Beneficial Electrification for Portland
With One Climate Future, Portland and South Portland have a plan to address climate change. The plan calls for clean renewable electricity to power everything – cars, buses, ferries, building heating systems, and more. Rebates, tax incentives, and federal funding are to make this possible. And all residents will be engaged in actions to mitigate climate change while adapting to its unavoidable impacts.
An idea that comes up frequently in the plan is “beneficial electrification.” In other words, reducing greenhouse gases by doing things electrically that we presently do by burning fossil fuels and then producing the needed electricity renewably. A 2020 GridSolar study found that Portland and South Portland have the collective capacity to meet 29% of all electricity needs with rooftop solar.
According to solar pioneer Jeremy Leggett, “We are squarely in the middle of the greatest energy transition in history. The era of fossil fuels is over. The only question now is when the new era will be fully upon us… Clean energy is less expensive.” (“Drawdown,” by Paul Hawken)
Due to advances in photovoltaics, solar energy will soon be the most cost-effective energy in the world. And a new One Climate Future promotional campaign will clearly spell-out the benefits and incentives offered for solar hook-ups.
Over 70% of emission reductions in our two cities will come from changing the way we heat our buildings and produce the needed electricity.
All buildings currently heated by oil or natural gas can be efficiently heated with cold-climate heat pumps. These devices work like refrigerators-in-reverse, moving heat from the cold outside air to the warm air inside. They use electricity much more efficiently than radiant heaters of the past. Large commercial and industrial buildings may opt for ground-source heat pumps, sometimes called geothermal units. These pull heat from the warmer underground environment through a bored well.
In the future, we’ll see a lot more of our energy coming from solar and wind. New laws passed in 2019 increase the options for installing solar on rooftops and/or joining community solar farms. Anyone, even without access to a suitable roof or cash to invest, can save money by availing themselves of energy from community solar farms, which are now being built on a much larger, more economical, design. Participates may purchase a share or simply reduce their electric bills with no long-term commitment.
BRIGHT IDEA: Install a heat pump and a rooftop array or join a community solar farm.
Portland and South Portland plan to meet all municipal demand with renewable energy by 2032.
Access the full draft of the OCF plan at www.oneclimatefuture.org under “Reports.”
Bright Ideas is brought to you by Portland Climate Action Team which, during the pandemic, meets online the 4th Thursday of the month, 6-7:30 PM. All are welcome to join in. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org.