Tag Archives: climate

Will California’s AB327 help or hinder renewable energy? The devil is in the details

November 18, 2013 |

 

California Assembly Bill 327 (AB327), signed into law October 7th, 2013, drew fire from solar and energy efficiency proponents, The Sierra Club, and other environmental groups over the rate-setting powers it would give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). These opponents worry that the bill allows changes in rate and regulatory structure that could discourage renewable energy investment in California. However, local governments, industry groups, utilities and some consumer groups argue these same powers could, used wisely, make electricity rates more equitable, protect consumers and help utilities adapt to an increasingly renewable and distributed grid. Climate Policy Initiative’s analysis suggests they could also create a very fertile and cost-effective environment for renewable energy for years to come.

AB327 allows the extension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and requires the extension of the Net Energy Metering program, both of which Climate Policy Initiative analysis has shown to be significant drivers of renewable energy growth in California. Many of the details of their implementation are left to the CPUC, though, and these details will decide the ultimate impact of AB327 on renewable energy in California.

Read More

How to spread new technology in agriculture: the importance of geographic conditions and learning-from-peers

November 7, 2013 |

 

In business, it is unusual to find a technology that proves to be better and costs less than the one in use. In theory, that technology should spread like wildfire and quickly replace current production methods. If it doesn’t, there is usually a barrier that prevents its spread.

In a new CPI study, we examine a farming technology called the Direct Planting System (DPS) which has proven to be one of the most important developments in agriculture in the past decades – however, after nearly forty years of its introduction in Southern Brazil, only 10% of Brazilian farmers reported using it in the 2006 Agricultural Census. The questions we address in this study are: What is keeping this technology from spreading and how do we overcome this barrier?

Our analysis reveals that soil composition is an important factor affecting the spread of the DPS. When soils are similar in a given municipality, it is easier for farmers to learn from the experience of peers who have already successfully adopted the system. Likewise, differences in the soil can act as a barrier to the expansion of DPS, since the system would have to be adapted to different soils. 

Read More

Introducing California Carbon Dashboard: All your questions about AB32 answered in one place

October 24, 2013 |

 

This blog was co-authored by Andrew Hobbs and Karen Laughlin.

This week CPI is pleased to launch our new beta California Carbon Dashboard—a one-stop site for information on California’s portfolio of climate policies, current carbon prices, and news aggregation.

The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) set into motion a suite of policies to reduce California’s economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—and set California, again, out in front as a climate policy test bed for the United States. AB32 established a cap and trade program for California as well as many sector-specific complementary policies to achieve the 2020 state target.

California’s climate package is leading edge, so there is plenty of information out there on AB32’s policies and processes. Locating the quick or in-depth information you want or need, however, can be a challenge. So, as we gathered information for our more in-depth analyses on California’s climate policy effectiveness, CPI decided to build a one-stop dashboard to provide policymakers, stakeholders, and the public—in California, in the U.S., and the world—a user-friendly tool to learn about how California’s climate policies fit together and to get current updates.

Let us give you a quick tour to highlight the Dashboard features that you might find useful:

Read More

A Wish List for IPCC: “Policy-Ready” Climate Science

October 9, 2013 |

 

Last week’s release of the IPCC Working Group I’s contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) prompted a moment of self-reflection for the climate community.

It reported incremental gains in the scientific community’s confidence in its findings, with a few important tweaks to past findings. For example, it is now extremely likely (rather than just very likely) that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century (see C2ES’s table of increasing certainty). The Working Group also significantly revised the upper bound of their sea level rise estimates (see Nature’s News Feature on this topic).

However, there is a feeling that we have reached a point of diminishing returns in our current lines of inquiry. As a recent Nature editorial pointed out, comprehensive assessments of climate science may no longer represent the best use of our resources; continued investment in the IPCC process as it stands may result in smaller policy-relevant returns over time. We should feel a great sense of achievement and satisfaction at having reached this point. However, we may also need to sit back in our chairs, grab some old-fashioned writing implements, and reframe our questions.

Read More

India’s Solar Mission is making good progress for solar PV but not for solar thermal

August 28, 2013 |

 

Gireesh Shrimali is an Assistant Professor of Energy Economics and Business at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Fellow at Climate Policy Initiative.

In 2010, India set an ambitious target to develop 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2022.

This target, implemented through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, called the Solar Mission hereafter, was to be achieved in three phases: Phase 1 by early 2013; Phase 2 by 2017; and Phase 3 by 2022. The Phase 1 was to be implemented in two batches: Batch 1 with capacity targets for solar PV and solar thermal; and Batch 2 with a capacity target for solar PV only.

As of June 2013, it appears that the Solar Mission has been moderately successful in deploying solar PV. Based on metrics developed in a recent paper with Vijay Nekkalapudi (submitted to Energy Policy), “How Effective Has India’s Solar Mission Been in Reaching Its Deployment Targets,” where we looked into the effectiveness of the Solar Mission in achieving its targets and offer suggestions for improving its design, the performance of the Solar Mission has been 8.4 on a 10 point scale.

Read More

China’s Path to Low-Carbon Development: A Q&A with Thomas C. Heller

August 14, 2013 |

 

This interview discussing the challenges China faces on its path to low-carbon development  and parallels with other countries’ experiences first appeared in Mandarin in the China Economic Times. In it, our executive director, Thomas C. Heller, references CPI’s recent publication The Policy Climate, which presents 30 years of climate and energy policy in China, Brazil, India, the EU, and the U.S..

Reporter: Why did you undertake this report and what was most surprising about your findings?

Heller: A lot of the attention to date has been on international climate negotiations, but actually, there’s more action at the national level. We wanted to examine climate and energy policies in key regions around the world, and share lessons about their experience. It was interesting to see how much nations had in common. All nations want green growth. And they face the same choices about how to get there. China has a very different governance and economic system from other countries, but like other countries, it faces the same decisions on how to balance national and regional policies, whether to use mandates or incentives, how to target large as well as small enterprises. Our report talks about some of these common challenges.

Read More

Land use policy in Brazil: A brief video overview

July 30, 2013 |

 

In this brief video, CPI senior analyst Clarissa Costalonga e Gandour discusses land use policy in Brazil in the context of deforestation, climate change, and economic growth.

Read More

Could one of the cheapest Concentrated Solar Power plants be a turning point for this technology?

July 2, 2013 |

 

Has Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) finally turned the corner, going from an emerging technology (albeit with 20 years of history) to an (almost) commercially-ready one?

Ouarzazate I CSP less expensive than average CSP plant

CPI recently published an update to an earlier report on a large-scale CSP plant to be built near the city of Ouarzazate in Morocco. CPI finds that the project has apparently broken two taboos with the successful completion of its financing: the widely held view that a large scale infrastructure project could not be financed within its planned budget, even more so in an emerging economy; and that technology costs for CSP could not come down from the USD 6000/KW mark where they have been stuck since the ‘90s.

Read More

Obama’s climate plan and what it means for states

June 28, 2013 |

 

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

In his climate speech this week, President Obama gave the go ahead for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop national greenhouse gas standards for both new and existing power plants — making carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act the primary action of his broader plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions.

Read More

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.

Read More