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Despite extensive empirical evidence of the economic and financial benefits of green buildings, energy retrofit investments in existing buildings have not reached widespread adoption.This paper empirically estimate returns to energy retrofit investments for multifamily and commercial buildings in New York City, using a novel database of actual audit report recommendations and permitted renovation work extracted using natural language processing.

The UNC Energy Center and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise hosted a conference on "Meeting the Renewables Intermittency Challenge" on April 13-14, 2018. The conference, and resulting white paper, examined the true cost of integrating renewable energy generation into the electric grid and explore ways to address the challenges posed by wind and solar energy intermittency.

Electricity end-users have been increasingly generating their own electricity via rooftop solar panels. Our paper studies the implications of such “distributed renewable energy” for utility profits and social welfare under net metering that has sparked heated debates in practice. The common belief is that such type of generation significantly decreases utility profits because (i) distributed generation reduces utility’s market size, and (ii) under net metering, utilities must buy back the excess generation of their customers at a rate typically larger than their procurement cost.

This study, sponsored by the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the Kenan-Flagler Energy Center, analyzes the economic cost of renewable energy’s ‘last frontier’, providing reliable baseload power. The analysis utilizes five financial and energy models to examine the cost of replacing baseload power with various energy sources to achieve fully decarbonized utility scale electricity generation.

Various areas are examined in regards to current energy policies in the new administration.

Jul 10, 2017

UNC Clean Tech Summit

On March 1-2, approximately 1,000 people convened at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education in Chapel Hill for the fourth annual UNC Clean Tech Summit. Themes of the 2017 summit included clean energy, food, innovation, and water and energy.

Energy Geopolitics: The policies and interaction of nation states focused on their development, sale & acquisition of essential Energy supplies.
It is focused on behavior of nation states, and concerned with vital role of energy in national economic life & security. This becomes clearer when we list the issues: Physical shortage, due to supply interruption or boycott; political blackmail, under the threat of interrupted supply; price spikes, due to tight market conditions or supply curtailment; economic development, fostering wealth creation & jobs; and environmental consequences, including Climate change.

On April 1-2, 2016, the Energy Center at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened a conference on “Global Frac’ing, What has to Change for it to be a Game Changer?” It was an invitation only event with attendance limited to industry experts, leading consultants and responsible government officials. Attendees and speakers came from the U.S., UK, Poland, Mexico and Canada. This report summarizes the main points which emerged from the speaker presentations and subsequent discussion. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive treatment of Global Frac’ing. Rather, it raises four sets of questions and presents the conclusions which developed. The Executive Summary provides an overview of these conclusions. The appendices share details on two matters much discussed – what would be a model regulatory regime for unconventional development, and what would constitute a model fiscal regime?

Co-production (simultaneous production of multiple outputs) occurs in some emission-intensive basic material and agricultural industries. This paper is motivated by ones in which a supplier sells its primary product to a buyer that incurs an emissions cost (voluntarily, or due to government-imposed climate policy) and sells co-products into markets without emissions costs.

Hydrocarbon derived from fast pyrolysis of plantation wood is a potential feedstock for the production of transportation fuels. Unfortunately, the cost to produce and upgrade this feedstock is highly uncertain, and its current technological state is not competitive with crude oil. Additional R&D will be needed to achieve the significant cost reductions required for competitiveness. Significant technical hurdles must be overcome to achieve a commercially ready, cost competitive technology. This paper identifies the most promising areas for the needed future research.

The process for producing advanced bio-fuels from woody biomass using fast pyrolysis technology is in an early stage of development. Whether it will offer favorable economics versus future petroleum-derived fuels or other advanced bio-fuels is not clear at this time; however, a study of the value chain from growth to final distribution of drop-in bio-fuels has highlighted several factors that will have major impact on ultimate economics.