America's electric power system can be modernized for higher performance by adopting advanced energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions and provide a variety of other economic and system benefits, according to a new report released today by the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE).
AEE, the business voice of advanced energy, identified 40 technologies and services offered by advanced energy companies that can help meet requirements for greenhouse gas reduction and simultaneously modernize America's aging electricity infrastructure.
This technology-by-technology description of advanced energy benefits comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release draft guidelines for regulating carbon emissions from existing power sources under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act in early June. Once that EPA rule is finalized in June 2015, states will be required to develop plans to meet the new emission standards.
AEE's Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction provides details on the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services, ranging from Behavioral Energy Efficiency to Voltage Volt-Ampere Reactive (VAR) Optimization. By incorporating these and other advanced energy technologies into their plans, states can not only meet carbon reduction goals but also improve the efficiency, resiliency, and cost effectiveness of service provided by electric utilities.
"The upcoming regulation of carbon emissions from power plants represents an opportunity to do what we need to do anyway – create a modern electric power system for the 21st century," said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. "The technologies described in this report can help states meet the new environmental standards and improve the quality of electric power service at the same time. If we seize this moment to put the proven technologies of advanced energy to work on a wider scale, we can modernize the electric power system and power our economy."
The AEE report includes technologies ranging from zero- and low-emission electricity generation to sophisticated grid management tools:
- Building and Industry Energy Efficiency – innovations that increase end-use efficiency and capture energy waste from the biggest users of electricity, reducing emissions and cutting costs. For example, advanced materials like quality insulation along with efficient heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) equipment reduce power consumption, while energy management systems, software, and analytics optimize energy usage. According to McKinsey & Co., energy efficiency initiatives can reduce consumer energy demand by 23 percent by 2020 and achieve savings of $680 billion.
- Electricity Generation – zero-emission resources like wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear power, which provided 32 percent of U.S. electricity last year with no carbon emissions, and natural gas plants, which generated more than 25 percent of U.S. electricity with less than half the carbon emissions of coal-fired power plants.
- Electricity Delivery and Grid Management – resources that allow electricity distribution to be managed more effectively, with better protection against power outages. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that a net investment of $400 billion over 20 years to deploy smart grid technology would produce a net benefit of $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion.
These advanced energy technologies are well established in the marketplace and states have years of experience with policies related to them. AEE's Advanced Energy Now 2014 Market Report showed that advanced energy is a $1.1 trillion global market, as big as pharmaceuticals worldwide. The nearly $170 billion annual U.S. advanced energy market is equal in revenue to the U.S. airline industry. Advanced energy technologies are already providing value to customers, to the electricity system as a whole, and to local economies.
"This is a make-or-break moment for electric utilities and climate alike, and this report highlights a bright path forward," said Alex Laskey, President and Founder of Opower. "As AEE makes clear, revolutionary new technology can help utilities cut their carbon emissions, boost their bottom lines, and empower people worldwide to save energy and money. Embracing behavioral energy efficiency alone could abate 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution and save families $2.2 billion every year – and that's just one solution."
"Cutting carbon emissions from electricity generation must be a priority for the energy industry," said Doug Egan, CEO of Competitive Power Ventures. "The AEE report provides a real-world roadmap to achieve demonstrable reductions. At CPV, we are working hard to slash carbon emissions and improve the economy by developing clean, natural gas-fueled energy centers. Our energy projects replace old and inefficient facilities, provide on-demand electricity to integrate renewables and stimulate regional economies."
"The U.S. electricity sector causes about 40 percent of this country's carbon emissions, which presents a huge opportunity for renewable energy to provide significant reductions," said Susan Reilly, CEO of RES Americas and newly appointed Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Wind Energy Association. "After energy efficiency, land-based wind energy is the most efficient, scalable, and cost-effective source of carbon-free electricity. Wind is no longer an alternative – it's an imperative."
"With advanced energy technologies, energy use can be managed and controlled in ways that save money, meet organizational objectives, and reduce emissions at the same time," said Tim Healy, Chairman and CEO, EnerNOC. "Energy intelligence software gives all parts of the organization – from the operations team to the chief financial officer – better tools to set priorities, take the actions that will yield the biggest results, and measure and track performance."
"The initial investment our country made in advanced energy is working, and our energy system is transforming quickly. The cost of solar, for example, has fallen tremendously, and it was the second largest source of new U.S. generating capacity added in 2013," said Arno Harris, Chairman and CEO of Recurrent Energy. "The future is now; advanced energy is mainstream and ready today to help the U.S. meet its decarbonization goals."
AEE's full report is available for download here: Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction