Cleantech Market Intelligence
A Wishlist for 2013
Below is one analyst’s list of wishes for 2013. The world would be a better place if these goals could be carried out in the next 12 months:
Go Beyond Carbon. Although it is essential to reduce the world’s CO2 emissions, there needs to be greater focus on air quality standards for particulate matter (PM2.5), commonly known as soot, which is the deadliest of the common air pollutants. Tiny PM2.5 particles can contain a variety of toxic heavy metals, acid oxides, as well as microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses) in the air. When inhaled, it enters the bloodstream, contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as greater cancer risks. Because PM2.5 is prevalent in the combustion of coal, which continues to represent the world’s biggest source of electricity generation including heavy concentrations in emerging Asian economies, the health hazards and the costs associated with these risks are alarming.
The good news is that 99% of U.S. counties are on track to meet the new air quality standards from the Environmental Protection Agency released on December 14. Yet, 66 U.S. counties, including seven in southern California, need to take additional steps to reduce their soot pollution.
Don’t Despair – Adapt. Governments, institutions, businesses, and individuals must begin to prepare for a planet that is heating up – not just 2°C, but possibly much more. According to Leo Johnson, sustainability and climate change partner at PwC, current rates of decarbonization could lead to 6°C of warming by the end of this century. He asserts: “To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2°C [of warming] will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonization.” Given this dire forecast, it would seem that governments’ current goals are highly unrealistic. We must get ready to live in a dramatically warmer environment with all of the disruption and disasters that will entail.
Let Consumers Pay Up Front for Power. Prepayment of electric utility bills is used by a large proportion of utility customers throughout the world. In fact, it is the preferred mode of payment in many countries. So why cannot all utilities in the United States provide a prepayment choice to their customers? Isn’t it time for regulators and consumer advocacy groups in many parts of the country to reconsider their stance on pre-payment and endorse such plans? Consumers are accustomed to all kinds of prepaid plans, whether for their mobile phones or paying for highway tolls, and would most likely welcome pre-payment for power.
Shift to Open Standards. Led by organizations such as the Demand Response Research Center (DRRC) of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the OpenADR Alliance, and by vendors that endorse and adopt open standards in the demand response (DR) market, the power industry is moving toward a much more open technology environment. The introduction of open communication standards, such as the recently launched OpenADR 2.0a specification, will facilitate the use of demand response (DR) programs by residents and businesses and reduce the cost of enabling buildings for DR. Eventually, it could be possible to DR-enable a facility for $500 or less, as DRRC has predicted.