Kenji Takahashi presented on "Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy -- An Analysis of Energy, Environmental, Economic, Energy Bill, and Local Job Impacts of an Alternative Renewable Thermal Energy Future for Rhode Island" at 2017 Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting Conference.
The thermal energy sector is a major consumer of energy for space heating and domestic hot water in Rhode Island. Relying primarily on fossil fuels, the thermal sector accounts for approximately one third of Rhode Island’s total energy consumption and carbon emissions. By diversifying the thermal energy sector to increase use of low-carbon renewable heating and cooling technologies (e.g., air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, wood pellet heating, solar thermal), Rhode Island can make significant strides toward achieving GHG emission reduction goals and reap substantial economic benefits in the process.
Thus far, virtually all clean energy policies and programs in the state have focused on electric sector technologies and natural gas efficiency. Consequently, Rhode Island’s renewable thermal industry has historically been relatively small and slow-growing.
To address barriers facing the renewable thermal industry and promote renewable thermal technologies, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) tasked the authors with analyzing policies and programs designed to grow the industry and conducting a detailed market model of alternative thermal sector energy futures. In one of the alternative scenarios, Rhode Island achieves 5 percent renewable thermal energy penetration by 2035. This paper presents the results and methodologies for analyzing this scenario, including the cost-effectiveness, energy rate and bill impacts, local job impacts, and emission impacts of the alternative future. This study broke new ground by applying standard analysis methodologies and approaches used for energy efficiency measures (e.g., cost-effectiveness tests, rate and bill impacts, job impacts) to renewable thermal technologies.