Progress on a multifaceted global challenge like climate change doesn’t happen in one flash of bright light. This can lead to the impression that little is being accomplished, especially when stories highlight areas of disagreement.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, progress is more like the brightening sky before dawn. We saw positive steps in 2014, and they’ll help lay the groundwork for significant climate action in 2015 in the United States and around the world.
In the U.S., we will see the EPA Clean Power Plan finalized and states taking up the challenge to develop innovative policies to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Allowing governors to do what they do best, innovating at the state level, will be a key achievement of 2015.
Internationally, more countries than ever before will be putting forward new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of talks in December in Paris to hammer out a climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
In the New Year, we will be building on solid progress made in 2014 by governments, businesses, and individuals. Here are 10 examples:
“Oh the weather outside is frightful.” That line from the classic song “Let it Snow” usually heard this time of year is a reminder winter is upon us, bringing hot chocolate, holidays – oh, and higher energy bills.
But we can all sing a happy tune about saving energy and money, and reducing our impact on the climate, if we’re a little smarter about how we stay toasty in our homes this winter.
Most homeowners’ largest energy expense comes from space heating, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of a typical household’s annual utility bill (and 40 percent of home energy use).
As for environmental impact, the energy used in residential buildings -- for space heating and cooling, water heating, appliances, electronics and lighting -- is responsible for more than one-fifth of total U.S. energy-related carbon emissions.
Space heating accounts for almost 30 percent of a typical home’s energy bill. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Most people can agree that being efficient consumers of energy is a good thing. And yet encouraging energy efficiency can be challenging, in part because the potential audience can be huge and diverse, and in part because making a change, even if it saves you money, typically requires effort.
That’s why it’s essential to find the people who are most likely to give energy-efficiency programs a try. Intelligent use of customer data can help target and inform a receptive audience. Members of this audience will then be encouraged to take action with some motivation.
I recently moderated a panel at the Behavior Energy and Climate Conference in Washington, D.C., where three experts discussed innovative ways to strategically target energy-efficiency programs, address factors that make people hesitant to join, and then scale the program.
The Role of Clean Energy Banks in Increasing Private Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
Image courtesy youngthousands, Flickr.
On a dark winter night, twinkling holiday lights lift our spirits. Over the centuries we have gone from decorating trees with candles (not the best idea) to using electric-powered lights, which were first draped around a tree in 1882 by an inventor who worked for Thomas Edison.
Today, thanks to three Japanese scientists who recently won the Nobel Prize for their development of a blue light-emitting diode (LED), we can move beyond Edison and choose an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly light source, the LED bulb. Although they’ve been on the market for some time, LED lights are now coming down in price, making them an even more attractive option for everyday and holiday lighting.
When decorating this season, keep in mind these three reasons why LEDs are a better way to brighten your holidays.
- LEDs are a better choice for your pocketbook. With continued advances in LED technology (especially around heat regulation) by producers like GE and CREE, the cost of home LED bulbs is now nearing the price of compact fluorescent lights. Since lighting is responsible for 14 percent of a home’s electricity use, more efficient bulbs can reduce home energy bills. If you’re wondering how much you could save by making the switch, check out the CREE LED calculator. When it comes to holiday decorating, LEDs will lead to significant savings over the years. For example, lighting the tree with incandescent lights will cost you around $122 over 10 seasons (including replacement strands), compared to just $33 for a tree adorned with LED lights. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if all decorative strands purchased this year were ENERGY STAR rated, Americans would save $45 million and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 630 million pounds annually.
Nearly 2,000 Alcoa employees, their families, and members of their communities learned how to save energy, save money, and help the environment at green fairs over the past three months.
These fairs, organized by the C2ES Make an Impact program in partnership with Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation, are an example of an evolving approach to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement.
Building awareness of environmental challenges is important, but it isn’t enough. A new approach, bringing together several engagement strategies, aims to build a work force that is both knowledgeable and active in local organizations. The goal is to create stronger relationships among a company, its employees, and community stakeholders, a win-win-win.
Employees, community members and even two mayors came to Alcoa Green Fairs to meet with local businesses and groups providing sustainability solutions. The events took place on weekends or during work breaks in Fullerton and Torrance, Calif.; Hampton, Va.; and Warrick, Ind. Participants could ask questions and get tips about recycling, saving energy and water, and making choices to promote sustainability.
Hands-on activities made it fun. For example, at each fair, we challenged people to see how much physical energy is needed to turn a hand crank (pictured at left) and produce enough power to light an old-fashioned incandescent bulb compared with a modern, efficient compact fluorescent bulb, which requires 75 percent less energy.
The team from Virginia Naturally challenged Hampton fair-goers to guess how long it takes for different types of litter to decompose, driving home the importance of recycling. California employees answered trivia questions from Heal the Bay about storm water management and water conservation.
The fairs informed employees and strengthened Alcoa’s connections to its local communities. More than 50 organizations participated, paving the way for future partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities that will improve the sustainability of each community.
Sep 29, 2014
Nick Nigro and Dan Welch of C2ES will report in the state of the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.
Moderated by Linda Bluestein, National Clean Cities Co-Director.
This webinar is open to the general public, and no pre-registration is required. To join the webinar:
- Audio: Dial 888-807-9760 and enter passcode 2225108.
- Web: Log in to MyMeetings with conference number PW8745637 and passcode 2225108. You also may join the webinar directly.
Visit the Clean Cities webinars page for more details:
C2ES and its partners published papers and created tools for the AFV Finance Initiative. The initiative consisted of two projects:
- Unlocking Private Sector Financing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure
C2ES, in partnership with National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, began a two-year project in early 2013 to develop innovative finance strategies aimed at accelerating the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure.
|This guide addresses questions that private investors and state and local agencies may have about key considerations and strategies for deploying NGVs in public and private fleets.|
This guide answers questions that private investors and state and local agencies, such as state energy offices, may have in deciding whether and to what extent they should invest in publicly available charging infrastructure.
When combined with other policies and incentives, publicly-supported financing programs, such as those offered through Clean Energy Banks (CEBs), could significantly accelerate deployment of EV charging infrastructure and facilitate EV market development. Read our report that details the range of financial tools available to CEBs and examines these tools’ potential to reduce barriers to EV infrastructure investment. The report also explores how lessons learned from existing CEBs and other relevant organizations could be applied to the EV charging market.
Innovative service contracts that incorporate features of the Energy Service Company (ESCO) business model could help reduce the barriers to vehicle fleet investment in natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and fueling infrastructure. Read our report that explains how ESCOs reduce barriers faced by energy efficiency and cost savings projects, demonstrates how some of the features of ESCOs are being employed in cutting-edge NGV fleet projects, and explores how these features could be incorporated into innovative business models.
Read our white paper that examines how private financing can address the barriers to demand facing electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell AFVs 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 AFV market.
The Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee selected C2ES to develop new business models to foster private sector commercialization of public EV charging services.
|In May 2014, the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee commissioned a study to develop new business models that will foster private sector commercialization of publicly available EV charging services and expand the role of private sector investment in EV charging throughout the state.|
The results of this new study demonstrate that, with continued public support and EV market growth in the near term, it is reasonable to expect the private sector to be able to be the predominant source of funding for publicly available commercial charging stations within approximately five years.
The EV Charging Financial Analysis Tool was developed by C2ES and the Cadmus Group to evaluate the financial viability of EV charging infrastructure investments involving multiple private and public sector partners.
Download the EV Charging Financial Analysis Tool to assess the financial viability of EV charging projects.
The Washington State Legislature was interested in exploring government’s role in fostering new business models that will expand the private sector commercialization of EV charging services. This paper provides an assessment of the existing EV publicly available charging network in Washington.
|Joint Industry/NGO letter of support for proposed electric vehicle rebate program in New York state budget|
The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Finance (AFV) Initiative brought together key public and private stakeholders to use innovative finance mechanisms to help accelerate the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure. C2ES is working with states around the country to develop new strategies for improving the business case for AFVs by leveraging small pubic investments or with new business arrangements.
Decreasing the transportation sector’s reliance on petroleum offers important economic, security, and environmental benefits for the United States. The nation’s dependence on foreign oil comes at a high price. In 2012, the U.S. transportation sector consumed 73 percent of the country’s petroleum supplies. Dependence on oil in transportation exposes the United States to price shocks largely beyond its control, since oil is a globally priced commodity. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimate that the total economic loss associated with oil dependence in the United States was $2.1 trillion from 2005 to 2010. These economic losses are due to oil price shocks and oil market influence by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). From an environmental perspective, motor vehicles are also responsible for half of smog-forming air pollutants, about 75 percent of carbon monoxide emissions, and more than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Most AFVs do not rely on petroleum, are more energy efficient than their conventional counterparts, and have lower or no tailpipe emissions. However, several barriers stand in the way of AFV and infrastructure deployment: market volatility, technological uncertainty, information failures, and regulatory hurdles and uncertainty. These barriers affect each fuel type differently. Recent large investments by the federal government in AFVs and other clean technologies will be winding down in the coming years. New private financing mechanisms are needed to fund these vehicles and associated infrastructure to enable wide-scale adoption.
C2ES worked with states to identify new ways to mobilize this private capital. The Initiative consisted of two projects defined below.
C2ES, in partnership with National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, began a two-year project in early 2013 to develop new financial tools aimed at accelerating the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure. C2ES assembled an advisory group of experts on AFVs, infrastructure, and finance from the public and private sectors to help guide its work. The project aimed to:
- Identify barriers that hinder private sector investment;
- Develop and evaluate innovative financing concepts for vehicle purchase and fueling infrastructure in order to make AFVs more accessible to consumers and fleet operators; and
- Stimulate private-sector investment in AFVs and the associated infrastructure deployment, building upon and complementing previous public sector investments.
C2ES researched financial barriers, prepared case studies, and developed strategies that states can consider trying at the project’s conclusion:
The project specifically emphasized two fuels that offer significant opportunities for growth—electricity and natural gas. Biofuels were not considered because many government and private sector stakeholders are already facilitating the deployment of biofuel-powered vehicles. Vehicles powered by hydrogen were included, but they were not a major focus because hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not yet widely available.
Click here to view publications for this project.
In May 2014, the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee selected C2ES to develop new business models to foster private sector commercialization of public EV charging services. First, C2ES assessed the state of EV charging in Washington and created useful products for the state to perform similar assessments as the market evolves. Second, drawing from its experience with the AFV Finance Initiative and similar activities, C2ES identified and evaluated business models for EV charging in the state. Finally, C2ES recommended ways the public sector can support those business models to maximize private sector investment in EV charging.
Click here to view publications for this project.