At a recent conference in London, the National Infrastructure Plan for the UK was outlined. This is a plan to invest £ 400 billion over 10 yrs in UK infrastructure including high speed rail, energy (especially nuclear and wind), aviation, water and wastewater, roads and highways, and high speed broadband. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this plan is the intention that 70% of the funding will come from the private sector.
The Mayor of Chicago has just outlined a $7 billion infrastructure development plan for Chicago. An important participant in this plan is the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, an initiative announced by Mayor Emanuel and former President Bill Clinton. The fund is a nonprofit corporation that collects private investment which is then applied to infrastructure development.
The Mayor specifically mentioned several major projects including
$1 billion for the Chicago Transit Authority to renovate more than 100 stations and eliminate “slow zones”
$1.4 billion for O’Hare International Airport for two new runways by 2015 and other expansion.
$290 million for new parkland, playgrounds, basketball courts, sports fields, nature trails and bike and running paths.
$1.4 billion to fix Chicago's water system (3,800 leaks last year), including the replacement of 900 miles of century-old water pipe, the repair of 750 miles of sewer line, and the reconstruction of 160,000 catch-basins.
A $660 million investment in Chicago Public Schools, and a $479 million investment in the City Colleges of Chicago
“Retrofit Chicago,” a $225 million dollar effort to retrofit City buildings, reducing their energy consumption by 25 percent - the first project funded by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust.
Presumably this is in addition to the consent decree that Chicago agreed to in December of last year to address the issue of combined sewer overflows that it is estimated will cost the city about $3 billion.
The world's population is growing older and that has important implications for the workforce for utilities and other sectors. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has projected that by 2060, about 40% of the population of Japan will be of retirement age. By 2030 over 20% of the Canadian population will be 65 or over.
One out of four middle class Americans say they will need to work until at least age 80 to live comfortably in retirement and 74% of Americans expect to work in their retirement years.
In 2010 France raised the retirement age from 60 to 62. The government of Poland has just announced that it plans to raise the retirement age from 60 (women) and 65 (men) to 67 for all. In Germany the retirement age will rise from the current limit of 65 to 67 gradually from 2012 through 2029. Denmark has decided to increase the statutory retirement age from 65 to 67 between 2024 and 2027. In the UK the statutory retirement age for women is rising from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020. There are also plans to increase the statutory retirement age for both sexes to 68 between 2024 and 2046. In Japan and Korea the effective age of retirement is close to 70 for men despite an official retirement age of 60. Yesterday Canada raised the retirement age (eligibility for old age pension) for Canadians from 65 to 67.
According to the New York Times, between 2006 and 2009 more than 9,400 of the US’s 25,000 sewage systems have violated the law by dumping untreated or partly treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials into rivers and lakes and elsewhere, according to data from state environmental agencies and the EPA. In New York the sewer system overflows just about every other time it rains. According to the New York Riverkeeper, more than 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater discharge from 460 combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into New York Harbor each year.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have announced a $3.8 billion agreement over 18 years to reduce combined sewer overflows. $2.4 billion has been allocated for green Infrastructure projects. These include blue roofs and green roofs, which use mechanical devices or vegetation to slow down drainage from roofs, porous pavement for parking lots, tree pits and streetside swales for roadways, wetlands and swales for parks, and rain barrels in some residential areas. $1.4 billion has been allocated for gray infrastructure such as holding tanks for CSO overflows in wet weather and treatment plant expansions.
The agreement resolves all outstanding compliance issues associated with the Consent Order mandating the City to reduce CSOs. The state has agreed to defer decisions on more gray infrastructure projects in certain parts of New York until completion of the green infrastructure demonstration projects. The modified Consent Order puts into place the elements of a green infrastructure adaptive management approach. Over the next 18 years, the City will control the first inch of rain from 10 percent of the City's impervious surface with green infrastructure. The Consent Order requires five-year incremental milestones to meet that goal, and annual reporting on progress. The City will invest $187 million in public funds toward the achievement of the first five-year target. The remainder of the funding will be a combination of public and private.
The recent rule-setting by the EPA for atmospheric mercury and carbon dioxide pollution suggests it would be interesting to look at the EPA's Acid Rain Program which was initiated in 1990.
The SO2 Acid Rain Program was implemented through an set of rules that were designed to create an active allowance trading scheme. The allowance trading system created rules of exchange that were designed to minimize government intrusion and make allowance trading a viable compliance strategy for reducing SO2.
Allowance trading scheme
Utility units are allocated allowances based on their historic fuel consumption and a specific emissions rate. Each allowance permits a unit to emit 1 ton of SO2 during or after a specified year. For each ton of SO2 emitted in a given year, one allowance is expired. Allowances may be bought, sold, or banked. Anyone may acquire allowances and participate in the trading system. Currently there is a permanent cap of 8.95 million allowances issues to utilities annually. EPA holds an allowance auction annually. The auctions help to send the market an allowance price signal, as well as furnish utilities with an additional avenue for purchasing needed allowances. There is also an Opt-in Program that expands the program to include sources not required to participate in the Acid Rain Program. The Opt-in Program offers a combustion source a financial incentive to voluntarily reduce its SO2 emissions. By reducing emissions below its allowance allocation, an opt-in source will have unused allowances, which it can sell in the SO2 allowance market.
Title IV of the Clean Air Act as amended in 1990 set the objective of the program to reduce annual SO2 emissions by 10 million tons below 1980 levels. This was achieved in two phases.
SO2 Phase 1
This phase started in 1995 and affected major emitters, initally 263 units at 110 coal-burning electric utility plants located in the East and Midwest. Utimately the total number of units affected increased to 445. Emissions data shws that the program was effective in reducing SO2 emissions by this group by 40 percent below the target.
SO2 Phase 2
Phase 2 began in the year 2000 and imposed tighter emissions limits on the major emitters, and also set restrictions on smaller plants fired by coal, oil, and gas with an output capacity of 25 MW or more and all new plants. It included over 2,000 units.
By 2010 annual SO2 emissions were down by 12 million tons or 70% compared to 1980 levels.
The Clean Air Act also specified a 2 million ton reduction in NOx emissions by the year 2000. The NOx program was also implemented in two phases, beginning in 1996 and 2000. But it was implemented differently from the SO2 program. It did not "cap" NOx emissions, nor does it use an allowance trading system. The emissions source may meet the performance standard on a unit basis, enter into an emissions averaging plan over multiple units, or apply for an alternative emissions limitation.
By 2010 annual NOx emissions were down by 3.8 million tons or 65% compared to 1995 levels.
The United States as no binding emissions goals like the EU does, and has not been able to agree on a carbon tax, cap and trade or a clean energy standard, though yet another attempt has recently been introduced in the Senate. About 36 states have a mandatory or voluntary renewable portfolio standards (RPS) or renewable energy standard (RES).
EPA is proposing that new fossil‐fuel‐fired power plants meet an output‐based standard of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt‐hour (lb CO2/MWh gross). It says that new natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plant units should be able to meet the proposed standard without add‐on controls. New power plants that are designed to use coal or petroleum coke would be able to incorporate technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to meet the standard, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The EPA is proposing a limit of 1 lb or 453 g of CO2 per kWh for new power plants. The EPA Administrator said that new gas turbine power plants should be able to meet this standard. A coal-fired plant could not meet this standard without technology such as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), which is not yet a proven production technology.
Coal fired plants = 800 to 1050 g per kWh Natural gas (combined cycle) = 430 g (average) per kWh
The EPA's new proposed rule does not apply to existing units already operating or units that will start construction over the next 12 months.
The EPA has had an open public consultation process to gather information in developing the carbon pollution standard for new power plants. The EPA’s comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
Imagine H2O, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs who turn water challenges into business opportunities, has announced the winners of its third annual prize competition. Imagine H2O presented the 3rd annual Water Entrepreneurs Showcase hosted by Autodesk at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. All nine of the finalists are new participants in the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program.
The first Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) ad hoc meeting on geospatial standards related to smart grid in the electric power utility industry was held at the OGC TC/PC meeting in Austin March 20. The turout was about 25 people representing the vendor, services, government, standards and academic communities including AIST (Japan), Autodesk, Intergraph, Oracle, GE Energy, Trimble, ESRI, Synaptitude, Northrup-Grumman, Hitachi (Japan), Secure Dimensions, Geoconnections (Canada), Canmet Energy (Canada), Geonovum (Netherlands), and universities from Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan.
There are a number of standards that are related to smart grid, some of which of which are already compliant at some level with OGC geospatial standards, such as Geography Markup Language (GML) and Web Featuure Service (WFS).
OASIS eMIX (Energy market information exchange) used GML
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Common infirmation model (CIM) uses GML
IEC CIM is harmonized with WXXM (Weather information exchnage model) which is based on GML
The objective of the proposed OGC domain working group (DWG) is to coordinate and develop standards to enable efficient gespatial communication within smart grids and between smart grids and neightbouring activities such as emergency response, disaster management, urban planning and building energy management. It has been proposed that the effort will be in close cooperation with ISO/TC 211 standards organization.
Related standards/activities that were mentioned include GeoBI (SAP), SGIP eMIX, IndoorGML, Canmet Energy (NRCan), NIST/SGIP, ETSI M2M, IEC 61850 (smart substations), BALLADE (smart meter networks), eMobility (EV charging stations networks), and ASHRAE.
The immediate objectives are to create a mission statement and domain working group charter to enable the group to be recongnized as an OGC Working Group (WG).
Margaret Goodrich (SISCO), who gave a presentation on extending CIM to include environmental data such as weather information (an effort sponsored by Southern California Edison), made a strong case that to attract the attention of the utility industry, developing the technical specifications for standards is not enough. Use cases and a strong business justification are essential or the standards will languish on the shelf.
"There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.
"When a billion people in the world already live in chronic hunger and water resources are under pressure we cannot pretend the problem is ‘elsewhere’. Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:
follow a healthier, sustainable diet
consume less water-intensive products
reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
produce more food, of better quality, with less water."
There is some good news on the water front. As I have blogged, the world is well on the way to reducing by 50% the number of people without access to clean drinking water (884 million) or basic sanitation (2.6 billion). The world will meet or even exceed the drinking water target by 2015 if current trends continue. By that time, an estimated 86 per cent of the population in developing regions will have gained access to improved sources of drinking water, up from 71 per cent in 1990. Four regions — Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia — have already met the target.