This page provides a list publications that have been written by or in collaboration with Energy Innovation staff. We provide a brief description of each entry to help you navigate to the publications that are of interest to you.
Filter by Program Area
The prospect of large grid modernization investment triggers a key question – is it worth it? As different states consider upfront investments in modernizing the grid, regulators need ways to ensure utilities maximize the potential benefits of grid modernization in a timely fashion. This white paper provides program design considerations and metrics that can guide utility investment and increase the chances that customers get the most out of grid modernization efforts.
Paris marked an unprecedented political commitment to reduce the threat of climate change. Marrakesh is the moment to move from what we must do to how we will do it. This collection of resources includes reports on how to design and implement policies to meet the world’s climate goals, as well as design guides for four of the world’s top energy policies: 1) carbon pricing, 2) vehicle performance standards, 3) vehicle and fuel fees and feebates, and 4) urban mobility policies. More of these policy-specific guides are coming soon.
How can Mexico achieve its climate targets and work toward the Paris Agreement goals? This working paper addresses this question by identifying and evaluating the key climate and energy policy options available to Mexico to support the implementation of its INDC. The analysis shows that Mexico can meet its unconditional and conditional targets while at the same time saving money and lives.
Urban Sustainability Planning for Mexico City offers recommendations for the City’s new Urban Development General Plan. Energy Innovation joined the government of Mexico City, colleagues from the Mario Molina Center for Energy and the Environment, and other Mexico City-based experts for this project, which draws on the framework developed in 12 Green Guidelines.
This report provides insight into which climate and energy policies can most cost-effectively drive down China’s emissions. The report’s recommendations are based on results from the Energy Policy Simulator (EPS), which assesses the combined effects of 35 climate, energy, and environmental policies on a variety of metrics.
This paper synthesizes the reasons for California’s successful climate policy. It considers the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of policy, concluding that performance standards have led in reducing statewide emissions. Market failures beyond the lack of a price on carbon mean the best policy approach combines the three types of policy: performance standards, economic signals, and research and development (R&D).
This paper explores which regulatory models align utility profit with societal value under scenarios in which traditional, utility-owned solutions may not be optimal for customers. The cases in this paper offer insight into whether and how cost-of-service regulation and its alternatives (performance incentive mechanisms and revenue caps) can align utility shareholder values with societal values.
The grid will require a substantial transformation as more renewable sources come online. Some critics argue technological, financial, and institutional barriers will prevent significant decarbonization of the power sector, but four common clean energy myths are easily debunked by facts and real-world experiences showing the feasibility of a low-carbon energy future.
The climate problem is enormous: It threatens much of modern civilization, and its principal source, in burning hydrocarbons, is embedded in most of the modern economy. But a handful of insights, grounded in careful math, can clarify the situation, and point out a straightforward path to a reasonable climate future. This paper cuts through the clutter, and points to a reasonable, cost-effective solution to climate change, with clear steps to get there.
Performance-based regulation shifts utility focus away from capital investment and sales volume, putting focus instead on delivering value for customers—in the form of an affordable, reliable, and clean power system. Performance-based regulation has been gaining momentum in several states. To support those states and others considering this regulatory change, we have produced several papers and briefs that offer perspective on more of the details of performance-based regulation.
This white paper is the first in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper examines a straw proposal for a new performance incentive to motivate utilities to reduce peak demand–a driver of investment in the electricity system–improving the affordability and environmental performance of the electricity system.
This white paper is the second in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper explores different approaches to simplify the measurement of energy efficiency savings to better align utility incentives with efficiency outcomes. These metrics can be helpful for many states where utility revenue is linked to energy efficiency, but their programs are bogged down in tedious and controversial evaluation, measurement, and verification requirements.
This white paper is the first in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper examines California’s Risk-Reward Incentive Mechanism (RRIM) as a case study to show that, while counterfactuals may be appropriate as an adjustment mechanism, they can also lead to unfair outcomes and unnecessary regulatory conflict.
An abundance of new technologies are now available to produce cleaner, cheaper electricity. But in order to take advantage of them, system operators must build a flexible electricity grid. This paper reviews the types of resources that can deliver grid flexibility and provides case studies and recommendations for how to incorporate flexibility into grid systems.
This chapter in Future of Utilities – Utilities of the Future explores the nature of the customer-grid interface from the point of view of the customer. Customers are reconsidering the compromises they make given their new options for distributed energy services. This chapter exposes the underlying nature of the transactions happening at the customer/grid interface. The chapter uses analogies from the commerce and finance world to describe the currency-like features of electricity, and proposes ways of integrating new transactions into a future “fractal” grid.
Even the most well-intentioned energy policies will not meet their desired goals if they aren’t designed and implemented correctly. A handful of design principles, when properly applied, make for highly effective policies. This paper, an update from the original “Policies That Work” report, describes how to determine the right goals, choose the right policy approaches, and design and implement the specific policies to meet these goals.
Negotiations by the world leaders at the COP21 summit should be guided by California’s experience. California’s climate efforts stem largely from its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and then decrease emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This paper describes how performance standards and carbon pricing mechanisms have helped the state reduce emissions and increase renewable energy while creating economic growth, putting the state well on its way to achieving its emissions goals.
Over the past several years, the world has witnessed an upward trend in climate and clean energy investment. This has helped drive down costs of innovative low-carbon technologies, which has enabled their incredible market growth. In many situations, renewable energy sources, such as wind and utility-scale solar, are now cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuel sources. The following factsheet highlights the most current data on global investment in low-carbon technologies.
California can accomplish its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 with proper attention to smart growth. By emphasizing better land use patterns, and supporting better transit and more walkable neighborhoods, carbon reductions of this magnitude are not just technically feasible, but would also save billions of dollars on infrastructure, fuel, and health costs while empowering economic growth and helping counter income inequality.
This paper presents case studies about performance management in publicly-owned utilities, drawing out concrete steps that can support municipal utilities, public utility districts, and cooperatives to adapt to changing technology and market trends. These steps – which involve taking “no regrets” actions, exploring evolutions in government, and considering more drastic action if performance lags – can enable POUs to deliver greater value to their customers.
CDBC’s Green and Smart Urban Development Guidelines highlight the key design features that make for a healthy, prosperous, and vibrant city. Energy Innovation, in partnership with China Development Bank Capital (CDBC) and Energy Foundation, developed these guidelines to provide a foundation for sustainable urban growth in China. The Guidelines include a variety of materials: 12 Green Guidelines, Six Smart Guidelines, and two comprehensive case studies exemplifying these sustainable urban design features in the real world.
12 Green Guidelines lays out a dozen key features that constitute sustainable cities. These guidelines fall into three key categories: urban form, transportation, and energy and resources. These guidelines are beneficial, measurable, and practical, and they concisely describe the foundations of sustainable urban development. This report defines each of these guidelines; provides a rationale; explains the key economic, environmental, and social benefits; provides a brief case study; and lists key best practices for optimal implementation.
Six Smart Guidelines highlights a series of smart technologies that cities can use to improve livability and comfort, as well as advance sustainable urban development. When done in addition to the 12 Green Guidelines, smart technologies can capture additional economic, environmental, and social benefits. The Smart Guidelines fall into six key categories: smart telecommunications, smart mobility, smart energy management, smart governance, smart public services, and smart safety.
The Pearl District in Portland, Oregon is a model for why CDBC’s Green and Smart Urban Development Guidelines are key to economically prosperous and sustainable urban development. The Pearl District is a world-renowned urban redevelopment project. This case study reveals the regulatory, technical, and financial elements that bolster the guidelines.
This case study provides a comprehensive look at the sustainable urban development process of Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm. The study is organized around each of the Green Guidelines and expands on the goals, processes, and mechanisms that made Hammarby Sjöstad a sustainable and economically prosperous urban development.
In October 2015, Energy Innovation launched Energy Policy Solutions, an assessment of climate and energy policies to help meet decarbonization goals. We created a computer model, the Energy Policy Simulator, to quantitatively measure the cost and emissions impacts of more than 50 policies across all economic sectors. This page summarizes key findings from our model analysis, including recommended policy packages for meeting the U.S. 2025 emissions target and the Clean Power Plan target.
Energy Innovation’s Policy Solutions, based on transparent data and objective analysis, provide a roadmap to a clean energy future for America. Policy Solutions is a coherent set of the most cost-effective set of 15 policies to achieve the United States’ emissions reductions goals, and save hundreds of billions of dollars between 2016 and 2030.
Discover the most effective policies to decarbonize America’s economy at the lowest cost. The Energy Policy Simulator was designed to empower decision makers to find the best course toward a low-carbon U.S. economy. The Energy Policy Simulator works in real-time to measure the cost and emissions impacts of more than 50 climate and energy policies.
Energy Innovation identified a cost-effective package of six policies that the U.S. could use to meet the Clean Power Plan at a national average scale. This scenario actually exceeds the emissions goals in later years, as policies designed to meet earlier targets continue to reap benefits in later years, and saves the U.S. more than $40 billion between 2016 and 2030.
It pays to adopt smart energy policy sooner rather than later. If policymakers wait just four years (until 2020) to take action and want to achieve the same emissions reductions by 2030, they risk nearly $400 billion in additional costs. Policy implementation should start early to take advantage of natural capital stock turnover and the increased productivity of an efficient system.
This paper, an addendum to An Adaptive Approach to System Optimization, presents a series of case studies on the various ways to integrate cost-effective distributed technologies that have run into outdated regulatory models. It identifies strengths and weaknesses associated with utility-owned and operated DERs, third-party-operated DERs, and customer-operated DERs.
California can accomplish its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 with proper attention to Smart Growth. By emphasizing better land use patterns, and supporting better transit and more walkable neighborhoods, carbon reductions of this magnitude are not just technically feasible, but would also save billions of dollars on infrastructure, fuel, and health costs while empowering economic growth and helping counter income inequality.
A Model of Energy Policy Impacts on Pollutant Emissions, Costs, and Social Benefits Developed for China's Central Government
This paper describes Energy Innovation’s Energy Policy Simulator, a system dynamics model that assists in selecting policies that will allow China to achieve its emissions reduction goals. The model’s results find that China can peak its carbon emissions before its target year of 2030, and this is done most cost-effectively via a package of policies supporting a diverse set of technologies.
This paper corrects two widely held notions in the regulatory community: that the utility’s rate of return is the sole value driver for utility shareholders and that rates of return are set at the cost of equity. Instead, the financial “value engine”—the difference between a utility’s return on investment and its cost of capital—drives shareholder returns. Regulators should use this value engine to align utilities’ financial motivations with delivering value to customers and society.
This document represents key insights developed at the Restoring Blue Skies Air Quality Workshop held in Beijing on September 17-18, 2014 co-organized by the Paulson Institute, Energy Foundation, Energy Innovation and Chinese partners. Participants included 80 leaders from 42 Chinese and international organizations.
This report synthesizes data gathered during a literature review of studies that quantify the economic, environmental, and social impacts associated with urban development. It concludes that compact, walkable, and transit-oriented development creates sustainable, healthy, and economically vibrant cities. The elements of urban design necessary for sustainable development are characterized by The 8 Principles, which are originally defined in Planning Cities for People.
During his recent inaugural address in early 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown announced a set of clean energy and climate goals to be met by 2030. For the last several months, Energy Innovation has engaged in policy analysis to produce three papers that provide guidance on how to achieve these goals.
Energy Innovation’s new report on California climate policy argues the state should adopt an ambitious 2030 target of 40% below the 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions, and describes a method for how to get there. This strong yet achievable goal would get California halfway to its 2050 target in one-third of the time and help the state maintain its clean energy leadership at a time of unprecedented global commitments to fight climate change.
This paper recommends policy initiatives that California can take to enhance its current renewable energy supply and energy efficiency programs. Recommendations include expansion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, a carbon standard to decarbonize the electricity supply, and a new energy efficiency performance incentive for utilities.
This policy brief highlights the top policies that will enable California to meet its renewable energy, energy efficiency, and transportation fuel use targets in 2030. Policy recommendations in the brief pertain to the state's cap-and-trade program, electricity sector, transportation sector, and methane sources. Energy Innovation has produced more detailed papers on policy recommendations for California's electricity sector and its cap-and-trade program.
This paper, a submission for the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) 51st State Challenge, synthesizes current thinking on system optimization by returning to first principles of rate design and market structure. By starting from first principles, the recommendations can be widely applied across jurisdictions with different market structures, resources, and demographics, including but not limited to a hypothetical 51st State.
This report, written for the Major Economies Forum, describes the power sector transformation underway across the globe. The transformation will undoubtedly look different around the world, but this paper posits five potential pathways to a dramatically-improved power system. Policymakers can use these pathways to proactively guide the sector’s transformation. A 2-page report summary can be found here.
This report profiles three communities (Hammarby in Stockholm, Sweden; Vauban in Freiburg, Germany; and Liuyun Xiaoqu in Guangzhou, China) that encompass characteristics of smart urban form and transportation systems. It highlights the environmental, economic, and social benefits that these communities gain by following The 8 Principles of smart urban form.
This report compiles the research from a number of studies and organizes their findings based on The 8 Principles, introduced in Planning Cities for People. The report focuses on the quantifiable economic, environmental, and social impacts of sustainable urban form and transportation in cities, with an emphasis on studies based in China. The literature review finds that urban design in accordance with The 8 Principles leads to high-quality, low-carbon cities that are characterized by people-friendly street networks, compact and mixed-use neighborhoods, and transit-oriented development.
Electric utilities have great potential to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant throughout the power sector’s imminent transformation. A confluence of factors – new and cheap technologies, declining electricity demand, and increased action against climate change – are driving this change. To account for these factors, utilities must evolve from electron suppliers to system optimizers, and they ought to be rewarded based on performance rather than sales.
This study analyzes the level of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that are attributable to electricity generated by natural gas verses coal. It considers carbon dioxide and methane emissions that are released during the production and combustion of coal and natural gas. The study, published in Electricity Journal, concludes that methane emissions, at certain leakage rates, could actually cause electricity generated from natural gas to contribute to higher GHG emissions in the near to mid-term, compared to electricity generated from coal. Energy Innovation has also released an issue brief that summarizes this research.
This paper explores the science of measuring methane emissions and calls on the EPA to improve its approach to estimating methane emissions. New research concludes that methane emissions are significantly undercounted by the EPA Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. Uncertainty remains about the sources of this “missing,” methane, but there are strong indications that at least some of it is coming from the natural gas system. Better data on methane emissions is needed to guide climate policy and more efficiently regulate the natural gas industry.
This report discusses the future for electric utility companies as ‘disruptive’ technologies, flattening energy load, and environmental regulations all potentially threaten their traditional business model. It proposes new business opportunities for utilities, giving special attention to performance-based ratemaking. Several case studies are included to demonstrate various elements of performance-based ratemaking, followed by best practice principles and recommendations. A version of this paper was published in the July 2014 issue of the Electricity Journal.
This paper recommends policies for California to maintain and enhance its status as a global leader in carbon-free prosperity. It offers policy recommendations in five areas: electricity sector policy, building sector policy, transportation sector policy, policy for fracking and methane emissions, and spurring policy action in other states and regions. The state is well on track to meeting its 2020 emission reduction goal, but additional policy innovation is needed if California is to achieve the longer term goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
This working paper describes the role of state green banks in helping to deploy and commercialize clean energy technologies. Similar to a public-private partnership, state green banks use initial government funding to lever private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. This paper discusses the purpose, goals, and structure of state green banks, highlighting Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority as a case study. It concludes with the strengths and weaknesses of state green banks as a tool to spur the clean energy economy.
This paper provides an overview of America’s Power Plan, a platform for policymakers, market operators, and utilities to think through strategies to manage transformation of the power sector. America’s Power Plan covers a set of power-related issues: regional planning, market design, ratemaking and utility business models, and system optimization. Energy Innovation’s Director of Strategy, Sonia Aggarwal, directed research for the platform’s development. A full report of power sector policy recommendations can be found here.
This op-ed piece discusses the successes and failures that Germany has encountered during its Energiewende, or energy transition. Despite the country’s many achievements in renewable energy policy and practices, energy customers remain concerned with the increase in variable energy sources creating an unreliable supply of electricity or raising energy bills. As Germany’s electric power system continues to evolve, policymakers will need to consider how existing programs, market structures, and utility business models will need to change in order to remain effective and relevant.
This paper discusses the potential role for Staircase Capabilities Markets as a pricing mechanism to tackle some of the major issues associated with load balancing as more variable sources are added to the grid. This involves long-term planning for investment certainty, as well as flexible, small volume requests for proposals to encourage capabilities experimentation. The paper includes a California case study, provides a list of systems that could effectively participate in the market mechanism, and discusses the conditions of transitioning toward a new energy paradigm.
This paper was adapted from Energy Innovation’s previous publication, The Extremes Become the Norm, to explain how small changes in average temperature lead to large changes in extreme weather. As global temperatures move upward, certain parts of the world will become drier, causing droughts and wildfires, while other parts will become wetter, causing hurricanes and flooding. Increasing occurrence of these natural disasters will have catastrophic economic, health, and social impacts in communities around the world.
This paper discusses why small changes in average temperature lead to large changes in extreme weather, describes the upward shift in what are considered “normal” temperatures over time, illustrates the changing odds of extreme events with a moving bell curve, and points out regions that will become drier or wetter. The paper concludes by emphasizing that humans are responsible for these shifts, and there are solutions including emissions cuts and adaptation measures.
Frack or Fiction offers recommendations to the California Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources on its draft regulation for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) released in December 2012. The report also includes an overview of technological, environmental, and policy issues. California’s Monterey shale formation is estimated to represent 64 percent of recoverable U.S. Shale Oil. Energy Innovation’s Director of Research, Chris Busch, concludes that the draft regulation needs significant improvements if resource development in this region is to be done responsibly.
This is one of several case studies published by the American Energy Innovation Council illustrating the various ways in which government support has been a critical enabler of energy technologies that are widely-used and important today. This paper focuses on the development of low-emissivity (highly insulated) windows, which now constitute the majority of all windows sold in the U.S.
As China’s urban population continues to expand, it becomes increasingly important that cities are built with sustainability in mind. This piece discusses best practices for these cities, including walkability, mixed-use development, and high-quality public transit. These urban planning components make cities more comfortable, as well as healthier, for its citizens.
Case Studies on the Role of Government in Energy Technology Innovation: Advanced Diesel Internal Combustion Engines
This is one of several case studies published by the American Energy Innovation Council illustrating the various ways in which government support has been a critical enabler of energy technologies that are widely-used and important today. This paper focuses on the development of advanced (more efficient, lower-polluting) diesel internal combustion engines, commonly used in trucks.
This article, published in the journal Dædalus, argues that humans have a “budget” of a trillion tons of carbon we can emit before the probability of adverse consequences grows significantly, half of which has been spent. They use results from modeling using the En-ROADS software tool to study how changes in energy supply and demand might affect emissions and, in turn, climate. Topics discussed and modeled through EN-ROADS include carbon emissions growth in developing countries, energy efficiency, renewable energy, CCS, and other new technology.
For this report, Jeffrey Rissman and Maxine Savitz interviewed 17 R&D Leaders at major corporations to find out how they manage their R&D, what government policies are helpful to their R&D efforts, and what are the most important challenges preventing greater R&D success. Each topic includes tabulated interview data, stories and anecdotes from interviewees, and staff comments that provide historical and political perspective.
This paper discusses the three stages of energy technology innovation — research, engineering, and commercialization — and recommends tools and practices that should be implemented at each stage to best stimulate energy technology innovation. Recommendations include “stage gating” research to shut down failures early (for research), granting industry access to costly government resources and facilities (for engineering), and ensuring long-term, large market signals to provide investment certainty and influence large-scale adoption (for commercialization).
This paper, written for the Paulson Institute, describes the trend of China’s rapidly urbanizing population. It outlines the benefits of smart urbanization, including quality of life, community, access and mobility, prosperity, and reductions in pollution, noise, and global warming. It provides six ingredients for successful urbanization: permeable urban form, transit-centered transportation with walking and biking, effective building codes, municipal finance reform, better measures of urban sustainability, and a strengthened planning process.
Demand-response will continue to play an important role in modernizing the power system by allowing grid operators to control electricity demand. This paper describes two ways that demand-response can be used to optimize electricity flows, avoiding peak capacity issues and balancing unprecedented levels of variable generation.
This paper was written at the request of the government of Japan to describe best practices in renewable energy policy design, using numerous international case studies as examples. It evaluates Japan’s status with respect to these policies and makes recommendations, including: update Japan’s transmission system, reduce the power of utility monopolies, implement policies to support biomass and geothermal, and strengthen clean energy R&D.
China has already suffered through the world’s worst traffic jam, which was 60 miles long and lasted for 11 days, and its cities have developed a reputation for terrible traffic congestion. At the same time, China’s cities are usually crisscrossed by huge avenues and highways. How can such big streets become so easily clogged? This piece explains why big streets lead to bigger traffic jams, and how Bus Rapid Transit can be a solution to road congestion.
This report analyzes the macroeconomic impacts of the U.S.’s 2011 proposal to extend performance standards for cars and light trucks , with particular attention to the employment effects. The proposed standards would increase vehicle fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon and reduce emissions to 163 grams of CO2 per mile by 2025. The report concludes that these proposed standards will create new jobs, increase real wages, and boost GDP by 2030.
This report defines the benefit of upside hedge value: the extra avoided expenditures on gasoline and diesel fuel that accrue when their prices spike as a result of climate policies like AB 32 (California’s Global Warming Solutions Act). It develops two historically grounded price spike scenarios: a moderate spike of 25 percent and a large spike of 50 percent. After accounting for short-term price elasticity of demand effects, the upside hedge value is estimated to be between $2.4 billion and $5.2 billion (2007 dollars) for the moderate and large shock scenarios, respectively.
This paper recommends ten specific policies that, if well-designed, can effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions while protecting economic growth. These policies include vehicle performance standards, fuel taxes, energy efficiency programs, building codes, smart urban design, support for R&D, and more. The text contains many statistics and examples from countries that have implemented these policies. The report takes a global perspective and uses examples from a variety of countries.
This report emphasizes the need to take immediate action to lower emissions. It explains how concentrations increase when there are more carbon sources than sinks, and that the effects of higher concentrations are likely to be irreversible due to natural feedback loops that spin the system out of control. The report concludes that it will be easier and cheaper to reduce emissions that help achieve our carbon budget goals if we start today, rather than delaying climate action to future years or decades.
This report aims to guide Chinese decision makers on ways to incorporate sustainable design practices into cities. The recommendations are: (1) develop neighborhoods that promote walking, (2) prioritize bicycle networks, (3) create dense networks of streets and paths, (4) support high-quality transit, (5) zone for mixed-use neighborhoods, (6) match density to transit capacity, (7) create compact regions with short commutes, and (8) increase mobility by regulating parking and road use. These recommendations reinforce one another, and are intended to be implemented together.