IMF Reports Global Energy Subsidies are Unmanageable, Inefficient and Reinforce Inequality

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged policymakers the world over to reform subsidies for products from coal to gasoline, arguing that this could translate into major gains both for economic growth and the environment.

Image Source:  http://bit.ly/1LO0yQb

Source: www.imf.org

>” […] In a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., marking the release of the paper, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton noted that “subsidy reform can lead to a more efficient allocation of resources, which will help spur higher economic growth over the longer term.” Removing energy subsidies can also strengthen incentives for “research and development in energy-saving and alternative technologies,” he said. He also noted that, while intended to benefit consumers, subsidies are often inefficient and “could be replaced with better means of protecting the most vulnerable parts of the population.”

“The paper shows that for some countries the fiscal weight of energy subsidies is growing so large that budget deficits are becoming unmanageable and threaten the stability of the economy,” Mr. Lipton said, adding that IMF research shows that 20 countries maintain pre-tax energy subsidies that exceed 5 percent of GDP. For other emerging and developing countries, he said, the share of the scarce government resources spent on subsidies remains “a stumbling block” to higher growth and fundamentally impairs their future. “Because of low prices, there is little investment in much-needed infrastructure. More is spent on subsidies than on public health and education, undermining the development of human capital.”

Energy subsidies also reinforce inequality because they mostly benefit upper-income groups, which are the biggest consumers of energy. “On average, the richest 20 percent of households in low- and middle-income countries capture 43 percent of fuel subsidies,” said Mr. Lipton.

At the same time, Mr. Lipton warned that an increase in prices which can result from subsidy reform can have a significant impact on the poor and that “mitigating measures to protect them as subsidy reform is implemented” must be an integral part of any successful and equitable reform program.

In addition, Mr. Lipton noted that “subsidies aggravate climate change and worsen local pollution and congestion.” The study finds that eliminating pre-tax subsidies would reduce global CO2 emissions by about 1-2 percent which would, by itself, represent “a significant first step in reducing emissions by delivering about 15-30 percent of the Copenhagen Accord’s goal.” As for advanced economies, he noted that subsidies most often take the form of taxes that are too low to capture the true costs to society of energy use (“tax subsidies”), including pollution and road congestion. “Eliminating energy tax subsidies would deliver even more significant emissions reductions said Mr. Lipton, reducing “CO2 emissions by 4.5 billion tons, a 13 percent reduction.” […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Advertisements

California Resort Hotel First to Upgrade to Energy Storage + EV Charging

Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, California, is a luxury establishment with an energy storage system and fast DC electric vehicle (EV) charging — reportedly, the first one in the US to have this setup. It is expected that the lithium-ion energy storage system will help it reduce electricity demand charges by 50%. Over time, that savings

Source: cleantechnica.com

>” […]  So what is the connection between energy storage and EV charging? When an EV is plugged into a charger, electricity demand increases, so the hotel could be on the hook for a high rate for the electricity, depending on the time of day. Demand charges are based on the highest rate for 15 minutes in a billing cycle. So, obviously, a business would want to avoid spikes in electricity usage so it would not have to pay that rate.

That’s where the energy storage comes in. When there is a spike, electricity can be used from the energy storage system, instead of from a utility’s electricity. Avoiding demand charges in this way, as noted above, can thus help businesses save money. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Heating and Cooling of Buildings EU Energy Debate

The significance of heating and cooling technologies for Europe was again underlined at a major conference on district energy in Brussels. Miquel Arias Caňete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, was among a number of speakers who addressed the Heating and Cooling in the European Energy Transition Conference last week. Nearly half of Europe’s energy consumption flows into the heating of buildings and industrial processes. Some 15% of this energy is coming from renewables, suc

Source: www.cospp.com

>”[…]

Nearly half of Europe’s energy consumption flows into the heating of buildings and industrial processes. Some 15% of this energy is coming from renewables, such as biomass and solar panels. Around 1 billion Euro per day is needed to pay for fuel imports.

In his opening address, Caňete stressed that heating and cooling is a sector that deserves maximum attention because of its high share in using fossil energy. He referred to the sector as “the missing piece in the energy and emissions debate”.

A large proportion of buildings have poor energy performance and without specific action, he said it will be a long time before the situation improves. In industry, he advocated more synergy is needed between industry and the heating of buildings with waste energy.

“Next to that, electricity and heat supply has to be integrated. In times of excess renewable electricity, it should be used for heating purposes. This is especially the case since heat use in the EU is energy wise about 2.5 times higher than electricity use.  Under European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), some €38 billion has now been allocated by Member States for energy efficiency, local renewable energy and local transport.”

Pieter Liese, MEP, said that a EUR1bn payment for energy per day is sent from the EU to countries with a doubtful regime such as Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. He pleaded for a common European policy and approach. He stated that although politicians like to talk about electricity, it is clear that improving heating and cooling processes is a more sensible subject.

According to Ulrich Schmidt, chairman of the European Heating Industry, 75% of Europe’s housing stock are energy inefficient and 65% of gas boilers are old and inefficient while 40 % of homes date back to before 1960.

“Owners of existing equipment are reluctant to replace their appliances since the pay-back time from the benefit of less fuel consumption is too long. Moreover, old-fashioned boilers are considered by consumers to be more reliable than modern ones.”

Ligia Noronha, Director of Technology, Industry and Economics, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), stated that energy efficiency is a key component of the EU energy transition. She highlighted the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative. It is an analysis of 45 leading cities. District heating is seen as a major instrument in improving energy utilisation. By 2050, Europe could meet 50% of its heat demand via district heating.

John Dulac from the IEA said that as much heat is thrown away by inefficient processes as what is needed in the EU.

“‘SILO’ thinking is the big problem. The share of cogeneration in electricity production has to increase drastically. Moreover, electricity production and heat/chill production have to be integrated. “

Paul Voss, Managing Director of Euroheat & Power, warned that if the EU failed to integrate its heating and cooling potential and the current trend in emissions reduction continues, only 60% of the overall reduction target will be reached by 2050.

Three workshops were also part of the itinerary of the day, with Professor Hans-Martin Henning, Deputy Director for solar energy systems at the Fraunhofer Institute outlining a vision for the sector for 2050.

He said heat demand in buildings can be reduced from 30% to 50% by 2050 and added that solar thermal heating, biomass and CHP can play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions of buildings.

Henning also showed the audience how storing energy as heat is much cheaper than other ways of storing energy.

“Germany needs 700 GWh of heat storage, 60 GWh of pumped hydro and 24 GWh of batteries. CHP has excellent possibilities of storing heat and is very suitable for balancing renewable electricity,” he said.

“<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Bio-Gas Waste Treatment System Installs Remote Fuel Station for Fleet

MADISON, WI–(Marketwired – Mar 3, 2015) – BioCNG, LLC announced that the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District’s BioCNG Vehicle Fuel Project, which was fully commissioned in 2012, will be expanded to include an additional BioCNG system and a remote CNG fueling station. BioCNG, which partnered with the District…

Source: www.marketwired.com

>”[…]

The expansion is part of a contract between St. Landry Solid Waste and Progressive Waste Systems. In exchange for continuation of its existing waste hauling contract with the District, Progressive Waste has agreed to purchase new CNG-powered trucks, and will have access to the increased BioCNG generated from the expanded system. The expanded project will also provide BioCNG fuel to additional St. Landry Parish clients.

St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District executive director Katry Martin, said, “The fact that the hauler that delivers waste to the Parish landfill will fuel its trucks with the biogas generated from the landfill is a true example of the power of renewable energy sources and a preview of the future of biogas.”

The St. Landry Parish BioCNG Vehicle Fuel Project received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) 2012 Project of the Year award. The system was originally designed to serve public works trucks and the sheriffs’ vehicle fleet. Now, with a new fuel purchaser, the District will increase on-site BioCNG production and provide an off-site CNG fueling station. The District can transport the BioCNG to the off-site location in a compressed gas tube trailer. […]”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Vancouver Gas Prices are Highest in North America

Vancouver gas prices topped $1.30 per litre Tuesday, more than $0.15 higher than next most expensive city.

Source: bc.ctvnews.ca

>” […]

After dipping below a dollar per litre earlier this year, gas prices in Vancouver are now the highest in North America.

Fuel costs tipped the scales at more than $1.30 per litre Tuesday morning, nearly 16 cents per litre higher than Quebec City, the second-most expensive Canadian city for gas, according to GasBuddy.com.

Since then, a shortage of gasoline coupled with higher demand has contributed to the spike.

Last month, an Exxon Mobile oil refinery in California exploded, while Shell’s Puget Sound refinery in Washington State went down for maintenance.

Experts say brutal winter weather has also increased demand for gasoline in eastern Canada and the U.S.

CTV News spoke with some Vancouver drivers who say they’re exhausted from the up-and-down costs.

“We pay the most for gas, we pay the most for houses, we pay the most taxes. What’s up?” asked Jeremy Wilson. “I pity the people in the Mercedes and the Beamers, how can they afford it?”

Josh Sharber, who uses his truck for work, said it now costs him around $130 to fill up his tank.

“I basically work two days a week just to keep my truck running,” he said. “It’s pretty much all you can do. No gas, can’t get to work.”

Elsewhere in the Lower Mainland Tuesday, gas prices in Abbotsford topped $1.19 per litre, while Chilliwack, where prices are traditionally low, hovered around $1.21 per litre.

That’s still higher than other major North American cities, including Toronto ($1.07 per litre), Los Angeles ($0.93 USD per litre) and Edmonton ($0.91 per litre).”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Potential of liquefied natural gas use as a railroad fuel

Source: www.eia.gov

>” […]  Continued growth in domestic natural gas production, along with substantially lower natural gas spot prices compared to crude oil, is reshaping the U.S. energy economy and attracting considerable interest in the potential for fueling freight locomotives with liquefied natural gas (LNG). While there is significant appeal for major U.S. railroads to use LNG as a fuel for locomotives because of its potentially favorable economics compared with diesel fuel, there are also key uncertainties as to whether, and to what extent, the railroads can take advantage of this relatively cheap and abundant fuel.

Freight railroads and the basic economics of fuel choice  Major U.S. railroads, known commonly as Class 1 railroads, are defined as line-haul freight railroads with certain minimum annual operating revenue. Currently, that classification is based on 2011 operating revenue of $433.2 million or more [1]. While there are 561 freight railroads operating in the United States, only seven are defined as Class 1 railroads. The Class 1 railroads account for 94% of total freight rail revenue [2]. They haul large amounts of tonnage over long distances, and in the process they consume significant quantities of diesel fuel. In 2012, the seven Class 1 railroads consumed more than 3.6 billion gallons (gal) of diesel fuel [3], amounting to 10 million gal/day and representing 7% of all diesel fuel consumed in the United States. […]

The large differential between crude oil and natural gas commodity prices translates directly into a significant disparity between projected LNG and diesel fuel prices, even after accounting for natural gas liquefaction costs that exceed refining costs. […]

Given the difference between LNG and diesel fuel prices in the Reference case, railroads that switch locomotive fuels could accrue significant fuel cost savings. Locomotives are used intensively, consume large amounts of fuel, and are kept in service for relatively long periods of time. The net present value of future fuel savings across the Reference case projection for an LNG locomotive compared to a diesel counterpart is well above the roughly $1 million higher cost of the LNG locomotive and tender (Figure IF3-3).  […]

Relatively large changes in assumptions used to evaluate investments in LNG locomotives (such as a significantly shorter payback period or much higher discount rate) or in fuel prices would be required to change LNG fuel economics for railroad use from favorable to unfavorable. […] “<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Cove Point LNG Project Obtains Federal Approval and Opposition

Initially, Cove Point helped the United States overcome what was then an energy shortage. Now that our nation is developing a burgeoning surplus of natural gas, Cove Point can help send a small portion of that surplus to allied nation’s looking for stable supplies of clean energy, supporting economic development and replacing coal as a fuel.

Source: www.fierceenergy.com

>” […] The project offers significant economic, environmental and geopolitical benefits. The construction of the approximately $3.8 billion export project will create thousands of skilled construction jobs, an additional $40 million in annual tax revenue to Calvert County, and millions of dollars in new revenues for Maryland and the federal government, as well as a reduction in the nation’s trade deficit by billions of dollars annually.

Dominion’s project has faced and will continue to face significant and widespread grassroots opposition. Despite these benefits, environmental and community groups are denouncing FERC’s approval of the controversial project, claiming that the facility will incentivize environmental damage from fracking across the mid-Atlantic region and, according to federal data, would likely contribute more to global warming over the next two decades than if Asian countries burned their own coal.

Environmental groups, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club are poised to petition FERC and potentially to sue the agency to challenge on the basis of an inadequate environmental review. These groups are assessing the issue upon which to file a motion for a rehearing, which needs to occur before an appeal can happen.

The groups claim that in its Environmental Assessment, which was limited at best, FERC omitted credible analysis of the project’s lifecycle global warming pollution, including all the pollution associated with driving demand for upstream fracking and fracked gas infrastructure.

The Dominion Cove Point project would be the first LNG export facility to be sited so close to a residential area and in such close proximity to Marcellus Shale fracking operations, and could trigger more global warming pollution than all seven of Maryland’s existing coal-fired power plants combined, the groups contend.

“FERC’s decision to approve Cove Point is the result of a biased review process rigged in favor of approving gas industry projects no matter how great the environmental and safety concerns,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, in a statement. “FERC refused to even require an environmental impact statement for this $3.8 billion facility right on the Bay. We intend to challenge this ruling all the way to court if necessary…we will continue to fight this project until it is stopped.”

Dominion must now review and accept the order. Upon completion, Dominion will file an implementation plan describing how it plans to comply with the conditions set forth in the order. Dominion expects to ask the FERC for a “Notice to Proceed” at that time and plans to begin construction when the notice is received. This process – from Dominion review through FERC’s notice – is expected to take several weeks.

Cove Point is the fourth liquefied natural gas export project to receive approval to site, construct and operate and is the first LNG export project on the East Coast. “<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Microgrid Integration with Public Transportation

Superstorm Sandy crippled much of New Jersey’s critical infrastructure two years ago. Stuck without power at home, many also couldn’t get to work because the operations center for New Jersey Transit flooded, damaging backup power systems, emergency generation, and the computers that control train operations.

Source: theenergycollective.com

>” […] After a highly competitive grant process, NJ Transit last week received $1.3 billion in federal funds to improve the resilience of the state’s transportation system in the event of devastating future storms. The funds include $410 million to develop the NJ TransitGrid into a first-of-its-kind microgrid capable of keeping the power running when the electric grid goes down.

Microgrids are different from traditional electric grids in that they generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed. They can connect to the larger grid or island themselves and operate independently.

The NJ TransitGrid will not only generate power on-site but will incorporate a range of clean energy technologies such as renewable energy, energy storage, and distributed generation. This microgrid will also allow NJ Transit and Amtrak trains running on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest train line, to keep operating during an outage.

Environmental Defense Fund joined state and federal stakeholders, such as New Jersey Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding and the U.S. Department of Energy, in the early stages of NJ TransitGrid planning. EDF also wrote a letter in support of New Jersey’s application for the funds from the Federal Transit Administration.

The $1.3 billion in total federal funds received by NJ Transit will go toward a range of resiliency and restoration projects across the system, including flood protection, drawbridge replacement, train storage and service restoration, and making train controls more resilient. These funds will also be used to fortify critical Amtrak substations.

Serving almost 900,000 passengers daily, NJ Transit is the third largest transit system in the country connecting travelers to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. An independent microgrid for NJ Transit will prepare the state for future extreme weather events, which are happening more frequently due to climate change. Furthermore, the use of clean energy resources will make this microgrid a less polluting and more efficient operation for New Jersey’s day-to-day needs.”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Liquid Air Proposed as Clean Fuel Replacement for Diesel Vehicles

Liquid air could potentially be a source of clean vehicle power for commercial trucks in the UK by 2020, according to a report by the Liquid Air Energy Network.   Source: www.environmentalleader.com >”The report projects that a liquid-air powered British fleet of 36,000 vehicles by 2025 could save more than 1 billion liters of diesel fuel, 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (well-to-wheel), and a net of £113 million ($193 million) in investment costs. […] Although liquid air is not currently in mass production, liquid nitrogen, which has similar properties, could easily be used as a temporary substitute for early liquid air vehicles while waiting for production of liquid air to ramp up to projected demand levels. Although several engine concepts in this area are being developed, report authors decided to focus on the two closest to commercial deployment: the zero-emissions “power and cooling” engine for truck and trailer refrigeration, and the diesel-liquid air “heat hybrid” engine for buses, delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles. The Dearman Engine Company is developing both applications, and its refrigeration engine begins on-vehicle testing this year and is scheduled for commercial production in 2016. According to the report, liquid air is now being recognized as a potentially powerful new energy source, and the concept has received approximately £20 million ($34 million) in government grants, including £9 million ($15.4 million) to develop liquid air energy storage for storing grid electricity, £6 million ($10 million) for a new Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage at Birmingham University and £5 million ($8.5 million) to develop liquid air vehicle engines.”<   See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Province Calls for Renewable Energy Storage Systems Demonstration Projects

Most of the new systems will be able to turn on a dime, storing and releasing energy almost instantaneously to help balance out the supply and demand over the course of a day

Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

>”Ontario has embarked on a quest to find the holy grail of renewable energy – an effective means to store the power generated by intermittent wind and solar installations.

The province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently chose five companies who will build a dozen demonstration projects designed to capture and release energy. That would allow the electricity grid to react to fluctuations in power production, which are becoming more significant with the addition of renewables whose output varies depending on how the wind blows and sun shines.

[…]

The technologies that will be tested include advanced batteries, systems that store power in the form of hydrogen, and even flywheels that hold energy as kinetic energy in a spinning rotor.

Bruce Campbell, president of the IESO, called storage facilities a “game changer” for a grid that was designed to produce electricity at exactly the same time it is consumed. “Energy storage projects will provide more flexibility and offer more options to manage the system efficiently,” he said.

The test projects will be distributed at various locations around the province, and will be connected to different parts of the grid to see how effectively they can help balance supply, demand and other transmission issues.

Among the suppliers are Hydrogenics Corp., which will test a hydrogen storage system, and Hecate Energy and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., which will use various battery technologies. Convergent Energy and Power LLC will test a flywheel that converts electricity to kinetic energy stored in a rotor. Dimplex North America Ltd. will install thermal systems in apartments in Hamilton, Ont., that store electricity as heat in special bricks, releasing it later when the building needs to be warmed.

Rob Harvey, director of energy storage at Hydrogenics, said his company’s test system will incorporate an advanced electrolysis system that uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. That hydrogen can then be used in a fuel cell to generate electricity when needed. Coupling the fuel cell and the electrolyser means power can be effectively stored for any length of time and dispatched as needed.

If the tests are successful, Mr. Harvey said, this could be a significant new line of business for Hydrogenics, which now makes hydrogen-producing systems for industrial customers, as well as fuel cells, which are essentially engines that use hydrogen as fuel.”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development