Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure | Energy Infrastructure - Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure
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Energy Infrastructure

Background


The U.S. energy sector is in the midst of transformational change. Emerging technologies and societal demand promise to reshape not only the energy we use, but also how we use it. By investing in our energy infrastructure, we can strengthen our nation’s security, make our economy stronger, and protect the environment.

Our regulatory environment and approval process must incorporate a “common sense” approach helping streamline project approvals while encouraging innovative approaches to upgrade our energy and utility infrastructure.

We must integrate renewable energy, energy storage, and other emerging technologies into a cohesive energy portfolio in order to meet tomorrow’s energy demands, today.

What’s the challenge?


There are a number of issues facing our nation’s energy infrastructure. From the source of energy – fossil fuels or renewables – to storage and distribution of power; threats, shortfalls, and challenges appear on all fronts.

As climate increasingly takes center stage, we are witnessing a shift from traditional fossil fuel and carbon-intensive power generation to greener alternatives and renewables. These face issues like diluteness and intermittency, which requires some type of power storage infrastructure. The market for solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewables is not as competitive as traditional resources and often have subsidies and government disruptions to market equilibria.

Our electrical grids lack the intelligence that other systems in our infrastructure are integrating. Features allowing power to be measured, routed, and diverted from numerous sources and with dynamic responsiveness to realtime demand are the future. Additionally, the security of our grid is in jeopardy. National intelligence officials believe hostile foreign powers could remotely disrupt power plants or that an electromagnetic attack could take them all offline.

These and more represent both technical and regulatory hurdles we must overcome to improve efficiency, safety, and resilience in our energy infrastructure.

What’s the solution?


Research and development are critical to any technical challenge. But without the regulatory pieces falling into place as well, we can get nowhere. We must have a regulatory climate that encourages innovation and investment, that also balances costs and benefits.

Before our energy sector and infrastructure can transition to all green processes, significant advances in power storage are essential. Whether that is new batteries, more efficient allocation networks, or something unimagined thus far, we cannot realistically rely on the free resources of sun and wind without that next innovation.

A smarter grid is also needed. And this comes from both the technical side and regulatory side of the equation.

Resources:

 

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Policy Briefs


IMO 2020 Rule Primer: Background and Potential Impacts

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted new low sulfur fuel standards for cargo ships beginning in 2020. The rule requires ships to reduce the maximum sulfur content of their fuels to 0.5%, from the 3.5% standard currently in place…

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Balancing Environmental Protection and National Infrastructure Development

The Hoover dam, completed in 1936, serves as a great example of an infrastructure project of national importance with the dual benefits of improving the economy and the environment simultaneously. Projects like that portray America’s passion to innovate and build, and the benefits of long-term strategic thinking…

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Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Reauthorization 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the entity within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) responsible for “protect[ing] people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation.” As the Nation’s lead hazardous materials regulator, PHMSA sets and enforces policies and standards, educates the public about hazardous materials transportation, and conducts research to prevent incidents…

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Energy Storage

In 2014, there were a total of 4.1 billion Megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity produced in the United States. This figure includes electricity produced from coal, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear hydroelectric, wind, solar, and geothermal and has remained relatively steady since 2005, with a low of 3.95 billion MWh in 2009 and a high of 4.16 billion MWh in 2007. How energy is produced, however, has changed dramatically over this time period…

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White Papers


Building a Smarter Electric Grid: How Investing In Smarter Electricity Will Energize America

Access to affordable, reliable energy is the cornerstone of a strong economy and first-world living standards. The U.S. electric grid has served as the backbone of the U.S. economy, expanding and evolving along the way. As new energy technologies continue to emerge and growing amounts of distributed energy resources (“DER”) come online, the grid will serve as a critical enabler of these technologies…

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ARCTIC PROMISE: Challenges and Opportunities in Realizing the Next Generation of U.S. Arctic Infrastructure

America’s Arctic regions need increased infrastructural development, especially as the Arctic’s thinning sea ice creates new shipping routes and increased summer navigability – providing new economic opportu- nities and furthering U.S. strategic imperatives. These needs range from healthcare facilities, roads, bridges, deep-water ports and transshipment centers, to high-speed broadband internet and access to modern health- care services for Alaska’s Native populations…

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An Energy (Dis)Union: Challenges and Opportunities in Europe’s Emerging Energy Markets

This paper examines the opportunities and challenges surrounding the creation of a common energy market within the European Union (EU). With particular attention to contemporary economics, current politics and European history, it will identify the frictions and missteps that have kept the internal market from being truly unified. The formation of the EU brought with it four fundamental freedoms: The free movement of goods, services, persons, and capital. While not explicitly mentioned, energy and its accompanying infrastructure ft well within the parameters of these four freedoms…

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Back on Track: Bringing Rail Safety Into the 21st Century

Freight trains on tracks: The nation’s bedrock infrastructure is aging, and railroads are no exception. Tracks and rail beds are not equipped to handle the demands of growing traffic. From the 4,400 percent growth of oil train shipments to the recent devastations in commuter rail incidents, the…

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Energy as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

Energy is a common commodity required by every nation that influences every aspect of economy, civil society, and even foreign policy. With advancements in technology and renewable energy sources, countries throughout the world are re-focusing on their energy infrastructure to encourage…

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Policy Blogs


A perfect storm for wholesale energy prices

Summer temperatures and tensions were high across the state of Texas, at least for some. While every resident of the Lone Star State dealt with immense heat during August, some Texans found themselves with ludicrously high electricity bills as well…

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Why We Can’t Leave Fossil Fuels In The Ground

Environmentalists and activists on the further reaches of the green movement occasionally go as far as to say ‘leave all fossil fuels in the ground.’ While a legitimate fear of climate change may make this view understandable, it is ultimately misguided. Modern life unequivocally requires fossil fuels, but that doesn’t mean we must be dependent on them for energy forever…

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Will FERC Consider Cumulative GHG Impacts of New Pipeline Projects? It’s Complicated

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made a little noticed determination over the course of 2018’s summer that modified how the commission performs environmental reviews moving forward – specifically, how and if they consider cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impacts. These new methodologies invited litigation and created massive uncertainty around pipeline certifications…

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Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks: Are We Ready?

A recent Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report indicates that the United States electric grid is still vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks, despite recommendations made almost 8 years ago to reduce such an occurrence. The susceptibility of the grid to such a phenomenon is an out-of-the-box threat many regulators and policymakers…

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Federal Impediments to P3 Market Growth

The U.S. Public Private Partnership (P3) market is beginning to gain steam. As we pointed out in our Policy Brief, “Innovation in the P3 Marketplace,” states and localities across the country are becoming more creative in the types of infrastructure projects P3s are being used…

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Improving Pipeline by … Drone?

Commercial and private drone use has become a frequent topic of discussion around the country and in Washington, DC these days. New regulations and registration requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), reports of close calls with air traffic, the desire to use…

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The European Energy Union: A Win for Both Continents

In a first step toward creating an integrated energy grid, the European Commission last week allocated € 200 million ($223 million) for cross-border energy infrastructure projects aimed at increasing the efficiency of energy transportation across European Union members. While these grants…

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Just Say No to Europe and Nord Stream 2

One would think that with plunging oil and gas prices, with suppliers tripping over themselves to desperately gain market share in a flooded market, and more choices than ever in securing gas for the European…

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Nevada Solar Crisis Deepends as Regulators Deny Grandfathering Provision

In a new twist to a long running solar energy battle, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Nevada denied a provision to grandfather approximately 17,000 solar customers into the original utility rate and voted to keep the new metering policy in place. Solar advocates can claim a small victory in…

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Aii Executive Director Published in Public Sector Digest 

Aii’s Executive Director, Shane Skelton was published in this month’s issue of Public Sector Digest. The article titled, “Tackling the Infrastructure Deficit: Using Private Dollars for Public Projects,” proposes alternative methods for funding the nation’s crucial infrastructure projects.

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Transporting Crude Oil by Water Highlighted at Recent Conference

INFONEX’s Crude-by-water and Crude export conference took place this week in Houston, Texas, on November 17-18th. The event hosted many influential experts in the oil and energy industry, including Aii’s Chairman, Brigham McCown who updated attendees on the crude oil export ban reform process. The annual conference is considered a…

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The Infrastructure  Scorecard: Presidential Race 2016

Infrastructure is the backbone of the American economy. Roads, bridges, railways, pipelines, and airports alike connect America, permitting the free flow of people and goods across the continent. The state of the nation’s infrastructure has been in the spotlight recently due to a variety of unfortunate incidents, ranging from bridges…

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Building a Better Future

A well built, well maintained, modernized infrastructure network is a key component of a strong economy. The state of U.S. infrastructure has been in decline in recent years, and is nowhere near the envy of the world as it once was. While only tangentially related, the U.S. economy has also…

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Infrastructure Fix Looks to International Funding

Global wealth is increasing, and so too are the growing number of international elite looking to emigrate from their native country in search of their next opportunity. The U.S. EB-5 Visa Program offers a win-win solution for both wealthy foreign investors interested in living stateside, and…

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Building New Sources of Funding for the Nation’s Infrastructure 

It has been two years since The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) infamously slammed the quality of US infrastructure with a D+ grade. Transportation infrastructure – the highways, mass transit, aviation, water, and railways traversing the country – have traditionally received the majority of their funding from the public…

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