In October-December 2012, Climate Change Business Journal solicited the climate change industry and the environmental industry via email, website and word-of-mouth for nominations for the third annual CCBJ Business Achievement Awards. Nominations were accepted in 200-word essays in both specific or unspecified categories. Final awards were determined by a committee of CCBJ staff and CCBJ editorial advisory board members. Award nominations were open to any firm or organization in the climate change industry, and companies were permitted to submit their own nominations.
The 2012 CCBJ Business Achievement Awards will be presented to recipients in attendance at a special ceremony at Environmental Industry Summit XI on March 6-8, 2013 at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA. Congratulations to the 2012 award winners. CCBJ encourages all interested companies to participate next year.
Disclaimer: Company audits were not conducted to verify information or claims submitted with nominations.
Business Achievement: Growth
Gold Medal ? BrightSource Energy (Oakland, Calif.) for becoming the clear leader in the U.S. concentrating solar power (CSP) segment. At a time when most CSP projects proposed over the last four years in the United States have been delayed, canceled or reconfigured as solar PV projects, BrightSource has pushed ahead with its 377 MW Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (86% owned by NRG Energy and Google) in the southwest California desert. The Ivanpah CSP project, which was more than 75% complete at the end of 2012, uses BrightSource’s proprietary power tower technology.
Thirty years ago, the principal members of BrightSource’s technical team pioneered the now-mature parabolic trough CSP technology as Luz International and built the world’s first commercially viable CSP projects in California’s Mojave Desert. After determining about 15 years ago that trough technology would not survive as the leading edge in the United States due to water requirements in the desert environment, the BrightSource principals developed the air-cooled power tower technology which they estimate requires only 5% of the water of competing wet-cooled CSP plants. It also boasts better thermal efficiency and is expected to be more scalable.
With some of the world’s largest long-term (20 to 25 years) power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric, BrightSource has several larger projects in development which are designed to produce twice the electrical output as Ivanpah with only 50 percent more mirrors and towers almost twice as tall as Ivanpah’s three 459-foot towers.
BrightSource also operates one of the first CSP projects supplying steam for enhanced oil recovery, a 29 MW thermal project at Chevron’s Coalinga oilfield in California. In SEC reports filed before BrightSource decided to cancel its 2011 IPO, the firm reported revenues-derived from sales of steam to Chevron project and from sales of equipment and services to its equity partners at Ivanpah, based on the percentage-of-completion method of accounting-of $159.1 million for 2011, an increase of more than 1,000% from 2010.
According to Jim Ivany, president, renewable power, for Bechtel, BrightSource’s EPC contractor, future projects will achieve significant economies of scale over Ivanpah-and thereby lower levelized costs of electricity-since larger steam turbines, feedwater heaters and other key equipment will deliver twice the output at less than twice the cost. Additionally, procuring for multiple projects will provide price leverage with suppliers. As noted in prior editions of CCBJ, pairing thermal energy storage with CSP generation facilities would allow the solar plants to follow load and deliver more value to utilities. According to Ivany, BrightSource’s next project is probably not going to have storage but some of its remaining contracted capacity will have storage.
Silver Medal ? RTR Rete Rinnovabile (Rome) for its acquisition and aggressive management of solar PV generating capacity in Italy. Since being acquired by private equity firm Terra Firma in March 2011, RTR grew its portfolio from 144 MW to 297.5 MW-at 117 power plants-by the end of 2012, turning over normalized annual revenues of around €160 million. RTR has become the market leader in PV electricity generation in Italy, as well as one of the largest, if not the largest, PV power generators in Europe.
But RTR isn’t just rolling up existing assets and taking the income to the bank. Its business model is to become a “global solar utility” by: 1) “supporting and supervising” project developers during development and construction-an “over-supplied” segment of the value chain which only returns 3-4% on equity, according to a spokesperson; 2) stepping in to take over ownership and management at commercial operation; and 3) enhancing production and revenues through insourcing O&M and energy management, using new optimization technology and selling electricity through diverse methods including energy markets and bilateral contracts.
In 2012, RTR installed state-of-the-art monitoring systems on its entire portfolio to better track performance down to the component level. On 1.5 MW of capacity, it experimented with changing tilt angles, re-cabling and re-sorting. And for most of the year, it tested Tigo and Solaredge optimizers on a cross-section of its plants, the results of which showed an average 10% boost in production that RTR expects will continue as it deploys the technology across its entire portfolio starting in June 2013.
“We are also in the process of starting the official testing of an inverter optimizer which enables all components to work at the best of their capabilities, reduce risks of errors in the system governing the inverters, decrease component temperature and send alerts in advance in case of over-stress so that power can be cut off before damage occurs,” wrote Amedeo Lori, business development analyst.
Business Achievement: Finance
Gold Medal ? MidAmerican Renewables (Des Moines, IA), the renewable energy arm of Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., for its sale of bonds (at 5.75% with maturity in 2039) to finance $850 million of the $2.4 billion, 550 MW Topaz Solar Project to be located on Southern California’s Carrisa Plains. “We can make this sort of investment because MidAmerican retains all of its earnings, unlike other utilities that generally pay out most of what they earn,” said Buffet in his February 2012 annual shareholder letter. “Many more wind and solar projects will almost certainly follow.”
The Topaz Solar Project will utilize solar panels provided by First Solar, which is also building the project as well as MidAmerican’s 290 MW Agua Caliente project in Arizona. Travis Lowder, an energy analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) wrote in March 2012 that the MidAmerican bond issue has “some encouragingly replicable elements … including: the PPA with a large, creditworthy off-taker; the guarantees and cushions in the EPC contract; the revenue backing from reputable banks (i.e. Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, and Citi).”
“Furthermore, solar projects are reportedly making returns of ~15% (Topaz is expected to be even higher at 16.3%), and this is starting to pique investor interest in solar-backed financial products. As the renewables industry matures and as investors come to better understand the risks and returns of this asset class, we may see more capital market plays for wind and solar projects in the future. And what better firm to blaze this trail than one with Buffet’s Midas touch? While there will certainly be a learning curve for both investors and project sponsors in this space, MidAmerican has set the bar pretty far up the slope.”
Consulting & Engineering: Climate Risk Management & Adaptation
Gold Medal ? ICF (Fairfax, Va.), one of the world’s top consultancies in climate change risk management and adaptation, for notable success in 2012. During the year, ICF supported the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the creation of its Climate Change Adaptation Plan and co-developed a set of vulnerability assessment approaches for use in the design and implementation of projects in developing countries. For the World Bank, ICF developed a set of tools to assess the potential impact of climate change on the massive array of new World Bank projects.
ICF continued its role as a leader in transportation-related climate risk management, including publishing the initial results from its work examining the climate vulnerability of transportation in low-lying Mobile, Alabama, the country’s largest federally funded adaptation project in a single metropolitan location. ICF also produced guidance for state DOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations on using and applying climate information.
ICF helped cities cope with the effects of climate change, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Castries, St. Lucia, and Cuzco, Peru. ICF’s work for the private sector was exemplified by a framework to address climate risk in the mining industry. In another project, ICF created a spatially detailed analysis of the potential economic costs of climate change on the US electricity industry.
Silver Medal ? AECOM (Los Angeles) for a major climate resilience study for Queensland Urban Utilities, operator of water and wastewater treatment infrastructure that was severely damaged during flooding in 2011. AECOM developed a value-for-money, risk-informed capital management program to reduce loss of service from similar future events. Working with QUU engineers, planners and asset managers, AECOM risk and asset management staff developed a comprehensive, quantitative risk assessment and prioritization tool that encompassed risks to loss of service, as well as community, environmental and financial impacts and health and safety considerations.
AECOM prioritised assets-at-risk, and developed a staged, optimised capital works program to increase resilience of the water network. A key outcome was a comprehensive approach to tracking how much risk was reduced in percentage terms for every dollar invested. This enabled the QUU Board to track residual risk alongside infrastructure investment. AECOM has completed over 100 Climate risk assessment, adaptation and resilience studies over the past few years.
Consulting & Engineering: Renewable Energy Practice
Gold Medal ? Global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company, Bechtel (San Francisco) for rapidly growing its business in renewable power, including playing the vital EPC role in BrightSource’s 377 MW Ivanpah project, one of the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) projects, and NRG’s California Valley Solar Ranch-at 250 MW, one of the world’s largest solar PV projects and one whose design and construction are complicated by the use of motor-driven trackers that follow the sun.
Ranked by Engineering News-Record as the largest U.S. construction contractor for the last 14 years, Bechtel (pronounced BEK-tl) generated $32.9 billion in revenues in 2011 and gained new contract awards valued at $53 billion, according to the privately held firm’s website. Engineering and building power plants is a significant part of the company’s business, and Bechtel has ranked #1 U.S. power contractor for 14 years as well.
According to a fall 2012 CCBJ Q&A with Bechtel’s President for Renewable Power Jim Ivany, Bechtel was drawn to the renewable power market by the vastly increasing size of utility-scale projects. “These large-scale projects beg for an EPC contractor that has the stability and expertise to deliver, with certainty of outcome, the results that are expected not only from the owners but also from the financial community that’s betting on the results.”
While CSP and PV projects don’t require the same level of millwright and other craft labor skills that Bechtel’s more typical power projects do-in gas, coal and nuclear technology-the volume of components and the acreage covered by the solar projects like Ivanpah and Catalina require intensive logistical planning and materials management to ensure sure items arrive in the proper order and at the proper time. “When you’re talking about a million solar panels, it’s pretty important they arrive when they’re needed,” said Ivany. Bechtel’s extensive track record building transmission also positions the firm well to build needed interconnections between remote renewable projects and high-voltage transmission networks.
Ivany says Bechtel has begun using its massive global sourcing capabilities-it directly buys about $20 billion worth of plant, equipment and materials annually-to work with manufacturers on “constructability reviews” that will make PV and CSP equipment easier to install, thereby driving costs out of the on-site construction process. “When you’re in an environment like California where skilled construction labor is costing you $70 and hour, being more efficient in the field will significantly reduce the capital cost of the plant,” said Ivany.
In wind power, Bechtel’s sweet spot will be large facilities in difficult locations as well as offshore projects, first in the UK and Germany, then other markets. “We think the Mid-Atlantic U.S. will afford opportunities for us downstream, although that market is lagging a little bit just because of the politics.”
Gold Medal ? SAIC (Mclean, Va.) for robust growth of its renewable energy practice, which has approximately doubled in the last two years as states, provinces and countries continue to support renewable energy development to diversify their power asset mix and reduce emissions from electric power generation. SAIC has provided business-oriented technical consulting and independent engineering services for more than 130 wind projects, including projects up to more than 800 MW in capacity, and for several dozen utility-scale solar power projects. The firm has also worked on numerous biomass and geothermal projects.
Some of SAIC’s projects in 2012 included acting as independent engineer for a multi-billion dollar solar and wind portfolio project in Canada that will generate more than 650 MW of renewable energy; Seigneurie de Beaupré’s ongoing $850 million, 271.8MW wind project that was named a Project Finance Deal of the Year; the 845 MW Shepherds Flat wind project that was completed in late 2012 and is one of the largest onshore wind projects in the world; AES Solar’s $636 million, 200 MW-AC Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial County, Calif.; LS Power’s 170 MW-AC Centinela Solar Energy project in California and 127 MW-AC Arlington Valley Solar Energy II.
Consulting & Engineering: Energy & Carbon Management
Gold Medal ? ENVIRON (Arlington, Va.) for developing strategic approaches and companion software that allow the firm to more efficiently and cost-effectively identify and prioritize energy and carbon reductions for clients. ENVIRON’s Survey and Analysis Tool for Remote Assessments enables its energy and carbon management professionals to extrapolate detailed information from a few client sites in order to identify opportunities across a much broader range of sites and produce specific marginal abatement curves for both energy and carbon. The results identify company- or institution-wide reduction opportunities without the expense of rigorous facility-by-facility audits.
For one major international beverage manufacturer, ENVIRON used these methods to develop estimates for the potential to reduce carbon and energy at nearly two dozen locations throughout the United States without costly site visits at all locations. After completing detailed energy assessments at three manufacturing locations, ENVIRON utilized the results to create a bespoke survey and analysis software tool that allowed for remote energy assessments of the remaining facilities. Across the company’s U.S. manufacturing sites, ENVIRON identified efficiency projects that would reduce energy consumption by 14% and carbon emissions by 33% within a competitive payback period.
In a similar fashion, ENVIRON’s Energy, Carbon and Cost Prioritization Tool helps clients prioritize greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction projects within the context of a cumulative target. This proprietary software allows clients to consider their entire portfolio of reduction project opportunities, and prioritize based on costs and energy/GHG reductions.
For example, ENVIRON worked with the Port of Portland over eight months to help develop its Carbon and Energy Management Plan, which charts the most efficient path toward its carbon emissions reduction goal of 15% below 1990 levels by 2020. ENVIRON’s software tool was used to calculate, compare and track energy, carbon and lifecycle cost impacts of current and future energy and carbon reduction opportunities. The tool allows for the creation and comparison of different portfolios of projects and allows users to run “what-if” analyses based on adjustments to financial parameters, energy prices, fuel/energy carbon intensity and implementation schedules. The Port continues to use the tool to analyze the benefits and costs of new projects, track the implementation and performance of existing energy management projects, as well as to make long-term carbon reduction projections.
Silver Medal ? Atkins (Tampa, FL) for developing a novel approach to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions for San Bernardino County, CA, which has since been adopted by Riverside and Sutter counties. In 2007, after San Bernardino became one of the first jurisdictions forced by then Attorney General (and now Governor) Jerry Brown to include GHG mitigation in its general plan for growth and development, Atkins worked with the County, the local Building Industry Association, the cement industry and other business interests to develop screening tables that allow flexibility in prioritizing GHG reductions while meeting the terms of the county’s settlement agreement with the state.
The entire project took five years, with the County adopting its GHG Reduction Plan in January 2012 and Atkins training County staff in spring 2012 to use the tables. The first test cases were completed in April and May 2012, and after some fine-tuning, the screening tables have been used for all new development applications in San Bernardino County since fall 2012.
The screening tables provide a menu of options for energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste diversion, water conservation, transportation-related emissions reductions, GHG emission reduction credits and other measures that entities developing a new project or expanding an existing facility can choose to meet their “fair share” of the County’s GHG reduction goals. This method was chosen after Atkins and the County staff investigated and rejected other approaches including voluntary compliance (not likely to achieve high enough participation), GHG reduction ordinances (too onerous for businesses and staff) and even a local GHG emissions trading market (too burdensome for staff to implement). The screening tables method was chosen for being a versatile, business-friendly and easy-to-implement method to meet the County’s GHG Reduction Plan.
Business Model Innovation: Smart Grid & Energy Management
Gold Medal ? Schneider Electric (Rueil Malmaison, France) for continuing to leverage its broad energy management expertise in areas ranging from low to medium-voltage equipment, residential, industrial, and commercial energy management systems, and electric vehicle charging solutions to enable the smart grid and provide valuable services to improve grid reliability and energy efficiency.
Schneider Electric’s December 2012 completion of the Telvent brand integration, the company has combined its global expertise in control and automation hardware with Telvent’s industry leading Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) to create smarter electrical grids that allow utilities and consumers to maximize peak demand management and the use of renewable energy sources to help meet growing energy demands.
Additionally, Schneider Electric’s partnership with IPKeys Technologies, announced October 2012, demonstrates the company’s leadership in demand response. Through this partnership, Schneider Electric and IPKeys will deliver a fully Automated Demand Response (ADR) and Energy Management Information System (EMIS) solution for utilities’ and commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. IPKey’s EISS technology integrates with Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare software at the control level, providing C&I customers with a robust, flexible, and cost effective method of connecting to the smart grid and maximizing the demand response potential of their facilities, according to the company.
Silver Medal ? SAIC (Mclean, Va.) for achieving continuing market penetration for its Smart Grid as a Service (SGS) business model that allows public power utilities to implement a comprehensive smart grid solution without major upfront capital investment. Instead of investing heavily in smart meters and other automated metering infrastructure, plus staff development to implement it, SGS customers pay on a per-meter, per-month basis. As SAIC points out, the smart grid rollout has been predominantly led by investor-owned utilities with public- and community-owned utilities-a segment SAIC estimates serves 46 million Americans-generally behind the curve.
SAIC launched SGS in late 2011 and had several successes in 2012, including implementing the first SGS project in four remote Alaskan villages. By better integrating wind power, the SGS system is expected to reduce their dependence on expensive and hard-to-access diesel fuel.
SAIC also signed and began work on a 10-year contract with United Power for a 10,000 meter SGS pilot project. United Power is a rural electric cooperative providing electric service to nearly 70,000 homes and businesses in Colorado’s northern Front Range. United Power CEO Ron Asche said in a statement that SAIC’s “comprehensive, affordable, and integrated one-stop resource … enables our organization to better manage the risks associated with implementation of this advanced technology.” As part of the project, SAIC is assisting United Power to refine its business processes and drive culture change necessary to make full use of the system’s capabilities, including outage alerts, remote connection capabilities and the capability for enhanced integration of alternative energy metering such as time of use and net metering.
Business Model Innovation: Energy Efficiency
Gold Medal ? Metrus Energy (San Francisco) for pioneering work using Efficiency Services Agreements (ESAs) to finance and implement energy efficiency projects at commercial, industrial and institutional facilities at no upfront cost to the customer. Through its comprehensive financing solutions, Metrus pays for all upfront and ongoing project costs, providing facility owners and operators with the operational, economic and environmental benefits of impactful energy efficiency measures without the capital expense.
Metrus is an energy efficiency pioneer that created the country’s first energy efficiency-based “independent power producer” (IPP) business model. While IPPs develop and finance power plants and sell electricity (kWh), Metrus has turned the IPP model on its head by developing and financing retrofit projects that sell energy savings, or “negawatts.”
Metrus’ ESA is being utilized to finance efficiency projects at BAE Systems’ entire portfolio of facilities in the United States. In 2012, Metrus financed two new projects with BAE and its implementation partner Siemens, raising the total of ESA projects completed to date at BAE facilities to $8 million. These new projects contain a diverse mix of energy efficiency measures including lighting retrofits, building automation, air compressor and transformer replacements, demand control ventilation and operational best practices.
The projects showcase Metrus’ ability to offer customers a flexible, scalable and a proven structure to finance integrated EE projects. Based on its innovative work in energy efficiency finance, Metrus was selected as an inaugural member of the White House’s and DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge program.
Gold Medal ? Next Step Living (Boston) for taking what Jeff St. John of Greentech Media describes as a “community organizing approach” to residential energy efficiency upgrades. “Home energy efficiency audits and retrofits are known to pay themselves off in a couple of years,” wrote St. John in December 2012. But on a house-to-house basis, optimal solutions vary significantly.
While one home needs insulation, the next could benefit from an HVAC upgrade, and costs for the improvements differ across based on dwelling types and conditions. “Any party looking to optimize the return on investing in home energy efficiency-whether it be a utility offering rebates, a company offering a sale, or a government agency offering an incentive-will need to have someone go to each home, meet with each family, and figure out each customers’ individual needs, to make each efficiency dollar count,” noted St. John.
Next Step Living (NSL) works with schools, church groups, employers and other organizations to educate their members and employees about efficiency. Leveraging utility, local, state and federal incentive programs and subsidies, NSL has audited about 25,000 homes since its 2008 funding (with about one-third signing up for retrofits and a smaller portion opting for solar leasing or power purchase agreements, which NSL executes with firms such as Sunrun). Along the way it has grown its employee count to 450. In December, 2012, the raised $18.2 million from VantagePoint Capital Partners, Black Coral Capital and Mass Green Energy Fund to expand outside Massachusetts. Combined with prior VC funding of $12 million, the total of $30 million is “a lot of money for a startup in energy efficiency, particularly during what’s been a very slow year for green VC,” noted St. John.
In addition to its community-based outreach, a key distinguishing factor in NSL’s business model is that it combines the audit and retrofit functions as opposed to the more typical models in which independent auditors don’t “stick around to help the homeowner do the actual retrofit” and retrofit specialists usually represent an installer or vendor with specific products to sell, according to St. John.
“Next Step Living has also built up its fair share of homegrown IT to manage the entire process [including] software that analyzes homes based on utility and property data to predict which ones will be the best targets for different combinations of projects,” wrote St. John (noting that other startups like Bidgely, Opower and Recurve Software (recently acquired by Tendril) “offer similar data analytics tools to help better direct efficiency spending.”).
NSL CEO Geoff Chapin told St. John that many of the firm’s customers are “middle- and higher-income clients [who] simply aren’t aware of how much efficiency and renewable energy can save them [or] haven’t been told how much of it can be paid for via rebates, incentives or [other] programs.
Silver Medal ? Ygrene Energy Fund (Santa Rosa, Calif.) for adapting the property assessed clean energy (PACE) funding model into a clean energy district template that enables local jurisdictions to establish PACE-like programs to help property owners finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency improvements with not upfront costs and repayment through property tax assessments.
Modeled on the highly successful Sonoma County PACE program, Ygrene’s turnkey solution connects municipalities with building owners, local banks and local contractors to plan, finance and implement energy upgrades. Ygrene also provides on-the-ground support and integrated software to support their community-based partnership.
In 2012, Ygrene’s solution was approved by Miami, Atlanta, the City and County of Sacramento and additional municipalities in South Florida. To date, Ygrene has aligned hundreds of millions of private capital to fund energy upgrades across America, according to the company.
Technology Merit: Smart Grid & Energy Management
ENBALA Power Networks (Toronto) for developing and commercializing demand-side storage network technology that uses advanced controls and sophisticated software to aggregate large-scale commercial, industrial and institutional electricity users into a network to provide demand side management services to power grids. ENBALA calls its clients’ flexibility, “demand-side storage” because they utilize available storage within their processes, such as water pumping at a water and wastewater treatment plant or chilling at a refrigerated warehouse. ENBALA then captures and intelligently aggregates available process storage to deliver real-time flexibility back to the grid.
ENBALA’s networked loads provide grid operators with the vital regulation service, (also known as frequency regulation) they need to constantly match generation with load. ENBALA has branded its regulation service as Grid Balance. While it would be extremely difficult for any single load to respond on its own to the four-second regulation signal, by networking facilities together, ENBALA creates the agility and responsiveness needed to provide regulation. “The idea is that water plant A has a bit of flexibility, water plant B has some flexibility and a cold storage plant has some flexibility. We aggregate that flexibility together,” said CEO Ron Dizy. “No single device responds to the signal, the network responds.”
Since rolling out Grid Balance in 2011, ENBALA has added other applications for wind integration and generator efficiency-which also aggregate networked demand-side loads’ inherent storage. ENBALA has won several “best of” and “companies to watch” shout-outs from electricity trade media, including being named one of Canada’s Top 10 Most Promising Cleantech Companies in December 2012 by the ethical business outfit Corporate Knights.
Like curtailment service providers (CSPs) such as EnerNOC, ENBALA is paid by the electric utility or grid operator, sharing the payment with the supplier-clients. But ENBALA is unique in providing its Grid Balance regulation service to a market that independent power producer AES estimated at between 8 and 10 GW in the United States in 2011. The firm is also unique in its networking of demand side loads, not just for control, visibility and accounting, but in order to respond as an orchestrated group.
Since November, 2011, ENBALA, which has 50 employees, has been selling Grid Balance to the PJM Interconnection region (13 states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland) and has recently been awarded a contract for Grid Balance from the Independent Electricity System Operator in Ontario. In addition to water treatment and wastewater treatment plants, ENBALA is prioritizing chillers in cold storage facilities, HVAC systems at auto assembly plants, hospitals and universities, among other types of industrial and commercial organizations.
Tendril (Boulder, Colo.) for pioneering technology for the emerging home energy management (HEM) market, through which residents will be able to monitor their energy consumption and manage their usage for greater efficiency and to participate in residential demand response (DR) programs.
Named in March 2012 as one of the to 10 New Energy Pioneers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Tendril has alliances with heavy hitters in the energy world: GE and Siemens are investors; Tendril systems have been integrated with the infrastructure and networks of Elster, Itron, Landis + Gyr, Sensus, Silver Spring Networks and Trilliant.
Like Silver Spring, EnergyHub and other players in this space, Tendril developed a cloud-based platform which third-party developers use to create apps for end-users to slice, dice and shape their electricity usage-from smartphones, computers and tablets, or even old-school paper reports. Tendril interfaces with the Department of Energy’s Green Button, where consumers can upload electricity data and find user-friendly apps to translate data into actionable information. And it has its own app, Tendril Energize that “leverages proven behavioral models” to make it easier for electric utilities, energy marketers and others to engage customers in demand response, load control and energy efficiency, according to the firm. Tendril also sells in-home displays, smart thermostats, smart outlets, a load control switch and other devices.
The company deploys its software and devices in contracts with utilities and power marketers, including Duke Energy, NStar, Kansas City Power & Light, San Diego Gas & Electric and Origin Energy in Australia.
Tendril has less than 100 employees and more than 500 third-party app developers using its platform. As a privately held firm, Tendril does not disclose other metrics. But a December 2012 blog post reveals that the company is falling short of its growth expectations-no surprise for a startup in an emerging segment from which both Google and Microsoft exited in 2011, citing poor consumer adoption.
The bracingly honest post, written in the first person, presumably by CEO Adrian Tuck, indicates that the firm miscalculated how quickly its most important customer segment, electric power utilities, would adopt HEM systems to engage customers in energy management and demand response.
“We believed that technology trends, policy, and consumer sentiment would usher in a new era of energy management,” the post states. With funding from the 2009 Recovery Act, “almost every utility in America began issuing requests for proposals for smart grid projects aimed at updating their infrastructure and delivering new energy management options.”
While growing its business to “$100 million invested, 40+ clients on three continents, almost 4 million households on our platform, and over 500 third-party developers … we were reminded of one key lesson we sometimes forgot in our passion for our mission: the utility industry moves slowly.”
“[Entering 2013 we have learned that] many utilities don’t have the economic path to justify the investment in consumer energy engagement in the short term. Utilities are businesses too and have responsibilities to shareholders. If they can’t prove out the short-term ROI, then they will wait until they can or until regulations change.” So rather than marketing to a broad base of utility customers, Tendril will focus on executing well with “a handful of top-tier customers. … This is the new race-to win the meaningful deals with the most innovative and progressive utilities who are ready to go to scale [and to be well] positioned to capture major market share when the rest of the industry is ready.”
For investors, Tuck promises that “A more laser-focused Tendril will be profitable. Tendril has made the important step to wean ourselves off venture capital. Our great syndicate of deep-pocket investors has just given us growth capital to give the management team options for growth, but 2013 will be our first profitable year-utterly liberating in these lean venture capital times.”
Technology Merit: Transportation
ZeaChem (Lakewood, Colo.) for advancing cellulosic biofuel refining technology by scaling up its demonstration plant in Boardman, Ore., to a 25 million gallon per year (GPY) commercial-scale ethanol biorefinery, aided by a $232.5 million USDA loan guarantee (still conditional at CCBJ’s deadline). According to Biofuels Digest, the biorefinery aims to produce “up to 135 gallons of ethanol per ton of poplar biomass, with local growers aiming for as much as 16 tons of biomass per acre. That’s more than 2,000 gallons per acre, or four times the yields with corn ethanol.”
The Boardman plant will use ZeaChem’s proprietary bacteria in a multi-stage fermentation process to break down sugars in biomass feedstocks-both purpose-grown poplar and wheat straw from area farms-to produce acetic acid which can be converted into ethyl acetate and then into ethanol. As ZeaChem notes on its website, it is also developing another product platform which it calls C2 (two-carbon atom) to produce cellulose-based jet fuel and diesel in addition to the ethanol precursors.
As CCBJ readers know, cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels represent the future of biofuels. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires fuel marketers to cap their use of corn ethanol at 15 BGY and to use an increasing proportion of advanced biofuels through 2020. Refineries operating under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard will likely rely heavily on advanced biofuels in their fuel mix, with the state’s Air Resources Board having determined that cellulosic ethanol-especially when manufactured from municipal solid waste-offers the best carbon intensity profile on a lifecycle basis (taking into account avoided methane emissions as MSW is diverted from landfills).
But advanced biofuels technology developers have been notoriously over-optimistic about how soon they’ll be able to commercialize advanced biomass conversion technologies. So progress by ZeaChem and a handful of other firms will be watched closely over the rest of the decade.
Technology Merit: Low Carbon & Renewable Power
AER (Lexington, Mass.) for developing new approaches and methods for measuring and forecasting solar and wind resources which can allow renewable power plant developers to more accurately measure both long-term production and short-term variations in resource availability. For concentrating solar (thermal) power projects, AER has developed a solar irradiance forecast specifically tailored to the needs of CSP. A combination of customized weather modeling and advanced statistical techniques, the forecast technique has been presented at industry conferences including the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting’s Energy conference.
In 2012, AER also innovated a new method specifically designed for the offshore wind energy market to provide synthetic 30-year climatologies-at ultra-high space and time resolution-of wind at hub height. This approach, a hybrid physical modeling and statistical approaches, provides project stakeholders with the ability to reliably assess prospective energy production in any offshore lease area without the presence of any ground truth wind observations.
AER has presented this new technique at multiple conferences, including Energy Ocean International 2012, the American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower 2012 and the AMS Conference on Energy and the New Economy.
AWS Truepower (AWST; Albany, NY) for its contribution to advancing the technical frontiers of forecasting energy production from wind and solar power resources. In its 30th year, AWST is one of the world’s leading meteorological and engineering consultancies for the wind and solar energy industries. Among its pioneering services is the delivery of accurate forecasts, ranging from next-hour to multiple days ahead, of energy production for nearly 20 GW of installed wind and solar capacity in North America, Europe and India.
To deliver this capability, AWST draws on world-class atmospheric modeling systems and advanced statistical tools that have been optimized for local climates. These services have been instrumental in facilitating the economic integration of significant amounts of variable renewable generation into existing electric grids, and they will become even more significant as the grid penetration of wind and solar resources increases rapidly in parts of Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Recent forecasting enhancements have focused on zero to six-hour ahead time horizons when transmission system operating costs and reliability can be challenged by sudden changes in wind or solar conditions that result in unexpected ramping up or down of energy production. Through 2012 AWST led a $3.1 million DOE-funded multi-stakeholder research initiative (including NOAA as a key collaborator) to improve forecasting skill and utility value for wind projects in Texas, the state with the largest wind capacity. Similar work was completed in 2012 for the Hawaiian Electric Company for both wind and solar projects.
Both initiatives rely on higher resolution prediction tools and new weather surveillance systems. Using innovative observational targeting techniques, these systems incorporate LIDAR-based atmospheric profilers and other sensing technologies in locations that yield the greatest forecasting skill improvements for the desired generation projects.
Westinghouse Electric Co. (Pittsburg) for doing more than any other company worldwide to advance nuclear power technology. As the nuclear power industry and its regulators worldwide responded to the Fukushima disaster, the focus has been increasingly on deploying only advanced third-generation technology which is considered inherently safer than existing second-generation reactors. And Westinghouse’s AP1000 pressurized water reactor (PWR) design is the clear leader in Gen III nuclear technology in the United States, China-where Westinghouse won a competition with AREVA/EDF and other bidders for the first third-generation plants in 2007-Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Europe and elsewhere.
Along with its design-build partner Shaw Group, Westinghouse is supplying AP1000 reactor designs for all four new reactors (at two sites, Summer in South Carolina and Vogtle in Georgia) currently under construction in the United States, where the AP1000 was the first Gen III reactor design approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2006.
As noted in CCBJ’s recent edition on the future of fossil and nuclear power, the AP1000 has half as many safety-related valves, far fewer safety-related pipes and one-third fewer pumps as older reactor design-a passive approach to safety engineering that sees less as being more safe and stable.
According to Westinghouse, which is majority owned by Toshiba, nearly 50% of the nuclear plants worldwide use its technology. In addition to developing its own technology, Westinghouse has partnered with other firms to co-develop reactor designs. For example, South Korea’s Gen III APR-1400 design is based on the original Combustion Engineering-Westinghouse technology that launched the country’s nuclear presence in the late 1970s.
And Westinghouse’s value proposition goes far beyond reactor technology to include nuclear automation to enhance the reliability of plant control and safety systems through an integrated, plant-wide approach; nuclear fuel and fuel-related products worldwide for PWRs, boiling water reactors and advanced gas-cooled reactors; and services ranging from engineering for enhanced reliability and performance to decommissioning and dismantling.
Solar Frontier (Tokyo) for successfully manufacturing and commercializing thin-film solar PV modules using copper indium gallium arsenide (CIGS) materials, which Solar Frontier prefers to label CIS. While cadmium telluride manufacturer First Solar (CCBJ award winner for growth in 2009 is the hands-down leader in thin film, Solar Frontier is in a strong second place. A subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., Solar Frontier shipped 577 MW of panels in 2011. 2012 figures weren’t available at CCBJ’s deadline, but some key announced deals during the year show that the firm is continuing its strong growth and leadership in thin film.
First Solar is the module supplier for enXco/EDF’s 143 MW Catalina Solar Project in Kern County, Calif., and by the end of the year the company had delivered 80 MW, shipped from Japan in in 623 containers using steel-resin pallets with reusable plastic corners, a custom shipping mode that allows Solar Frontier to pack 130% more modules per container, cut its logistics carbon footprint by more than 10% and reduce breakage to just 0.002%, according to the company.
Other major deals for the year include a contract with Japanese convenience store chain Lawson to supply modules to its 2,000 stores in Japan; supplying a 29 MW solar power plant in Bochow, Brandenburg, Germany for CommerzReal, which went into commercial operation in May 2012; forming a JV with Germany’s Belectric, which Solar Frontier claims is the world’s largest solar EPC firm, to develop, build and sell ground- and roof-mounted PV power plants; and achieving a record 17.8% aperture area efficiency in tests by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization in February.
Project Merit: Smart Grid & Energy Management
WSP (London) for conducting and publishing, in partnership with the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), a study on the impact of cloud computing on the environment. A key goal of the study was to identify the most energy and carbon efficient IT solutions for small- and medium-sized organizations (SMOs).
To uncover the major factors determining how on-premise server rooms and cloud computing stack up in carbon emissions and energy savings, Josh Whitney, WSP’s lead author, examined five different scenarios with the goal of making it easier for companies to compare options and consider sustainability in their decision-making. The analysis used for the study breaks new ground in identifying how best practice, average, and worst-case scenarios impact environmental performance when modeled across a variety of application and deployment types.
The study found that while running a computer application in the cloud is generally more energy- and carbon-efficient than running it in your server room, the carbon footprint of cloud computing services is highly dependent on a number of important variables that were considered in the analysis including server utilization factor, electricity carbon emissions factor for the location of the data center, the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio, and hardware efficiency.
Project Merit: Transmission for Renewable Integration
Mott MacDonald (Croydon, Surrey, UK) for developing MOWFO, a tool to automate the generation of layouts for the electrical inter-array cable systems of offshore wind farms. By optimizing the layout for total cable length, cost and lifetime operational losses, considering a range of turbine string configurations including radial, branched and mixed designs, MOWFO allows offshore wind developers to reduce their transmission-related capex significantly.
During 2012, Mott MacDonald used MOWFO to deliver a range of electrical design options for several Round 3 UK wind farms. The tool allowed rapid and automated assessment of a vast number of different layouts to find the best overall solution in terms of installed cable CAPEX. For one 1.2 GW wind farm, the layout configurations identified by applying MOWFO achieved significant capex savings for the project developer, according to Mott MacDonald.
According to Mott MacDonald, full optimization is impractical due to the size of mathematical problem; however the MOWFO iterative method, employing a generic algorithm, provides a near optimal solution in a practical timescale.
Project Merit: Wind Power
CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.) for developing on behalf of the City of San Francisco an innovative Urban Wind Map enabling residents to enter their address and instantly learn if their home or business has good wind energy potential. CH2M HILL developed the new map-integrating 3-D models for every building in San Francisco with computational fluid dynamics to characterize wind flows through the City’s downtown core and residential neighborhoods.
By simulating various wind conditions, combined with meteorological data, a single wind layer was developed showing wind hot and cold spots for the City’s more than 550,000 structures. Hot spots align with the highest elevations, while cold spots form in the lee of large structures. The interactive website helps residents make informed renewable energy decisions by including case studies of existing installations; images of what they look like; details on how much energy they provide; and information on local installers, permitting requirements, and applicable local, state, and federal incentives.
It complements San Francisco’s Solar Map, also created by CH2M HILL in 2008, which is credited with supporting the city’s four-fold increase in solar PV installations since 2009.
Project Merit: Solar Power
Borrego Solar (San Diego) for its business growth over the last year, and for its innovative engineering work in developing solar PV projects on capped landfills and designated brownfield sites. By bringing its financing and technical expertise to this segment, Borrego Solar is supporting a trend in which municipal and private landfill owners are increasingly identifying sites with limited reuse potential and exploring the development of large-scale distributed generation and net-metered solar PV installations.
In one of the largest capped-landfill projects to date, Borrego Solar worked with the City of Easthampton, Mass., to develop a 2.3 MW (DC) photovoltaic system that went online in the summer of 2012 and is expected to produce 2.8 GWh annually, contributing substantially to the city’s general fund and its clean energy goals, making the City of Easthampton one of the state Department of Energy Resources’ designated Green Communities.
Borrego Solar and other PV developers are targeting capped landfills as ideal locations, because in most cases the properties can’t be developed for anything else. Additionally, the generated savings from the solar power installations can offset O&M costs currently plaguing the cities where the sites reside. Landfills with existing gas-to-energy projects are more ideal for solar energy systems, because they have an electrical infrastructure already onsite, further reducing solar development costs while providing savings to the lessors.
The Easthamptom Oliver Street landfill project also pioneered replicable mounting techniques that meet the stringent load requirements of landfills. Borrego Solar’s engineers designed the ballasted ground mounted racking system with concrete blocks, each weighing 5,000 lbs. The ballasted system allows for the installation of the PV modules without penetrating the protective membrane (or cap) of the landfill. Support beams and pylons used in traditional ground-mounted solar energy systems wouldn’t work. Additionally, structural engineers determined a weight per square foot limitation that required the use of special crane and trucking equipment on the property during the construction process.
Tioga Energy (San Francisco) for completing in fall 2012 a 3.34 MW distributed solar PV project incorporating 30 separate publicly owned facilities in Union County, N.J. The systems, mounted on rooftops and carports at schools, libraries and other public facilities, range in size from less than 10 kW to almost 500 kW.
The project was the result of a public-private partnership begun in 2010 between Tioga and Union County Improvement Authority, a public agency that assists local governments in Union County to finance infrastructure projects. After responding to a UCIA request for proposals, Tioga and the public agency worked out a financing arrangement to make the most out of the public agency’s bond authority, revenue streams from solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), electricity payments from the public agencies receiving the power and the federal 1603 grant in-lieu-of tax credit program.
The UCIA issued Guaranteed Renewable Energy Program Lease Bonds in 2011, then used the proceeds to pay Tioga Energy to build the systems. In a sale-leaseback arrangement, the UCIA retained title to the assets, then leased the systems to Tioga, whose payments met UCIA’s financing costs and covered its professional fees for project development, according to the UCIA’s report on the projects.
Tioga Energy sells power to the host facilities at rates approximately 50% lower than those of the local utility for 15 year terms using Tioga’s open-source SurePath Solar power purchase agreement. All systems were installed through a joint venture between Pro-Tech Energy Solutions and Huen Electric, Inc, with environmental and engineering management firm Whitman providing design services.
Although Tioga Energy designed these systems to withstand extreme weather conditions, no one expected an immediate structural strength test. Hurricane Sandy ripped through Union County in October, forcing 13 towns in the region to declare a state of emergency. In the aftermath of the storm, each of the 30 solar installations emerged unscathed.
Marin Energy Authority (San Rafael, Calif.) for leveraging its liberal community’s deep support for clean renewable power to create a robust local feed-in tariff program that is spurring investment in distributed solar PV and other renewable projects.
In a state where many renewable power advocates have looked longingly for more than a decade at the favorable FiT policies in Europe, the state has only adopted a market-reference price FiT that hasn’t stimulated significant investment. The FiT offered by MEA’s Marin Clean Energy division is a 20-year power purchase agreement at wholesale prices starting at $100.57 per MWh for intermittent sources (wind), $116.49 for baseload energy (landfill gas, biomass, and fuel cell) and $137.66 for renewables that deliver peak energy (photovoltaic solar and solar thermal).
Last year, MCE signed a 20-year PPA with developers of a 972 kW PV project-the largest in the county to date-that is spread across aircraft hangar rooftops at the San Rafael Airport. And it is looking for more projects up to its 10 MW cap. (Energy from renewable projects can also be developed to directly offset usage through MCE’s Net Energy Metering program in which production is credited at the retail rate plus a $.01/kwh.) The airport project was developed by REP Energy, is being constructed by Synapse Electric, and was financed 50% by Bank of Marin and 50% by Joe Shekou, a developer who owns the airport.
MCE is the first instance of a local energy procurement and marketing entity formed in California through what is known as community choice aggregation. CCAs like MCE take over energy buying and selling from the local investor-owned utility-in this case Pacific Gas & Electric-while the utility continues delivering the energy and operating and maintaining the grid in exchange for a per-kWh surcharge.
Enabled by legislation intended to address the market power abuses that contributed to the 2000-2001 California energy crisis, the CCA model has become a rallying point for those who want to see even higher proportions of renewable energy on the California grid than the 33% by 2020 currently mandated for investor-owned utilities. Since MEA’s founding in 2010, other local governments have joined, including the City of Richmond, and MEA’s customer base is expected to be more than 110,000 by Q2 2013 according to California Energy Markets. More than a dozen other California local governments-including a consortium in the East Bay-are either developing CCAs or exploring the option.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation
AECOM (Los Angeles) for working with the Asian Development Bank, the German KfW Development Bank and collaborators including local Bangladeshi firms preparing a $150 million project creating a series of recommendations and pilot projects for enhancing climate resilience through improving coastal infrastructure in Bangladesh. As summarized in the September 2012 Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project report, principally written by AECOM Asia, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries worldwide to climate change because of its geographical location, low floodplain, erratic monsoons and extreme climate events.
AECOM assembled an international multi-disciplinary technical team including climate change specialists, civil engineers, hydrologists and social development and safeguard specialists from various countries to develop a knowledge transfer framework and long-term development strategy in building capacity to adapt to climate change.
After assessing potential climate change impacts and local situations, AECOM recommended climate proofing options for engineering and non-engineering measures, such as road improvements, cyclone shelters, and knowledge management to enhance resilience of local infrastructures to climate change. The study placed special emphasis on roads because these are both highly important to rural economic development and highly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The study, while enhancing living conditions and sustainability, will also improve livelihoods in 12 rural coastal districts by providing economic opportunities through enhanced climate resilience of coastal infrastructure along the south-western coastline which is prone to extensive climate variability. AECOM estimates that implementation of the recommendations will benefit some 3.5 million people with employment and income opportunities and better access to social services as a result of the project. In addition, 13,000 government officials and others will be trained in climate resilience, safeguards, knowledge management and project management. Population below the poverty line in the high-risk project areas is envisaged to reduce by 10 percentage points from 35% by 2020.
Golder Associates (Atlanta, GA) for working in cooperation with the School of Bioresource Engineering and Environmental Hydrology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to developing a baseline assessment of climate change vulnerabilities of South Africa’s tourism industry and an accompanying Basic Guideline for Vulnerability Assessment. The research report and guidelines focus on the key climate change vulnerabilities of South Africa’s tourism industry, which was estimated at $22 billion in 2009, roughly 8% of GDP, and is expected to grow to more than $55 billion by 2020, according to government projections.
The vulnerabilities include physical impacts such as higher temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of heavy rains, prolonged periods with no rain, heat waves and sea level rise. Additionally, the industry may experience pressures associated with the low carbon economy, policies that require reductions in energy and fuel usage and carbon emissions and development of other sustainable tourism practices.
These vulnerabilities are assessed in the context of tourism services and energy, human health, food security, water and agriculture, tourism business continuity and biodiversity, as they relate to South Africa’s diverse tourism zones.
The Guideline accompanying the report is based on the principles outlined in the Baseline Assessment, and aims to assist tourism facilities, representative bodies and potential investors to broadly assess their vulnerability to climate change.
CH2M HILL (Englewood, Colo.) for managing Smart Water Now, a dynamic water measurement and efficiency program designed to create social, economic, and environmental value in Charlotte, NC. Implemented by Envision Charlotte, a public-private initiative linking sustainability with economic development, the program aims to transform how energy and water are consumed and managed.
Like its sister energy program, Smart Water Now collects and displays water usage in Charlotte’s central business district, then drives awareness and behavior change to reduce consumption and promote conservation. Launched in October 2012, the program allows building occupants to track water consumption in real time on interactive kiosks, smart phones and online. Its mission is to reduce consumption in participating buildings by 20 percent over the next five years.
By converging the website’s energy and water data under a unified, common platform, Charlotte is positioned to become one of the country’s most environmentally sustainable urban centers and a global model for smart cities. CH2M HILL serves as the project’s program manager. Additional partners include Itron, Verizon, Siemens, and the City of Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) who support the Envision Charlotte vision and play a foundational role.
Project Merit: Other Renewable & Low-Carbon Power
Harvest Power (Waltham, Mass.) for Harvest Power for achieving milestones for growth, projects, awards and capital fundraising for its innovative approaches to waste-to-energy systems. Harvest has three projects that will generate over 7MW of renewable energy. Its Energy Garden in British Columbia, which uses technology licensed from Germany’s GICON, began commissioning in November 2012. Harvest calls this the first commercial-scale, high solids anaerobic digestion system in North America and supports the Metro Vancouver’s region’s commitment to Zero Waste targets.
Harvest’s Energy Garden in London, Ontario, processing some 70,000 tons of organic waste from food processors annually, also began commissioning in 2012. And Harvest started construction on an Energy Garden in central Florida that will cost-effectively treat municipal biosolids and regional food waste while generating renewable electricity.
Harvest currently operates 26 sites in North America and employs 435 people (over 200 more than in 2011). The company manages more than 2 million tons per year of organics and sells more than 28 million bags of soil and mulch annually. Harvest was named to the Global CleanTech 100 for the 3rd year in a row and won the KPMG 2012 Infrastructure 100 World Cities Edition award. A notable highlight from 2012 was a successful Series C fundraising round of $125 million total, one of the largest capital raises in recent cleantech history.
Project Merit: Energy Efficiency
PMC (Oakland, Calif.) for its groundbreaking work with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) and Southern California Edison to develop regional energy efficiency climate action plans (EECAPs) for 27 cities in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. Starting with community and stakeholder outreach-including 35 workshops, meetings and presentations and 1,839 energy action surveys conducted with individuals-PMC assessed and compared energy trends and energy efficiency opportunities at a regional scale.
Then the firm prepared a Planning and Assessment Report, Best Practices Report, and Regional Framework for the 27 cities, each of which developed its own EECAP in a bottom-up collaborative process that was shaped by the identified regional goals, priorities, and strategies.
EECAPs include a baseline inventory and forecast of each community’s energy use and activities, both for municipal operations and community-wide activities. The EECAPs not only aim to accomplish each city’s goals and assist in meeting the regional goals, they allow the jurisdictions to comply with California’s legislative mandates that require consideration of climate and energy impacts in community planning.
In total, the 27 EECAPs target the following annual savings by 2020: 409 Million kWh saved by residents with the average household reducing its energy usage by 16% to save an estimated $160 annually; 655 million kWh saved by commercial, industrial and institutional energy users; 18 million kWh saved by municipal entities.
The intense 15-month project culminated with a September 2012 regional climate change conference, led by PMC and the SGVCOG, where the participating cities shared strategies and lessons learned and discussed how to facilitate implementation and collaboration at a regional scale. The project was funded by SCE ratepayers through a surcharge for the California Long-term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.
Energy Efficiency Funding Group (San Francisco) for ramping up the training opportunities it provides for energy efficiency sales professionals to become “financial ninjas” and make compelling business cases that show prospective clients the true return on investment that can be generated with energy efficiency measures. In 2012, EEFG launched its Efficiency Sales Professional Institute and debuted the Efficiency Sales Professional certification program which has been embraced by long-time client San Diego Gas & Electric and also adopted by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which will underwrite half the $3,000 tuition for sales professionals in its territory to attend a March ESP training.
The ESP program is a six-day boot camp featuring 48 hours of instruction and paired with a yearlong support network. EEFG President Mark Jewell says it “finely tuned to address the challenges” of the energy efficiency industry, drawing on the experience “‘sales rock stars’ who have collectively brought energy solutions to more than three billion square feet of buildings over the last two decades.” In testimonials provided to CCBJ, ESP training graduates called the program was “very valuable and enjoyable,” was “one of the most effective, worthwhile training sessions I have attended,” and “provided greater clarity and specific action items to move approval of projects forward.”
NGO Activist Award
The Breakthrough Institute (Oakland, Calif.) for critiquing the narrow thinking and overly alarmist perspective of much of the U.S. environmentalist movement and challenging environmentalists to take a broader focus that incorporates support for economic development, social justice and technological and engineering approaches to solving global warming.
In their groundbreaking 2004 essay, The Death of Environmentalism, Institute founders Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger urged environmental leaders to stop focusing on unwinnable policy fights, like getting the U.S. Senate to ratify Kyoto, and instead to seek common ground with labor by supporting clean energy policies that would create jobs; instead of emphasizing the apocalyptic consequences of global warming-engendering “helplessness and isolation among would-be supporters”-they should articulate “a positive, transformative vision” of a clean-energy economy.
In later papers, speeches and books-including Breakthrough: From the Death of Environmentalism (2007) and Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene (2011)-Nordhaus and Shellenberger have deconstructed the environmental movement’s founding myths, pointing out that it emerged not just in response to unprecedented pollution but when middle-class prosperity allowed Americans to experience and appreciate the environment as never before-and gave them the time and flexibility to organize.
To expect Brazilians or Chinese to choose “a development path fundamentally different from the one pursued by the West is Naïve,” say Nordhaus and Shellenberger. Yet many western environmentalists living with “unprecedented levels of wealth and security … reject economic growth as a measure of well-being, tell cautionary tales about modernity and technology and warn of overpopulation now that their [their societies] are wealthy [and] no longer growing.”
In Love Your Monsters, Nordhaus, Shellenberger and other writers argue that the “eco-theological” viewpoint that says “ecological problems are the consequence of human violations of a separate ‘nature'” must be replaced with a “modernization theology” that celebrates “the technologies that led our prehuman ancestors to evolve” and embraces genetic engineering of drought-resistant crops, carbon capture and storage, massive coastal protection infrastructure and other technical and engineering solutions to adapt to climate change.
Climate Pragmatism, a 2011 paper by the Hartwell Group and co-authored by Nordhaus and Shellenberger and other scholars, urged activists and policymakers to stop arguing with climate change skeptics about whether recent weather disasters are the result of anthropogenic climate change. Instead, governments should get on with the business of funding measures to make communities and economies-especially in vulnerable developing countries-more resilient to extreme weather of all kinds.
In April 2012, Breakthrough broke with the U.S. renewable power industry to say that it was time for production subsidies-which they tallied at $150 billion so far-to sunset and be replaced with innovation funding that would allow wind and solar in particular to achieve “subsidy independence.” In November 2012, Nordhaus and Shellenberger issued a paper (based on a speech to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association) urging the gas industry to embrace tighter regulation and environmentalists to “consider whether [expanding domestic gas consumption] might be a different path to significant emissions reduction from the one they have pursued over the last 20 years.”
Writing on Slate.com in December 2012, former Audubon editor Keith Kloor, called Nordhaus and Shellenberger key figures in an emerging group of “modernist greens” who “don’t catastrophize [and] are even optimistic about the future.”
“[They] recognize that the nature-knows-best, technology-averse philosophy has bred some unfortunate tendencies that make 20th-century environmentalism ill-suited to address 21st-century problems and needs,” wrote Kloor. “If modernist greens are successful in prodding their peers, environmentalism will be reborn and continue to play a vital role in making the world a more sustainable place for all.”