Farm Waste and Animal Fats Will Help Power a United Jet

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Sometime this summer, a United Airlines flight will take off from Los Angeles International Airport bound for San Francisco using fuel generated from farm waste and oils derived from animal fats.

Residential energy efficiency works. Don’t make a mountain out of the E2e molehill

Read the full post from ACEEE.

The Internet has been burning up these last two days with reactions to a new academic working paper (Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program) by researchers at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and the University of California, Berkeley, associated with the E2e Project.

Let me be blunt and to the point. The “results” of this very narrowly focused and arguably conceptually flawed study are being blown out of proportion, with many news article headlines taking this one example as representative of all residential energy efficiency programs. Unfortunately, this flawed conclusion has been promoted by the Energy Policy Institute themselves in their press release and accompanying policy brief.

For those not yet familiar with this story, the authors conducted a study of one particular low-income program (the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP), as implemented in portions of one state (Michigan), and somehow ended up with the sweeping headline “Study Finds Costs of Residential Energy Efficiency Investments are Double the Benefits.”

Some of the popular press is already picking up on this theme, and the concern is that a misunderstanding (or misuse) of this study will lead to low-income families having less access to important programs that drive down their utility bills. Or worse yet, as a broad-brush attack on all types of energy efficiency programs.

Evaluation wonks will be able to point to several minor to moderate problems with the study’s assumptions and calculations. But in the interest of time, let me focus on two fundamental flaws in the study and how the results are being “spun.”

DOE initiatives launch as part of Clean Energy Investment Summit

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

The Department of Energy has announced several new and expanding initiatives as part of the administration’s Clean Energy Investment Summit, including the launch of a Clean Energy Impact Investment Center, which will work to make the department’s resources more readily available to the public, including to mission-driven investors.

Unlocking fermentation secrets open the door to new biofuels

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have, for the first time, uncovered the complex interdependence and orchestration of metabolic reactions, gene regulation, and environmental cues of clostridial metabolism, providing new insights for advanced biofuel development…

“In this study, we developed an integrated computational framework for the analysis and exploitation of the solvent metabolism by C. acetobutylicum,” said Chen Liao, a bioengineering graduate student and first author of the paper, “Integrated, Systems Metabolic Picture of Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol Fermentation by Clostridium acetobutylicum,” appearing in this week’s Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

 

When convenience is the enemy of energy conservation

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Exciting new gadgets such as the Amazon Dash button highlights the role convenience plays in clinching customer loyalty. But there’s an unintended consequence related to convenience: overconsumption.

We know from Eco Pulse that convenience trumps the environment for many Americans, and although about 70 percent of Americans claim they’re searching for greener products, the story in our numbers is that most of them actually just want sustainability to be automatic. They’re essentially saying, “Just bake it into your products and services so I don’t have to think about it, and let me keep buying the stuff I want to buy anyway and just feel less guilty about it.”

Our counsel to many companies would be exactly that: give them what they want, bake it in and build your marketing messages around the fact that you’ve taken care of the environment on their behalf.

But that doesn’t work if we’re actually trying to get people to change their behaviors. In many cases, when we make sustainability automatic, we make conservation harder.

Everyone Benefits: Practices and Recommendations for Utility System Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Download the document.

This report details the wide range of benefits of energy efficiency to the electric utility system, including traditional avoided cost of energy as well as many other economic benefits. These benefits accrue to all utility customers, including those who have not participated in programs. The report also discusses the ways in which efficiency program administrators currently quantify these benefits. Many states lack coherent policy regarding which utility system benefits should be included in cost-effectiveness testing. As a result, utilities and jurisdictions omit relevant benefits, leaving cost-effective energy efficiency and significant cost savings on the table. Finally, the report reviews quantitative benefits of energy efficiency in integrated resource plans and makes recommendations for improving the analysis of utility system benefits in cost-effectiveness screening.

Calculating your renewable energy potential? There’s an app for that

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Businesses and individuals can make use of a free smartphone app to calculate the renewable energy generation potential of a given location.

The Global Atlas pocket was launched Tuesday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and is designed to allow renewable energy “prospectors” and investors to comprehensively research projects before making early investment decisions.

The app draws on data from 1,000 maps provided by 67 governments and 50 data centers, and is designed to provide detailed information on whether a region or site represents a good prospect for renewable energy generation.

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general, said the app will help make it is easier for renewable energy firms to identify viable projects, curbing some costs of development.