Tag: Energy Markets

Spatial Energy Efficiency Patterns in New York and Implications for Energy Demand and the Rebound Effect

The confluence of the threat of global climate change, increasing energy prices, and widespread adoption of low-carbon technologies have been cited as key drivers of the energy transition. Two of the scenarios exemplified by future rates of uptake of energy transition based on expectations of change in demand, and socially incremental choices that define the transition in terms of energy consumption and consumer behavior illustrate potential results under the current business-as-usual paradigm. An important area that has been overlooked is how spatial diffusion of energy-efficiency policies or complementarities across policy mixes can yield direct measurable benefits that improve overall energy policy design and performance measurement.

In our new paper (co-authored with Dr. John Byrne) titled Spatial Energy Efficiency Patterns in New York and Implications for Energy Demand and the Rebound Effect, published in Energy Sources, Part B: Economics Planning and Policy, we posit the inquiry of how to address this quandary as one of spatial dynamism in policy design: promoting spatial sensitivity in technology-or sector-specific energy-efficiency policies to support increased diffusion, information sharing, and accelerating the adoption rates of energy efficiency measures.

In this study, we applied the spatial modeling (i.e., spatial Durbin error model-SDEM) approach to analyze adoption trends for residential energy-efficiency measures. To do so, we evaluated the potential for local socioeconomic and building performance variables which influence the effectiveness of energy efficiency policies and diffusion patterns in each location in the long-term. We investigated this potential for New York state at a ZIP code level to show the ubiquitous promise and potential of this conceptualization to improve urban energy planning and management. To arrive at a practical strategy, we investigated the policy implications for energy demand and the rebound effect.

Our study shows the significant influence of the built environment and jurisdictional boundaries and their effect on energy transition capacities. As such, the paper makes a compelling case for a fundamental reconsideration of energy policy design in New York and target setting to account for specific conditions in the built environment that may constrain the uptake of energy-efficient technologies in a given jurisdiction.

Photo: Beijing’s financial district. Sean Pavone /Shutterstock.com
Photo: Beijing’s financial district. Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

In the lead-up to the 2015 Paris climate change conference, policymakers stressed the need for creation of integrated carbon markets and called for linking new climate financing mechanisms with the United Nations-organized Green Climate Fund (GCF) based in South Korea. Both the U.S. and China have committed to accelerating the transition to low-carbon development internationally. Through a $3 billion per year pledge to GCF by the U.S. and a new annual $3.1 billion climate finance guarantee by China to support other developing countries to combat climate change, the two countries have committed to enhance multilateral climate cooperation. Read more>>

In a speech commemorating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2009, former U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger recalled how the energy crisis of 1970s awakened the world “to a new challenge that would require both creative thinking and international cooperation.” He explained that as “global demand continues to grow, investment cycles, technologies, and supporting infrastructure will be critical.” As a top U.S. diplomat in the 1970s, Kissinger is credited with promoting energy security as a third pillar of the international order through a trifecta of initiatives to bolster incentives to energy producers to increase their supplies, encourage rational and prudent consumption of existing supplies, and improve development of alternative energy sources. These efforts contributed to the establishment of the IEA in 1974 as a principal institutional mechanism for enhancing global energy cooperation among industrialized nations. Read more>>

Here’s a great video of a speech delivered by Lord Nicholas Stern and sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Resources Institute (WRI). Lord Stern, who is the chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, explained how climate risks have changed six years after the publication of the Stern Review report, and what organizations and governments can do to transition to a low-carbon economy future. For more, check out the transcript of the speech and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s introductory remarks, and Stern Review .

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.


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.”


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

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

In the recent past, a booming market, driven by technological change, has spearheaded economic growth. The world’s venture capitalists made huge profits from the computing boom of the 1980s, the internet boom of the 1990s and now think the next boom will happen on the back of energy: renewable energy. These past booms, however, were fed by cheap energy: coal was cheap; natural gas was cheap; and apart from the 1970s, oil was comparatively cheap. However, in the space of the past half a decade, all that has changed. Oil has become more expensive and there is a growing concern that the oil supply may soon peak as consumption rises, known supplies dwindle, and new reserves become difficult to find.

The possibility of plugging your car into an electric socket, rather than filling your tank at the gas drive-ins, no longer looks like technological madness. Wind-and-solar powered alternative no longer looks so costly by comparison to natural gas, whose prices have risen substantially in sympathy with oil. Coal remains cheap, however, its extraction damages ecosystems by destroying ecological habitats. Additionally, combustion of fossil fuels pollutes the air by emitting harmful substances into the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that contribute to global warming. Oil spills, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and leakages at the extraction points destabilize marine ecosystems and kill aquatic life. Moreover, utility firms seeking to avoid political and capital costs of building new power plants have began to focus more on energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies that guarantee less harmful emissions. These underlying issues have opened up capacity gap and opportunity for solar, wind, and other low-carbon technologies, and are the main drivers of growth and consumption of clean energy… full article available at PM Global Sustainability Community of Practice


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