Until carbon capture technologies take off (if at all!), the world’s CO2 removals depend entirely on nature. Clemens Schwingshackl, Wolfgang Obermeier and Julia Pongratz at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, writing for Carbon Brief, review the latest data on “carbon fluxes” which measure whether the land is a net “source” of carbon or a “sink.” Flux measurements are categorised: deforestation, forestation, wood-harvest emissions, removals … [Read more...]
Can Phytomining deliver Critical Minerals at scale: farming plants that accumulate high metal concentrations
Both Europe and the U.S. are making plans to secure supplies of critical minerals as the transition gains pace. Domestic mining or securing import deals with close allies is the main focus. Here, Maria Krol-Sinclair and Thomas Hale at CSIS review the prospects for a new method that will require neither: phytomining. Some plants, called hyperaccumulators, soak up high concentrations of metals into their leaves, bark, and roots. These plants can … [Read more...]
Green District Heating: can the energy crisis + new carbon targets drive new investment?
Rebecca Pool, writing for ESCI, describes green district heating projects where the operator is a “middle man” between new energy generators (waste heat, renewables, etc.) and end users. The energy crisis has created an opportunity, as unpredictable gas prices combined with new carbon targets have made the long-term investment more attractive. But district heating is in direct competition from heat pumps and natural gas, so it needs to be price … [Read more...]
Falling oil prices are defying the forecasters. Expect to be surprised for the rest of the year
The worst expectations for oil prices never materialised, thank goodness. In mid-March a year ago Brent reached $114 and WTI $103 a barrel. By the same time this year it was $72 and $66 respectively. That’s despite no end in sight for the Russia-Ukraine war, the trigger to the 2022 price escalation and global crisis. Carole Nakhle at the University of Surrey explains how today’s forecasts are similarly uncertain. She points at conflicting … [Read more...]
Record clean-power growth in 2023: is Coal and Gas decline now structurally embedded?
Last year, wind and solar reached a record 12% of global electricity generation, according to think tank Ember’s latest global electricity review. The overall share of all forms of low-carbon electricity rose to almost 40% of total generation. Josh Gabbatiss at Carbon Brief goes through the Ember review which heralds this as the moment fossils began their permanent decline. Ember calls it “structural” and “enduring” because previous declines only … [Read more...]
Climate sceptics’ denying of the science is declining. Opposing the policies is the new tactic
In the media, the good news is that those opposed to acting on climate change – sometimes called climate deniers or climate sceptics – are not challenging the science nearly as much as they used to. The bad news is that they are now using “response scepticism”. This means obstructing policies with arguments like “it costs too much”, “what about China’s emissions?”, “stopping flying is too extreme, do something else”, “infringement on civil … [Read more...]
LIBRA: modelling sustainable Battery supply chains as Grids and EVs scale up
Sustainable battery manufacture needs supply chains that minimise gaps and maximise resilience. Rebecca Martineau at NREL describes their Lithium-Ion Battery Resource Assessment Model (LIBRA) that guides investments and research to make sure the growth of grid storage and EV batteries continues uninterrupted. LIBRA tracks the movement of lithium, cobalt, nickel and other elements through the supply chain, and is designed to adapt to … [Read more...]
Poorly defined “efficiency” incentives birthed the SUV. Beware the same mistake with “clean energy” jobs, “domestic” batteries + more
Financial support for the transition needs clear and carefully chosen definitions of what qualifies for that support. Getting it wrong leads to unintended consequences, some which may not reduce emissions, explains James Sallee at the Energy Institute at Haas. Ever wondered why SUVs and big cars proliferated after the 1970s in the U.S. (and are on roads all over the world now)? The 1970s oil crisis triggered new rules that penalised fuel … [Read more...]
Electric Utilities: ESG investors should invest in, not avoid, the high-carbon emitters
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings point climate-conscious investors away from companies that are not decarbonising fast enough (or at all!). But surely they should be doing the exact opposite when it comes to climate-critical sectors like electric utilities, explain Tricia Holland, Ryan Foelske, Ella Warshauer, Jon Rea, Sarah LaMonaca and Uday Varadarajan at RMI. Of course, that presents a new challenge. The investor first needs … [Read more...]
The U.S. is moving faster than the EU on Methane regulations. Why?
Ben Cahill at the Center for Strategic and International Studies takes a deep dive into U.S. and EU progress on regulating methane emissions. It’s vitally important because methane has more than 80 times the warming potential of CO2 in its first 20 years in the atmosphere. In his assessment, Cahill explains why the U.S. is likely to move much faster than the EU. Unlike the U.S., the EU is a big importer of gas so needs its rules complied with by … [Read more...]
4 CEOs explain their innovations: EV charging, aviation fuel, hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear waste-to-energy
To meet our global climate targets, new solutions, technologies and pathways will be needed. Existing technologies, on their own, can’t be scaled up fast enough to do it. Robin Pomeroy and Kate Whiting at the World Economic Forum pick out highlights from their podcast that hears from four CEOs of innovative companies, covering EV charging, aviation, hydrogen fuel cells, and new nuclear. Today’s millions of EV charging points needs to rise to 450m … [Read more...]
Wind Turbines: how dependent is the EU on China?
Joseph Webster at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center takes stock of the European wind sector’s dependence on China. Nobody wants geopolitics and a worsening relationship with Beijing to disrupt positive cooperation in the urgent energy transition. The news is mostly good: the dependence is low because the international trade in turbines is constrained by weight-to-value ratios, transportation costs, and local content requirements. In … [Read more...]
Li-ion Grid Batteries aren’t always the best replacement for Gas Peakers
Gas peakers need to be replaced with something cleaner. Like grid batteries. But the question is “when”, says Maximilian Auffhammer at the Energy Institute at Haas. Summarising his co-authored paper, he explains that a review of 19 gas peakers in the U.S., replaced with Li-ion grid-scale batteries, reveals only 5 make economic and climate sense (i.e. a positive net present value after including monetised climate and human health impacts). … [Read more...]
Geothermal Heat Pumps: can new U.S. “IRA” support make it go mainstream?
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. is meant to drive forward the best clean energy solutions. To help make sure geothermal heat pumps play their fullest role, RMI has done a study of its benefits as well as published guides on how developers can take advantage of the various new laws and support mechanisms. Lauren Reeg, Mike Henchen, Chris Potter and Chris Stone at RMI start with a summary of the technology and its applications, before … [Read more...]
Credit Rating Agencies: a guide to pricing in long-term climate risks
Nobody wants share, stock and bond prices to fall off a cliff unexpectedly. But while Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) continue to evaluate based on short-term policy changes and market forces without specifically accounting for climate risks, that’s what could happen. IEEFA have published their guides to how CRAs can adapt – without throwing out – their existing models to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) credit risks. Hazel … [Read more...]