Tag Archives: climate change

The Clean Power Plan means changes for coal, but not the ones you might expect

June 18, 2014 |

 

Under President Obama’s recently announced Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed that states cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

Commenters on both sides of the aisle say this rule means big changes for the coal industry.

But before we get fired up about the changes, it’s important to take a look at the facts: While states will need to retire coal plants at the end of their useful lives to meet the proposed limits, EPA’s rule would give states a great amount of flexibility to avoid coal asset stranding and still meet emissions reduction targets. In fact, valuing the right services from coal plants will prove the more important question for a low-cost, low-carbon electricity system.

Let’s look at why.

First, we need to understand what the rule really means for coal asset stranding. An asset is “stranded” if a reduction in its value (that is, value to investors) is clearly attributable to a policy change that was not foreseeable by investors at the time of investment.

In our upcoming analysis of stranded assets, Climate Policy Initiative finds that if no new investments are made in coal power plants and existing plants retire as planned (typically, 60 years for plants with pollution control technology investments and 40 years for plants without), the U.S. coal power sector stands to experience approximately $28 billion of value stranding from plants that are shut down. While that’s a big sounding number at first glance, it’s very small relative to the size of coal power sector. As the figure shows, that retirement schedule puts the U.S. coal power sector on track to come close to the coal power capacity reductions called for in the IEA 450 PPM scenario to limit global temperature increase to 2°C.

U.S. Coal Power w emissions (2)

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Indian concentrated solar power policy delivers a world-leading CSP plant but still needs adjustment

June 5, 2014 |

 

Solar power is one of the most promising options for India to meet its growing electricity demand. While the construction of further fossil fuel power plants is slowing due to lower domestic coal production than expected and the high cost of fuel imports, installations of solar plants are on the rise.

As discussed in a CPI blog, the Government of India’s National Solar Mission, started in 2010, has achieved targets for promoting solar photovoltaic (PV), having seen 660 MW deployed by January 2014. However, plans to deploy concentrated solar power (CSP) – a less mature and currently more expensive alternative with key technological advantages that allow it to deliver power reliably and when it is needed – did not meet with the same success. Over the same period, the government tendered 500 MW of CSP but successful bidders have only installed 10% of this deployment target to date.

In the coming days, however, the National Solar Mission takes an important step forward in its CSP efforts, when the 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique CSP plant – the largest CSP plant built so far in India and the largest worldwide using linear Fresnel technology – is connected to the grid. In a recent CPI case study, financed by the Climate Investment Funds Admin Unit, Climate Policy Initiative examined this plant to understand why this project was implemented, while others under the National Solar Mission are still delayed. Some of our key findings include:

  • The Government of India’s measures, including awarding a subsidized power purchase agreement (PPA) and payment security scheme through a competitive reverse auction, were essential to getting the Rajasthan plant built but they were not enough to deploy CSP at the desired scale. Indeed, the only winning bidders able to build CSP plants at the low tariffs that resulted from the competitive bidding process were those that had financially strong private stakeholders and were able to source public debt. The 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique CSP plant, for instance, benefitted from USD 280mn of long-term foreign public debt, a project developer both willing to take risks to establish itself in the Indian CSP market and willing and able to accept low returns, and a technology provider that contributed comprehensive warrantees.
  • India’s CSP policy kept costs to the public low but it will need adjustment to increase the certainty and speed of deployment and meet the country’s ambition to establish a national solar industry. Strong competition among project developers resulted in several submitting bids at prices that put them among the cheapest CSP tariffs worldwide (see also our previous paper on the global CSP landscape). However, project delays, possible cancellations, and difficulties in sourcing technologies and financing experienced by several of these developers – due in part to the challenge of building at such low tariffs – meant India was unable to meet its CSP targets and capitalize more fully on learning-by-doing, establishment of local supply chains, and investments in basic infrastructure, as developed during the implementation of projects like Rajasthan Sun Technique.

If a reverse auctioning scheme is used in India for future scale up of CSP, the design could be substantially improved and the Indian government could increase the likelihood of timely project implementation by:

  • Including stricter qualification requirements for bidders in terms of CSP experience and financial strength
  • Setting out more realistic timelines for bidding
  • Making reliable on-site solar irradiation data available
  • Allowing sufficient time for construction but also then enforcing penalties more strongly for delayed projects

With the 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique plant commissioning, Indian CSP policy takes an important step forward but there is still a way to go before large scale up of the technology allows the country to balance the cheaper but fluctuating solar PV and wind power with more reliable CSP plants.

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Adjustments to Indian renewable energy policies could save up to 78% in subsidies

April 21, 2014 |

 

Recently, the Government of India announced plans to award licenses for an additional one gigawatt of solar in the next year – about half the capacity of the Hoover Dam and enough to meet the energy needs of two million people. This move is part of India’s already ambitious targets for renewable energy that aim to address rising energy demand, decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports, and mitigate climate change.

To ensure the country meets these targets, India provides a package of renewable energy support policies that includes state-level feed-in tariffs and federal subsidies, which are in the form of a generation based incentive – a per unit subsidy; viability gap funding – a capital grant; and accelerated depreciation.

However, given the ambitious goals, but limited budget in India, the cost-effectiveness of these policies is an important factor for policymakers.

Our recent study “Solving India’s Renewable Energy Financing Challenge: Which Federal Policies can be Most Effective?” took on the question of cost-effectiveness by comparing a range of policy alternatives to the status quo.

Our findings were striking. We found that a policy that both reduces the cost of debt and extends its tenor is the most cost-effective. In fact, for wind energy, reducing debt cost to 5.9% and extending tenor by 10 years can cut the cost of total federal and state support by up to 78%. For solar energy, which is more capital-intensive, reducing debt cost to 1.2% and extending tenor by 10 years can cut the cost of support by 28%.

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Looking behind IPCC’s WG3 climate finance figures

April 15, 2014 |

 

Last Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the final version of the Summary for Policymakers for its working group dedicated to the assessment of the options for mitigating climate change. This is the first time an IPCC assessment report features a chapter dedicated to investment and finance. We are thrilled to see that the results draw heavily on CPI Climate Finance pioneering work in the field.

To demystify the term ‘climate finance’ and better understand the magnitude and type of climate financing available, CPI has provided an overview of the climate finance landscape for the past three years. Three particular objectives have guided our work:

(1)  identifying the main dimensions of climate finance,
(2)  highlighting issues and gaps in the tracking of flows, and
(3)  pointing to remedies when needed.

The third edition of this study, the Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2013 is the most comprehensive look at climate investment to-date.

$356-363 bn. went to climate finance projects in 2012…

The Summary for Policymakers indicates that “published assessments of all current annual financial flows whose expected effect is to reduce net GHG emissions and/or to enhance resilience to climate change and climate variability show USD 343 to 385 billion per year globally.” These numbers are taken from the 2012 edition of the Global Landscape of Climate Finance and are relative to the year 2011. We updated these numbers in the 2013 edition and found that climate investment plateaued at an average $359 billion in 2012, far short of even the most conservative estimates of the investment need.

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COP19: A video primer on global climate finance with Barbara Buchner

November 21, 2013 |

 

The report says $359 billion has already been spent this year, but it is less than last year.

The bulk of the money (62%) comes from the private sector, enabled by public activities and most of the money has gone towards renewable energy. $22 billion has been spent of adaptation and $32 billion on energy efficiency.

This video interview was recorded, produced, and originally published by Responding to Climate Change.

Read “The Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2013.”

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The next step for U.S. renewables is to drive low-cost private investment – and to do so as cost-effectively as possible

June 25, 2013 |

 

Today President Obama announced a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020 as part of a broader plan to tackle carbon pollution in the U.S.

Reaching this goal would add to the substantial renewable energy capacity the U.S. can already boast: Over the past five years, U.S. workers have built enough wind and solar farms to power over six million homes with clean energy. And in 2012, renewables comprised more than half of all new power generation in 2012 in the U.S. — surpassing all other sources including natural gas.

I recently worked with the American Council on Renewable Energy and CalCEF to look at the state of finance for renewable energy in the U.S. And in a paper released at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street today, we point out that this boom was enabled by the alignment of federal, state, and private interests: State-level renewable portfolio standards helped create a market for renewable electricity, federal incentives helped cover the incremental cost of that electricity, while private investors have contributed tens of billions of dollars to getting wind and solar off the ground.

So what’s the next step? What needs to happen to reach Obama’s targets?

We argue that the next step for U.S. renewable energy is to drive low-cost private investment — and to do so as cost-effectively as possibly.  CPI analysis points to five practical ways do this.

1. Maintain consistent, long-term policies by building on the success of current policy efforts. Catalyzing change in a highly regulated industry such as electricity is difficult.

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Policy Watch: South Korea advances on cap and trade and world’s largest REDD project approved

June 4, 2013 |

 

This week, climate policy headlines from around the world include a new multinational renewable energy coalition, progress on cap-and-trade in South Korea, and the world’s largest REDD+ project moving forward in Indonesia.

Uday Varadarajan and Elinor Benamicontributed headlines to this edition of Policy Watch.

South Korea plans ambitious carbon market
South Korea’s government plans to meet in May with the nation’s biggest emitters to provide information about the start of cap and trade in 2015.

The government plans to select an exchange for greenhouse- gas emissions in the second half of this year and decide how to allocate free allowances to an estimated 480 emitters by June 2014, Lee Hyung Sup, a deputy-director at the Ministry of Environment, said in a phone interview yesterday in Seoul. Trials for carbon trading are set to start in June 2014, he said. Full article.

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Why policy matters for institutional investment in renewable energy

May 23, 2013 |

 

Institutional investors steward a large fraction of our society’s wealth. In OECD countries, pension funds, insurance companies, endowments, foundations, and sovereign wealth funds collectively manage over $45 trillion in assets ($71 trillion if you add in other investment managers and pension assets outside of pension funds). Needless to say, the financial security of these institutions is a matter of significant public importance.

Many of these institutions have investments in carbon-intensive assets – such as coal, oil, and gas extraction companies – which could have less value in a climate constrained world. Recently, policymakers, the public, and beneficiaries of these institutions have begun to call on institutions to divest from fossil fuels to reduce their exposure to this potential risk.

Another option may be to increase investment in low-carbon assets like renewable energy. To date, however, not much research has addressed the policy constraints on increasing institutional investment in low-carbon assets.

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National Development Banks can play a big role in climate finance

March 27, 2013 |

 

National Development Banks (NDBs) can play a big role in climate finance. In many cases, they already are: In CPI’s most recent estimate, NDBs, together with bilateral financial institutions, raised and channeled USD 54 billion in 2010/2011 to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate-related measures.

The question is, could they do more? By raising and distributing international and national public climate finance in their respective local credit markets, NDBs have unique potential; their knowledge of and long-standing relationships with the local private sector put them in a privileged position to access local financial markets and understand local barriers to investment.

To answer this question with more certainty, Climate Policy Initiative recently contributed to a study promoted by the Inter-American Development Bank. The research aimed to understand the role NDBs could play in channeling and leveraging climate finance, and the conditions needed for them to be most effective.

Drawing from experiences of NDBs within the Latin American and Caribbean region, the study finds that while many NDBs are already piloting an array of financial and non-financial instruments to promote private ‘green’ investments, these institutions are at diverse stages of ‘readiness’ to fully promote climate-related programs. Many still need to build capacity, and to acquire experience in the preparation, risk assessment, evaluation, and monitoring of climate projects.

So, to come back to the earlier question – yes NDBs could do more, but decision makers should look for ways to support existing efforts, and consider the particular experience, characteristics, and potential of NDBs when developing policies and mechanisms for delivering climate finance on the ground.

For more information, check out the Inter-American Development Bank study.

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Climate finance untangled

February 20, 2013 |

 

This piece originally appeared on the World Bank blog and is cross-posted here.

Landscape-LargeGlobal leaders have spoken strongly on the urgent need for climate action, putting it back on top of the 2013 agenda. During his inaugural address and State of the Union speech, President Obama gave clear signals about his intentions to address this issue in his second term. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, president of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim reminded economic leaders about the potentially devastating impacts that could occur in a world 4°C warmer by the end of the century.

Unlocking finance is an essential part of avoiding that future. But, before leaders can determine how much more money is needed, they need to establish how much is already flowing, what the main sources are, and where it’s going.

These are the key questions my team and I at Climate Policy Initiative aimed to answer with the release of the “The Landscape of Climate Finance 2012”. Our analysis estimated global climate finance flows at an average $364 billion in 2011. To put this in context, according to the International Energy Agency, the world needs $1 trillion a year over 2012 to 2050 to finance a low-emissions transition, so current finance flows still fall far short of what is needed.

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