Thursday, August 18, 2011

DOE Adopts Full-Fuel-Cycle Policy For Energy Use & Emissions

Aug 18: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a Statement of Policy in the Federal Register [76 FR 51281-51289] which it indicated is consistent with recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (the Academy) regarding its intent to modify the methods it uses to estimate the likely impacts of energy conservation standards. The impacts for covered products include energy use and emissions and DOE said it will work to expand the energy use and emissions information made available to consumers. Specifically, DOE intends to use "full-fuel-cycle" (FFC) measures of energy use and emissions, rather than the primary (or site) energy measures it currently uses. Additionally, DOE said it intends to work collaboratively with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make information readily available to consumers on the FFC energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of specific products to enable consumers to make cross-class comparisons of product energy use and emissions.
    In August 2010, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy published a Notice of Proposed Policy indicating its intent to begin using full-fuel-cycle (FFC) measures of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions in the national impact analyses and environmental assessments included in rulemakings for future energy conservation standards (referred to herein as "energy conservation standards" or "energy efficiency levels." DOE stated that using the FFC measure in these analyses will provide more complete information about the total energy use and GHG emissions associated with a specific energy efficiency level rather than the primary (or site) energy measures currently used by DOE. DOE also indicated that utilizing the FFC measure for environmental assessments and national impact analyses would not require alteration of the measures used to determine the energy efficiency of covered products (i.e. "appliances and equipment" or just "appliances") because the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended, requires that such measures be based solely on the energy consumed at the point of use.
    However, DOE indicated in the Notice that using the FFC measure in lieu of primary energy in environmental assessments and national impact analyses could affect the alternative standard levels that DOE considers before choosing an energy efficiency level in the future. A policy change to consider FFC impacts would increase the energy and emission reductions estimated to result from energy efficiency levels. DOE said this shift would, consequently, increase some of the estimated benefits of such standards.
    The Notice also proposed that DOE would significantly improve upon the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) existing online databases of appliance site energy use and efficiency ratings by including FFC energy use and emissions data. DOE solicited public comment on whether such an online service would likely benefit consumers and, if so, the most effective way to present this information. DOE also solicited comments on the merits of providing GHG emissions and other product-specific comparative data on Energy Guide labels.
    After consideration of the comments received on its NOPP, DOE has decided to use FFC measures of energy use and GHG and other emissions in the national impact analyses and environmental assessments included in future energy conservation standards rulemakings.
    DOE currently uses primary (or site) energy consumption for national impact analyses and environmental assessments using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) developed by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). DOE will continue to rely upon NEMS-based estimates of primary energy and emission impacts, but intends to use conversion factors generated by the DOE Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model to convert the estimates into estimates of FFC energy and emission impacts. DOE said it will also, subject to the availability of funds, support efforts to make readily available to consumers and other users of regulated products information on the FFC energy use and emissions associated with specific products, and the means to compare this energy use and emissions to other comparable products, whether or not those other products use the same type of energy.

    Section 1802 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) directed DOE to commission a study with the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether the goals of energy conservation standards are best served by measurement of energy consumed, and efficiency improvements at, the actual point-of-use or through the use of the FFC, beginning at the source of energy production The FFC measure includes point-of-use energy, the energy losses associated with generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, and the energy consumed in extracting, processing, and transporting or distributing primary fuels. The study, "Review of Site (Point-of-Use) and Full-Fuel-Cycle Measurement Approaches to DOE/EERE Building Appliance Energy-Efficiency Standards," (Academy report) was completed in May 2009 and included five recommendations.
    The Academy's primary recommendation was that "DOE consider moving over time to use of a FFC measure of energy consumption for assessment of national and environmental impact, especially levels of GHG emissions, and to providing more comprehensive information to the public through labels and other means such as an enhanced Web site."
    DOE indicates that in response to its Notice, it received comments from 41 entities. Comments were submitted by utilities, research facilities, consumer representatives, non-profit organizations, farmers and others. The final Statement of Policy announcement includes an extensive review of the comments and DOE responses and includes a series of policy statements responding to the various comments.
    Access the complete final Statement of Policy FR announcement (click here). Access the National Academy of Sciences report (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency]