Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Research Briefs and Papers

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Now showing 1 - 16 of 16
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    Racial and Economic Disparities in Electric Reliability and Service Quality in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota Service Area
    (2024-02) Pradhan, Bhavin; Chan, Gabriel
    This paper asks whether disparities exist in access to shared infrastructure systems, focusing on the electric system, an essential service delivered by heavily regulated public utilities. We examine disparities in access to electricity service in the service area of Xcel Energy across three dimensions: utility disconnection, service reliability, and grid availability to host distributed energy resources. We quantify disparities across Census block groups by leveraging unique, high-resolution datasets of service quality and grid conditions that have only recently been made publicly available. We find significant and pervasive evidence of the disparities among different demographic groups across utility disconnection and service reliability. Across a battery of regression models, we find that living in poorer neighborhoods with a greater concentration of people of color is associated with a statistically and practically significant difference in the likelihood of disconnection from service due to non-payment and the experience of extended power outages. We also find evidence that hosting capacity for distributed generation is higher in disadvantaged communities and communities with high populations of people of color. These findings underscore the opportunity for policy initiatives to rectify deep-seated inequalities through affirmative investments and safety net programs that ensure all communities, regardless of their racial or economic composition, have equitable access to universal basic utility service and reliable, clean energy.
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    Accelerating development of energy innovation ecosystems: strengthening links across institutions and actors
    (2023-11-01) Kolesnikov, Sergey; Han, Mengyao; Li, Deyu; Jung, Thea; Chan, Gabriel; Narayanamurti, Venkatesh; Diaz Anadon, Laura
    On June 18-19, 2023, the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance in the University of Cambridge hosted an in-person international Workshop entitled ‘Accelerating development of energy innovation ecosystems: strengthening links across institutions and actors.’ The Workshop was funded by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation as part of the research project ’What factors drive innovation in energy technologies? The role of technology spillovers and government investment’ led by Professors Laura Diaz Anadon (University of Cambridge), Venkatesh Narayanamurti (Harvard University) and Gabriel Chan (University of Minnesota) as co-PIs. The Workshop brought together researchers from the project and world-leading experts and scholars in energy technology and innovation policy, academic entrepreneurs, and policy makers from the UK, US, and the EU. This report summarises the findings about the factors contributing to the successes and failures of energy innovation ecosystems identified by participants of the Workshop over a course of three panel discussions. The report provides a background for the following recommendations for action by national or regional policy makers in the UK and beyond to accelerate energy innovation through improvements in the energy innovation system put forward by participants as the key takeaways from the Workshop: 1. Fill the gaps in the energy innovation system 2. Strengthen the linkages in the energy innovation system and beyond 3. Facilitate conducive government policy 4. Change organisational and leadership culture
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    Community Ownership in Community Solar Projects
    (2023-08) Grimley, Matthew; Chan, Gabriel
    With the recent boom in community solar projects and programs, and new state and federal commitments to energy justice, many have renewed interest in community-owned community solar. This fact sheet provides a description of 11 different forms of community ownership of community solar, how they operate, and brief examples of each.
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    Scaling Weatherization in Minnesota: Opportunities and Challenges from a Landscape Analysis and Case Study Analysis
    (2022-02) Chan, Gabriel; Harrington, Elise; Berger, Jacqueline
    This report aims to inform decision makers in Minnesota as they consider scaling the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program. The report summarizes information from two research approaches: (1) a landscape analysis of weatherization funding reports and implementation plans across Minnesota and 20 comparable states, and (2) a set of comparative case studies drawn from interviews with weatherization program offices and implementers and reports in six states. We analyze states’ experience in effectively leveraging WAP funding with other programs, applying additional sources of capital for weatherization, and addressing barriers to broadening the reach of and services provided by weatherization programs. The report presents the information from the landscape analysis and case studies, which we use to propose recommendations for Minnesota decision makers to consider. Our findings and recommendations cut across legislation, program design, and implementation of weatherization.
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    Source Water Protection Challenges and Co-benefits
    (2021-11) Noe, Ryan; Keeler, Bonnie; Mayer, Terin
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    Equipping Municipalities with Climate Change Data to Inform Stormwater Management
    (2022-02) Noe, Ryan; Birkel, Jonathan; Locke, Christina; Twine, Tracy; Keeler, Bonnie; Hall, Leah; Pinkalla, Stephanie
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    Measuring what matters: Assessing the full suite of benefits of OHF investments
    (2021-01-08) Noe, Ryan; Locke, Christina; Host, George; Gorzo, Jessica; Johnson, Lucinda; Lonsdorf, Eric; Grinde, Alexis; Joyce, Michael; Bednar, Josh; Dumke, Josh; Keeler, Bonnie
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    Community Shared Solar in Minnesota: Learning from the First 300 Megawatts
    (2018-03) Chan, Gabriel; Grimley, Matthew; Arnold, Elizabeth; Evans, Isaac; Herbers, Jacob; Hoffman, Maureen; Ihde, Benjamin; Mazumder, Poulomi; Morgan, Jordan; Neuman, Nick; Streitz, Ryan
    Community shared solar is an emerging approach to deploying solar energy that promises to expand the market for solar by allowing a group of electricity customers without roof space or access to capital to own, finance, or lease a share of an offsite, centralized solar facility. Community solar programs are being developed across the country, and as of March, 2018, Minnesota had the country’s largest set of programs, with over 300 MW-AC installed. In this paper, we analyze the economic and political factors driving the emergence of Minnesota’s 33 community solar programs, and investigate the opportunities and barriers faced in developing community solar in different utility territories. We draw contrasts between Minnesota’s programs to illustrate the heterogeneity in approaches to designing community solar programs in terms of accessibility, affordability, subscriber acquisition, utility benefits, and subscriber agency. Our study takes a mixed methods approach: we conduct six in-depth case studies of Minnesota community solar programs, relying on a combination of informal interviews and primary source analysis; we conduct 12 semi-structured interviews with utility managers overseeing different community solar programs in the states; and we collect and analyze contracts of nearly 100 community solar subscription offers across the 31 utilities with a detailed cash flow analysis. We conclude with reflections on the Minnesota experience for reforming program and policy development in the state and lessons for the other 34 states developing community solar programs.
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    Issue Linkage in the Climate Regime: Gender Policies in Climate Finance
    (2018-09) Chan, Gabriel; Forsberg, Lindsey; Garnaas-Halvorson, Peder; Holte, Samantha; Kim, DaSeul
    Multiple international agreements, such as the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, express the norms of respecting and promoting the human rights of women and men and advancing gender equality. Studies show that climate change has disproportionate impacts on women due to socioeconomic status, restrictive gender norms, and lack of access to resources and services, but also that including women as stakeholders in planning and implementation leads to improved project outcomes. These finding highlight the need for specific and direct mechanisms for empowering women to enhance their position and efficiently support climate change mitigation and adaptation. Most major climate funds have adopted gender policies over the last decade in the interest of increasing gender equality. These funds control billions of dollars of bilateral and multilateral finance intended to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, which gives them a unique position in translating gender policies into action. However, the gender policies of climate funds have been developed relatively recently, and it is unclear the extent to which they have been successful in advancing gender equality and enhancing the effectiveness of climate finance for mitigation and adaptation. Here we explore the history of gender mainstreaming in international development policy to ground the discussion of current gender mainstreaming efforts in climate finance. We then critically examine the linkage of gender and climate itself to understand why gender mainstreaming is occurring in this field and to what extent the linkage of gender to climate is appropriate and/or useful. We provide a high-level comparison of existing multilateral and bilateral gender policies, and end with open questions and key takeaways as climate funds move from policy to implementation. Although our focus is primarily on the issue linkage of gender equality and climate change, gender is only one of dozens of fields being linked to climate, and therefore the conclusions are framed around both issue linkage broadly and the gender-climate linkage specifically.
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    Barriers and Opportunities for Distributed Energy Resources in Minnesota's Municipal Utilities and Electric Cooperatives
    (2019-02) Chan, Gabriel; Lenhart, Stephanie; Forsberg, Lindsey; Grimley, Matthew; Wilson, Elizabeth
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    Barriers and Opportunities for Distributed Energy Resources in Minnesota's Municipal Utilities and Electric Cooperatives (Issue Brief)
    (2019-02) Chan, Gabriel; Lenhart, Stephanie; Forsberg, Lindsey; Grimley, Matthew; Wilson, Elizabeth
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    Solar for Humanity: Nonprofit Solar Partnerships with Habitat for Humanity
    (2019-02) Chan, Gabriel; Morgan, Jordan; Streitz, Ryan
    As solar energy has become increasingly affordable due to technological change and public policy, possibilities for individuals to benefit from participating in solar deployment are growing. Yet these opportunities are not equitably accessible to all. Low-income households in particular face barriers to participating in solar programs due to financing requirements arising from capital constraints and the high up-front costs of solar. These barriers are layered on top of an energy system that already places a disproportionate burden on low-income households. In this context, new initiatives have been developed to target solar deployment to low-income households to reduce energy expenditures and increase long-term wellbeing and resilience. In this report, we focus on one such possible initiative, the integration of solar deployment by a nonprofit solar organization (NPS) with affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity (HFH).
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    Cooperative Climate Change R&D That Works
    (2016-11) Chan, Gabriel; Rook, Jill; Chowdhury, Ashfaqul
    Developments in international climate policy over the past five years have broadened the scope of technology policy in contributing to mitigation goals. Beyond the traditional model of technology transfer, new efforts have sought to deepen the level of cooperation between countries in accelerating innovation. Some of this activity has occurred in a multilateral context with open participation, such as the coordinated research and development (R&D) goals set under the Mission Innovation initiative announced at COP21. Other forms of cooperation occur in limited-member “clubs,” such as the International Energy Agency’s Implementing Agreements. Finally, bilateral agreements for R&D collaboration have been started between many country pairs, for example the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center and the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. International cooperation provides the opportunity to accelerate innovation while also broadening access to and deployment of new inventions. However, these efforts also face multiple roadblocks in implementation. Here we propose a set of five key principles to establish cooperative R&D arrangements. We believe following these principles will lead to the formation of cooperative R&D arrangements which will enjoy the advantages of collaboration while bypassing many of the potential barriers.
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    Guidelines for a Sectoral Sustainable Development Mechanism in the Post-2020 Climate Regime
    (2016-11) Chan, Gabriel; Bloomquist, Haley; Denk, Brianna; Hillstrom, Alexandra
    We propose a set of guidelines for a Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM), a new market-based mechanism under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. We propose that a new SDM should adopt a sectoral approach for facilitating the international transfer of mitigation outcomes. We suggest ways in which a new sectoral SDM can create a robust, credible market for tradeable carbon offsets, building upon the lessons of the project-based Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and active sectoral-based crediting mechanisms in several domestic contexts
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    Design choices and equity implications of community shared solar
    (Elsevier, 2017) Chan, Gabriel; Evans, Isaac; Grimley, Matthew; Ihde, Ben; Mazumder, Poulomi
    What is the best way to deploy solar energy to maximize clean energy growth while equitably sharing benefits? A promising model is community shared solar, which enables energy consumers to purchase shares of electricity generated in an offsite project. Noting how different states and utilities have approached program design, we explore how design decisions affect access to solar and the equity of cost and benefit sharing. We conclude with a set of questions for future research.
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    Linking Gender Policy and Climate Finance
    (2017-11) Chan, Gabriel; Forsberg, Lindsey; Garnaas-Halvorson, Peder; Holte, Samantha
    The goal of gender equity is increasingly linked to climate change policy under the assumption that this “issue linkage” will produce important synergies and co-benefits. While the logic and practice of the gender-climate linkage has been critiqued, it has become prominent in international climate change institutions. Various climate funds (e.g. Green Climate Fund, Climate Investment Funds) have adopted policies requiring or encouraging gender mainstreaming or the inclusion of gender co-benefits in projects they fund. Such policies aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of improving both gender and climate outcomes, but little has been done to evaluate the capacity of climate change institutions to realize these dual goals. Here we summarize lessons learned from gender mainstreaming in the development sector as well as questions raised by current practices in climate change regarding the advantages, limitations, and best practices for integrating the goals of gender equity and international climate change policy.