Strategic Energy Action Plan

Action Area 9: Develop And Implement Strategy For Deploying Low Carbon Infrastructure Generation

The adoption of zero carbon electricity sources needs careful planning today to ensure that it is in place for the long-term. Power stations, such as coal and gas, are often promoted by power companies as a means to support renewable technologies. Implementation is likely to result in long-term difficulties. This demands careful thought to be given to how electricity requirements will be met in the future. This is complicated by federal policy that has reduced the requirements for CO2 reductions. This has the trickle-down effect of CO2 reduction not becoming a requirement in setting energy policy in North Carolina.

The resolution’s 2050 target necessitates minimal CO2 in the electricity system (a reduction of more than 90% against today’s carbon intensity57) in order to meet the less than 2tCO2e per capita target. In order to reach the target, we must focus on innovative solutions, such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

With no clear solution as to how to achieve such deep carbon cuts, the strategy will require detailed consideration, and should include the implementation of on-site electricity generation that addresses heating and cooling needs, rather than solely electricity. Given these requirements, there are strong connections to the Buildings and Transportation pillars in this strategy, as well as being heavily reliant on the underpinning innovation pipeline of trained individuals.

This Action Area is complementary to Action Area 3, as many of these recommendations require key public-private-plus partnerships to drive rapid implementation.

57 Carbon intensity is defined as the amount of carbon (in terms of weight) emitted per unit of energy consumed.

Task 1: Form an Energy Generation Working Group Focused on Near-Zero Carbon For Buildings in FY19

Because Charlotte is in a regulated state, CREDIT will not be able to deliver a 90% reduction in the carbon intensity of electricity provided by the grid on its own. It will therefore need a targeted working group specializing in getting to this point. This group will need to comprise experts from academia, construction, planning, energy systems, and infrastructure to inform and direct it. To achieve such a near-zero carbon future will require, according to the scenarios produced, a system that takes advantage of the widespread opportunities for renewable integration across Charlotte and wider North Carolina.

Task 2: Develop a Suite of Educational Tools that can be Utilized Throughout the City in FY22

Education and training are key to leveraging change. These educational tools can come in a variety of forms and will need to recognize the equity elements relating to access to this information.

Step 1: Incorporate CO2e values onto energy bills

The CO2e emissions associated with a customer’s energy use can be added to both electricity and gas statements. This can be displayed alongside percentages of generation by technology for electricity and by type of gas used (natural gas, fracked gas and biogas). This can help to inform customers of the level of CO2e emissions that are associated with their energy consumption. This information can be linked to efficiency and demand guides to drive behavior change in customers and help them reduce their impact.

Step 2: Create a mechanism that links emissions to smart meters to help educate customers on when CO2e is at its highest or lowest

To provide real-time updates, smart meters can be used to guide customers to when the CO2e associated with their electricity demand is at its lowest (e.g. during the night when energy is generated largely by nuclear) and highest (at times of winter peak demand when solar generation is at its lowest and fossil generation at its highest). This can then be linked to live CO2e monitoring and conveyed in their bills.

Step 3: Encourage training on demand side management

Further developing the information under Steps 1 & 2 enables the development of demand side responses58. This can be automated through the use of smart appliances such as washing machines and electric vehicles. It can also be manual, making the change a conscious behavioral choice. This demand side management may be linked to utilizing onsite generation for appliance use when energy generation is at its peak, rather than relying on grid availability.

Step 4: Utilize RIDs to understand and overcome demographic variance in technology and process uptake

The RIDs may be used to better understand the business models needed to see the uptake in low carbon technology and processes. This is likely to vary by income group and awareness levels, as customers become more aware of their energy usage as access to more granular data improves.

Step 5: Provide training and events on alternative technologies

A key component of the uptake of renewable energy generation is to provide demonstration of the technologies to show that it is possible to incorporate their utilization into buildings. This may include solar thermal, geo-thermal, and solar photo-voltaic (PV).

Step 6: Create an ‘outward bound’ and other demonstration site(s)

As well as events, demonstration sites can serve as a year-round opportunity to demonstrate the ability of renewables to provide the energy required for a building. Such sites could include schools. Additionally, a site (similar to a campsite) could be formed for team building activities where participants would be required to ‘keep the lights and heating on’. This could be located within a proposed RID.

Task 3: Demonstrate New and Integrated Approaches to Meeting Energy Demand in 2022

The Resilient Innovation Districts (RIDs) will provide opportunities to establish how proven technologies can be integrated into the energy system that provides us with our energy needs (heating, cooling, or electricity). This may mean combining technologies (e.g. solar thermal, geo-thermal, and bio-energy CHP system) to produce heating and cooling for a site (the solar thermal and geo-thermal providing a lower grade heat). The RIDs offer an opportunity to test as well as diffuse technologies and processes.

58 Demand [side] response provides an opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in the operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives. (

Step 1: Identify new technologies, processes, and opportunities for demonstration in the RIDs

The identification of new technologies can come from multiple sources and these may be subject to procurement requirements. Ultimately, part of the reason for the RIDs is to demonstrate technologies and processes produced in Charlotte that can then be diffused throughout the U.S.

Step 2: Utilize the RIDs to demonstrate district heating and cooling opportunities

The RIDs offer the opportunity to incorporate approaches that are not well known in the U.S., which includes district heating and cooling systems. One of the RIDs could be used to extract methane (bio-gas) from waste sites and compress it for carbon-free CNG (it is not actually natural gas – but has the same chemical composition). The same bio-gas could also be distributed in the gas network.

Task 4: Reduce the Carbon Intensity of Grid Supplied Electricity by at Least 90% by 2045

The requirement to get to 2tCO2e per capita by 2050 requires that the majority of energy consumption is low carbon. This is because, of the 2tCO2e target, approximately 1.2tCO2e will be from energy. The remainder will be largely associated with waste and agriculture. The likeliest carbon intensive category will be aviation – a return trip in economy represents 0.51tCO2e. This greatly limits emissions from other sectors. The development of this future needs to be developed through the working group in strong alignment with Duke Energy, the commission, further partners, and other cities.

Task 5: Target a Carbon Intensity on the Grid of at Least 90% per kWh by 2045

This target is comparable to a figure of approximately 0.4 CO2 per kWh today. It is necessary to set targets

in terms of kWh as this is what will determine the emissions. A 90% reduction in the kWh does not mean a 90% reduction in electricity emissions, as this number could vary. This compares to figures of 0.18CO2 per kWh for natural gas and 0.24CO2 per kWh for gasoline. The electricity equivalent would need to be around 0.035CO2 per kWh. As electrification of transportation and heating increases, the carbon intensity of electricity production becomes even more important. This carbon intensity is a function of the electricity that is supplied on average over a given year.

Task 6: Identify Opportunities for a Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Unit by 2030

This is currently an unproven technology. However, it is the ‘cornerstone’ of each Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario produced immediately prior to the Paris summit to identify a future that is well below a global temperature rise of 3.6°F. This technology, deployed globally, is therefore required to keep warming below 2.7°F – which is the ultimate goal of the Paris Accord.

Task 7: Negotiate to Develop Tariffs for Low Carbon Electricity in 2022 and Identify a Period for their Rollout by 2030

The City will need to negotiate new electricity contracts that incorporate zero carbon generation to be implemented now until 2030. This negotiation will require an understanding of how rates could link to capacities, onsite generation, demand side management and other points. These models for tariffs could then be implemented elsewhere.

HB 589 provides low carbon electricity tariffs for high energy consumers. The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC) allows for such tariffs to be reflected in emissions inventories. This requires changes to how such tariffs are formed and applied. The rollout of these should be identified through Action Area 3.

Step 1: Smart sub-meters that link to CO2 to encourage behavioral change at work

Individual organizations and the departments within them may use sub-metering systems to encourage the uptake of zero carbon energy use. This can be used to track and reward individual department activities.

Step 2: Tariffs for different customer types and level of renewable integration

Structures and agreements to introduce new tariffs could be negotiated between Duke, other cities, and the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). These have a direct impact on emissions calculations, but should not be used to bypass local energy reduction and production opportunities.

Step 3: Tariff for 100% zero carbon energy for Charlotte government in place before 2030

The final component of the ‘5 Steps to Zero Carbon Energy’ diagram is the procurement of zero carbon electricity, which is a last resort option. This definition includes nuclear power and can therefore, with the correct contract, reflect both demand and consumption of electricity (which a renewable only tariff may fail to do).