would approve the KXL pipeline (Bloomberg)
    Both chambers of Congress are preparing legislation that would approve the $8 billion Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, attempting to take the decision out of the hands of President Obama.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Congress passes retroactive PTC extension (Utility Dive)
    According to the American Wind Energy Association, the extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC) until the end of 2014 will only allow minimal new wind development.
    More from C2ES on the PTC

Week of December 8, 2014

  • US crude settles below $60 a barrel for the first time in 5 years  (Reuters)
    New York Mercantile Exchange's front-month West Texas Intermediate contract for U.S. crude settled down 99 cents, or 1.6 percent lower, at $59.95 per barrel, its lowest close since July 14, 2009.  The contract has lost almost 9 percent this week and roughly 45 percent from a June high above $107 a barrel. Traders warned that a bottom for crude remained elusive after a six-month selloff.
  • House Republican to introduce bill to lift crude export ban (The Hill)
    Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) will introduce legislation that lifts a decades-old ban on crude oil exports on Tuesday. Barton, who has been planning the bill since earlier this year, is a strong advocate in favor of repealing the ban first imposed during the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s. Barton’s legislation will be introduced sometime Tuesday, according to his spokesman. It comes out ahead of a House hearing on Thursday that will focus on the export ban.
    More from C2ES on oil.
  • Global Shale Ambitions Wane as OPEC Price War Deepens (Bloomberg)
    Efforts to replicate the U.S. shale revolution are under threat as a price war by OPEC pushes crude to levels last seen during the global financial crisis. From the U.K. to Australia, countries without government-backed energy producers appear the most vulnerable to delays in extracting shale oil and gas. Even nations such as China and Argentina, where state-run producers have a government mandate to drill, could see a slowing in investment.
  • Oil’s Fall Puts a Chill on U.S. Drilling (Wall Street Journal)
    U.S. energy companies are starting to cut drilling, lay off workers and slash spending in the face of an accelerating decline in oil prices, which fell to a fresh five-year low Wednesday. The number of rigs drilling for oil in North Dakota and parts of Texas has started to edge down, new drilling permits have dropped sharply since October, and many companies say they are going to focus on their most profitable wells.
    More from C2ES on natural gas.
  • GOP gains put nuclear power back on the table (The Hill)
    Republicans and the nuclear power sector are hopeful that GOP control of the Senate will improve the political landscape for an industry that hasn’t opened a new generator in nearly two decades. As Senate Democrats this week held their tenth hearing on nuclear safety since Japan’s Fukushima Daichii meltdown three years ago, Republicans and observers looked forward to a future with a more business-friendly approach to the industry. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), long a champion of nuclear power and a critic of environmental rules, is set to become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees nuclear safety. 
    More from C2ES on nuclear.

Week of December 1, 2014

  • Net generation from solar power doubles (Utility Dive)
    According to data from the Energy Information Administration, electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal sources doubled in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013; electricity from solar PV was five times greater than the first nine months of 2012.
    More from C2ES on solar
  • Illinois regulators approve Rock Island Clean Line (Utility Dive)
    The Rock Island Clean Line, which would deliver up to 3,500 MW of electricity from wind-rich northwestern Iowa to the Chicago area on a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line, cleared an important regulatory hurdle.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • FERC approves Northeast natural gas pipeline (ABC News)
    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline from Pennsylvania to New England. The pipeline could be operational in a year if it receives timely approval from Pennsylvania, New York and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • DOE invests in low-head hydropower projects (Department of Energy)
    The Department of Energy (DOE) announced $4.4 million in funding for two projects to advance the development of low-head hydropower technologies, which only require a change in elevation of 6 to 60 feet. The DOE estimates a technical resource potential of more than 50 GW of low-head hydro in the United States.
    More from C2ES on hydropower
  • New Georgia nukes unlikely to start in 2017, 2018 (SNL)
    Consultants have informed the Georgia Public Service Commission that two new nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle are likely to be delayed at least another year, as critical project milestone dates continue to slip.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • German utility to split into two companies (Wall Street Journal)
    Germany’s largest utility E.ON will split into two companies – one focused on renewables and the other on conventional energy.
    More from C2ES on electricity

Week of November 24, 2014

Week of November 17, 2014

Week of November 10, 2014

Week of November 3, 2014

  • Oil prices tumble again (Wall Street Journal)
    U.S. benchmark crude prices tumbled to a three-year low after Saudi Arabia cut prices for U.S. buyers. This is good news for consumers, but sustained lower crude prices could threaten some U.S. producers.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Progress on world carbon capture projects (ClimateWire - Subscription)
    According to the latest report from the Global CCS Institute, there are now 22 major projects either under construction or operating that capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from the industrial and power sectors. The total CO2 captured from these 22 projects will be around 40 million metric tons per year or the equivalent of taking around 8.4 million vehicles off the road annually.
    More from C2ES on carbon capture and storage
  • Keystone XL pipeline prospects get a boost from elections (CBC News)
    With a Republican takeover of the Senate last week, the chances of the Keystone XL pipeline being approved increased. The $8 billion, 830,000 barrel per day, 1,200-mile pipeline would travel from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska via the Canadian Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the U.S. states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Japanese reactors set to restart early next year (BBC News)
    After clearing a final legislative hurdle, the two reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (1,692 MW) are set to become the first of a possible 48 reactors restarted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • China aims to cap some industrial emissions (ClimateWire - Subscription)
    China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced that it plans to cap carbon dioxide emissions from the steel and cement industries at 2015 levels.
    More from C2ES on international emissions

Week of October 27, 2014

  • Allowing crude oil exports could lower U.S. gasoline prices (Energy Information Administration)
    A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds that lifting the 40-year old crude oil export ban could result in higher U.S. crude prices and lower U.S. gasoline prices.
  • TransCanada files application for Energy East pipeline (Toronto Globe and Mail)
    TransCanada filed for regulatory approval of its 1.1 million barrel per day, 2,800 mile Energy East crude oil pipeline from Alberta to refineries and ports in Eastern Canada.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • EIA releases updated LNG export study (Energy Information Administration)
    The EIA released an updated study on the effect of increased levels of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports on U.S. energy markets. The new study looked at much higher LNG export levels (12 to 20 billion cubic feet per day), which the modelers noted were not very likely scenarios. An earlier analysis looked at more modest export levels.
  • Lithuania receives floating natural gas terminal (New York Times)
    Built in South Korea, a floating natural gas terminal will allow Lithuania (Latvia and Estonia) to immediately receive shipments of liquefied natural gas from Norway.
  • Sasol will move ahead with $8.1 billion chemical plant (Bloomberg)
    South African energy and chemicals company Sasol announced that it will construct an $8.1 billion plant in Louisiana that will convert natural gas into plastics and other products.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Emissions drop puts EU just shy of 2020 goal (AP)
    European Union (EU) greenhouse gas emissions fell 2 percent in 2013. The 28-nation bloc has a goal to reduce its emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. While many EU countries were meeting their national reduction targets, Germany and Spain were not.
    More from C2ES on emissions
  • Battery storage cheaper than fossil fuel peaker plant? (Financial Times)
    A private Swiss firm, Alevo, claims to have made a breakthrough in electricity storage technology. It plans to invest $1 billion in a new battery plant in North Carolina.
    More from C2ES on electric energy storage

Week of October 13, 2014

  • Lower oil prices means projects at risk (Fuel Fix)
    With the recent sharp decline in oil prices, projects in the Canadian oil sands, offshore fields in Norway and drilling-intensive U.S. shale plays are among the most vulnerable to reduced investment, curtailment or cancellation.
  • Lifting crude export ban might not lower gasoline prices (The Hill)
    Preliminary results from an EIA study suggest that domestic gasoline prices are set in global energy markets, and that lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude might not have much of a price impact.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • North Dakota announces $4 billion plastic factory (Fuel Fix)
    Badlands NGL unveiled its plans to construct a 3.3 billion pound per year polyethylene factory in North Dakota. The largest private investment ever in the state will help to capture some of the natural gas that is currently being flared due to a lack of natural gas infrastructure.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Exelon to build natural gas CCS project (Exelon Press Release)
    Exelon announced plans for a first-of-its-kind natural gas power plant that produces no emissions. It will produce pipeline quality carbon dioxide, which can be sequestered underground, used for industrial purposes or enhanced oil recovery. The $140 million, 50 MWth facility will be built in Texas, and is expected to be operational in 2016.
    More from C2ES on carbon capture and storage
  • Lockheed claims fusion energy breakthrough (Scientific American)
    Lockheed Martin claims that it has made a technological breakthrough in the area of fusion energy, and believes it could build a compact (seven by ten foot) 100 MW nuclear fusion reactor within 10 years.
    More from C2ES on energy

Week of October 6, 2014

  • Investments in efficiency outpacing renewables: IEA (Bloomberg)
    According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, global investments in reducing energy waste and increasing efficiency are overtaking investments in wind and solar energy.
  • U.S. net energy imports continue to fall (Energy Information Administration)
    U.S. energy production continues to surge, while growth in consumption is modest. As a result, net energy imports are 17 percent lower in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013.
    More from C2ES on energy
  • Canadian crude exports to US ramping up (Reuters)
    According to EIA data, Canada exported an average of 3.2 million barrels per day of crude to the United States in the week ended October 3, up 18 percent from the previous week and up 35 percent from the same period a year earlier.
  • Oil prices continue to slide (Bloomberg)
    West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. oil benchmark, fell below $85 a barrel last week (and global crude prices weren’t far behind at around $88 a barrel). If prices continue to fall lower, the economic viability of some non-conventional oil plays could be at risk, lowering overall U.S. production.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Proposed Texas LNG export facility clears environmental hurdle (Fuel Fix)
    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has determined that Cheneire’s Corpus Christi liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility will not significantly harm the environment, clearing the way for full approval.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • France reiterates its pledge to reduce nuclear power (Reuters)
    Citing the high cost of maintaining its aging nuclear fleet, France plans to bring down nuclear power’s share of its electricity mix from 75 percent today to 50 percent by 2025.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of September 29, 2014

  • U.S. CO2 emissions up again (The Hill)
    In the first half of 2014, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of fossil fuels were 2.7 percent higher than the same period during 2013, and 6 percent higher than the same period during 2012.
    More from C2ES on U.S. climate pledge
  • Cove Point LNG export terminal clears environmental hurdle (Capital Gazette)
    Dominion Energy’s proposed Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Australians' natural gas bills soar amid LNG export boom (Wall Street Journal)
    With seven LNG export projects expected to come on line in the next three to four years, Australia will become the largest LNG exporter in the world. Australia’s natural gas prices have risen sharply in anticipation of tighter supplies.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Presidential permit issued for Quebec to Queens power line (Greenwire - subscription)
    The Department of Energy will grant a presidential permit for a $2.2 billion, 1,000 MW power transmission line extending from Quebec to New York City. In 2011, more than 97 percent of Quebec’s electricity came from hydropower.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Kemper Plant delayed again (Climate Wire - subscription)
    Startup of Mississippi Power’s Kemper County Energy Facility, which will be the first large-scale U.S. power plant to capture the majority of its carbon dioxide emissions, is being delayed into the second half of 2015 due to issues related to “start up activities and operational readiness.”
    More from C2ES on carbon capture and storage

Week of September 22, 2014

  • Crude by rail is here to stay (Wall Street Journal)
    Initially conceived of as a stopgap measure until pipelines could be constructed, attractive economics have contributed to crude by rail becoming a permanent part of the nation’s energy infrastructure.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Statoil halts oil sands project (Wall Street Journal)
    Citing high costs and shipping bottlenecks, Statoil has shelved its Corner in-situ oil sands project for at least three years.
    More from C2ES on oil sands
  • California utility plans largest battery energy storage project in North America (Greentech Media)
    Southern California Edison announced plans for an 8 MW lithium-ion battery storage (4-hour duration) demonstration project located near one of California’s best wind resources in the Tehachapi Mountains.
    More from C2ES on electric energy storage
  • Eastern coal production continues to slow (Climate Wire - Subscription)
    According to data from SNL Financial, more than three quarters of the recent drop in national coal production occurred in the Central Appalachian region, i.e., eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia.
    More from C2ES on coal

Week of September 15, 2014

  • GAO report expects more coal power plant retirements (The Hill)
    The Government Accountability Office reported that around 13 percent of the nation’s 2012 coal power plant capacity will retire by 2025 as a result of environmental regulations, and increased competition from falling natural gas prices, among other things.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • Drilling productivity is rising (Wall Street Journal)
    Innovation in oil and natural gas extraction technology is leading to significant increases in production per new well; some analysts suggest that U.S. supply can continue to rise through 2040.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • NRC certifies new reactor design (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the GE Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR) design for use in the United States. The ESBWR is a 1,574 MW reactor, which incorporates passive safety features that would automatically cool the reactor in the event of an accident without the need for human intervention.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Shell to resume Arctic exploration next summer (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made public Shell’s plan to drill for oil in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. The company plans to use 2 rigs to drill up to 6 wells in 2015.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Demand response market growth rate lowered (Utility Dive)
    A report from Greentech Media has nearly halved the annual growth rate of the demand response market. FERC Order 745, which would have ensured demand response resources received full market prices in wholesale power markets, was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year.
    More from C2ES on residential end-use efficiency

Week of September 8, 2014

Week of September 1, 2014

  • PNM to ask for rate increase to pay for falling revenues (Utility Dive)
    Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) will seek a rate increase to recover its costs. While some areas of the country are beginning to see rising electricity sales in a nationally-improving economy, a weak economy, energy conservation and self-generation like rooftop solar have resulted in lower electricity sales in New Mexico.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • EPA issues key permit for carbon capture project (Houston Chronicle)
    The Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit that will allow the FutureGen 2.0 clean coal project to store carbon dioxide emissions underground. The commercial-scale (200 MW) power plant aims to capture and permanently sequester nearly all of its carbon dioxide emissions in deep saline aquifers. The Illinois-based project is expected to come online in late 2017.
    More from C2ES on carbon capture and storage
  • Water availability could hamper energy extraction efforts (Fuel Fix)
    A new report from World Resources Institute finds that 38 percent of global shale gas and tight oil resources are in areas where water resources are highly constrained. Typically, energy extraction from these geological formations is extremely water intensive.
    More from C2ES on water and energy
  • Shell’s Appalachia strategy looks promising (Fuel Fix)
    Shell’s two successful discovery wells in Tioga County, Pennsylvania may suggest that the sweet spot of the Utica Shale formation is considerably larger than previously thought.
    More from C2ES on natural gas

Week of August 25, 2014

  • Vancouver approves new coal export facility (CBC)
    Port Metro Vancouver issued a permit to allow the existing deep-water facility - Fraser Surrey dock - to expand and export around 4.4 million tons of U.S. coal per year. Although this facility does not currently ship coal, in 2013 Canada’s largest port (Vancouver) exported nearly 42 million tons of (28.5) metallurgical and (13.2) thermal coal.
  • Australian economist sees end to coal-dominated growth model in China (Sydney Morning Herald
    In a recent report, climate policy expert and economist Ross Garnaut sees Chinese coal consumption falling 0.1 percent per year from 2014 to 2020 – a historic turnaround.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • China to start national carbon market in 2016 (Reuters)
    A senior Chinese climate official, Sun Cuihua, told a conference in Beijing that China plans to launch its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016. When fully operational, it will be the largest market in the world.
    More from C2ES on China and climate change
  • Rail deliveries of U.S. oil continue to increase (Department of Energy Information Administration)
    During the first seven months of 2014 around 8 percent of U.S. oil production was moved via rail. The average volume of crude and refined oil products delivered via rail has doubled since 2012 to more than 1.5 million barrels per day.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Renewables to generate more than one quarter of electricity by 2020 (The Hill)
    In its latest Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, the International Energy Agency expects more than $1.6 trillion to be invested in new renewable energy capacity between now and 2020, when renewable sources will account for more than one quarter of global electricity generation.
    More from C2ES on renewable energy

Older Stories

Electric vehicle consumers - beyond early adopters

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States nearly doubled last year—and with consumer acceptance broadening, sticker prices dropping, new models on the way, and policy support growing, the outlook is even better for 2014.  

In 2013, EVs increased their market share by 70 percent from 2012 levels, while all-vehicle sales grew 8 percent to reach a six-year high. Still, EV sales continue to lag forecasts made when these cars hit the market in late 2010, accounting for less than 1 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales. The strong growth in vehicle sales is mostly due to rising sales of gas-guzzling pickup trucks.

Optimism for EV market expansion is warranted, however, not only due to steady sales growth but also due to three key developments in 2013.

'60 Minutes' story on clean tech omits climate change

A recent "60 Minutes" story highlighted the demise of a few high-profile clean-tech companies that received federal funding. The story neglected to report why clean technology is vital to the future of our economy and environment in the first place, and therefore why it makes sense for the government to promote the development of wind and solar energy, electric vehicles, and other clean tech. Simply put, the goal is to transform our economy from one based on fossil fuels that emit heat-trapping gases to one based on clean energy that won't contribute to global climate change.

Meeting our energy needs

The United States is moving toward meeting all of its energy needs from domestic resources even faster than was predicted just a year ago.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last year that the U.S. would become the world’s largest oil producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia, by 2017. Its new World Energy Outlook moves that up to 2015. The U.S. is already the world’s top producer of natural gas, a position it reached in 2012 thanks to an expanding supply of shale gas. The IEA sees the United States holding both top spots at least until the early 2030s and being energy self-sufficient by 2035.

This huge shift didn’t happen by accident, and it will have implications for both the economy and the environment.

The opportunities of distributed generation

When the vast majority of Americans turn on the lights, the electricity is coming from a centralized, fossil fuel power plant.

However, there is a big change on the horizon that will alter that - distributed (also called decentralized) generation. This is when power is produced much closer to where it is used, such as with rooftop solar panels or natural gas-fired combined heat and power systems, including fuel cells and microturbines.

Currently, less than 7 percent of U.S. electricity is generated outside a centrally located power plant. Expanding distributed generation will bring exciting opportunities to increase efficiency, improve our resilience to extreme weather, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also bring challenges for our existing grid on which we must continue to depend.

These opportunities and challenges were the focus of a discussion I participated in this week at the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy annual conference with WADE Executive Director David Sweet, Duke Energy Chairman James Rogers, and PSEG President Ralph LaRossa.

Efforts to limit aviation emissions advance at ICAO

The United Nations’ body that oversees civil aviation has reached an important milestone in international efforts to craft effective and equitable solutions to climate change from this fast-growing sector. And this success last week in Montreal should send a hopeful signal to other UN organizations as they grapple with the challenges of limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

At the 38th General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), governments endorsed a comprehensive set of actions aimed at achieving an aspirational mid-term goal of zero carbon emissions growth for the aviation industry beginning in 2020. The October 4 accord brings together a number of measures being developed by ICAO, including: a certification requirement for a global CO2 efficiency standard for aircraft; support for an updated, more efficient air traffic control regime; continued development of sustainable biofuels; and updating national action plans laying out country strategies to reduce emissions.

Proud of what we've done, but there's still more to accomplish

When I founded a new nonprofit organization 15 years ago, the United States and the world urgently needed practical solutions to our energy and climate challenges. That need has only grown more urgent.

Earlier today, I announced my plans to step aside as the President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) once my successor is on board. As I look back, I find we have come a long way. That said, any honest assessment of our progress to date in addressing one of this century’s paramount challenges must conclude that we have much, much further to go.

When our organization, then named the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, first launched in 1998, 63 percent of the world’s electricity generation came from fossil fuels. Incredibly, that number is even higher today – 67 percent. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, is also higher than it was then – in fact, at its highest level in more than 2 million years.

Scientists around the globe have just reaffirmed with greater certainty than ever that human activity is warming the planet and threatening to irreversibly alter our climate. Climate change is no longer a future possibility. It is a here-and-now reality. It’s leading to more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours.

We at C2ES have believed from the start that the most effective, efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spur the innovation needed to achieve a low-carbon economy is to put a price on carbon. It’s a path that a growing number of countries, states, and even cities are taking.

U.S. Department of Energy Investment in Carbon, Capture and Storage

 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees federal efforts to advance the deployment carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. In addition to working on the research and development of CCS component technologies, DOE has provided financial support to multiple commercial-scale CCS projects in the power and industrial sectors. This brief examines DOE’s support for CCS through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and through its annual budget.

 

 

 


   
Download the Brief

0

Congressional Testimony of Judi Greenwald on the Future of Coal: Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage

Testimony of Judi Greenwald, Vice President for Technology and Innovation
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Subcommittee on Energy
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
July 25, 2013

Click here to view video of the testimony.

Hearing on The Future of Coal: Utilizing America's Abundant Energy Resources

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage

Madam Chairman, Rep. Swalwell, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. My name is Judi Greenwald, and I am Vice President for Technology and Innovation at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES – formerly known as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change).

My testimony today will focus on the most important climate and energy solution that no one knows about. I will emphasize two main points:

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a critical technology for solving climate change, while allowing continued reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) can advance CCS, while boosting domestic oil production and generating net federal revenue.

C2ES is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing practical and effective policies and actions to address our global climate change and energy challenges. We perform multifaceted research and analysis of the scientific, technological, economic, and policy aspects of these issues. Our work is informed by our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), a group of 34 major companies, most in the Fortune 500, that work with C2ES on climate change and energy risks, challenges, and solutions. The views I am expressing, however, are those of C2ES alone.  

C2ES has been analyzing CCS for over a decade and has recently focused on how CO2-EOR can advance CCS. With the Great Plains Institute, C2ES co-convenes the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, or NEORI, a coalition of businesses, environmental NGOs, labor representatives, and state officials advocating for incentives to use captured CO2 in EOR. You can find more information on NEORI at www.neori.org. I would like to submit NEORI’s CO2-EOR analysis and consensus recommendations for the record. In addition, C2ES serves as the advisor and facilitator to the Sequestration Working Group of the North America 2050 Initiative, a collaborative of states and provinces exploring options for CCS regulations and incentives. C2ES recently completed a summary of state-level regulations and incentives that can be found at www.na2050.org/sequestration.[1]

C2ES also has authored research and publications related to CCS and CO2-EOR. For example, C2ES developed a comprehensive framework for calculating CO2 emissions from CCS based on input from experts in industry, academia, and the environmental community.[2] C2ES also publishes a CCS Climate TechBook,[3] a brief report that explains in layman’s terms how CCS technology works, why its development is needed to address climate change, and how it might be advanced.  

CCS is a critically important technology

The United States and the rest of the world are getting 80 percent of our energy from coal, oil and gas, and our dependence on, and overall use of, these fossil fuels globally is growing rapidly. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the Energy Information Administration expects fossil fuels will continue to provide more than 65 percent of U.S. electricity in 2040 – with 35 percent coming from coal-fired generation. Globally, coal consumption is expected to increase nearly 60 percent over the next two decades, led by developing countries like China and India, which together will comprise 62 percent of the total global coal demand in 2035. This poses an enormous challenge, because the CO2 emissions from the combustion of these fossil fuels are the major contributor to global climate change. While we can and should become more energy-efficient and shift our energy mix toward inherently zero-emitting sources like nuclear power and renewables, it will be difficult to do that fast enough and at a reasonable enough cost to avoid the worst climate impacts.

Hence the critical need for CCS, a suite of technologies that captures CO2 and stores it deep underground in geological formations. CCS can capture up to 90 percent of emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants and industrial facilities, thereby allowing coal and natural gas to remain part of our energy mix. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and others have demonstrated through detailed technology and economic scenario analyses that CCS is likely an essential component of an affordable and effective response to global climate change. In fact, IEA estimates that CCS could provide one-sixth of the requisite GHG emissions reductions by 2050.

What is needed to advance CCS?

CCS has been established and commercialized for the capture of CO2 from some industrial processes such as natural gas processing, chemical, fertilizer and ethanol production, and the gasification of coal. The use of man-made CO2 in EOR has been practiced for several decades. However, CCS in other contexts – for example, coal- and natural gas-powered electricity generation – is a relatively expensive technology that is just reaching maturity. Further R&D is important, but the key challenge for CCS is to get a sufficient number of commercial-scale projects up and running to demonstrate the emerging technologies at scale and bring down their costs. The first large-scale commercial CCS power projects are under construction. Yet, it is still unclear whether more commercial-scale CCS projects will be built after these initial projects are completed. After the collapse of climate legislation in the United States in 2010, a number of CCS projects were cancelled.

CCS is being increasingly thought of as carbon capture utilization and storage, or CCUS. Instead of seeing CO2 as a waste, utilizing and selling captured CO2, primarily for EOR, improves the economics of CCS projects and is an important market driver. Almost all of the existing or planned CO2 capture projects in the United States have been developed with the intention of marketing captured CO2 for use in EOR. Still, in many cases, additional drivers are needed. Those projects operating or underway today are being financed though some combination of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants, utility cost recovery from ratepayers, private finance, sales of CO2 for EOR, other revenue streams from chemical production, and existing tax credits.

DOE’s role in CCS development has been and will remain critical. DOE is working with the private sector on the leading innovative CCS projects in the United States today. This collaboration is beginning to yield results. In late 2012, the DOE-supported Air Products’ Port Arthur CCS project, where CO2 is captured from refinery-based hydrogen production and sent for use in EOR, began operations. Through its Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS) Program and with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), DOE agreed to fund $284 million of the Port Arthur project’s $430 million total investment cost. The Port Arthur project is expected to capture up to 1 million tons of CO2 per year and enable EOR production of 1.6 million to 3.1 million barrels of domestic oil a year in East Texas. 

DOE is also working on applying CCS to the power sector. Southern Company’s coal-fueled Kemper County energy facility in Mississippi is now under construction and will be the first commercial-scale CCS power project in the United States. DOE selected the Kemper project to receive more than $290 million through its Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI). A later round of the CCPI made possible through ARRA funding selected three additional coal-fired CCS power projects for funding. They are Summit Power’s Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP), NRG Energy’s Washington Parish Project, and SCS Energy’s Hydrogen Energy California project. TCEP is nearing financial close and, when completed, will capture 90 percent of its emissions and supply approximately 2.5 million tons of CO2 for use in EOR.

Given the high costs and uncertainties of CCS investment for the private sector and the urgent need for CCS, it is extremely important that the federal government continue to support CCS research, development, demonstration, and deployment. Beyond DOE’s pivotal role, other forms of federal financial support, such as tax credits, should be reformed and expanded. States too can play a key role in advancing CCS through incentives and well-informed regulation.

Background on CO2-EOR

CO2-EOR is a means of commercial oil production that could play a key role in the development of CCS and in increasing our domestic energy security. CO2-EOR has the potential to increase American oil production by tens of billions of barrels, while displacing imported oil and safely storing billions of tons of CO2 underground.

How does CO2-EOR work? Even after conventional primary and secondary oil recovery, most of the oil in a typical oil field is left in the ground. When injected deep underground, CO2 can make it possible to recover more oil and extend an oil field’s life. The best available evidence indicates that by using best EOR industry practice and existing rules governing underground injection, the overwhelming majority of the injected CO2 remains underground, incidentally and safely storing CO2. Commercial injection of CO2 for EOR is regulated under EPA’s Underground Injection Control Program, and under current federal greenhouse gas reporting rules for air emissions, EOR operators may document this incidental CO2 storage through additional monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements to qualify as geologic sequestration. There is a range of views as to what additional state or federal rules are needed to ensure that CO2 is stored permanently.

The United States has been a global leader in CO2-EOR for 40 years. We currently obtain six percent of our domestic oil production through this method. While most CO2-EOR activity occurs in the Permian Basin of Texas, there are also projects in the Gulf Coast, the Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, and even Michigan. Estimates of the potential for CO2-EOR to increase oil production and store CO2 have been increasing in recent years. According to the National Energy Technology Lab, using existing techniques, CO2-EOR could double or triple U.S. oil reserves and store 10 to 20 billion tons of CO2, which is equivalent to between five and 10 years of emissions from all U.S. coal-fired power plants. More advanced techniques could yield much higher oil production and CO2 storage.

The key role of CO2-EOR in advancing CCS

For those CO2 capture technologies that have not reached full commercialization, especially in electric power generation, selling captured CO2 for use in EOR can provide a revenue stream that helps reduce the financial risks and uncertainty of investing in emerging technology. About 75 percent of the CO2 used in EOR currently comes from naturally occurring CO2 reservoirs. The rest comes from man-made CO2 sources. Somewhat oddly, the EOR market lacks sufficient CO2. By expanding carbon capture from man-made sources, we can increase domestic oil production, promote economic development, create jobs, reduce CO2 emissions, and drive innovation in CCS technology.

It is because of these multiple benefits that we have been able to bring together the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, or NEORI, a diverse coalition favoring the reform and expansion of existing tax incentives to use captured CO2 in EOR. Among the members of NEORI are Arch Coal, Summit Power, Tenaska, the Natural Resources Defense Council, AFL-CIO, and The Wyoming Outdoor Council. Some of NEORI’s participants are primarily interested in job creation, others in increasing domestic oil production, and others in protecting the environment. But all agree that advancing the capture of man-made CO2 for use in EOR makes sense. NEORI has been briefing members on both sides of the aisle in both houses of Congress on its proposals.

EOR operators in some regions are willing to pay upwards of $30 per ton for CO2. At the same time, industrial facilities and power plants are emitting billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere as a waste. CO2-EOR therefore offers the opportunity to transform this waste into a marketable commodity and transform an environmental problem into an energy production solution. 

In a few cases, revenue from selling CO2 for enhanced oil recovery is sufficient to pay for CO2 capture and transport. Thanks to the efforts of the private sector and DOE, many CO2 capture technologies are already commercially proven, and only a modest incentive is needed to help close the gap between the market price of CO2 and the costs to capture and transport it. In the case of emerging technologies, however, companies need a larger incentive to help shoulder the additional financial and operational risk of deploying new, pioneering capture projects for the first few times at a commercial scale. 

By combining private EOR operators’ willingness to pay for CO2 with a tax incentive, society leverages its public investment. Perhaps most importantly, according to our analysis, such tax incentives would more than pay for themselves by driving increased domestic oil production and associated taxable oil revenues. Increased CO2-EOR production will generate federal revenue that more than pays for the cost of new incentives within a 10-year timeframe. Under existing tax treatment, CO2-EOR directly yields revenues from three main sources: corporate income taxes, individual income taxes on royalties from production on private land, and royalties from production on federal land. Our analysis indicates that federal revenues from incremental CO2-EOR production would exceed the fiscal cost of new incentives by more than $100 billion over 40 years.

Conclusion

CCS is a critical technology for reconciling our continued dependence on fossil fuels with the imperative to protect the global climate. Our best hope at the moment for CCS advancement is carbon capture, utilization, and storage, or CCUS. The best example of CO2 utilization we know of is enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR). Solving our climate and energy problems will require a portfolio of technologies, and all must be pursued vigorously. But we are focusing here today on CO2-EOR, because it is the most important climate and energy solution that no one knows about.                                                               

 

Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Different Light-Duty Vehicle and Fuel Pathways: A Synthesis of Recent Research

Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Different Light-Duty Vehicle and Fuel Pathways: A Synthesis of Recent Research

July 2013

by Nick Nigro and Shelley Jiang

Download the full report (PDF)

Transitioning to a cleaner fleet of advanced vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, and advanced biofuels or petroleum products can yield a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum consumption. A meaningful assessment of the comparative merits of these alternate fuel pathways requires a solid understanding of their technological potential to reduce emissions. Available studies evaluating full lifecycle emissions rely on various assumptions of that potential and yield a wide range of results. This brief summarizes and synthesizes the results of several recent studies and presents the full range of greenhouse gas emission estimates for each type of advanced vehicle and fuel. It also explains the reasons these estimates vary so widely and identifies opportunities for future analyses that use a consistent set of scenarios with transparent assumptions in order to compare the greenhouse gas impacts of fuel and vehicle pathways.

 

Nick Nigro
Shelley Jiang
0
Syndicate content