December 10, 2014

New Navigant report estimates distributed energy production to double globally by 2023

Navigant Research, a leading clean energy market research and consulting firm, has released a new report projecting that distributed generation will double in the next nine years. Distributed generation is the decentralized small-scale production of energy, most of which comes from rooftop solar panels. The energy can either be stored using batteries in the building itself or it can be connected and sold onto the grid. Distributed generation has the potential to completely upend the electricity market by inducing a utility death spiral. Corporate Knights contributor Stephen Lacey explained the death spiral phenomenon in detail last year, where potential new utility customers move off-grid using DG and force the utility to hike electricity rates. This increase, in turn, leads to more customers turning to DG. “Utilities in Western Europe are losing hundreds of billions of dollars in market capitalization as DG reaches higher levels of penetration in leading countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy,” said Dexter Gauntlett, a senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “The prospect of similar losses by utilities in the United States is prompting a struggle among utilities, the DG industry, and regulators over the future of DG models.”


Harper: “It would be crazy” to issue new regulations on Canadian oil and gas sector

Canadian Prime Minister made it clear that he will not be rolling out any new regulations on emissions from the oil and gas sector any time soon. In response to a question in Parliament, he stated that “it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector.” This statement runs counter to his 2007 pledge to issue sector-specific regulations and comes just one day after Environment Canada’s annual report forecast that Canada will miss its Copenhagen target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. The federal government’s position is that it will only regulate the sector after the U.S. does the same. This declaration of inaction was repeated by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq in a speech at the ongoing UN climate conference in Lima, Peru.

Four provincial governments represented at the conference yesterday decided to take unilateral action on climate change by signing an international agreement among sub-national governments to combat climate change. Environment ministers from British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, representing almost 80 per cent of Canada’s population, will join 16 sub-national governments in a new pilot program on emissions reporting and climate change action.


Bumblebees declared extinct 30 years ago take to U.K. skies again

U.K. researchers have been reintroducing the short-haired bumblebee to several conservation areas over the past three years, and so far the results look positive. The short-haired bumblebee was once common in Britain, but was last seen in 1986 and has since been declared extinct in the wild in the U.K. The species is being reintroduced into the areas of Romney Marsh and Dungeness using queen bees from Sweden.  Nearby farmers have been key to the project’s success by planting many hectares of wildflowers in order to ensure the bees have an excellent source of pollen to sustain them. The agri-environmental stewardship schemes run by Natural England under the EU Common Agricultural Policy provide incentives for farmers to improve the biodiversity of their land. For example, planting hedgerows or leaving wide margins around fields untended allows those areas to become havens for wildflowers, plants and insects. These, in turn, attract birds and small mammals, such as hedgehogs. Researchers and ecologists have had increasing success bringing attention to the mounting threats challenging pollinators across the globe. They consider projects like this to be essential to their long-term survival.


Helping cities with credit ratings can help to foster low-carbon progress

An op-ed by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg highlights the importance of obtaining enhanced credit ratings for cities in the fight against climate change. “Investing in modern, low-carbon infrastructure is one of the best ways to reduce emissions while also spurring economic growth,” he writes. “Such investments hold enormous benefits for urban residents and businesses, but local governments are often unable to make them because they lack access to the credit markets.” He points out that only four per cent of large cities in the developing world have internationally recognized credit ratings, which restricts their ability to invest in modern, low-carbon infrastructure, such as mass transit. For example, just $750,000 in technical assistance provided by the World Bank allowed the Peruvian city of Lima to raise $130 million in capital markets.


Copenhagen leads the way on smart city innovation

The Danish capital of Copenhagen has been busy installing sensors throughout the city to help spur fossil fuel reductions, cost savings and develop a more integrated transportation system. It is deploying these technologies as it works towards meeting its ambitious goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Cities around the world have launched hundreds of similar pilot projects in recent years, working with companies like Cisco, IBM and Phillips to install sensors, networking platforms, software and services for critical infrastructure in cities. While no city has yet to create a fully integrated network, the momentum is building.

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