Initiatives

Incentive to capture carbon emissions would spur needed technology

If carbon dioxide were a valuable commodity instead of a waste product, there would be a lot more incentive to capture it.

It turns out some oil producers already find carbon dioxide so useful, they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, they pay upwards of $30 per ton of CO2, which they then inject underground to coax oil from declining wells.

U.S. oil producers have been practicing carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) for four decades. Historically, they’ve relied mostly on CO2 from naturally occurring underground reservoirs. A better idea is to use man-made carbon emissions that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

Natural gas power plant with CCS is a positive step for the climate

The increased availability of natural gas is leading to its expanded use worldwide. Substituting natural gas for coal as a fuel for generating electricity helps reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change because burning natural gas emits only about half as much carbon as burning coal.

But half isn’t zero.

That’s why it’s important to note the recent announcement in the United Kingdom of the next step in building the first full-scale commercial natural gas power plant using carbon capture and storage (CCS).

In the Peterhead CCS project, international oil company Shell and British utility Scottish and Southern Energy Company are teaming up to retrofit a 385 MW natural gas power plant to capture post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2). Pipelines will take the CO2 to permanent storage in a depleted hydrocarbon reservoir two kilometers under the North Sea. When the project, which received U.K. government incentives, comes online in 2018, it will be able to capture and store 1 million tons of CO2 each year for 10 years.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions

Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions

April 2014

by Sarah Dougherty and Nick Nigro

Download the full paper (PDF)

This paper examines how private financing can address the barriers to demand facing electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and their related fueling infrastructure. Starting with a review of the state of the market, it covers significant barriers to market demand and barriers for private investors and concludes with a review of innovative finance options used in other sectors that could be applied to the alternative fuel vehicle market.

 

Nick Nigro
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PEV Stakeholders Connection Initiative with Argonne National Laboratory & U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities Program

A C2ES report, "A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects," summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received $8.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Participants in projects across 24 states and the District of Columbia spent 18 months assessing the barriers to and opportunities for PEV deployment in their regions and preparing and executing readiness plans. See the map below for information about each of the 16 projects.

The C2ES report, A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects,” highlights some of the key findings, including:

  • Public outreach about PEVs raises awareness, dispels misconceptions, and supports prudent policy. More information will help consumers make choices and help businesses and governments make decisions about charging station deployment.
  • Incentives help overcome the roadblocks to early PEV adoption. Income tax credits and other incentives such as high-occupancy vehicle lane access have spurred PEV purchases
  • Access to charging is vital at multi-family residences and workplaces. These are the two highest priority charging locations after single-family homes, but obstacles include low early demand, lack of familiarity with PEVs, and questions about recovering costs.
  • Local governments play a key role in charging station deployment. Both public and private charging infrastructure can be governed by local permitting, inspection, building codes, and zoning, parking, and signage rules.
  • Electric utilities should plan for PEV adoption. Utilities will need to ensure the grid is responsive to increased demand from PEVs. They can also explore how PEVs can help manage the grid using emerging technologies.

C2ES collaborated with the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory on the report to help communities across the country learn from the actions grant recipients took to identify and overcome barriers to PEV deployment.

The report is designed to be useful to state and local decision-makers, regardless of their level of experience with PEV technology. It provides an accessible primer to the key issues and a roadmap to more detailed information that cities and states can use directly.

Other Project Activities

Webinar for Clean Cities Coalitions on the PEV Dialogue Group Action Plan

Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) Meeting for Clean Cities

National Governors Association Workshop on PEVs

Action Plan Webinar for Clean Cities Coalitions

One of the target audiences for the PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan is undoubtedly the national network of Clean Cities Coalitions, a key group of alternative fuel supporters affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. Clean Cities Coalitions engage in on-the-ground activity to facilitate the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure. The Action Plan helps bring these coalitions up to speed on the steps necessary to smooth the introduction of PEVs in their area.

The first of two webinars took place on April 17, 2012 in partnership with U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities and the Rocky Mountain Institute, both members of the PEV Dialogue Group. Click here to download that slide set. The second webinar took place on June 20, 2012. Click here for the second slide set. 

Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) Meeting for Clean Cities

May 7, 2012, in Los Angeles, California

The 2012 Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) brought together many of the leaders in the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory invited grant recipients and industry experts to a workshop facilitated by C2ES. Participants discussed challenges and shared best practices regarding efforts to prepare areas for PEVs and charging infrastructure deployment.

Download the handout provided to participants, a presentation by Ted Bohn from Argonne National Lab, and the summary report from the workshop session.

National Governors Association Workshop on PEVs

July 10-11, 2012, in Washington, DC

C2ES helped the National Governors Association, Argonne National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities put on a PEV workshop. The workshop brought together 17 states and other stakeholders, including several PEV Dialogue Group members, to discuss issues related to technology, policy, and consumer outreach for PEVs.

Further information on the workshop including all presentations is available on the NGA website.

Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects


Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects

February 2014

by Matt Frades

Download the full paper (PDF)

This report for the U.S. Department of Energy summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Participants in projects across 24 states and the District of Columbia assessed the barriers to and opportunities for PEV deployment in their regions and prepared and executed readiness plans. The report is designed to be an accessible primer to the key issues in PEV deployment and a roadmap to the detailed research, toolkits, and sample language for local policies contained in the readiness plans.

 

 

Matt Frades
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Save fuel and look good doing it

A quick glance around this week’s Washington Auto Show might make you wonder if you’ve stepped into the past, with large trucks, SUVs, and sports cars getting all the attention. But look under the hood and you can see the auto industry’s more climate-friendly future.

The cars and trucks of 2014 are lighter, more aerodynamic, and powered by increasingly efficient engines. A key impetus for these improvements is tougher federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. The auto show provides evidence that the industry is working to meet these ambitious standards, and that we can significantly reduce emissions without compromising consumer choice.

One way to improve fuel economy is to make the vehicle lighter. That’s exactly what Ford Motor Company did to the best-selling vehicle in the United States: the F-150. All 2015 Ford F-150s will have an aluminum body and truck bed – shedding 700 pounds while still being able to tow and haul more than the previous generation. That could boost its gas mileage from 20 mpg on the highway for the 2014 model to 30 mpg.

Automakers have increasingly substituted strong, lightweight aluminum for steel in hoods, wheels and other components. The F-150 and Tesla’s aluminum-body Model S show they’re going beyond that.

Another way to increase gas mileage is to improve an engine’s ability to convert fuel (potential energy) to work (kinetic energy). General Motors is making the Corvette Sting Ray for the first time 1976, and the new version is beautiful and efficient. The 2015 Sting Ray is the quickest, most powerful, and most efficient Corvette ever made. The 7-speed V-8 Sting Ray gets up to 29 mpg on the highway. That’s about twice the fuel economy of the ’67 Sting Ray my dad drove when I was a kid.

How Business Can Weather the Storm

By: Sara Kendall, Weyerhaeuser
Publsihed in The Environmental Forum, January 2014

Companies have long engaged in risk assessment and mitigation as a core business practice.

The Intergov­ernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2012 report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” observes that heavy precipitation, heat waves, and droughts have increased over the last half century. Businesses may not have a position on climate change, but they understand how a flood can shut down transportation, a hurricane can topple buildings and powerlines, or extreme temperatures can disrupt markets and threaten op­erations and supply chains.

As noted in a recent report by The Center for Climate and Energy Solu­tions, “Weathering the Storm: Build­ing Business Resilience to Climate Change,” there are significant costs as­sociated with these weather events. In 2012, over 800 major weather-related disasters worldwide led to $130 billion in losses. The most expensive events cost more than $1 billion each. Further, 90 percent of the S&P Global 100 In­dex identified extreme weather and cli­mate change as a current or future risk. Of those, more than one third stated they’ve already experienced adverse ef­fects. It isn’t about whether a company believes in climate change. This is about staying in business.

The C2ES report highlights compa­nies’ efforts to build business resilience. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry is among the first sectors to pay atten­tion. Utility companies are building redundancy and looking at innovative approaches to handling storm surges. Natural resource companies have the added risk that their “factories” are di­rectly exposed to weather conditions.

To get more insight on these issues, I asked Eileen Claussen, president of C2ES, to respond to a few questions raised by the report.

What does business resilience really mean?

"Companies have always navigat­ed a changing business environment. But now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change leads to more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. Business resilience means assessing and managing these impacts on a com­pany’s facilities, operations, supply and distribution chains, and costs."

Is building business resilience risk management or new business development?

"Both. Extreme weath­er is certainly a risk. It can close facilities, delay production, dis­rupt supply and dis­tribution chains, raise operation and capital costs, and reduce demand. Extreme weather can also keep employees from getting to work, disrupt communication systems, and threaten the availability of power and water supplies. But there also are busi­ness opportunities in becoming more resilient. Some companies are already working on drought-resistant crops, storm-resistant building materials, and weather-related insurance products. Forms of distributed generation, which provided resilient electricity in the after­math of Hurricane Sandy, are promis­ing growth areas as well."

Are you encouraged by what you see be­ing undertaken by businesses to prepare for and respond to extreme-weather events?

"What’s encouraging is that in our dis­cussions with CEOs and members of corporate boards, we’re not being asked, “Is this a problem?” We’re being asked “What should my company do?” Most of the largest global companies are us­ing existing business continuity and emergency management plans to as­sess and manage their climate risks. But only a few companies say they’ve used climate-specific forecasting tools to as­sess how these risks are evolving and the potential business impacts. These com­panies are generally dependent on a key commodity or operate in high-risk locations. So while the vast majority of firms acknowledge risks from extreme weather and climate change, their ac­tions so far to address the risks aren’t going much beyond business as usual."

Where do you think more should be done, and what do you see as the big­gest barriers for companies?

"Companies tell us they need user-friendly, local­ized projections of climate change, and models that can link these projections to specific business impacts. Those in regulated sectors such as water, electric­ity, and insurance need regulators to be open to the case for increased spending on resilience and policies that encourage cus­tomer decisions about sufficient levels of risk mitigation."

Is building business resilience private or public sector work?

"Both. Companies need to manage risks to their facilities and supply and distribution chains, but they also need governments to invest in strengthen­ing resilience of public infrastructure. That’s one reason why we recommend voluntary public-private partnerships to bring together government and busi­ness expertise to develop and improve resilience planning.

My view: The bottom line is that extreme weather events are likely to continue and companies should think about building business resilience in a changing climate. We all will be better off if we’re better prepared."

Sara Kendall is vice president, corporate affairs and sustainability, Weyerhaeuser Com­pany. She can be reached at sara.kendall@ weyerhaeuser.com.

Copyright© 2014 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELI®.

 

Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization

A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization and the Highway Trust Fund

January 2014

by Nick Nigro and Cindy Burbank

Download the full paper (PDF)

For the first 50 years of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), user fees were sufficient to fund the federal portion of building and maintaining the nation’s transportation system. Limiting fees to actual users of services is seen as a more equitable approach than paying for transportation out of the general fund. For the past decade, however, user fee income to the HTF has not kept pace with federal authorization levels, and Congress has not taken action to increase the level of user fees or decrease federal authorizations to bring the fund’s obligations and revenues into balance.

 

Cynthia J. Burbank
Nick Nigro
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Auld Lang Green!

Happy New Year! It’s time to think about your resolutions for 2014. Consider making one that will result in a cleaner environment, a more stable climate … and a happier you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pledge to save energy. Take these actions to save money and energy, and leave the environment healthier for everyone in the New Year.
  • Keep your gatherings food-waste free. Americans throw away 34 million tons of food every year. To reduce your waste, take what you know you’ll eat and make leftovers with any remaining food. Learn more in this blog.
  • Compost it. Composting can be done in a pile in the yard, an outdoor bin, or even in a vermicompost (worm) bin indoors. You can build your own or purchase one online. Composting can help reduce the 1.3 billion tons of food that goes to waste globally and help reduce methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.
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