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OP-ED

California’s Bold Solar Energy Vision | June 18, 2018

Post-Paris Agreement: FREE’S Focus on Subnational Climate Action | January 15, 2016

China’s Cap-and-Trade Decisions | February 24, 2016. [Energy Central]

Why the U.S. Urgently Needs to Invest in a Modern Energy System | September 15, 2018 [Energy Central]

Mobilizing Public and Private Capital for Clean Energy Financing | April 4, 2015 [Energy Central]

Understanding Obama’s Budget Proposal for Clean Energy and Climate Investments | February 17, 2015 [Energy Central]

Europe Loses Billions in Badly Sited Renewable Power Plants | January 26, 2015 [Energy Central]

Impacts of Shale Boom in the U.S. and Beyond | February 10, 2015 [Energy Central]

Drivers of Clean Energy Finance | March 13, 2012

Rebalancing the Economics of Greening | January 7, 2012

The Self-Organizing Smarts of Sustainable Cities | September 26, 2011

Media Quotes:

“Green Growth,” In Stay Ahead of the Competition: Using Market Intelligence to Shape Your Portfolio, PM Network, Project Management Institute, Vol. 25 No. 12, ISSN 1040-8754, December 16, 2011

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As the payoff from investment in advanced-analytics management and big data revolution becomes real, the art and science of delivery is on the upswing as institutions share knowledge, tools and experience in problem solving. For instance, public policy institutions are full of good ideas on how to solve complex social problems, improve STEM pedagogy and student learning, cure diseases, and produce energy (at scale, efficiently, and sustainably). But what has been missing in this process is the ability to implement simple, pragmatic and scalable solutions to effect positive social change. This seems to be changing, pretty fast, however, as organizations integrate their stovepipes of data across operations and sectors to provide powerful insights.

Speaking at this year’s annual meeting plenary session, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim addressed the facts and processes germaine to the next frontier in advancing the science of delivery. “Effective delivery demands context-specific knowledge. It requires constant adjustments, a willingness to take smart risks, and a relentless focus on the details of implementation,” he observed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cGz8gBctezo

McKinsey has also developed an anthology of leading delivery models by social thinkers and practitioners in health care, smart energy, financial services, governance, and food security to improve development outcomes.

The centre of clean energy gravity is fast shifting to Asia, with China taking the lead. In a new report developed by Australian think tank The Climate Institute and GE, China has improved its global low-carbon competitiveness index significantly.

The report ranks France, Japan, China, South Korea and the UK in the top five positions. China has leapt ahead of its previous ranking from 7th to 3rd while U.S. is now 11th down from 8th position. Australia is ranked 17th. The report attributes the latest decline in U.S. ranking to “lower public equity investment in clean energy, shrinking high-tech exports and a surge in reliance on emission intensive air freight.”

LCCI2013a

China’s growth in cleantech investment is boosted by high-tech exports and a rise in global public equity investment in clean energy. Read more

Leading environmental organizations, foundations, and energy firms have teamed up to form a new center that will set standards for shale gas development and drilling by hydraulic fracturing in the Appalachian Basin.

The center to be known as Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) has leading organizations as founding participants such as Shell, Heinz Endowments, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), EQT Corporation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Chevron, Clean Air Task Force, CONSOL Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), and William Penn Foundation. Read more

A new report by Climate Policy Initiative finds that institutional investors may not be able to fully cover the needed investment in renewable energy. The investors include insurance companies and pension funds, with a combined portfolio of over $70 trillion in assets.

The report titled, “The Challenge of Institutional Investment in Renewable Energy,” identifies a series of constraints especially policy barriers that hinder regulation of pension plans, investor practices and insurance companies.

The report proposes policy and institutional solutions to address these challenges, including: (i) encouraging utilities and other corporations to invest in renewable energy, (ii) fixing institutional policy drawbacks that discourage investors from the sector, (iii) modifying regulations of pension and insurance to promote renewable energy investment without creating new risks for institutions, (iv) improving institutional investor practices through capacity building in evaluating investments in the renewable energy sector, and (v) developing better pooled investment vehicles that fits institutional investors needs. Read more

Carbon Market Watch released a policy brief that examines the Doha decisions. The brief is available here: Carbon Market Watch policy brief. Carbon Market Watch was launched in November 2012 to provide an independent perspective on carbon market developments and is based in Brussels, Belgium.

The Doha compromise has two main elements related to surpluses from the first and second commitment period.

  1. It does not limit the carry-over of surplus AAUs from CP1 but puts limits on their use in CP2 and countries without a reduction target in CP2 cannot sell their surplus to countries with a reduction target.
  2. It restricts initial assigned amount, that is, the number of AAUs a country initially receives for CP2. This helps in avoiding a build-up of new surplus.

Read more

The question of efficiency when comparing wind and solar forms of alternative energy is on the minds of many people these days. Government officials, state legislatures, entrepreneurs and average citizens want to know the answer to this question. The general feeling is that wind is more efficient, though the answer turns out to be dependent on the scale of operation involved in a comparison.

For a homeowner in a rural area who already has tall buildings, such as barns or grain silos, or even an existing old windmill, wind is easily more efficient. For larger applications, such as commercial generation of electricity to provide power for urban areas, the answer might surprise you.

Ending in 2011, a comparison test, between solar and wind powered energy, ran for 14 months. The comparison showed that solar power is more efficient.

To make sure the test was a fair comparison, a wind turbine set at an elevation of 35 feet was compared with a panel of solar collectors. As a control, it was verified that both could produce an identical amount of electricity at conditions considered optimal. The cost of each system was identical.

The result of the test was rather surprising. Over a number of testing periods, the solar powered generator was able to produce a total of 500% more electrical power than the wind powered generator. This was not expected, due to the fact that the solar system was dependent on the appearance of the sun to begin generation. It was determined that the intermittent and varying intensity of wind was the reason for the wind powered generator to produce less power.

Considering the vast amount of research being conducted worldwide on both types of alternative energy generation, it can be expected that the efficiency of both systems will increase in the future. There are several new designs of wind powered generators under development that require less wind to start operation and continue to generate electrical power. For solar technology there are also exciting developments. In addition to the development of much more efficient solar collectors, research at MIT has discovered a way to place solar collectors in non-horizontal arrays. The discovery is based on the natural way a tree develops leaves as it grows, and the mathematical principle of Fibonacci numbers. Tests are underway that could more than quadruple the amount of electrical power per square foot of solar panel installation that can be achieved.

Because of the exciting developments in both forms of alternative energy sources, it is hoped that government, private industry, such as Texas energy providers, and individual citizens, will continue to explore, research and discover even more ways to improve the efficiency of these two important non-oil sources of electrical power.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is seeking proposals for large scale solar power installations to benefit from a $107 million investment from the state’s solar initiative. Under the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, a total of $36.4 million will be available in 2012 and $70.5 million in 2013.

The first round proposals are due November 8. The funding cap is set at $3 million and to better leverage the state resources, the projects will require co-funding from private developers. “The NY-Sun program has helped establish New York State as a leader in solar power, and these investments in photovoltaic systems will allow businesses and municipalities to put in place green, cost-effective electric generating installations,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.  “I encourage all businesses and municipalities eligible for these grants to apply.” Full article

 

How does a real estate investor in Milwaukee predict true housing market demand and fine-tune better forecasts of potential homeowners and or renters in New York City, 880 miles away? The answer lies in monitoring social interactions – location-specific tweets, pokes, and “likes” – where participants reveal individual and collective location preferences and willingness to pay. In the age of social technologies, the world has been flattening much faster since Twitter hit the corporate bloodstream with its 140-character limit, and Facebook began the long expedition to make the world “more open and connected.”

Most business leaders want to change how work is done — increase productivity, enhance employee engagement, build sustainable businesses and inspire innovation. Moreover, innovations such as shifting from one-to-one communication channels to social channels (one-to-many), creating accessible and searchable information, and enhancing creative forces among employees have been marketed as key drivers and benefits of social technologies.

But vital questions remain: How can organizations capture the value of social technologies, encourage collaboration across functional silos, and improve productivity? How can organizational practices be transformed to fully benefit from social networks on a large-scale basis? And how can social media facilitate or change the way businesses approach sustainability? Full article

With cities facing unprecedented population growth as more people flock into urban centers in search of better opportunities and America managing only a sluggish recovery, how can we improve existing infrastructure to provide clean drinking water, create livable neighborhoods and help safeguard people’s health and the environment?

Faced with the spectre of budget cuts and Europe economy mired in debt crisis, many cities are facing tough investment decisions. Their populations are growing at a time when their revenues are shrinking. These new realities have led people to ask some searching questions. How clean is the water supply? And how can we increase the vitality and competitiveness of urban environments with solutions that optimize the entire city?

Replacing existing “gray” infrastructure with green infrastructure seems like a rare bright spot for equity investors and city managers. This involves supplementing or substituting “gray” infrastructure including pipes, filters, and concrete with cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly natural alternatives.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced $950,000 funding for expanding green infrastructure projects across 16 states. The funding awarded to 17 diverse communities across the nation will be invested in improving water quality, and building livable and healthier neighborhoods.

In a statement, EPA said the “funding is intended to increase incorporation of green infrastructure into stormwater management programs, protect water quality, and provide community benefits including job creation and neighborhood revitalization.”

Green infrastructure employs a number of natural solutions to address permitting requirements, capture and filter pollutants, and minimize seasonal flooding. For example, rain gardens, rain barrels, green spaces, vegetated curb extensions, porous pavement, greenways, and even urban reforestation projects reduce stormwater pollution and ‘urban wet weather’ issues including combined sewer overflows, end-of-the-pipe discharges and stormwater runoff.

According to the statement, both small towns such as Beaufort in South Carolina and large cities, such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will benefit from the funds. It is expected that green infrastructure investment will result in other co-benefits such as increased property values, and attractive neighborhoods that stimulate further economic and environmental benefits. Copper’s Ferry Partnership in Camden, New Jersey is one of the communities that will receive funding to quantify the benefits of green infrastructure and assess local codes and ordinances.

Why invest in alternative natural solutions? Cities have always invested in successful natural alternative solutions. A classic example is the New York City watershed, one of the most regulated and successful water systems in the nation. The city deployed a number of strategies including purchasing properties around the watershed area from willing sellers, implementing watershed rules and regulations, and establishing watershed protection and community partnership programs. These measures have paid off by providing an alternative natural solution for controlling turbidity and managing water quality. As a result, this cost-effective natural alternative has saved ratepayers billions of dollars in avoided filtration costs.

Still, given the rising infrastructure capital needs, targeted public policy strategies such as private sector investment including off-balance sheet financing, performance contracting, land-secured backing and public private partnerships are needed to compliment the funding gap. The EPA’s green infrastructure agenda released in April 2011, the “Strategic Agenda to Protect Waters and Build More Livable Communities through Green Infrastructure,” recognizes community partnerships as a key strategy for accelerating green infrastructure development.

The case for increased targeted investment in green infrastructure especially in stormwater management is compelling. By investing in alternative natural solutions, cities can create green jobs, reduce overheads and still build revitalized neighborhoods, and remain sustainable in the face of unprecedented competing interests. Only then can we truly achieve a step change in the way we increase competitiveness and vitality of our cities as spaces for innovation.

This article first appeared in Examiner

People enjoy the quiet and greenery of Bryant Park in New York City. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

One of the most common conversations in the Midwest and Northeast this summer is the number and frequency of heat waves. Already data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that the first six months of this year were the hottest in over a century. “The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 71.2°F, which is 2.0°F above the 20th century average. The June temperatures contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since record keeping began in 1895,” concluded NOAA.

The prolonged high temperatures and lack of rain especially in the Midwest has caused corn prices to rise. But for most consumers a major concern remains how to stay cool while keeping green. Modern lifestyle is built on a series of inventions that require energy, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, lighting and motor vehicles. What is well less recognized is that the process of transmitting and using energy especially in heating and cooling homes can be quite inefficient. Full article

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