100% Carbon Neutral Electricity! What Now?

Since 2011 Carbon Free Palo Alto has been calling for steep reductions in the City of Palo Alto’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2013, the City of Palo Alto decided to provide 100% Carbon-Free electricity to all its customers which effectively cut the city’s carbon footprint by about 20% (City of Palo Alto Utilities: Carbon Neutral Portfolio).

Carbon Free Palo Alto is calling for further action to reach an 80% reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We have achieved important milestones so far and we continue to influence the Palo Alto climate agenda (including involvement in the City’s Sustainability and Climate Action Planning (S/CAP) process and many other areas). We need your help to achieve this incredibly ambitious goal so:

Please Sign Up show your support and stay informed.

And, read on to know more about the areas where we want to have an impact.

Fuel Switching to an Electron Based Economy

Moving toward a carbon free community will require many new behaviors and new technical solutions to enable “fuel-switching” from carbon based energy, the natural gas and gasoline used for heating, cooling and transportation, to our carbon free electricity source.

  • Transportation – Electric vehicles and car alternatives
  • Heating and Cooling – Heat pumps for buildings and water heating
  • Electricity Generation – Solar photovoltaic, grid and rooftop based

Carbon Free Palo Alto spearheaded the effort to generate a city council colleagues memo and staff workplan to study the alternatives. We believe that today’s electricity based transportation, heating and cooling systems increasingly perform as well or better than their carbon fuel based equivalents, both functionally and economically from a comparable lifecycle perspective. Moreover they are coming with new benefits, value and flexibility that rapid innovations in electronics technology are bringing to the electron based economy everywhere.

Check out this excellent presentation by Pierre Delforge of NRDC and 350.org:  Heat Pump Furnaces and Water Heaters – A Clean Energy Solution to Decarbonize Bay Area Homes – 350SV April 27 2016

CFPA’s Indradeep Ghosh recently published this excellent article:  Fuel Switching: An Essential Step Towards A Decarbonized Future.

Lifecycle Analysis for Fuel-Switching

Here’s a link to a portfolio of spreadsheets that perform life cycle analysis on fuel switching for EVs, hot water heaters, and furnaces. The three base spreadsheets are pre-populated with the relevant numbers for City of Palo Alto Utilities, PG&E, and Silicon Valley Power – 9 spreadsheets in total.

EV vs Gas Vehicle Summary

Here’s a link to a summary table that shows the lifecycle costs and emissions for a number of popular EVs and gas-fired vehicles. A key comparison is between a Leaf and a gasoline powered Versa – which is quite similar to a Leaf. The Leaf costs $10,000 less over the lifetime of the vehicle – assuming a 10 year lifetime and 100,000 miles.

What can Palo Alto residents do about climate change?

What can Palo Alto residents do about climate change?


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