Thursday, February 14, 2013

Renewable Energy Law News - Week of February 11, 2013

Two Energy Revolutions in The State of the Union

It was no surprise that energy and climate change featured prominently in Tuesday's State of the Union speech. The President devoted an entire section of his address to these topics, leading into it in a very upbeat way: "Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy." You'd never guess from that introduction that this president faces a strikingly different energy challenge than his seven most recent predecessors. There are two energy revolutions underway in the US, and the unplanned one is racing ahead of the one to which he devoted most of his remarks--and most of his efforts on energy for the last four years.

Let's start with the positives. Even more than in last year's speech, President Obama presented energy as more of an opportunity than a problem. He described our impressive recent progress in oil and natural gas production, renewable energy generation, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As fact-checkers have pointed out, he stepped into aspiration when he claimed credit for doubling automobile fuel economy--a goal that might or might not be attained by 2025--but even this fits within a broad set of energy trends that are all finally moving in the right direction.

The President also endorsed a very good idea that has been floating around for a long time, but has never been seized upon. He suggested funding R&D for electric and natural gas vehicles and biofuels with the revenue from federal oil and gas lease bid premiums and royalties. This "Energy Security Trust" would yoke the success of future energy technology to the enormous cash cow represented by the vast oil and gas resources beneath public lands and waters. He'll have to sort out the allocation of revenues with the states, who surely won't want the new set-aside to come from their share. If he can work that out, the government will have an even bigger vested interest in ensuring that responsible oil and gas development on these lands proceeds, in order to advance energy innovation.

The 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard: A 10-Minute Guide

In Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its proposed 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS2).??The proposal will be open for a 45-day public comment period and EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized.

For 2013, the program is proposing to implement EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.35 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2012.

The Proposed Standard

Here, we have given you the proposed 2013 RFS2 volumes, and the original 2013 targets set under the 2007 EISA legislation. We’ve also provided the final 2012 and 2011 numbers, so that you can evaluate the growth rate in each pool and in the overall Standard.

Note: RFS2 is nested, so the figures for Cellulosic biofuels and Biomass-based diesel are nested inside the overall Advanced Biofuels number — and in turn the Advanced biofuels pool is nested (alongside the corn ethanol target) within the overall Renewable Fuel Standard.

It may sound complex, but it is designed that way so that shortfalls in one pool can be made up by expanding the targets in another pool. That’s why you have to be wary of people who flag a shortfall in one nested pool, for example, cellulosic biofuels. Any shortfalls are easily made up by sourcing qualifying advanced biofuels elsewhere.

Norway to support the renewable energy sector in Angola

The governments of Angola and Norway Friday in Luanda signed a cooperation protocol in the area of renewable energy, for the 2013-2015 period, Angolan news agency Angop reported.

Under the terms of the protocol, Norway will provide technical assistance, organise training for Angolan Energy and Water Ministry staff and support Angola to promote activities for more efficient electricity use in the country.

At the end of the ceremony, the secretary of state for Water, Luís Filipe da Silva, said that Norway was a highly developed country in terms of hydroelectricity and that Angola hoped to benefit from that experience further to improve its energy sector.

“The protocol includes drawing up a proposed strategy and plan of action for rural electrification through use of renewable energy, drawing up proposals for the legal framework of renewable energy development and its uses,” noted the secretary of state.

Norway, according to Silva, will support Angola in improving its technological development, through several activities such as assistance in execution of the investment programme for pre-paid electricity meters, campaigns to raise awareness of more efficient use of electricity, amongst other activities.

Photo via Flickr

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