Friday, June 30, 2017

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States | Science

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).
by Solomon Hsiang 1,2,*,†, Robert Kopp 3,*,†, Amir Jina 4,†, James Rising 1,5,†, Michael Delgado 6, Shashank Mohan 6, D. J. Rasmussen 7, Robert Muir-Wood 8, Paul Wilson 8, Michael Oppenheimer 7,9, Kate Larsen 6, and Trevor Houser 6
1. Global Policy Laboratory, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
2. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, USA.
3. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
4. Department of Economics and Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
5. Energy Resource Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
6. Rhodium Group, New York, NY, USA.
7. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
8 Risk Management Solutions, Newark, CA, USA.
9 Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
* Corresponding author. Email: (S.H.); (R.K.)
Science 30 Jun 2017:
Volume 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1362-1369

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Economic and Social Impact Assessment of China's Multi-Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Modules Production

It is well known that solar photovoltaic technologies provide significant environmental, economic, and social benefits over conventional energy sources. One study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology investigates the economic and social impacts of China's multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules production stages. The main cost of these modules lies in raw materials and productions, with the greatest cost being the production of the multi silicon photovoltaic cells. Social impact analysis in the report shows that the employment contribution index is 0.72 - this is to say that module production in China greatly contributes to employment. However, the labor civilization degree and labor income contribution indexes are both at around 0.6, meaning that multi silicon PV production has a relatively small labor level and income contribution. Further, the modules contribute very little to GDP, as the report concludes that the production capacity contribution index is 0.183. With this, there is new support for research on more efficient ways to produce the raw materials, as well as support for the upgrading of manufacturing facilities in order to improve the labor civilization degree. 
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Report by Beijia Huang, Juan Zhao, Jingyang Chai, Feng Zhao, and Xiangyu Wang

The Cost of Wind Energy: The Impact of Dropping Prices

As the race for clean energy becomes increasingly competitive, the cost of wind energy across the United States continues to fall. Massive investments into clean energy technology have allowed for an increase in the amount of energy harvested from wind. Average hourly clearing prices in several regions are under $30 per megawatt-hour (MWh) due to low marginal generating cost of wind energy. Falling prices combined with the intermittent nature of wind pose a real challenge for grid operators. Because of the intermittent nature of wind, conventional resources, namely fossil fuels, must be ready to back up wind power, and low wind energy prices means that gas companies must lower their prices in order to stay competitive. Because of this, the role of fossil fuels within the energy market is fundamentally shifting; fleet operators must change the way that they manage fossil fuels in order to adapt to the market.
by Peter Kelly-Detwiler
May 25, 2017

Electric Cars to Reach Price Parity by 2025

For the next 9 years, electric cars will be more expensive to produce than internal combustion engine vehicles, resulting in tougher competition for electric car manufacturers. In 2016, batteries were the largest cost in the manufacturing of electrical cars, making up 48% of total cost on average, but this is expected to decrease to 24% by 2026. This drop puts the cost of manufacturing for electric cars equal to the estimated cost of combustion vehicles at 2026. Battery costs are dropping at around 19% per doubling of manufactured capacity, and it is assumed that technological progress will allow for the same sustained rate. Base vehicle and powertrain costs, such as motors, for electrical vehicles are expected to drop as well due to simpler design and greater manufacturing volume. Because combustion vehicles must be created to meet fuel economy requirements, prices are expected to increase for their manufacturing. With these expectations, battery electric vehicles will be up to 15% cheaper than combustion vehicle counterparts by 2030. 

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by Nikolas Soulpoulos
Bloomberg News Energy Finance
For article and full report, click here.

Report on Global Energy by 2040

According to a report by Bloomberg News Energy Finance, of the $10.2 trillion that is expected to be invested in new power by 2040, 72%, or $7.2 trillion, is expected to go to renewables. Renewable energy investment is expected to increase by 2-3% annually. The cost of new electricity from solar PV will drop by 66% by 2040, meaning that a dollar would be able to buy 2.3 times as much solar energy than it does today. Onshore wind will fall 47%, but offshore wind will decline by 71% because of competition, reduced risk, and larger projects and turbines. China and India are reported to lead energy investments, with each country taking up 28% and 11% of global energy investments by 2040. Wind and solar energy are estimated to take up a third of these of investments. The report says that European investment in renewables will increase by 2.6% annually until 2040, which means that total investments in renewables across Europe will reach almost 1$ trillion over the 2017-2040 period. In the Americas, it is estimated that there will be a $1.5 trillion investment in renewable energy by 2040, and in the US specifically, coal consumption is expected to drop by 45%. In Mexico, renewables are expected to make up 80% of total electricity by 2040, which is four times what it is today. The nation will become 29% more efficient in its electricity consumption by that time. The report predicts that global power sector emissions will peak by 2026 and decline by 1% annually until 2040. 
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Bloomberg News Energy Finance 
June 15, 2017
For the full story, click here

Friday, June 23, 2017

State Level Electric Energy Efficiency Potential Estimates


This report reflects work performed under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The research focused on applying the result of EPRI’s 2014 US Energy Efficiency Potential Study which was conducted at the Census division level and developing a method to apply the division level results to the state level by customer class and by end-use. The state allocation shows that every state has a large amount of electric energy efficiency potential that can be utilized as a cost-effective energy resource. This cost-effective electric potential grows over time as equipment reaches the end of its useful life and is replaced by a cost-effective efficient replacement. In total gigawatt-hours (GWh), this energy efficiency economic potential in 2035 ranges from 901 GWh in Vermont to 87,336 GWh in Texas, reflective of the both electric loads and the types electric services in each state. Finally, to understand the potential to bring additional technologies to market and the impact that added incentives can have on energy efficiency potential, the national model and state allocations were re-run with differing levels of incentives. These results, which vary by state, show both the direct impact of incentives as well as potential opportunities to increase energy efficiency through cost reductions.


The EPRI's 2014 study found 790,639 GWh of cost-effective electric energy efficiency available from 2012 to 2035, which represents 17.5% of baseline retail sales in 2035. Immediately following the study, stakeholder's expressed interest in state level energy efficiency potential analysis to aid in more localized energy planning. Updated analysis shows an estimate of 740,985 GWh of cost effective electric-energy efficiency economic potential from 2016 to 2036 with significant savings across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
Image result for renewable energy
The report concludes that every state has a large amount of electric energy efficiency potential that can be utilized as a cost-effective energy resource. As equipment reaches the end of its useful life and is replaced by cost-effective energy efficient replacements, the cost-effective electric potential grows over time. The study estimates that state-level energy efficiency potential ranges from 12% in Missouri to 21% in Florida relative to adjusted baseline sales, with twenty six states showing more than 15% savings available cost-effectively between 2016 and 2035. Another important conclusion of the study is that there are numerous states that do not completely achieve their energy efficient economic potential (EP). Only twenty two states have developed programs that would be on track to achieve 100% of the model's cost savings by 2035. This is to say that there is still significant underinvestment in energy efficiency; in fact, 18 states would have captured less than 50% of the energy efficiency potential estimated by the EPRI model if they were to continue on the same historical trajectory. The role of incentives in energy efficiency potential was also analyzed. With $20/MWh, the EE economic potential increases by 102,848 GWh, which is a 13% increase over the case with no incentives involved.

The full report can be found here:
Project Manager: C. Holmes  and S. Mullen-Trento

Chinese Tesla rival is planning to launch a $7,800 ‘ultra-compact’ electric car in 2018 with changeable batteries

Chinese start-up CHJ Automotive is the newest company looking to enter the rapidly growing electric car market, which has been historically led by Tesla. The new player is currently developing a compact electric car and a hybrid SUV. The "ultra-compact" electric car, at 2.5 meters long and 1 meter wide,  is set to be launched in March 2018. It is equipped with Google's in-car operating system and runs on two swappable batteries. Kevin Shen, CEO of CHJ, said that "In China, there are 340 million people (who) daily commute with e-scooters, but there is a strong demand for them to upgrade to something. But we cannot imagine all of them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car." China is not the only target market - the company will launch the compact car in Europe as part of ride sharing projects. CHJ has partnered with car-sharing platform Clem. The partnership has already begun trialing in Paris, where the project is expected to ease traffic. In 2016, Tesla sold $1 billion worth of vehicles. But Shen is not worried saying that China sells in excess of 25 million cars each year with just a small fraction being electric vehicles. "There is a very big market for everybody," said Shen. 

Image result for chj electric car
For full story see  
by Arjun Kharpal, CNBC
June 16, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

As Interior pivots to fossil fuel extraction, reports shows it costs taxpayers bigly - Taxpayers lose $7 billion a year due to U.S. subsidies for fossil fuels. The Trump administration might increase that.

In the months since he took office, President Donald Trump has taken steps to uphold some of his campaign promises, namely by deregulating oil, gas, and oil extraction. The Trump administration's newly proposed budget includes new steps in the process of deregulation, specifically by removing significant mechanisms of polluter oversight and boosting the production of fossil fuels on public lands. Despite claims of fossil fuel leasing having a net-negative impact, the Department of the Interior is expecting to find ways to increase government revenue from fossil fuel leases. A new study from Oil Change International reported that current subsidization for fossil fuel production on public lands costs taxpayers more than $7 billion. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said that the newly proposed budget is intended to bring in more money for the public.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to oppose the increase in fossil fuel extraction on public lands. “Once again, the Trump Administration has turned its back on Teddy Roosevelt-style conservatism and is instead trying to allow special interests to pillage our natural resources so a wealthy few can make themselves even wealthier,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said in a statement. “We won’t let him.” The Trump administration is taking other steps to forming a better partnership with industry. The Department of Interior, which is able to issue permits for pipeline right of ways through public lands, has been given a $16 million increase to its oil and gas programs as part of the proposed budget. The budget document, which relies on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, also states that "onshore energy mineral leasing" will bring in $330 million more in 2018 than 2017 and that offshore mineral leasing will bring in $450 million. 
Image result for oil well wikipedia
However, it is unclear as to how the Trump administration will be able to reach these goals, and Zinke has stated that testing still needed to be done. The increased revenues was another example of “crazy math in the budget,” said David Turnbull, a spokesperson for Oil Change International. “Those sorts of increases in the royalties received are definitely not attributed to raising the royalty rate, but rather… a totally unrealistic expectation of opening up new oil and gas drilling that will wreck the climate.” The Oil Change International report, which concludes in the $7 billion cost only looks at direct costs to taxpayers. Then, health and climate impacts would merely add on to the existing costs. According to the report, fossil fuel companies are ripping off taxpayer in several ways, including undervaluing leases.“For example,” the report says, “the BLM set rates for ‘renting’ federal lands for oil and gas leases in 1987 to $1.50 per acre, or a fraction thereof, for the first five years of the lease term and $2 per acre, or fraction thereof, for any subsequent year. This rate has not been raised in 30 years — not even to reflect inflation.” In 2011, around 20 percent of offshore leases for oil and gas development completely avoided royalty payments, the report found. The government's decision to support the industry greatly impacts the climate as well -- the report found that “cutting off subsidies to Big Coal in Wyoming would save the same carbon emissions over 20 years as shutting down 32 coal-fired power plants.”


by Samantha Page, Climate Reporter at ThinkProgress

June 25, 2017