Navigant Research Blog

Carbon Tax Plan Proposed by Climate Leadership Council

— February 15, 2017

Climate change is a big area of political strife. It was during the election and remains so during the opening weeks of the new administration. While the major political parties generally disagree on the issue and the measures necessary for addressing it, climate change is not a partisan topic. On February 8, a group of Republicans proposed a tax on CO2 emissions in exchange for the repeal of other regulations on the industry. The proposal is led by James Baker III, former Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush, and other members of the Climate Leadership Council. Founded by Ted Halstead, the Climate Leadership Council is an international research and advocacy organization with aims to organize global leaders around new climate solutions based on carbon dividends modified for each of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting regions.

The Proposal

The Carbon Dividends Plan is based on four main areas:

  • Gradually Increasing Carbon Tax: A $40 tax on every metric ton of CO2 would be imposed and increased steadily over time.
  • Carbon Dividends for All Americans: The estimated revenue of $200 to $300 billion per year generated from this carbon tax would be paid out to Americans through dividend checks, administered by the Social Security Administration. On average, a family of four would receive $2,000 under the plan.
  • Border Carbon Adjustments: The plan proposes border adjustments that would increase the costs of exports and imports to/from countries that do not have a comparable carbon tax.
  • Significant Regulatory Rollback: The majority of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) regulatory authority over CO2 emissions would be phased out, including an outright appeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

The Importance

Many Republicans, including President Trump, are publicly opposed to actions on climate change. The Climate Leadership Council is made up of a number of prominent Republicans who are not only publicly in favor of action supporting the climate, but also have created a proposal to do so. Besides Baker and Halstead, authors of the proposal include Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush; Martin Feldstein, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan; George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan; and N. Gregory Mankiw, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.

The Impacts

The plan would repeal the CPP put in place by President Obama to reduce carbon pollution and reduce the EPA’s influence on GHG emissions, and will likely see opposition. However, President Trump already plans to repeal the CPP, and while it is unclear if he will be successful, the Carbon Dividends Plan is not needed to assist in that repeal. While the dividends paid back to consumers help with the increased cost of energy, many can argue this would be better if used for increasing renewable energy. If the proposal is rejected and the CPP repealed without an alternative plan in place, it is unlikely actions on climate change will be taken at a federal level.

In June 2016, the House approved a non-binding resolution condemning the idea of a carbon tax. The measure passed 237-163 and was intended to make it more difficult for those that voted against a carbon tax to do so again. President Trump also opposes a carbon tax, believing that President Obama’s CPP was a regulatory overreach of power. It seems unlikely that the current administration and Republication-controlled Congress would vote in favor of such a proposal, although there is hope that some type of alternative could be offered in its place. No matter what the outcome of the Carbon Dividends Plan, there will be many arguing both for and against it.

 

DOE Announces Recipients of SBIR-STTR Phase I Grants for 2017

— January 31, 2017

BulbsThe Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science recently awarded four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for innovation in solid-state lighting (SSL) technology. The grants are aimed at helping the lighting industry reach performance and cost goals, as specified in the DOE’s SSL R&D Plan. First published in 2015, the SSL R&D Plan combined the DOE’s previously published Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) and SSL Manufacturing Roadmap. The SSL R&D Plan provides direction and goals for LEDs and OLEDs through 2030, with the aim of increasing energy savings.

What Are the SBIR-STTR Programs?

The DOE is one of eleven federal agencies that offer SBIR-STTR programs enacted under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. The programs work to increase technology innovation to address specific scientific and engineering challenges. The DOE’s SBIR Program aims to stimulate technological innovation, use small businesses to help meet federal R&D needs, and increase the participation of groups traditionally less represented, such as women and the socially and economically underprivileged. The STTR Program focuses on stimulating scientific and technological innovation and to nurture technology cooperation between small businesses and research institutions.

The SBIR-STTR programs supply funding for Phase I and Phase II projects twice each fiscal year, and for-profit US businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply for the grants. Phase I recipients are awarded up to $150,000 for 6 months, and Phase II recipients are awarded funding based on Phase I results and generally do not exceed $1,000,000 for 2 years.

Grant Recipients

The FY2017 Phase I grants were awarded to Pixelligent Technology, Lumisyn, OLEDWorks, SC Solutions, and MicroLink Devices. The lone STTR grant, awarded to MicroLink Devices, is for a joint project between the company and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to improve the performance of phosphide-based red and amber LEDs. This project aims to improve adoption of red and amber LEDs by allowing for integration with existing device designs and manufacturing processes.

Two of the SBIR grants, awarded to Lumisyn and SC Solutions, focus on LEDs. Lumisyn is working to increase the performance of nanocrystal-based silicones; the project will focus on properties of blue LEDs to produce white light. SC Solutions is poised to work on new heating techniques in metal-organic chemical-vapor deposition. The technique will reduce the need for binning in LED manufacturing and decrease the technology’s cost.

The remaining two SBIR grants, awarded to Pixelligent Technology and OLEDWroks, are for OLED technology. Pixelligent’s grant project will focus on improving the light extraction of OLED products by integrating a high refractive index extraction layer in the OLED material stack. This layer will provide enhanced light output, increase efficacy, and extend the lifetime of the product. OLEDWorks will work to reduce manufacturing costs in the hopes of making OLEDs more attractive for general lighting applications through its grant project. Based on the success of these projects in Phase I, companies could be awarded additional funding for further work on their projects.

Incorporating the R&D efforts of private organizations to help meet federal goals, as the DOE does through the SBIR-STTR programs, can further the overall success of SSL and increase market adoption of these products. Navigant Research projects increased adoption of LED and OLED technologies, and grants such as these will assist with growing the market of SSL products within the lighting industry.

 

Giving to the Environment This Holiday Season

— December 5, 2016

LEDsThe moment Halloween was over, or in some cases before, holiday decorations were already on sale in major retail stores. With the holiday season comes added expenses—from gifts to parties to additional travel. Reducing energy consumption allows consumers to save money on their utility bills while also contributing less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By selecting certain types of gifts, it’s easy to help reduce waste and environmental impact during the holiday season.

Lower Energy Consumption

Holiday lights for both the commercial and residential sectors are already an added expense this time of year. Using LED holiday lights can greatly lower utility bills. Even with the additional upfront costs compared with traditional miniature lights, LEDs are a more economical option. While incandescent lights have a lifespan of roughly 2,000 hours, LED holiday lights have a projected lifespan of upwards of 20,000 hours. In addition to their extended lifespan, LEDs use considerably less energy and thus cost less over the same operating hours as traditional lights. Although LEDs consume substantially less energy than incandescents, reducing overall operating hours will decrease energy consumption even more. One simple way to reduce operating hours is to turn off lights when no one is in a particular room or area.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many gifts for the holidays are made from recycled materials, such as recycled tires, plastic bottles, reclaimed wood, and repurposed clothes or fabrics. These types of gifts reduce environmental impact over gifts made only with new, non-recycled materials.

Reusing items comes in many forms. Purchasing rechargeable batteries eliminates waste for gifts and home electronics that require batteries. Reusing newspaper, paper bags, maps, scarves, or other fabric as wrapping is an environmentally friendly alternative to purchasing wrapping paper, which not only reduces waste, but also cuts overall holiday shopping costs. For the crafty types, holiday decorations can be made by reusing household items, such as jars, cardboard, strings, and paper.

With the increase in wrapping paper, holiday cards, cans, and bottles, it is important to recycle as many items as possible. As Navigant Research discusses in its Smart Waste Collection report, the collection of smart waste is a growing market and is expected to grow from $57.6 million in 2016 to $223.6 million in 2025. While many recycling programs could improve upon efficiency, they will accept the above listed items, making it easy to recycle instead of throwing these items in the trash. For other things such as electronics, there are often special recycling options for these items or many places that will accept them as donations.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Reducing, reusing, and recycling can significantly decrease the amount of waste around the holidays and help form habits to continue waste reduction throughout the year.

 

LED Street Lights Experience Continued Growth

— November 10, 2016

The declining costs of LEDs have made the technology a more economical choice for cities and municipalities interested in upgrading street lighting. These reduced costs, coupled with the longer lifespan and higher efficiencies of LEDs over incandescent, high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide, and compact fluorescents, have ensured a strong LED presence in the future of street and outdoor lighting.

Recent LED Street Lighting Projects

Long Beach, California recently announced the completion of the first phase of its LED street light retrofit project. Phase one included replacing roughly 1,750 HPS street lights with LED versions. This first phase was funded through a $659,000 Port of Long Beach Community Mitigation Grant. The second phase of the project will replace about 24,000 HPS street lights with a cost of roughly $6.1 million, which will be offset within 4 years by the energy savings and rebates offered by Southern California Edison, which total $3.2 million. The new LED street lights are expected to last 24 years when operated 12 hours per day, and the total lifetime savings for this project are expected to be approximately $15.1 million.

Further north, West Kelowna, Canada will be converting 1,750 HPS street lights to LEDs. Initially, the city will replace 193 street lights with LEDs during a pilot project, costing an estimated C$60,000 ($44,746), including a C$10,000 ($7,457) grant from electric service company BC Hydro. The LEDs from the pilot project alone are expected to save the city C$4,500 ($3,361) over a 1-year period. West Kelowna has estimated that the full retrofit project will save C$13 million ($9.7 million) over a 15-year period once the installation is complete. San Francisco, California also recently announced it will install LED streetlights to decrease maintenance costs and improve the safety of city residents. It plans to install about 18,000 LED lights within a 14-month period.

The Future of LED Street Lights

Long Beach, West Kelowna, and San Francisco are only a few of the numerous cities transitioning to LED street lights. According to Navigant Research’s recent report, Outdoor Lighting Systems, global shipments of outdoor lighting luminaires are expected to grow from 24.1 million units in 2016 to 30.3 million units in 2025. These figures include outdoor lighting for street lighting, including highways and roadways, city parks and public areas, sports parks, commercial site lighting, parking lots, and university and college campuses. LED luminaires currently lead the market for outdoor lighting, accounting for an estimated 67.9% of unit shipments in 2016—by 2025, that share is expected to grow to 93.8%. Whether for increased energy savings, reduced maintenance, improved safety, or other motivating factors, cities are poised to continue to transition to LED street lights.

 

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