Wednesday, August 7th, 2013...12:07 pm

Infrastructure Investments That Get to Carbon Neutral

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Christopher Kennedy et al, “Getting to Carbon Neutral: A Review of Best Practices in Infrastructure Strategy”, Energy Efficient Cities – Assessment Tools and Benchmarking Practices, The World Bank, 2010.


The study covers 68 cases of infrastructure investments. For the ones where the capital costs and GHG emissions are both known, there is a relatively consistent fit of increased emissions savings with higher investments. The investments achieving the most cost-effective reductions in GHG emissions are also distinguished in the study. Five cases that were particularly cost-effective and exceed GHG savings of 100,000 t e CO2 per year are:

1. Seville’s Solar Central Receiver Station

2. London’s Congestion Charging Scheme

3. Gothenburg’s Combined Heat and Power System

4. Sydney’s Source Separation and Energy Recovery Facility

5. Calgary’s Light Rail Transit System


I think it’s noteworthy that the above best practices with high emission savings cover a variety of sectors: transportation, solid waste, energy generation, and urban forestry. But from an investment perspective, cost-effectiveness is hardly a satisfactory indicator. Investors of carbon-reducing infrastructure projects also expect to achieve a good rate of return. OECD/IEA have identified a number of energy efficient initiatives (PDF), such as building retrofits, LED traffic signals, and pool heat recovery, for which rates of return greater than 100%  are achieved.


Table: Capital Costs and Annual GHG Savings:

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