The Renewable Thermal Alliance (RTA), a new project spearheaded by Yale University, is coordinating activities to harmonize and share best practices in the regional development of markets for renewable heating and cooling technologies across the Northeast.
Recent studies in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island indicate that more than 40 percent of the energy demand of residential and commercial buildings is used for heating and cooling purposes. As a result, heating and cooling is both a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and, through the installation of renewable technologies like ground and air source heat pumps, is an important facet of any mitigation strategy.
The findings of the three states indicate a total market for heating and cooling of around 1,700 trillion BTUs in New England and New York together, representing a large investment opportunity for renewable heating and cooling.
“Renewable thermal technologies can play a central role in heating and cooling and are gaining recognition as a solution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across the region, and should no longer be overlooked,” says Helle Gronli, an associate research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies who is directing the Renewable Thermal Alliance. “By organizing a multi-state effort we hope to not just tap into this market potential, but amplify it by addressing shared challenges of an immature market.”
States face a relatively universal set of challenges in building renewable thermal markets, and the proposed solutions all point the same direction. Greater regional synchronization thus offers a number of benefits that wouldn’t be realized by states working on their own. These include:
- Reduced barriers to entry for installers;
- A forum for sharing best practices in building and sustaining this market;
- Increased awareness of new technologies among stakeholders; and
- Decreased installation costs through greater competition as well as harmonization of permitting and installation processes.
Importantly, the Renewable Thermal Alliance has also partnered with the Connecticut Green Bank to establish a sound financial foundation and stimulate demand for this nascent market.
“In the renewable energy world, the high upfront cost of new technology is regularly a barrier to its widespread adoption,” says Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Green Bank. “Through the Renewable Thermal Alliance, we hope to attract more private investment in the economies of the Northeast to deploy more of these important renewable heating and cooling technologies.”
Initiated well over a year ago, the alliance has already enlisted the cooperation of over 100 individual members from nearly 75 different organizations, from policy makers to installers. As it develops, the alliance will cultivate a long-term viable market for renewable thermal energy for heating and cooling. To that end, leveraging private capital, securitization, and the potential for issuing Green Bonds is essential for bringing deployment to scale.
John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Renewable heating and cooling technology is critical to Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy strategy. We recently developed several proposals such as offering a $15 million rebate program for the installation of ground-source heat pumps, working with local communities to increase market awareness and confidence in the technology, and partnering with the New York Power Authority to get geothermal installed on large college campuses, all of which will accelerate the use of renewable heating and cooling technologies in New York State.”
Image credit: By Passivhaus Institut – Copied to Commons from http://en.wikipedia.org. Original source Passivhaus Institut, Germany – http://www.passiv.de, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1256672