10 energy efficiency predictions for 2016
We assembled a group of policy, technology, customer engagement and business experts from within our CLEAResult leadership to forecast the future of energy efficiency in 2016. Read our list of trends and predictions related to energy efficiency and where it’s headed in the new year.
1. The emergence of Li-Fi
If you haven’t heard of Li-Fi yet, you’re likely to in 2016. Li-Fi, or light fidelity, is light-based communication technology that uses light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data. With this technology, Li-Fi-enabled LED lamps can transmit data at groundbreaking speeds. In the coming year, Li-Fi will increase the value offered by lighting systems by providing the opportunity to gather and share data. Companies such as retailers will begin to deploy Li-Fi powered LED ceiling lights to gain data related to in-store customers.
2. Evolution of demand response (DR) programs
Software technologies and mobile devices aren’t just changing our day-to-day lives, they are changing the way utilities ensure grid reliability and communicate with their customers in real-time. With the rise of the cloud, data analytics and social media, utilities are turning to Behavioral Demand Response (BDR) programs that combine the power of real-time analytics and two-way communication to reach a broader consumer base and put more control in the customers’ hands.
3. Bringing electric vehicles (EV) to the grid
With EVs continuing to penetrate the market, utilities need to adapt and create strategies to help connect more vehicles to the grid. Consumer demand for EVs will not grow without more active engagement spanning from manufacturers to car dealerships.
• Related: [VIDEO] Smart Grid 101: how it works
4. Lighting as a Service disrupts an industry
Many organizations seek to upgrade to LEDs, but one of the greatest barriers is the upfront cost. Lighting as a Service (LaaS) will change that, eliminating the initial price tag. With LaaS, service providers switch out old, inefficient lights with new and energy efficient solutions at no cost. The projects are paid for through energy and maintenance savings that the switch ultimately yields. This update to traditional performance contracting deals will be an industry disruptor in the coming year, especially with the emergence of technologies such as Li-Fi.
5. Big data provides big insights
As the proliferation of devices and technology grows, more and more data is available to help understand customer behavior. As utilities look to increasingly understand their customers, many may turn to this data for insights.
6. Digital engagement expands utilities’ reach
Digital engagement will have a more profound impact on utilities in 2016. Digital marketing and marketing technology means utilities can do more with less and deliver tailored messaging based on the their consumer’s past experience with them, specifically past engagement with energy efficiency. Digital engagement also provides increased metrics that can evaluate performance.
7. HEMS increases savings
Home energy management systems (HEMS) go beyond the smart meter to a connected system. These systems provide valuable data and increased end-user savings in a method that is easy to implement and control for utilities.
8. The changing policy conversation
Many discussing policy will shift focus from “energy consumption” to “greenhouse gas emission reduction” due to factors such as the Clean Power Plan, the Alberta government’s regulatory changes, carbon prices and the recent COP21 agreement reached in Paris.
9. Real-time monitoring drives optimization
Information from real-time monitoring using energy management software will support other trends we’ve identified (including our predictions for 2015). Its use in industrial facilities will push continuous optimization of systems reducing energy and maintenance costs while decreasing downtime and increasing productivity. Many controls companies are integrating energy management dashboards into their existing systems.
10. Industrial self-generation grows
Industrial self-generation will increase in the form of renewables, heat recovery generation, combined heat and power (CHP) system, and more. There are energy efficiency benefits from generation in terms of decreased line losses, higher efficiency technologies for distributed generation and use of waste as a fuel source (biomass and excess heat). There are also localized benefits to the end use consumer: Less reliance on the grid providing energy security, increase system reliability, potential for carbon credits by using a cleaner fuel source than what comes from the grid and decreased waste.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere