U.S. Clean Energy Expanded Rapidly in 2017, Supporting American Jobs and Keeping Energy Costs Low

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2018

U.S. Clean Energy Expanded Rapidly in 2017, Supporting American Jobs and Keeping Energy Costs Low

Key Findings in Sixth Edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook Highlight U.S. Energy Trends Contributing to American Economic Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 15, 2018 – The rapid deployment of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy in 2017 generated economic benefits without requiring increases in energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. Looking over the year, the growth of sustainable energy industries contributed to greater economic competitiveness, job creation, and the expansion of the American economy. This conclusion, from the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, is the result of a comprehensive review of energy statistics conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

BNEF summarizes the 2018 Factbook as follows: “The massive and historic transformation of the U.S. energy sector clicked into a higher gear in 2017, despite new policy uncertainties. Renewable deployment grew at a near-record pace, energy productivity and GDP growth both accelerated, and the U.S. became a serious player in the global liquefied natural gas market. All of this combined to squeeze U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to a 25-year low, while keeping costs in check for consumers.”

“The performance is proof that clean energy delivers for the American economy,” Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, declared in summarizing the findings of this year’s Factbook. “The 2018 Factbook demonstrates that energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are generating jobs and cleaner air while reducing energy use and boosting the productivity of the American economy. The focus of national energy policy in 2018 and beyond should be to further enhance and promote the continued growth of these clean energy sectors.”

“Sustainable energy deployment soared to record levels in 2017, cementing its role as a key contributor to U.S. energy,” says Rachel Luo, the lead BNEF author of the report. “At 18% of the power mix, renewable energy resouces including hydropower are making nearly as large a contribution to U.S. electricity generation as the country’s nuclear fleet. Meanwhile, the falling price of newer technologies such as lithium-ion batteries is fueling the transformation of both the transportation and power sectors.”

The 2018 Factbook is the sixth edition of an annual resource that outlines key energy trends contributing to American economic competitiveness. This year’s Factbook demonstrates yet again that the rise of clean energy positively impacts the American economy, energy infrastructure and the environment. Key findings are summarized below.

The transformation of the energy sector escalated in 2017, as evidenced by continuing trends:

  • Natural gas remained the primary source of power generation in the U.S., and wind and solar build, combined with increased hydropower generation, drove renewable generation up from 15% to 18% of the total electricity mix in one year.
  • Energy productivity, which is the amount of GDP produced by a unit of energy, climbed 2.5% in 2017.
    Costs remained low: consumers devoted only 1.3% of their spending towards electricity, smaller than at any time ever recorded. This offset a rise in the share of spending devoted to gasoline and motor fuels (up to 2.1% in 2017 from 1.9% in 2016), allowing the total percent of household expenses dedicated to energy costs to hover under 4%, near an all-time low.
  • Emissions from the electricity sector plummeted again, falling 4.2% year-on-year to the lowest level in more than 27 years.

The U.S. remains globally competitive for energy-intensive industries, thanks to low industrial power prices, and U.S. players continue to invest in clean energy:

  • Historically, industrial power prices in the U.S. have been among the most affordable in the world (averaging 6.76¢/kWh in 2016). The U.S. had the second lowest prices of the G-7 countries in 2016; Canada was number one.
  • Corporations are playing a stronger role in the energy transformation, increasingly demanding cleaner energy and seeking to capture gains from energy efficiency. In 2017, corporations signed new deals for 2.9 GW worth of offsite renewable capacity.
  • Global clean energy investment rose to $333 billion, the second-highest amount on record. U.S. investments tracked 2016 levels, at $57 billion, but saw a shift in capital deployment towards wind and energy smart technologies.

New developments in the U.S. energy sector in 2017 included:

  • The U.S. is solidifying its role as a global liquefied natural gas exporter, and for the first time was a net exporter of natural gas for every month of the year.
  • New sales of battery, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles accelerated, driven by longer-range versions of existing models, long-range affordable BEVs, and the electrification of new car segments. Significantly, the price of lithium-ion battery packs, a key cost component for battery electric vehicles, plummeted 23% year-on-year and have fallen 65% in five years (between 2013 and year end 2017).
  • Greater climate commitments from sub-national and private sector actors emerged in response to federal government climate policy back-tracking. Federal-level actions ranging from trade cases to tax reform also caused uncertainty in the market for clean technologies.

The U.S. energy transformation is impacting the economy, including jobs and investments in infrastructure and grid resilience:

  • The renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas sectors employed approximately three million Americans in 2016. Energy efficiency, with nearly 2.2 million jobs, was the largest single employer within the sustainable energy sectors.
  • American economic growth is picking up steam, without a parallel jump in energy consumption. Since 2008, primary energy usage has shrunk 1.7% even as GDP has accelerated by 15.3%.
  • Utilities and independent developers continue to invest in infrastructure to improve grid operations and support the growth of clean energy. Investor-owned utilities and independent developers spent an estimated $22.9 billion on electric transmission in 2017, a 10% rise year-on-year and a 91% increase since 2011. Investment in midstream natural gas infrastructure (e.g., transmission, distribution and storage) climbed 19% from 2015 to 2016, with distribution accounting for nearly half of the escalation in spending. Total investment in distribution hit its highest level yet at $13.4bn, a 16% expansion from 2015 levels.

The 2018 Factbook includes a comprehensive overview and detailed charts, graphs and sources for a wide range of information that defines the U.S. sustainable energy landscape.

The 2018 Factbook is offered in PDF format available electronically (download from the BCSE website here: http://www.bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook) and in a hard copy format directly from the BCSE. The Factbook is intended to serve as a reference guide of sustainable energy statistics throughout the year for media, policymakers, business and industry.

Media Contacts

Laura Tierney, ltierney [at]bcse.org

Veronika Henze, vhenze[at]bloomberg.net

About the Factbook Partners

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is an industry research firm focused on helping energy professionals generate opportunities. With a team of 200 experts spread across six continents, BNEF provides independent analysis and insight, enabling decision-makers to navigate change in an evolving energy economy. Leveraging the most sophisticated new energy data sets in the world, BNEF synthesizes proprietary data into astute narratives that frame the financial, economic and policy implications of emerging energy technologies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance is powered by Bloomberg’s global network of 19,000 employees in 176 locations, reporting 5,000 news stories a day. Visit https://about.bnef.com/ or request more information.

Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors. The Council membership also includes equipment manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, independent electric power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, commercial end-users and project developers and service providers for energy and environmental markets. Since 1992, the Council has been a leading industry voice advocating for policies at the state, national and international levels that increase the use of commercially-available clean energy technologies, products and services.

Download the full press release.

Energy is Critical Infrastructure and Powers U.S. Infrastructure Assets (February 12, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2018

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

Energy is Critical Infrastructure and Powers U.S. Infrastructure Assets
Clean Energy Industries to Work with Administration and Congress
on Infrastructure Modernization Initiative

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement in response to the release of the Trump Administration’s initiative to update the nation’s infrastructure.

“The Council is pleased that the Trump Administration is making modernization and improvements to U.S. infrastructure a priority.

“Energy is critical infrastructure and powers other critical infrastructure assets and must be part of any federal infrastructure package. Energy infrastructure includes pipelines, the electric grid, buildings, lighting systems and the technologies that connect and optimize the energy system.

“The portfolio of currently available clean energy technologies and services in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors – working with energy storage, demand response and micro-grids, among other technologies and services – is meeting the needs of the grid affordably and reliably today and can meet the needs of an evolving electric grid into the future, while also improving the nation’s building stock.

“The public and private sectors must work together to spur investment in the nation’s infrastructure assets. Further, federal proposals should consider policy and incentives that facilitate long-term planning and infrastructure investment and maintaining support for energy efficiency.

“The members of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in the renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas sectors, offer their expertise to the Administration and to Congress as they address the nation’s infrastructure needs.”

Please see the Council’s discussion paper on infrastructure policy here.

###

BCSE Statement on Extension of Clean Energy Tax Measures in Bipartisan Budget Act (February 9, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2018

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: Ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202-785-0507

BCSE Statement on Extension of Clean Energy Tax Measures in Bipartisan Budget Act

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President Lisa Jacobson issued the following statement following passage of Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 containing extension of energy tax provisions.

“BCSE is pleased that Congress has enacted clean energy tax provisions as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act this week. However, the lack of parity between clean energy tax measures continues to hinder investment and job creation in a number of sectors that contribute to a diverse, reliable and affordable energy system.

“The Bipartisan Budget Act includes one-year, retroactive extensions for a range of clean energy tax measures, including incentives for energy efficiency as well as the Production Tax Credit for biogas, biomass, active geothermal, waste to energy, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic. It also provided a five-year extension with a phase down for several technologies that are eligible for the Investment Tax Credit, fiber-optic solar, fuel cells, small wind energy, microturbines and combined heat and power.

“BCSE had called for multi-year extensions of all the pending energy extenders and also sought to modify or expand tax measures to level the sustainable energy playing field for waste heat to power, energy storage, and commercial geothermal. BCSE is disappointed that the Bipartisan Budget Act did not adopt those proposed changes.

“Looking ahead, BCSE urges Congress and the Trump Administration to address the pending tax issues and provide a multiyear extension for the energy efficiency and PTC technologies that were only extended until December 31, 2017. It will also work to ensure that tax measures benefiting waste heat to power, energy storage and commercial geothermal are addressed.”

###

Download a copy of this statement here.

Clean Energy Industry Leaders To Host Event at NARUC Winter Policy Summit on February 11

Clean Energy Industry Leaders To Host Event at NARUC Winter Policy Summit

January 31, 2018 – BCSE will join other clean energy industry organizations to co-host a February 11 reception at the Winter Policy Summit of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Washington, DC. The utility commissioners will be in Washington to meet with federal officials and discuss current issues they face in their home states.

The reception is co-hosted by Advanced Energy Economy, Advanced Energy Management Alliance, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Wind Energy Association, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Ceres, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Energy Storage Association, GridWise Alliance, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

For more information, please contact Ruth McCormick at rmccormick@bcse.org.

BCSE Response to State of the Union Address (January 30, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2018

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email:  ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

BCSE Response to State of the Union Address

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union address.

“The Council is pleased the President is making modernization and improvements to U.S. infrastructure a priority for his Administration.

“Energy is critical infrastructure and powers other critical infrastructure assets. Energy infrastructure includes pipelines, the electric grid, buildings, lighting systems and the technologies that connect and optimize the energy system. Resilience and reliability issues are paramount.

“The portfolio of currently available clean energy technologies and services in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors – working with energy storage, demand response and micro-grids, among other technologies and services – is meeting the needs of the grid affordably and reliably today and can meet the needs of an evolving electric grid into the future, while also improving the nation’s building stock.

“The public and private sectors must work together to spur investment in the nation’s infrastructure assets. Further, federal proposals should consider policy and incentives that facilitate long-term planning and infrastructure investment and maintaining support for energy efficiency.

“The members of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in the renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas sectors, offer their expertise to the Administration and the Congress as they address the nation’s infrastructure challenges.”

Please see the Council’s discussion paper on infrastructure policy here.

Download this press release.

BCSE Coalition Expands in 2018, Welcomes New Associate Members Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, EPDM Roofing Association and SolGreen® Solutions (January 12, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 12, 2018

Contact:  Laura Tierney
Email:   ltierney@bcse.org
Office:   202.785.0507

BCSE Coalition Expands in 2018, Welcomes New Associate Members Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, EPDM Roofing Association and SolGreen® Solutions

Washington, DC – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), a broad-based energy industry coalition, welcomes EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) and SolGreen® Solutions as new members in 2018.

“The strength of the Council is its diversity of technology solutions and thought leadership, working together to advance deployment of clean energy solutions.  These new members are exciting new additions to our business coalition,” commented BCSE President Lisa Jacobson.  “We will continue our work in 2018 to advocate for policies that grow markets for clean energy, which will include discussions on modernizing the electricity grid, infrastructure, and financing for sustainable and resilient energy sector investment. We think that ERA, CRES and SolGreen® bring important perspectives to the table on these topics.”

“CRES is excited to add a new dimension to the BCSE and to work together to find solutions and opportunities for both ends of the political spectrum to support the continued growth of clean energy in America,” shared Heather Reams, Managing Director, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES). “We especially look forward to working with the BCSE on the 2nd annual National Clean Energy Week, September 24-28, 2018.”

“EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) is pleased to join the BCSE, one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for comprehensive public policy addressing resilient energy, community and building design,” announced Jared Blum, Executive Director, ERA. “The Council has a long history of working constructively with state and federal governments, and international organizations and other countries, and ERA looks forward to its engagement.”

“As a small but growing business, SolGreen® is energized to join the policy discussion with the BCSE to showcase how our products can provide accessible off-grid clean energy to power the everyday amenities we all depend on in the public spaces we enjoy. We align with the Council in our effort to build modern, safe and resilient communities,” commented Matthew Portis, President and CEO, SolGreen®.

About the BCSE’s New Members

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions was founded to engage Republican policymakers and the public about commonsense, conservative solutions to address our nation’s need for abundant, reliable energy while preserving our environment. Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit advocacy organization. CRES is based in Washington, DC.

EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) represents the manufacturers of EPDM single-ply roofing products and their leading suppliers. Through ERA, the EPDM roofing industry speaks with a focused voice to provide technical and research support, offer dependable roofing solutions and communicate the longstanding attributes, consistency and value of EPDM roofing materials. ERA is headquartered in Washington, DC.

SolGreen® Solutions develops clean energy solutions in the form of commercial products that address the need for accessible clean power in communities. SolGreen’s mission is to revolutionize clean technology and commercial design- making lives easier, communities safer and our planet more sustainable. Their core product, the Evodia Solar Table, is a maintenance-free outdoor charging station and canopied table that provides off-grid clean energy to power everyday amenities like GFE& USB device charging, Wi-Fi access, LED lighting, and software to keep us connected in the public spaces we enjoy. SolGreen is based in Fairfax County, VA and is a certified minority business enterprise (MBE).

BCSE Response to FERC Decision on Grid Resiliency Pricing Proposal (January 8, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2018

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email:  ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

BCSE Response to FERC Decision on Grid Resiliency Pricing Proposal

Washington, DC – In response to the order released today by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to the grid resiliency pricing proposal, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President Lisa Jacobson made the following statement.

“The Council appreciates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) review of the grid resiliency pricing proposal and looks forward to working with FERC, the Department of Energy and grid operators on FERC’s new proceeding to evaluate grid reliability and resiliency needs.

“Resiliency and reliability issues are paramount to the electric sector.  The portfolio of currently available clean energy technologies and services in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors – working with energy storage, demand response and micro-grids, among other technologies and services – is meeting the needs of the grid affordably and reliably today and can meet the needs of an evolving electric grid into the future.

“The members of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy offer their expertise to this new FERC effort.”

Clean Energy Coalition Urges Congress to Act on Budget Caps & Full Year FY2018 Spending Bill (December 22, 2017)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 22, 2017

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

Clean Energy Coalition Urges Congress to Act on Budget Caps & Full Year FY2018 Spending Bill
Sees Opportunities in Disaster Relief Supplemental to Rebuild Cleaner, Smarter and to
Foster Better Preparedness and Resilience

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President Lisa Jacobson issued the following statement regarding passage of the short-term spending bill that will fund government programs through January 19, 2018.

“Clean energy businesses are pleased that Congress has moved this week to avert a government shutdown and funding will continue through mid-January 2018. The Council is also pleased to see Congress considering a separate supplemental appropriations bill for disaster relief in areas affected by the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.

“Congress needs to move quickly when it returns to Washington in January to increase budget caps and fund the government at levels that ensure that critical energy programs will continue. Without an increase in the caps and adequate funding, the security, reliability, and diversity of our nation’s energy supply will be at risk.

“At particular risk if the budget caps are not increased are valuable programs at the Departments of Energy and State, and the Environmental Protection Agency that provide direct economic benefits to clean energy technology providers and American consumers. clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization activities funded through the Department of Energy have lowered costs for consumers and have made the United States one of the most attractive markets in the world for companies whose operations entail significant energy-related costs. Likewise, programs funded at the Department of State are helping to shape markets in both developing and developed countries for American clean energy technologies. Environmental Protection Agency programs are providing technical assistance and information about cleaner and more efficient technologies and are also helping to make the electric grid reliable and secure, providing value to consumers and businesses alike.

“Furthermore, the Council believes the additional funding for disaster relief and recovery can be used in strategic ways that rebuild the electric grid and built environment with technologies that improve efficiency, resilience and provide cleaner sources of power generation, while fostering better preparedness for future events.”

Please see the Council’s letter to Congress on the federal budget caps (November 29. 2017).

                                                                       

 

Tax Reform Will Be a Tipping Point for Clean Energy

In terms of investment, growth and jobs, the current stakes for tax reform couldn’t be higher for American energy producers. Clean energy generation and storage is now a $200 billion industry that supports more than 3 million jobs and hundreds of millions of consumers across the United States. With conferees now named and set to meet on the greatest tax reform package of a generation, it’s clear that our nation stands on the cusp of a major tipping point for clean energy policy.

How the House and Senate members of the conference committee come together on a few key areas will determine if clean energy continues to surge, or if the rug is pulled out from this dynamic sector and the United States falls further behind China. At issue is tax parity among energy generation technologies and whether tax reform will actually simplify the code for investors and businesses.

There is much to celebrate already. Businesses large and small are eagerly awaiting a dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate and the allowance for 100 percent expensing. These provisions will ensure that U.S.-based firms are more competitive internationally and will fast-track domestic investment. Businesses in every sector of the economy will have more flexibility and agility in competitive global markets. And by immediately writing off the full cost of new equipment, businesses can make additional investments sooner, improve operations, and invest in employees and workplace training.

These benefits hold true for the clean energy sector, but are undermined by the Senate bill’s new tax on businesses working in multiple countries and the retention of the corporate alternative minimum tax. As currently drafted, the base erosion anti-abuse tax provisions in the Senate bill would add more complexity to the existing tax system and potentially subject many planned renewable energy projects to a new 100 percent tax. Further, it weakens the current tax equity financing framework and shuffles the principal mechanism for monetizing credits. Its retroactive application undercuts commitments made in good faith by investors and developers, and will dramatically reduce American clean energy investment and job creation in the wake. While these provisions were put in the bill to prevent companies from paying fewer U.S. taxes, as written the BEAT provisions will stunt job growth in a sector that is otherwise growing 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.

And instead of having businesses do their taxes twice and pay the higher of the two, the corporate AMT should be repealed as proposed in the House bill. Without a fix, the AMT provisions in the Senate measure will nullify the value in other parts of tax reform that are critical to spurring innovation and economic growth.

Mature markets don’t need help from Uncle Sam, but Congress shouldn’t unravel deals based on a bipartisan agreement in 2015 that scheduled the phase-out of tax credits for the solar and wind industry. Unfortunately, the House bill would dissolve this agreement by cutting the value of the remaining tax credits going forward, and applying these changes retroactively. Maintaining the 2015 agreement in these areas will ensure near-term certainty for businesses, communities and investors that back these energy projects. In just a few years, these credits will sunset as planned.

The House took a significant step forward in leveling the tax credit playing field for solar, qualified fuel cell, wind, microturbine, combined heat and power, and thermal energy. Tax credits were also extended for residential energy efficiency property and modified for advanced nuclear power facilities. These additional clean energy tax credits—and their planned sunset schedules — create parity among energy generation technologies in the short- and long-run and should be included in the final tax bill.

Congress has a once-in-a-generation chance to use tax reform as a tool for long-term growth and better competition in the energy sector. As tax reform legislation moves forward, CRES Forum encourages the conferees to assure that the workers and businesses which comprise America’s clean energy sector can continue to lift to the U.S. economy as well as an American-made energy future.

About the Author

Charles Hernick is director of policy and advocacy at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) Forum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to educating the public and influencing the national conversation about clean energy.

This post originally published on Morning Consult on December 12. 

Energy and Sustainable Transportation Opportunities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s vision is to become “a laboratory for the world’s economy deep decarbonization process, working with civil society, the private sector, academia, and the international community…” With this vision come enormous business opportunities for American clean energy technologies and low-carbon transportation solutions. Earlier this year Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) members and GHG Engineering, LLC, met with the Embassy of Costa Rica to discuss these potential opportunities.

Here are some facts that reflect Costa Rica’s accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities for decarbonization in both the power generation and the transportation sectors.

This Central American country, somewhat smaller than Switzerland and roughly twice the size of Vermont, has achieved notable sustainable development goals in the electric generation sector by historically generating most of its electricity from renewable sources. In 2015 and 2016 Costa Rica generated about 98% of its electricity (10,700 GW-h, 2015) from hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and biomass energy resources.

In 2007, Costa Rica pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021. It is also a country that has a transportation sector that is close to 100% dependent on (imported) fossil fuels, creating a an almost impossible hurdle to meeting this goal of carbon neutrality by 2021. However, Costa Rica has recently recognized that realistically it will take decades not years to accomplish carbon neutrality.

In 2015 Costa Rica consumed close to 307 million gallons of gasoline, approximately 8% more than in 2014, driven by an increased number of automobile imports. The approximate carbon emissions from 2015 gasoline consumption equates to about 2.73 million metric tonnes CO2e. As of 2016, Costa Rica had about 915,000 automobiles. Of significance is that the diesel related CO2e emissions for the same period were about 1.3 times that of gasoline. Diesel is mostly used by light and heavy trucks, and public transportation buses.

The energy contained in the gasoline consumed by Costa Rica in 2015 equates to about 10,150 GW- h which is about the same amount of electricity generated by entire power sector. However, because of the increased efficiency of electrical vehicles, GHG Engineering has estimated that to electrify Costa Rica’s 2016 automobile fleet, about 3,000 GW-h/year of new generation would be needed. To supply this additional electricity, approximately 500 land based wind turbines (2 MW each) would be needed and such an installation is estimated to require 150 km2 of land or about 0.3 % of Costa Rica’s territory. The equivalent solar facility would occupy an estimated 50 km2. All these figures should be considered preliminary estimates.

Solar energy as a percentage of the electrical generation mix is less than 0.2%, which is considered very low for a country like Costa Rica. The National Institute of Electricity reported that the 2015 residential (not utility scale) solar electricity generation potential of Costa Rica was about 0.220 GW-h/year which is nil compared to the total electrical energy consumption. Therefore, it would appear that there is a significant solar electrical power generation potential in Costa Rica that is untapped.

One of the takeaways from the meeting at the Embassy of Costa Rica was the need to better understand Costa Rica’s transportation sector in terms of factors including energy consumption, infrastructure, transportation modes, and the regulatory environment. It was also discussed that an effective and sustainable transportation sector is vital to the country’s economic growth.

The author believes that to achieve carbon neutrality within the next decades Costa Rica will need to approach decarbonization of its transportation sector (and other sectors) by developing and implementing a plausible low carbon development plan (LCDP). This means that Costa Rica’s aspiration of carbon neutrality by 2021 will most likely not be achieved in the next four years. But it can be achieved within a few decades through careful planning and unwavering stakeholder support.

In very broad terms, a low carbon development plan (LCDP) is a multi-stakeholder and multisector undertaking that defines and evaluates different plausible economic development scenarios that can significantly reduce a country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while decoupling emissions and energy demand from long term economic growth and population well-being.

A complete LCDP typically includes the analysis of the transportation, household, power generation, industrial, and agricultural sectors. A LCDP links all these economic sectors and is often developed for planning horizons spanning 20, 30 and/or 50 years. To be successful, a transportation focused LCDP will require political will and tenacity, intensive stakeholder participation, and viable funding mechanisms, among others. This will be a difficult undertaking but certainly not insurmountable.

About the Author

John A. Mosheim, P.E.,CEM, GHG Engineering, LLC

GHG Engineering is an engineering consulting firm specializing in water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions management, and sustainability. The ideas and comments expressed in the blog are the author’s alone, and should not be construed as anything else. Additionally, the author bears the responsibility for any potential inaccuracies. John can be reached at jam[at]ghgengineering.com with any comments.