September 17 Session outcomes

On September 17 we kicked off our science to policy workshop series with the specific goal to connect research, industry and policy by bringing partners together to share experiences and knowledge on opportunities to successfully implement Distributed/Renewable Energy Resource (DER) projects.

The workshop originated from the need to address the regulatory, economic, and technical environment that poses a significant barrier to renewable energy implementation in the water and wastewater sector, and the need for support for policies (actions) addressing DER and renewable energy.

Our first session focused on

and featured:

  • a ⅔ science and 1/3 policy focus
  • a Pre-event communication to direct participants to project website and shared resource package
  • a Keynote introduction by Professor Sandoval
  • A world café to generate options for later events

A copy of the first session presentation and worldcafé outcomes are found in our resource library here or directly downloadable from Dropbox.

Following the workshop we analyzed the discussion and identified several topic themes using NVivo.

Despite the focused session (only 2.5 hours) the conversation was rich with active discussion centred on the Financial Viability, Integrated Solutions, and Scale and Appropriateness of biogas and solar projects. 27 topic themes (Table 1) were identified in response to the question

What are the Key regulatory / policy opportunities to enable greater uptake of renewable energy in water/wastewater systems?

Agenda Setting7
Centralized Data3
Financial viability20
Market Measures16
Performance Contracts8
Integrated Solutions15
Interconnection policies10
Local-State-Federal Coordination7
New Regulatory Structures7
Defining Renewable Energy1
GHG – Carbon Rules4
Special Exemptions10
Prepare the sector to capitalize on rules1
Resource contracts3
Appropriate Investments9
Specific Policies7
Technical Applications3
Emerging Technologies9
Value to Customers8
Expected Outcomes5
Resilience and Reliability4
Willingness to Pay for Investments2
Table 1 – Frequency of Science-to-policy Renewable Energy Policy Topics
Figure 1 – Science-to-policy Distributed Energy Themes

Shown another way we can see that policies (actions) that address:

  • the scale of the development
    • across the size of the opportunity and the appropriateness of of technologies
  • Integrated Solutions
    • which bring together waste, energy, transportation, agriculture, and water management
    • regulations and tariffs that support interconnections
    • policies that provide for a regulatory structure that supports water-energy projects, and
    • new frameworks for benefit evaluation
  • the Financial Viability of the project
    • providing for sustainable (reliable) market measures (feed-in-tariffs, net energy metering, carbon taxes)
    • including renewable energy portfolios
    • measures to provide stability against variable and decreasing natural gas prices
    • options for shared investment credits
  • the Technical applications (worthiness of the project)
    • including existing integrated options (like demand management)
    • and emerging technologies (IoT, storage integration (battery, thermal), hydrothermal liquefaction, supercritical water oxidation)
  • New Regulatory structures that can help
    • define energy from water/wastewater systems as renewable
    • provide for special exemptions for water/wastewater systems
    • develop policies to support longer-term pricing signals
    • create regulatory proceedings which support tariff and interconnection certainty
    • provide organic and carbon incentives (support)
  • providing Value to Customers (Water & Wastewater Utilities & Customers Need Safe and Reliable Energy) on
    • Expected outcomes from projects (Forestall Climate Change through Demand Response, Energy Cost reductions, Carbon reduction)
    • Using and Generating Renewable Energy
    • Resilience and Reliability
    • Willingness to pay for projects (balancing rate paying concerns with broader benefits that our outside the Utility)

Subsequent workshop sessions will focus on narrowing and prioritizing these themes into actionable items that would form specific policies enabling renewable energy projects (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Process for identifying actionable policies

Already specific policies have been identified that will be expanded on during our 2nd session:

  • Advocate to State Regulatory Commissions for new renewable energy tariffs
  • Develop/clarify exemptions from regulation requirements for exporting biogas from wastewater treatment plants
  • Set demand response targets
  • Set organic waste targets (e.g. zero-waste, banning organic waste from landfills, agriculture waste)
  • Requiring longer-term energy pricing signals

We look forward to our next session. We also encourage your comments and response to our first session as well as these preliminary findings as well further contribute to our discussion. We cannot guarantee restricted access to this website so all comments will be recorded anonymously.

~Steve and Steve

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