Friday, August 11, 2017

Voluntary Contributions to Hiking Trail Maintenance: Evidence From a Field Experiment in a National Park, Japan

• We examine the effects of information provision on donation behavior.
• A field experiment was conducted to in Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan.
• Announcing seed money is superior to showing the amount of others' contribution.

Donation is one of the most important solutions to inadequate funding for protected area management; however, there has been little agreement on the measures to be used to encourage visitors to donate. We conducted a field experiment in Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan, to examine the effect on donation behavior of providing information about two types of initial contributions. The first type of contribution is toward the fundraising campaign for trail maintenance and the initial amount of government funding (i.e., seed money) and information is provided about the target amount. The second type is for trail maintenance and information is provided on the value of one day's contribution by other participants. We found that announcing the seed money amount and the target significantly increased the probability of a positive contribution and raised the average contribution, compared with the control treatment of no additional announcements. When the participants knew others' contribution beforehand, the likelihood of a positive contribution increased; however, the average contribution tended to decrease. In conclusion, announcing the seed money and the fundraising target is superior to the other measures studied in this paper to raise funds in this specific context of protected area management.
With increased demand for biodiversity conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services, the coverage of protected areas expanded rapidly. By 2030, protected areas are likely to reach 15–29% of the surface area of the earth (Chape et al., 2005; Li et al., 2013 ;  McDonald and Boucher, 2011). However, most protected areas do not receive sufficient funding for their management, even though their value has been realized (Emerton et al., 2006). Although these insufficient situations are mostly reported in developing countries (Emerton et al., 2006), other countries also face the challenges of sustainable park management because of poor funding. For example, Olympic National Park in the U.S. needed $13.3 million to operate the park; however, only $7.8 million was available (NPCA, 2015). The Japanese national parks face the same problems, and the government declared a law in 2015 that allows local communities to collect an entrance fee to resolve these problems (Ministry of the Environmental, Japan, 2015). Especially, insufficient funding has significant impacts on the maintenance of trails, visitor centers, and other facilities, and leads to a lack of development of new protected areas even if the costs are relatively small. Although donation or voluntary contribution is one of the most important options to aid in sustainable management of protected areas (Emerton et al., 2006 ;  Thur, 2010), there is still much room to improve fund raising measures in most countries.
The surveys were conducted at the Numameguri Hiking Trail (NHT) in the Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan, in mid-September 2015. This is the largest Japanese terrestrial park, receiving approximately 5 million visitors per year (Ministry of the Environmental, Japan, 2016). Visitors are not charged any entrance fee. The NHT is one of the most popular hiking trails in the park because of the beautiful color of leaves in fall. However, visitors face a high risk of bear attacks; thus, they are requested to attend a lecture at an information center at the trailhead before hiking (for detail, see Kubo and Shoji, 2014). In addition, they need to be registered before hiking and are required to report their safety after hiking using a logbook. The NHT faced the risk of an insufficient management budget, especially due to reduced government funding over the last few years. A donation box at the information center was provided to cover the budget shortfall; however, it accumulated only a few thousand JPY1 per year until 2015 (personal communications with park staffs in July 2015). Thus, it was necessary for park authorities to find new measures to encourage park visitors to donate to the park management.
The questionnaires that participants in the PREV treatment received had the same information as the control treatment; however, participants were shown the amount that other participants had contributed during the first day of the experiment (40,088 JPY) by using a transparent box and bags, instead of a white box. Thus, participants were able to see a variety of contributions from 1 JPY coins to 1000 JPY notes.
Of the 934 participants, 707 participants positively donated and raised a total of 32,5045 JPY. In the control treatment, 67.5% of participants donated. Furthermore, the sample average contribution was 311.3 JPY and the average conditional contribution was 461 JPY. In the SEED treatment, the share and the sample average contribution significantly increased to 81.6% (F = 16.2, p = 0.00) and 396.7 JPY (z = − 3.66, p = 0.00), respectively. The conditional average contribution of the SEED treatment (486.1 JPY) was not statistically different from the control treatment, although it was higher than the control treatment. As for the SEED treatment, the share and the sample average contribution of the PREV treatment also significantly increased to 78.0% (F = 8.56, p = 0.00) and 336.3 JPY (z = − 2.14, p = 0.03), respectively. However, the average conditional contribution of the PREV treatment (431.4 JPY) was smaller than the control treatment, even though the difference was not statistically significant.
File:Daisetsusan national park 2005-08.JPG
We note some interesting findings from the field experiment that also have important implications for the understanding of actual donation behaviors. First, all treatments have three peaks in the distribution of their contributions—0, 500, and 1000 JPY—as described in Fig. 1. A possible explanation is that it is easy for people to choose these donations because 500 and 1000 are round numbers and because there are 500 JPY coins and 1000 JPY bills in Japan. Next, the findings from the regression analysis show that older and non-local participants contributed more than others. This is not surprising and supports previous studies (e.g., Johnston et al., 2006)—older people's income tend to be higher than that of younger people, and the higher travel costs of non-local tourists imply that they have greater motivations to hike on the mountains.
Appendix 2. Questionnaire
Through sharing of responsibilities and cooperation, administrative agencies and private organizations carry out the maintenance and management of mountain trails in the Kamikawa district of Daisetsuzan National Park, including the Numameguri Hiking Trail. Administrative agencies and private groups are assigned an annual budget of over 10 million JPY for patrolling and upkeep of activities; however, as the total length of trails is considerable, adequate maintenance and management cannot be performed.

Therefore, beginning in 2015, the “Liaison Council for the Maintenance and Management of Mountain Trails”—formed by administrative agencies and civilian organizations—began seeking donations and conducting fundraising through the establishment of the “Mountain Trails Maintenance Account.” Its purpose is to strengthen nature conservation initiatives by mountain trail maintenance through allotting funds for the purchase of sufficient trail maintenance materials. For example, this year, ten wooden walkways were installed on the Numameguri Hiking Trail using these funds, as countermeasures against mud [while funds of over 500,000 JPY have been raised this year, the goal for total donations and fundraising stands at one million JPY].
Takahiro Kubo 1, Yasushi Shoji 2, Takahiro Tsuge 3, Koichi Kuriyama 4
1. Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan
2. Research Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Japan
3. Faculty of Economics, Konan University, Japan
4. Division of Natural Resource Economics, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Japan
Ecological Economics via Elsevier Science Direct
Volume 144; February, 2018; Pages 124–128; Available online 8 August 2017
Keywords: Donation; Field experiment; Information provision; National park; Park management; Voluntary contribution

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wind Technologies Market Report

Report Highlights
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Wind Technologies Market Report provides an annual overview of trends in the U.S. wind power market. You can find the report, a presentation, and a data file on the Files tab, below. Additionally, several data visualizations are available in the Data Visualizations tab. Highlights of this year’s report include:

Wind power additions continued at a rapid clip in 2016: $13 billion was invested in new wind power plants in 2016. In 2016, wind energy contributed 5.6% of the nation’s electricity supply, more than 10% of total electricity generation in fourteen states, and 29% to 37% in three of those states—Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas.

Bigger turbines are enhancing wind project performance: Increased blade lengths, in particular, have dramatically increased wind project capacity factors, one measure of project performance. For example, the average 2016 capacity factor among projects built in 2014 and 2015 was 42.6%, compared to an average of 32.1% among projects built from 2004 to 2011 and 25.4% among projects built from 1998 to 2001.

Low wind turbine pricing continues to push down installed project costs: Wind turbine prices have fallen from their highs in 2008, to $800–$1,100/kW. Overall, the average installed cost of wind projects in 2016 was $1,590/kW, down $780/kW from the peak in 2009 and 2010. 

Wind energy prices remain low: After topping out at nearly 7¢/kWh for power purchase agreements (PPAs) executed in 2009, the national average price of wind PPAs has dropped to around 2¢/kWh—though this nationwide average is dominated by projects that hail from the lowest-priced Interior region of the country (such as Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma). These prices, which are possible in part due to federal tax support, compare favorably to the projected future fuel costs of gas-fired generation. 
Installed Cost Of Wind Has Declined Since 2009-2010

The supply chain continued to adjust to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment: Wind sector employment reached a new high of more than 101,000 full-time workers at the end of 2016. For wind projects recently installed in the U.S., domestically manufactured content is highest for nacelle assembly (>90%), towers (65-80%), and blades and hubs (50-70%), but is much lower (<20%) for most components internal to the turbine.

Continued strong growth in wind capacity is anticipated in the near term: With federal tax incentives still available, though declining, various forecasts for the domestic market show expected wind power capacity additions averaging more than 9,000 MW/year from 2017 to 2020.

PDF icon Report PDF3.24

Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Lab Electricity Markets and Policy Group

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How Large Are Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies? - ScienceDirect

• Fossil fuel subsidies are large, amounting to 6.5% of global GDP in 2015.
• Mispricing from a domestic perspective accounts for the bulk of the subsidy.
• Coal subsidies account for the largest part (about half) of global subsidies.
• In absolute terms, subsidies are highly concentrated in a few large countries.
• The environmental, fiscal, and welfare gains from subsidy reform are substantial.

This paper estimates fossil fuel subsidies and the economic and environmental benefits from reforming them, focusing mostly on a broad notion of subsidies arising when consumer prices are below supply costs plus environmental costs and general consumption taxes.  Estimated subsidies are $4.9 trillion worldwide in 2013 and $5.3 trillion in 2015 (6.5% of global GDP in both years). Undercharging for global warming accounts for 22% of the subsidy in 2013, air pollution 46%, broader vehicle externalities 13%, supply costs 11%, and general consumer taxes 8%. China was the biggest subsidizer in 2013 ($1.8 trillion), followed by the United States ($0.6 trillion), and Russia, the European Union, and India (each with about $0.3 trillion). Eliminating subsidies would have reduced global carbon emissions in 2013 by 21% and fossil fuel air pollution deaths 55%, while raising revenue of 4%, and social welfare by 2.2%, of global GDP. 

A version of this paper is available free of charge at

Volume 91, March 2017, Pages 11-27
David Coady 1, Ian Parry, LouisSears 2 and BaopingShang 1
1. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC, USA
2. University of California, Davis, USA
Keywords: energy subsidies global warming air pollution efficient taxation deadweight loss revenue

Monday, August 7, 2017

A global framework for future costs and benefits of river-flood protection in urban areas : Nature Climate Change

Floods cause billions of dollars of damage each year, and flood risks are expected to increase due to socio-economic development, subsidence, and climate change. Implementing additional flood risk management measures can limit losses, protecting people and livelihoods. Whilst several models have been developed to assess global-scale river-flood risk, methods for evaluating flood risk management investments globally are lacking. Here, we present a framework for assessing costs and benefits of structural flood protection measures in urban areas around the world. We demonstrate its use under different assumptions of current and future climate change and socio-economic development. Under these assumptions, investments in dykes may be economically attractive for reducing risk in large parts of the world, but not everywhere. In some regions, economically efficient investments could reduce future flood risk below today’s levels, in spite of climate change and economic growth. We also demonstrate the sensitivity of the results to different assumptions and parameters. The framework can be used to identify regions where river-flood protection investments should be prioritized, or where other risk-reducing strategies should be emphasized.
In this study, we used Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and Shared Socioeconomic pathways (SSPs)2 to represent future climate and changes in future socioeconomic conditions, respectively. In total, there are 4 RCPs and 5 SSPs, leading to a matrix of 20 combinations of projections.
For the ‘optimise’ objective, there is a large difference between the RCP/SSP combinations in both the benefits and the costs. The costs at the global scale range from USD 22 billion per year (RCP2.6/SSP3) and 78 billion USD per year (RCP8.5/SSP5). Averaged across all SSPs, the results show that the costs at the global scale increase as the CO2-equivalent concentration increases (RCP2.6 = USD 40 billion per year; RCP4.5 = USD 45 billion per year; RCP6.0 = USD 47 billion per year; RCP8.5 = USD 55 billion per year). This means that globally, higher greenhouse gas concentrations will lead to higher adaptation costs as a result of a generally larger increases in flood hazard (note that there are also areas where higher greenhouse gas emissions lead to reduction in flood risk). For all combinations of RCP/SSP, on average, the benefits far outweigh the costs, leading to B:C ratios ranging from 3.6 (RCP2.6/SSP3 and RCP4.5/SSP3) to 10.2 (RCP8.5/SSP5). The B:C ratios are also larger for the RCPs with higher CO2 concentrations, since the larger increase in hazard under those RCPs means that flood damage is higher, and therefore the potential avoided damage is also higher. Averaged across all RCPs, the costs at the global scale follow the projected increases in GDP to 2080 between the different SSPs (i.e. highest costs in SSP5 and lowest costs in SSP3, which are the SSPs with the highest and lowest global GDP growth respectively).

Under the ‘constant absolute risk’ objective, B:C ratios exceed 1 for all RCPs combined with SSPs. However, for SSP, which represents a more fragmented world, the B:C ratios are less than, because under this scenario, economic prospects are poor and thus the benefits of adaptation low. Under the ‘constant absolute risk’ objective’, B:C ratios exceed 1 for all combinations of RCPs and SSPs.

Percentage reduction in current expected annual damage for simulations carried out with assumed current protection standards compared to no flood protection
Percentage reduction in current expected annual damage for simulations carried out with assumed current protection standards compared to no flood protection.

B:C ratio at sub-national level, and percentage of models for which B:C ratio exceeds 1, for the EAD-constant and EAD/GDP-constant adaptation objections
B:C ratio at sub-national level, and percentage of models for which B:C ratio exceeds 1, for the EAD-constant and EAD/GDP-constant adaptation objections.

Protection standards at sub-national level in 2080 and associated B:C ratios
Protection standards at sub-national level in 2080 and associated B:C ratios.
by Philip J. Ward, Brenden Jongman, Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, Paul D. Bates, Wouter J. W. Botzen, Andres Diaz Loaiza, Stephane Hallegatte, Jarl M. Kind, Jaap Kwadijk, Paolo Scussolini & Hessel C. Winsemius
Nature Climate Change
Published online 31 July 2017

Optimization of a vertical axis wind turbine for application in an urban/suburban area: Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy

The goal of this study is to investigate the effect of various design parameters on the performance of a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) subjected to realistic unsteady wind conditions. Thirteen turbine design configurations are examined to determine if an optimal VAWT has applications in an urban/suburban environment. The four design parameters of interest include the height-to-diameter aspect ratio ..., blade airfoil shape ..., turbine solidity ... and turbine moment of inertia. The height and diameter of the turbine varied between 1.89 and 2.54 m, depending on the aspect ratio.... The energy generated by each VAWT design configuration is simulated using a full year of actual wind speed data collected in 2009 at 9 different locations around Oklahoma City spanning an area of approximately 500 km2. The wind data were acquired from the top of traffic light posts at a height of about 9 m above the ground. In all cases, an active control strategy is used that allows the turbine to continuously adjust its rotational speed in response to the fluctuating wind. The results suggest that, for the case of operation in unsteady winds, the optimal power coefficient (Cp) versus tip speed ratio curve is not necessarily the one exhibiting the highest peak Cp value but rather the broadest shape. Of the thirteen configurations examined, the optimal wind turbine design capable of harvesting the most energy from the gusty winds was found to have an aspect ratio of H/D=1.2H/D=1.2, a solidity of S=12%S=12%, and a blade shape using the NACA 0015 airfoil. This design also displayed the lowest moment of inertia. However, when the effects of mass were removed, this design still performed the best. The site-to-site variation in terms of energy captured relative to the available energy in the gusty winds was only about 5% on average and increased slightly with turbine moment of inertia. Four of the suburban sites studied were deemed to be economically viable locations for a small-scale VAWT. The results further indicate that, at one of these sites, the levelized cost of energy associated with the top performing turbine designs examined in the study was about 10% less than the national electricity price, meaning that wind energy provides a cheaper alternative to fossil fuel at this location. It is surmised that VAWTs could economically harvest wind energy in the urban center as well if the turbines were located higher than 9 m, such as on the rooftops of commercial/residential buildings.
File:Vertical-axis wind turbine at Hartnell College Alisal Campus.gk.webm
by Lam Nguyen and Meredith Metzger; Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Volume 9, Number 4; Published Online: August 2017
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 9, 043302 (2017); doi:
via "Vertical Axis Wind Turbines Can Offer Cheaper Electricity For Urban And Suburban Areas"

Full steam ahead for new power plant at Portsmouth Naval Base | BAE Systems | International

The CHP facility will reduce the naval base's carbon footprint.

BAE Systems is beginning work to install a specialist Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at Portsmouth Naval Base which will recycle energy, reduce carbon footprint and save the Ministry of Defence up to £4million per year in energy costs.

Energy and electrical requirements at the naval base are set to increase when the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers arrive in their home port. As part of BAE Systems’ ongoing commitment to Portsmouth, developing a dedicated CHP facility will not only meet this demand but also increase energy efficiency across the site.

Chris Courtaux, Head of Engineering and Energy Services at BAE Systems, said: “By developing this new facility we will be able to recycle energy consumption on the naval base as well as deliver a significant cost saving. This is an innovative solution to support the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
A CHP system produces electricity and heat from a single fuel source and is able to retain excess heat which would have otherwise be wasted. To create this new facility a former boiler house will be converted into and is due to be completed by the end of 2018.
Portsmouth Naval Base 
The £12million contract for the CHP facility forms an amendment to the Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF) contract, awarded to BAE Systems by the Ministry of Defence in 2014. Under the MSDF contract, BAE Systems manages Portsmouth Naval Base on behalf of the Royal Navy, as well as supporting half of the Royal Navy's surface fleet on UK and global operations.
The CHP facility will reduce the naval base's carbon footprint.
Press Release dated August 4, 2017

which reports higher savings

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Price of Climate Deregulation: Adding Up the Costs and Benefits of Federal Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards

Federal climate regulations are currently under attack, in part due to the perception that these regulations will impose excessive costs on regulated industries and society as a whole. But according to federal projections, the benefits of these regulations would significantly outweigh the costs. In a new paper, we added up the projected economic impacts of major federal rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and found that the net benefits could reach nearly $300 billion per year by 2030. The rules will also generate a variety of non-monetized benefits, such as improved public health outcomes and the creation of jobs, as well as climate mitigation benefits that will extend well beyond 2030.

Jessica Wentz and Nadra Rahman analyzed the projected economic impacts of major regulations aimed at controlling carbon dioxide and methane: U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, EPA’s 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas sector, and EPA’s emissions standards for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.

Rahman and Wentz primarily aggregated EPA and Interior’s own cost-benefit projections of the Obama-era regulations. They also compared the values to separate cost-benefit analyses developed by independent researchers, a number of whom challenged the agencies’ analyses of the regulations, alternately stating that EPA and BLM had overestimated benefits or underestimated costs.
The $370 billion in gross benefits includes the positive impacts of reducing 980 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, along with the health benefits of also reducing other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides.

These benefits would be four times greater than the projected $84 billion in total costs of implementing major regulations crafted under the Obama administration, said researchers in a paper published on the center’s website yesterday.

On a year-to-year basis, the economic benefits can either significantly exceed, or at the very least match, the cost of implementation. Some of the highest potential benefits come from implementing the Clean Power Plan and from standards for medium- to heavy-duty vehicles. The total does not include other benefits like job creation and long-term climate change mitigation benefits.

Clean Power Plan
Based on EPA’s estimates, the net economic benefits of the rule could be around $7 billion in 2020, and then rise to $46 billion in 2030.  These figures included: compliance costs, an estimated reduction of 74 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2020 and a reduction of 375 million metric tons in 2030. The dollar values also counted health benefits resulting from the reduction of other pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The economic benefits don’t include other potential positives of the rule like avoided premature deaths, lower exposure to hazardous air pollutants and impacts on ecosystems.

The researchers note that the economic benefits are calculated using a social cost of carbon, a complex metric that puts a dollar value on the emission of 1 ton of carbon. The value takes into account how rising global temperatures will affect the planet and society. In the president’s “energy independence” executive order, Trump signaled that the administration would seek to alter this method of calculating the costs of climate change, though agencies could use a related metric that would only take into account domestic impacts of climate change.

Motor Vehicle Emissions
Light-duty vehicles: The fuel efficiency improvements alone for light-duty vehicles are enough to offset the costs of implementing rules on emissions from these vehicles, according to the EPA figures the researchers cited. The net economic benefits of fuel efficiency standards for model years 2012 to 2016 are expected to be $34.7 billion in 2020 and $100.4 billion in 2030. Meanwhile, standards for model years 2017 through 2025 could lead to net benefits of $168 billion in 2020 and $81.4 billion in 2030. Medium and heavy-duty vehicles: According to EPA data, phase one of emissions standards for these vehicles, for model years 2014 to 2018, could lead to net benefits of $10 billion in 2020 and $27.3 billion in 2030. Phase two, for model years 2019 to 2028, could have net benefits of $31.5 billion in 2020 and $74.4 billion in 2030.

New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Gas Sector
As with the Clean Power Plan, EPA used the social cost of carbon metric to calculate the net monetary benefits of controlling methane, volatile organic compounds and toxic air pollutants emitted from new and modified sources. The net benefits of the rule could be $37 million by 2020 and go up to $180 million in 2025. These numbers consider compliance costs and methane emissions reductions of 300,000 short tons in 2020 and 510,000 short tons in 2025. Not all benefits were included. EPA did not put a dollar value on the health benefits of potential reductions in ozone, which is formed from volatile organic compounds. Estimates also did not include potential natural gas savings from captured methane.

By Nadra Rahman and Jessica Wentz
August 3rd, 2017       

It’s a Superfund Site, but It’s Also Their Livelihood - The New York Times

Alberto Rodriguez', Los Primos Auto Repair and Sale, is one of six businesses at the intersection of Cooper and Irving Avenues in Ridgewood, Queens, that have been targeted for demolition as part of a cleanup plan released recently by the Environmental Protection Agency. The businesses are within a Superfund site, the term for sites covered by a program that finances the cleanup of hazardous waste.

The small, triangle-shaped tract, hemmed in on one side by an abandoned rail spur, does not look particularly active...  But for business owners like Mr. Rodriguez, who have turned the block into a one-stop shop for automotive needs ... the proposed plan threatens to uproot well-established livelihoods.
Mr. Rodriguez’s shop sits atop land formerly occupied by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, which from the 1920s through the 1950s extracted metals from imported sand. In the process, the company produced waste containing two radioactive elements, thorium and uranium, which it disposed of by dumping the waste into sewers and perhaps also by burying it .......
The E.P.A. has been aware of radioactive contamination at the site since at least 1988, but it was not until 2014 that the agency assigned Superfund status to the site. Before then, the E.P.A. installed interim protections, including placing slabs of concrete, lead and steel beneath floors and sidewalks to block radiation from emanating upward.

Those measures wreaked havoc with Mr. Rodriguez’s business, he said. 
The demolition plans are not final. Another possibility raised in the plan is the demolition of just the vacant warehouse and the excavation of soil around the remaining buildings. That option would require government checkups every five years, the plan said, with maintenance costs “in perpetuity.”
The health risks from the radiation at the site are small, said Dr. David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, who reviewed the E.P.A.’s risk estimates at a reporter’s request. If no further remediation were done at the site, a future resident would see an increased risk of cancer of about 0.005 percent, the plan predicted.

Walter Mugdan, an acting deputy regional administrator for the E.P.A., acknowledged that the site’s tenants “are not in any significant danger at all.” But the agency’s goal, he said, is to ensure that the site can be used in the future, perhaps even for residential development.
Any demolition would not be undertaken until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest, Mr. Mugdan said. About two dozen Superfund sites are ready for cleanup at any given time, he said, but because of limited funding, usually work begins on only six to eight each year. The projected cost of the government’s preferred plan for the Wolff-Alport cleanup is more than $39 million.

The E.P.A. often seeks to hold companies responsible for the contamination financially accountable for the cleanup, but Wolff-Alport has been defunct for decades. Mr. Mugdan said his agency would try to determine if the company ever sold itself to any existing firms.

The protracted timeline for demolition offers small consolation to the site’s current tenants. “The rent is crazy. I can’t find a place like that,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who pays $3,600 a month in rent.... The E.P.A. will offer small businesses up to $25,000 to help them set up at another location....
The New York Times
August. 4, 2017

Also see

The Role of Logistics in Practical Levelized Cost of Energy Reduction Implementation and Government Sponsored Cost Reduction Studies: Day and Night in Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance Logistics

Abstract: This paper reveals that logistics make up at least 17% of annual operational expenditure costs for offshore wind farms. Annual operational expenditure is found to vary by a factor of 9.5, making its share of levelized cost of energy for offshore wind range from 13% to 57%. These are key findings of a 20-month research project targeting cost reduction initiatives for offshore wind systems. The findings reveal that cost-out measures are difficult to implement due to cultural differences. Implementation efforts are rendered by personnel located offshore in a harsh sea environment which is in stark contrast to the shore-based office personnel who develop studies directing cost reduction efforts. This paper details the company motivation to join industry-wide cost reduction initiatives. A business case for offshore wind operations and maintenance logistics yielding 1% savings in levelized cost of energy is included on how to expand working hours from daytime to also work at night.
Calculated annual OpEx cost ranges per mega-Watt for the eleven studies.
Energies 10 00464 g002
Scenarios displaying fluctuations in Operating Expenditure share of total costs.
Energies 10 00464 g003
Selected business case impact on offshore wind farm levelized cost of energy
Energies 10 00464 g004

Friday, August 4, 2017

SWEPCO Announces Major Project To Secure Low-Cost, Renewable Energy for Customers

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) today announced plans for a major clean energy project that will provide 6 million megawatt-hours (mWh) of new wind energy annually to SWEPCO customers. SWEPCO will file applications July 31 with utility regulators in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas to request approval for the project.

As proposed, SWEPCO will own 1,400 megawatts (MW) of a 2,000-MW wind farm under construction in Oklahoma. SWEPCO also will help build an approximately 350-mile, dedicated 765-kilovolt (kV) power line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tulsa to deliver the wind energy to customers.

The proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project is expected to save SWEPCO customers more than $5 billion, net of cost, over the 25-year life of the wind farm, compared to projected market costs for procuring power over the same period.

Cost savings include no fuel cost for wind, which lowers SWEPCO’s overall fuel and purchased power costs; full value of the federal Production Tax Credit, which is available for construction of new wind farm projects; and the cost-efficient delivery of the wind generation to customers through the new, dedicated power line.
Customers will see savings primarily through a reduction in the fuel portion of their bills, beginning in 2021.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), also a subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), will own 600 MW of the same wind power plant and co-own the proposed power line, pending regulatory approval.

SWEPCO’s 70 percent share of the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project is $3.2 billion.

If we keep subsidizing wind, will the cost of wind energy go down? [ The Conversation

As more wind turbines have been put in place, the cost of wind energy has gone down

There are high hopes for renewable energy to help society by providing a more stable climate, better energy security and less pollution. Government actions reflect these hopes through policies to promote renewable energy. In the U.S. since 1992 there’s been a federal subsidy to promote wind energy, and many states require electricity utilities to use some renewable energy.

But when is the right time to stop government support for an energy technology?

This is a timely question: Rick Perry’s Department of Energy is currently working on a grid reliability report that many expect to argue that wind and solar cause reliability problems because they don’t supply power continually. A conclusion like this can be used to justify removal of government subsidies or regulations favoring other sources of energy.

Subsidies need not last forever – there can come a time when its objective has been achieved or experience suggests the subsidy is not working as intended.

Is it time to end subsidies for wind? A big part of the answer to this question lies in whether subsidies are actually making wind cheaper.

Why subsidize energy technology

The justification for subsidizing a given technology is that it delivers public benefits that outweigh the subsidy cost. If a technology shows promise to become cheap enough, the subsidy can be viewed as a temporary stimulus to bring it a point where it can stand on its own.

For example, in the early days of the semiconductor industry, integrated circuits were too expensive for consumer markets. Government demand for military applications provided a critical bridge to bring down costs and activate broader markets.

On the other hand, subsidizing an emerging technology that has trouble bringing down costs may be inefficient. For decades, the U.S. government has subsidized or mandated production of corn ethanol. Yet ethanol is still not market-competitive, at least not with recent crude oil prices.

Wind power’s ‘learning curve’

The price for wind power has gone down over the years, but how cheap is it getting? There is a surprisingly diverse set of answers to this question. There are over 100 existing studies of wind cost trends, with results ranging from wind power becoming more expensive over time to becoming cheaper so quickly that it will soon be cheaper than fossil fuels. Curiously enough, while researchers have recently started to note disparities between studies, no one has yet grappled with explaining and reducing such variability. This is, unfortunately, a common situation in many research domains: Various groups get conflicting results from similar analyses, but no one works on understanding why these differences arise.

In a recent paper, we sought to better understand cost reductions in wind power by finding patterns in historical trends.

Wind costs follow what economists call a learning curve: For every doubling of wind production, the cost goes down by a fixed percentage. For example, if the price of electricity from wind is 10 cents per kilowatt-hour with a given number of wind farms, a 10 percent “learning rate” means that wind electricity would cost 10 percent less, or 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, if one doubles the number of wind farms.

Our main finding was that the learning rate for wind power is in the range of 7.7 percent to 11 percent. That means if more wind power is installed and the cost of energy continues to decline as it has in recent years, the cost of generating electricity with wind will fall from 5.5 cents/kilowatt-hour today to 4.1–4.5 cents/kilowatt-hour in 2030.

Previous studies obtained learning rates from -3 percent to +33 percent, the minus sign indicating wind becoming more, rather than less, expensive over time. Why are the results so different? We showed that one can get very different outcomes depending on the method and data range used.

First, we believe it is important to account for wind power costs in terms of the total cost to generate electricity. Many prior studies measured wind cost as the price to build the capacity to make electricity at peak wind times. But this is a poor measure because much of the progress in wind technology in recent years has been to generate more power when the wind is weaker.
Secondly, it is important to treat wind power as a global industry. The adoption of wind in one country helps the industry develop and grow so that wind becomes cheaper in other countries. Modeling wind adoption in only one nation can skew results.

Finally, results depend strongly on the date range of data used. Even with an identical method, the estimated learning rate can change up to 10 percent depending on which years of data you use.

To subsidize or not to subsidize?

So if wind costs will fall to 4.1–4.5 cents/kilowatt-hour in 2030, as we found, what does this mean for wind subsidies? The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects the cost of natural gas and coal power in 2030 will be 4.5 and 5 cents per kilowatt-hour respectively. Taking these numbers at face value, wind is on track to become cheaper than fossil fuels as a source of electricity.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Valuing the resilience dividend: A new way forward | Zilient

Over the past decade, the notion of resilience has emerged as a prevailing paradigm for planning that considers how people and places can survive, adapt, and grow in the face of today’s pressures, where globalization, urbanization, and climate change have combined to increase our vulnerability to a range of shocks and stresses.

Given the tremendous interest in and commitment to building resilience, we need tools that help communities illustrate and quantify the link between resilience-inspired investments and improved well-being.

The net benefits from these investments are the resilience dividend.

Building resilience is about people and places being better prepared to withstand catastrophic events—both natural and manmade—and able to recover more quickly and emerge stronger when those events occur. It may also provide additional benefits even in the absence of those events.

The resilience dividend is the sum of benefits, over time, from a project investment based on resilience principles compared to one that is not.

It is the difference in value between a resilience approach and business-as-usual - the “bonus” we receive from investing in a project designed to build resilience.

The Rockefeller Foundation, which has invested more than half a billion dollars in resilience-building over the past decade, received an overwhelming number of requests for how to quantify the resilience dividend.

With support from the Foundation, the RAND Corporation developed the “Resilience Dividend Valuation Model”, a framework that provides communities with a structured way to frame and analyze resilience policies and projects.

The Resilience Dividend Valuation Model combines elements of project evaluation and economic valuation, and can be used to guide decision-making, planning, and action for resilience investments.
It offers a framework for policy makers and practitioners to carefully map out how a resilience investment will affect a community and its well-being.

It helps stakeholders understand and illustrate the causal relationships between elements of human and natural systems that are unavoidably complex and evolve over time.
Trapped woman on a car roof during flash flooding in Toowoomba 2.jpg
It assesses how resilience investments will shape outcomes and how valuable these outcomes might be to stakeholders that operate within the system. This mapping provides the basis for estimating the net benefits of the investment.

What do communities gain from adopting resilience approaches?

There are two main benefits from resilience approaches:
  1. lower future costs from a shock (or set of shocks) or stressors; and
  2. social, economic and environmental co-benefits even in the absence of a shock or stress. Co-benefits include enhanced social cohesion, better environmental quality and ecosystem services, and additional public goods (for example, space for public use).
Valuing the additional benefits from a resilience project requires that we understand how resilience policy and program interventions change the vital elements of a system over time.

These elements include the resources a community has, the goods and services those resources provide, and how those goods and services drive the level of well-being. It also requires an understanding of how stakeholders in the system might behave in response to changes in system elements.

Resilience investments can change the resources a community has, relax constraints, or increase opportunities for stakeholders.

The linkages between elements of a system are critical, since they can be leveraged to create additional co-benefits and complementarities.

The RAND team completed a series of case studies designed to both demonstrate how the Resilience Dividend Valuation Model can be applied, and to draw out lessons learned about the challenges and opportunities of estimating the resilience dividend.

One of the case studies looked at investments in climate adaptive infrastructure and social systems in eight towns in Bangladesh.

The goal of these investments, which was co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was to improve long-term outcomes related to natural disasters by investing in physical infrastructure, supporting community decision-making, and enhancing municipal government capacity through a multi-year project.

Although the Bangladesh projects are not yet complete, RAND applied the Resilience Dividend 

Valuation Model using a pre-project approach to estimate the expected resilience dividend.

Using ADB data, RAND analyzed the goods and services the projects will produce, ranging from water quality and flood protection to general economic activity and municipal services, and the team looked at how those goods and services will be allocated, including through gender-inclusive decision making.

Estimating the full resilience dividend required more data than was available, yet the case highlighted the opportunities for using the model to gauge the potential impacts of resilience investments.

The Foundation’s support to RAND resulted in a modeling framework that offers us a starting point – one that can be built upon through collective expertise, as well as trial-and-error.

We’ve learned a lot from trying to estimate the resilience dividend of an investment and have concluded that quantifying the resilience dividend of an investment: 
  • Is a skill and an iterative process, not an equation or a black box.
  • Takes rigorous systems analysis, and is challenging especially when there is no shock.
  • Is a data- intensive endeavor: quantitative and qualitative data are critical to arriving at an estimation of the dividend.
  • Demands capturing critical elements beyond economic and financial benefits: social capital, for example, is important for behavior change within a system and critical to valuing the dividend.
  • Requires a careful study of distributional effects: a positive resilience dividend does not necessarily imply positive net benefits for all stakeholders.
The RAND team, in conjunction with Rockefeller, produced two documents to support those looking to implement the Resilience Dividend Valuation Model.

The Practitioner Guide walks through the motivation and mechanics of the model to introduce the framework and approach.

A more detailed report, including technical explanations, is available for those interested in delving deeper into the approach and features six detailed case studies designed to explain how the model can be applied across settings, as well as the opportunities and challenges of calculating the resilience dividend. 

by Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, Senior Associate Director, The Rockefeller Foundation
August 2, 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

States Can Save Consumers and Businesses $113B with New Appliance Standards | ACEEE

States could save consumers and businesses $113 billion by adopting new efficiency standards for products such as computers and faucets, according to a new report, States Go First: How States Can Save Consumers Money, Reduce Energy and Water Waste, and Protect the Environment with New Appliance Standards, released July 25, 2017 by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report recommends 21 appliance standards that states can adopt in the near term.

“These standards give states a great opportunity to save energy and water, lower utility bills for consumers and businesses, and reduce air pollutant emissions,” said Joanna Mauer, technical advocacy manager of ASAP and lead author of the report. “By adopting new appliance standards, states can also boost local economies and reduce strain on the electric grid.”

The 21 recommended standards in the report cover a wide range of energy- and water-using residential and commercial products. They include computers and monitors, commercial dishwashers, faucets, and portable air conditioners. The report estimates potential savings through 2035 assuming that the standards would take effect in 2020. On a national level, the report found that the 21 recommended standards could:
  • Provide $113 billion in net present value savings for consumers and businesses, taking into account both utility bill savings and estimated impacts on product costs for items sold between 2020 and 2035
  • Save 41 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually in 2035, or about 1.5% of current total residential and commercial annual electricity use
  • Save 155 trillion Btus of natural gas annually in 2035, or about 2% of current total residential and commercial annual natural gas use
  • Save 630 billion gallons of water annually in 2035, or about 6% of current annual residential water usage
  • Reduce annual CO2 emissions in 2035 by 23 MMT, which is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of about seven average coal-fired power plants
Other key findings include:
  • The top three products in terms of potential economic savings are water-using products: faucets, showerheads, and lawn spray sprinklers.
  • More than half of the total potential primary energy savings come from the recommended standards for faucets, high color rendering index (CRI) fluorescent lamps, and computers and monitors.
  • The average US household could save $106 annually on its energy and water bills from the recommended standards in 2035. The potential savings vary from $72 per average household in Iowa to $215 in Hawaii.
  • The US energy and water bill savings over the useful life of the 21 products outweigh the estimated additional costs by a factor of more than 7; in every state, these potential savings outweigh the costs by a factor of more than 4.
Most of the recommended standards in the report are based on standards that already exist in at least one state or ENERGY STAR® or WaterSense specifications. Three of the standards are for products for which final federal standards have been put on hold by the Trump administration.
At least 18 states have enacted appliance standards at various times. Most of today’s national standards, which cover products ranging from refrigerators to commercial air conditioners to electric motors, started out at the state level.

“State standards have not only provided benefits to states adopting standards, but have also helped spur national standards,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of ACEEE. “Even when just a small number of states adopt standards, it can be sufficient to affect national markets.”

The full report is available at:

State-by-state savings estimates for each of the 21 recommended standards are available at:

ASAP ( organizes and leads a broad-based coalition effort that works to advance, win, and defend new appliance, equipment, and lighting standards that deliver large energy and water savings, monetary savings, and environmental benefits. Working together, the ASAP coalition supports new and updated standards at the national and state levels through technical and policy advocacy and through outreach and education. 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ACEEE
Press Release dated July 25, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

What Is the Cost of a Renewable Energy–Based Approach to Greenhouse Gas Mitigation?

Energy policies for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation in the United States have set sector-specific standards, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for the transportation and the electricity sectors, respectively. This paper examines the welfare costs and effectiveness of GHG abatement with these policies and compares them with those under a carbon tax normalized to achieve the same level of abatement over the 2007–2030 period. We show that the global welfare cost per ton of GHG abatement with the RFS and RPS is $171, while with the carbon tax it is $7.

Map of States with Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards

by Anthony Oliver, and Madhu Khanna
Land Economics via University of Wisconsin Press
August 1, 2017; Volume 93, Number 3; Pages 437-458

Thursday, July 20, 2017

PNNL: News - Cut U.S. commercial building energy use 29% with widespread controls

along without maintenance being performed on the building controls designed to keep them running smoothly.
And sometimes those controls aren't used to their full potential, similar to a car at high speed in first gear. Instead of an expensive visit to the mechanic, the result for a commercial building is a high power bill.
A new report finds that if commercial buildings fully used controls nationwide, the U.S. could slash its energy consumption by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans.

Building Controls for Energy Efficiency
The report examines how 34 different energy efficiency measures, most of which rely on various building controls, could affect energy use in commercial buildings such as stores, offices and schools. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found the measures could cut annual commercial building energy use by an average of 29 percent. This would result in between 4 to 5 quadrillion British Thermal Units in national energy savings, which is about 4 to 5 percent of the energy consumed nationwide.
"Most large commercial buildings are already equipped with building automation systems that deploy controls to manage building energy use," said report co-author and PNNL engineer Srinivas Katipamula. "But those controls often aren't properly programmed and are allowed to deteriorate over time, creating unnecessarily large power bills.
"Our research found significant nationwide energy savings are possible if all U.S. commercial building owners periodically looked for and corrected operational problems such as air-conditioning systems running too long."

An easy, low-cost fix

The report offers the first detailed, national benefit analysis of multiple energy efficiency measures to address building operational problems. Many of these problems can be corrected with very little effort. Unlike other practices that require expensive new technologies, most of the measures evaluated improve energy efficiency by enabling already-installed equipment to work better.
Roughly 20 percent of America's total energy use goes toward powering commercial buildings. And about 15 percent of U.S. commercial buildings have building automation systems that deploy controls, such as sensors that turn on lights or heating a room only when it's occupied. As a result, helping commercial buildings better use their controls could profoundly slash America's overall energy consumption.
Katipamula and his colleagues examined the potential impact of 34 individual energy efficiency measures that can improve commercial building performance, including:
  • Fixing broken sensors that read temperatures and other measurements
  • Turning off power-using devices like printers and monitors when a room isn't occupied
  • Dimming lights in areas with natural lighting
Because combining individual measures can increase energy savings, the researchers also estimated the impacts of packaging energy efficiency measures together. PNNL designed packages of combined measures based on the needs of three different building conditions: buildings already efficient and with little room for improvement, inefficient buildings with a lot of room for improvement, and typical buildings in the middle.
PNNL used computer models of nine prototypical commercial buildings, and extrapolated them to represent five other, similar buildings so it could evaluate energy use in a total of 14 building types. The research team used these prototypical building models with DOE's EnergyPlus building software, which calculated potential energy use given local weather and whichever energy efficiency measures were applied.

Results oriented

Of the individual efficiency measures studied, those with the greatest energy-saving potential nationwide were:
  • Lowering daytime temperature setpoints for heating, increasing them for cooling, and lowering nighttime heating setpoints: about 8 percent reduction
  • Reducing the minimum rate for air to flow through a variable-air volume boxes: about 7 percent reduction
  • Limiting heating and cooling to when building is most likely to be occupied: about 6 percent reduction
Though the study found all commercial buildings across all climates could have an average total energy savings of 29 percent, some building types were found to have the potential to save more, such as:
  • Secondary schools: about 49 percent
  • Standalone retail stores & auto dealerships: about 41 percent
As expected, researchers found inefficient buildings have the greatest potential to save energy. After estimating how common each building condition is in the U.S., researchers found combined efficiency measure packages have the following potential national energy saving ranges:
  • Inefficient buildings: 30 to 59 percent
  • Typical buildings: 26 to 56 percent
  • Efficient buildings: 4 to 19 percent
The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy funded this research.

Reference: N. Fernandez, S. Katipamula, W. Wang, Y. Xie, M. Zhao, C. Corgin, "Impacts of Commercial Building Controls on Energy Savings and Peak Load Reduction," PNNL report to DOE, May 2017.
Press Release dated June 23, 2017