Some nuclear plants consistently in the red in competitive wholesale markets have driven some to call for re-regulation and the abandonment of a free market approach. With an aging nuclear fleet, policymakers will inevitably face decisions about how long to support existing plants and how to avoid capacity shortfalls when shutting them down at the ends of their lives.
The Fletcher Forum interviewed Mr. Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation (a San Francisco-based energy and environmental policy firm) at the 2017 Tufts Energy Conference, where he discussed energy R&D, the political landscape for energy technologies, energy infrastructure challenges, and financial opportunities for energy innovation.
For years, many debates on the future of the electricity system centered on getting the balance right between higher costs and lower environmental impacts. But the economics of the renewable energy transition are rapidly shifting. It’s looking like we may not have to choose between affordability and environmental impact – a cleaner, cheaper grid may be within reach.
Back in January, I suggested 2016 was the year for wholesale power market reform. So, was it? OK, of course shifts in these kinds of institutions take longer than one year, but 2016 has seen real progress and there’s a good chance it will continue in 2017 and beyond. The electricity mix continues to churn. During this period of transition, it is particularly important for policymakers to pay close attention to proposed changes in wholesale power markets.
America’s post-election recalibration is nowhere as poignant, and consequential, as on climate change: If we lose the next four or eight years without serious action, the inexorable mathematics of carbon accumulation push a safe climate future far from reach. Fortunately, while President-Elect Trump may try reversing climate policy, other forces are reducing emissions without pause. Technology, economics, and state policy, will increasingly force fossil fuels to remain where they belong: in the ground.
Lower costs, enhanced capabilities, and an abundance of resources have set the United States and much of the world on track to increase renewable energy deployment and decrease carbon emissions from the energy sector. Still, the question of whether the U.S. can reliably and affordably integrate large amounts of wind and solar confronts policymakers – so we’re giving you four reasons 30% wind and solar is technically no big deal.
With future federal clean energy policies in doubt, proactive clean energy policy will likely be left largely to states in the next few years. Fortunately, a New York policy proposal could show the way forward on energy efficiency for utilities. An outcome-oriented metric would focus on the policy goal of reduced energy use overall, putting a smaller emphasis on the administratively intensive business of attributing savings to specific actions.
Mexico was the first developing country to release its post-2020 national climate action plan, committing to reduce its emissions 22 percent by 2030 or up to 36 percent under certain conditions . New WRI analysis finds that it’s not only possible for Mexico to meet these goals, it’s economically beneficial—reducing emissions by 22 percent would save the country $26 billion between 2017 and 2030.
Hal Harvey, who has a long history working in both the U.S. and China, feels that the two countries have an unwritten pact and historic opportunity to work together and lead on environmental issues. The Paulson Institute asked Harvey where he gets his optimism, what the United States and China can learn from each other when it comes to reducing energy use and emissions, and what he’s learned from being a juror for the Paulson Prize since 2013.
Land-constrained Northeastern states looking to decarbonize their electricity systems and maintain affordable, reliable electricity service have renewed interest in an old resource – imported Canadian hydroelectricity. Several projects underway across America, including a successful Minnesota model, show the Northeast how to overcome traditional siting challenges to access Canadian hydro.