Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment

October 28, 2020 by  
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Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment Heather Clancy Wed, 10/28/2020 – 01:30 It may be a little early to start writing about trends for 2021, but I’m going to do it anyway. What’s on my mind? Carbontech, a category of climate tech I’d love to see break through next year. It’s the exciting idea that we can take something that could be considered waste, draw it out of the atmosphere and turn it into a source of revenue or economic growth. There are signs that give me optimism. This morning, digital payments company Stripe announced a plan to let its merchant customers divert a portion of their revenue to carbon removal projects. The move follows Stripe’s own pledge to put $1 million into four “high potential” projects earlier this year, and the two initiatives are related. The specific technologies that Stripe is funding are carbon-sequestering cement (CarbonCure), geologic storage (Charm Industrial), direct air capture (Climeworks) and ocean mineralization (Project Vesta). “Stripe’s climate initiative is a gift because it removes all barriers to positive action,” wrote Substack CEO Chris Best, a beta tester, in a statement. “This program makes it easy, and valuable, to do the right thing. We’re proud to be part of it.” All of the popular newsletter platform’s writers have the opportunity to participate. Makes me want to host my own personal blog there. Lest I forget, another well-known commerce player, Shopify, last month picked carbon removal and carbontech as a focus for its Sustainability Fund, which commits $5 million annually to climate-tech solutions. Some companies it is supporting are the same as Stripe (CarbonCure, Charm Industrial and Climeworks). It is also including ocean sequestration in the mix through its support of Planetary Hydrogen. And it is also letting merchants add options for offsetting that buyers can select during transactions.  Startups in this particular corner of the climate solutions area have not actually been supported in a commercial way. Rising corporate support of carbontech and carbon removal technologies writ large is one of the biggest reasons driving my optimism that the market is about to take a turn.  Last week, for example, Microsoft announced one of its most unusual investments yet, as it seeks to deliver on its pledge to become a “carbon negative” company. It plans to supply Alaska Airlines with sustainable aviation fuel for the three most popular routes flown by its employees between Seattle and Silicon Valley, via a partnership with SkyNRG, which produces it from waste oil and agricultural residue. That’s right: Microsoft is buying jet fuel.  MInd you, those jets will still need to use regular fuel in combo with the sustainable stuff, but the strategy will help Microsoft reduce emissions from those flights (it’s also working on an accounting standard for helping do this), and we all know the aviation sector will be really tough to decarbonize. This is a much needed commercial boost, optically speaking. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft also joined the Northern Lights project in Norway, which is seeking to standardize methods for capturing carbon emissions at industrial facilities in Europe, turning them into a liquid and transporting it to a place where it’s pumped and stored under the ocean floor. The initiative — a collaboration of Norway’s government along with oil giants Equinor, Shell and Total — is moving into a commercial phase. The nature of Microsoft’s involvement isn’t entirely clear, but one thing being explored is how the software company’s analytics technology can help create blueprints for the techniques being used to capture CO2 (so they can be replicated elsewhere) and for creating new value chains for transporting and managing it.  Corporate interest is on the rise Carbontech is very much in the spotlight at this week’s VERGE 20 virtual event, in sessions dedicated to moonshots and emerging technologies. According to a comprehensive market report published this week by the Circular Carbon Network (CCN) and discussed during the conference, the pace of activity picked up dramatically in the past decade — of the roughly 330 innovators working on carbon removal or turning carbon into value, more than 65 percent of them were started after 2010. About 50 percent of the 107 companies that CCN tracks closely are already generating revenue. I’ll bet that’s more than you thought.  The investment dynamics are intriguing: CCN’s research uncovered 135 companies in this space that have raised $2.2 billion; its own Deal Hub tracker recovered deals worth $714 million in the past year, a significant pick up of activity, according to the organization’s report.  “What you are seeing is an accelerating pace of interest and activity,” said Nicholas Eisenberger, managing director at Pure Energy partners and co-founder of CCN, who spoke about this topic during a carbontech market update at VERGE 20. “This market is going to either be very large or ginormous.”  Here’s another big takeaway from my conversation last week with Eisenberger and his colleague Marcius Extavour, executive director of the NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize, one of the managing organizations for the CCN: Deals with corporate investors are increasingly attractive to carbontech entrepreneurs. And vice versa. CCN is tracking 61 multinational companies (as of this writing) involved in everything from research and development (the most common intersection) to buying and selling CO2 derivatives (buying it for food and beverages or selling carbon credits). Aside from Microsoft and the to-be-expected oil companies, others on the list include Amazon, Delta Air Lines, Interface, Lafarge, Nike and Starbucks. “This space is about climate, it’s also about a climate solution. It’s also an example of a climate solution that can support economic growth,” Extavour noted, pointing to the carbontech evolution. Hence, the corporate interest. The extent to which COVID-19 infrastructure investments and economic recovery plans are linked with climate action is also likely to increase corporate involvement, especially outside the U.S., where some investments already have been linked to these metrics, such as the bailout of Air France, Extavour added. How ginormous could the carbontech market get? According to nonprofit Carbon180, the total addressable market for products that could be affected is $6 trillion — with the biggest opportunities for using “waste CO2” found in transportation fuels and building materials. Captured carbon also could be a resource for food, fertilizers, polymers and chemicals. (Before you ask, very few innovators that CCN is tracking are focused on enhanced oil recovery applications.) Helping entrepreneurs commercialize carbontech more quickly is the mission of the new three-year Carbon to Value Initiative created this summer by the Urban Future Lab at New York University-Tandon, Greentown Labs and the Fraunhofer USA Technbridge (with support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Consulate General of Canada in New York). Whew.  Lo and behold, C2V last week added the first corporate members to its leadership council with representatives from Johnson Matthey, W.L. Gore and Associates, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, NRG and Suez. (Extavour and Eisenberger are also on the council, as is Noah Deich, executive director of Carbon180.)  Pat Sapinsley, managing director of cleantech initiatives at NYU Tandon, said carbontech entrepreneurs haven’t benefited broadly from attention by the investment or mentorship communities that have shown up to support other climate-tech sectors such as energy or transportation. “Startups in this particular corner of the climate solutions area have not actually been supported in a commercial way,” she said. “They’ve been very well supported recently, by some really excellent NGOs, but we bring commercial chops to the table.” C2V is accepting applications for its first startup cohort (supported from May to November 2021) through Jan. 27. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, said there are four sorts of solutions types C2V hopes to catalyze: capture mechanisms; transformative process innovations; utilization methods that use CO2 as a feedstock fuels, building materials and so forth, and storage approaches (including those focused on important natural solutions such as sequestration). By mentoring carbontech entrepreneurs, C2V hopes to send a “market signal” for broader commercial and government support, Reichert said. “This is such a multidimensional problem that we need to tackle it from a multi-industry and multidisciplinary approach,” she said. By the way, there are still three days left of VERGE 20, with plenty of sessions about carbon solutions, including one of the most popular approaches — tree planting, conservation and cultivation initiatives. If you’re missing out, register here . Pull Quote Startups in this particular corner of the climate solutions area have not actually been supported in a commercial way. Topics Innovation Carbon Removal Carbon Capture Carbontech VERGE 20 Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Climeworks plant in Hinwil, Switzerland.

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Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment

Amazon to buy bio jet fuel to lower air cargo emissions

July 8, 2020 by  
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Amazon to buy bio jet fuel to lower air cargo emissions Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/08/2020 – 08:00 Amazon’s plans to decarbonize its shipping supply chain isn’t just focused on electrifying  its delivery vans . On Wednesday morning, the logistics and retail giant announced that it plans to buy 6 million gallons of bio jet fuel via a division of Shell and produced by World Energy, a big biodiesel producer. The companies said the jet fuel will be made from agricultural waste fats and oils (such as used cooking oil and inedible fats from beef processing). The move shows the efforts that Amazon is willing to go to eke out carbon emissions across its vast network of planes, vehicles and distribution centers that deliver on-demand goods across the globe. Amazon has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and says it will make sure half of Amazon shipments are net-zero by 2030. That commitment also includes buying 100,000 electric delivery vehicles, and using 100 percent clean energy by 2025.  But the business of biofuels is a bit messier and — for bio jet fuel — at an earlier stage than procuring solar and wind energy or even purchasing electric vehicles.  Amazon has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and says it will make sure half of Amazon shipments are net-zero by 2030. The market for next-generation sustainable aviation fuel is just now being trialed commercially  by airlines such as JetBlue and United, produced by developers like World Energy and Finnish company Neste, and solicited by San Francisco International (SFO) and other airports. On Tuesday, Neste announced that it delivered its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel via pipeline for airlines refueling at SFO to use. Over the years, a variety of airlines have tested bio jet fuels, some made with algae as a feedstock, and many abandoned the initial efforts after the fuels were not able to be made economically at scale. Since then, companies like Neste have been able to industrialize the process of taking waste oils and fats from various sources and producing a fuel for vehicles and airplanes that can lower carbon emissions and be cost-effective.  A drop in the fuel tank In recent years, airlines have increasingly looked to the promise of bio jet fuels as one of the key ways for the industry to meet climate goals. United Airlines announced last year that it is investing $40 million into advancing sustainable aviation fuel, including the purchase of 10 million gallons of it over two years — a drop in the fuel tank of the roughly 4.3 billion gallons the airline uses annually. Electric aircraft have been considered by much of the airline industry as too far away on the horizon and too expensive for commercial use.  The aviation sector is being pushed by the United Nations-led Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for Aviation (CORSIA), which had planned to set a baseline of aviation emissions for 2020 and target carbon-neutral growth from here on out. However, just last week, the UN group that’s in charge of implementing CORSIA agreed to set the baseline targets for 2019 because of the coronavirus, essentially  watering down  the targets. Regardless of the specifics, the airline industry is feeling the heat from its reliance on fossil fuel-based jet fuel and thus its relatively large emissions. Sustainability-focused large corporations whose employees do a lot of business travel are also considering ways to both reduce airline travel and also work with carbon neutral airlines. Amazon’s news doesn’t just highlight the emergence of the bio jet fuel industry and the environmental spotlight on the airline industry, it also shows growing attention and worry around the carbon intensity of air cargo. The vast majority of goods in the U.S. are shipped by trucks, but a small and rapidly growing segment of goods are shipped by planes.  This air cargo is not only one of the fastest-growing shipping methods, it’s also one of the most carbon-intensive. Amazon began growing its fleet of 20 airplanes in 2015. By 2021, the retailer plans to have 70 planes in its in-house air fleet that move its one and two-day deliveries. To decarbonize the fuel for 70 planes, Amazon will need a lot more than 6 million gallons of bio jet fuel.  But Amazon’s willingness to begin purchasing this biofuel will help send a strong signal to the producers of the fuel, and the greater airline industry. After a long wait, is the market for sustainable aviation fuel finally here?   Pull Quote Amazon has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and says it will make sure half of Amazon shipments are net-zero by 2030. Topics Transportation & Mobility Shell Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Amazon to buy bio jet fuel to lower air cargo emissions

How ESG issues can become even more relevant in times of market crisis

July 8, 2020 by  
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How ESG issues can become even more relevant in times of market crisis Shannon Houde Wed, 07/08/2020 – 00:40 As a Brit based in Santa Monica, California, Daniel E. Ingram is the chair of investment advisory company Wilshire’s ESG and Diversity Committee. Wilshire, which has more than $8.6 billion in assets under management and $168 billion in assets under advisement, recruited Ingram in 2017 as part of an effort to expand its ESG and socially responsible investing capabilities. Previously, Ingram was head of responsible investing for BT Pension Scheme, the United Kingdom’s largest corporate retirement plan. Ingram is also a member of the CFA Institute’s ESG working group responsible for defining an industry standard, along with representatives from the International Monetary Fund, BlackRock, the Principles for Responsible Investment and other prominent players in the responsible investment arena.  Ingram helps advise institutional asset owners on how to protect and grow long-term capital by integrating ESG risks and opportunities into investment decisions. We recently spoke about the expansion of ESG analysis in investment strategies, the end of shareholder primacy and why investors may be better off preparing for the next potential crisis sooner than later. Shannon Houde: Tell me about your role in ESG and how you ended up in this space. Daniel E. Ingram: My role mainly involves delivering educational workshops to trustees and investment staff from public and private retirement plans, foundations and endowments on the investment case for ESG. As discussions move from why ESG to how, I help to design ESG policies, source high-performing investment products and conduct impact analysis on investment portfolios.  I’ve been working in the ESG space since before the term was coined. My interest in issues like climate change stems from my early career in public service on the graduate program at Her Majesty’s Treasury. I worked as chief of staff for — now Lord, then Sir — Nick Stern on his landmark review on the economics of climate change. Even though it was published 14 years ago, much of the findings of that seminal report are relevant today, namely that the benefits of addressing climate change, sooner than later, far outweighs the costs. Houde: What’s the investor outlook for ESG? Ingram: Investor interest in ESG issues continues to grow, and it’s becoming increasingly self-evident that the management of ESG risks and opportunities, such as resource efficiency and board skills/independence, can have a material impact on asset values. As a result, there’s been a show of confidence in ESG strategies, with Q1 2020 seeing inflows to some ESG funds.  In terms of performance, some ESG funds have posted relatively positive returns due to lower exposure to conventional energy and balance sheet leverage, and higher exposure to quality growth factors and technology. Governance is king. It tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. Houde: What’s the role of corporate governance and investor stewardship in crisis? Ingram: Governance is king, and it tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. In times of crisis, like the 2009 financial crisis or COVID-19, investors are compelled to take a closer look at corporate governance practices like disaster contingency plans, cybersecurity risk management and decisions about capital structure — [such as] share buybacks & M&A activity.  Investors may also be compelled to become better stewards of financial capital by holding companies to account for their leadership actions, incentive structures and strategic decisions. For example, the San Francisco Employee Retirement System issued a statement calling for corporations to find innovative ways to reorganize their manufacturing, distribution, resources and service capabilities to address COVID-19. Houde: Is this a moment of reckoning for the S in ESG? Ingram: Yes, I believe so. The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. These issues are becoming increasingly financially material, particularly for the extractives and services sectors.  In recognition of this fundamental shift, the U.S. Business Roundtable issued a new statement in 2019 that redefined the purpose of a corporation away from its previously held position that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders to its new position that corporations should serve for the benefit of all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.  The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. Houde: What’s next for how investors approach ESG? Ingram: In the same way epidemiologists have been warning of a deadly coronavirus outbreak for years, climate scientists have been warning us for decades about the social and economic risks from rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires and air pollution. While there’s no way we could have predicted the devastating scale or exact timing from the coronavirus pandemic, many of us would readily admit we could have been much better prepared and responded more rapidly.  Investors require high-quality advice to help them prepare and position their investment portfolios for climate change and potential future lower-carbon investment opportunities. These preparations may include: measuring portfolio exposure to different transition and physical risks; developing an ESG policy; evaluating how active investment managers take climate risks into account in valuations; or investing in a lower-carbon passive index fund. Houde: What advice do you have for someone wanting to work in ESG? Ingram: There are so many great ESG opportunities right now — if you’re not working in the space and want to get in, maybe find yourself a coach to help present yourself in the best possible light. The ESG community tends to be relatively close-knit and highly approachable.  If you can participate in an ESG conference or reach out to ESG professionals via LinkedIn, most of us will gladly offer our 10 cents of advice and tell you how incredibly rewarding it can be to work in this increasingly important and fast-growing industry. Pull Quote Governance is king. It tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. Topics Finance & Investing ESG Featured Column Purpose and People Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Will COVID-19’s transport slow down stick?

March 18, 2020 by  
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It takes a global pandemic — and subsequent ordered and self-imposed quarantines — to really expose just how dependent societies are on mobility and transportation. 

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Will COVID-19’s transport slow down stick?

Will COVID-19’s transport slowdown stick?

March 18, 2020 by  
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It takes a global pandemic — and subsequent ordered and self-imposed quarantines — to really expose just how dependent societies are on mobility and transportation.

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Will COVID-19’s transport slowdown stick?

Delta lifts off with $1 billion pledge to become carbon neutral

February 20, 2020 by  
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The airline plans to invest in aircraft renewal, sustainable jet fuel, weight reduction, and CO2 offsetting and sequestration projects.

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Delta lifts off with $1 billion pledge to become carbon neutral

Rolls-Royce unveils prototype for world’s fastest electric plane

January 15, 2020 by  
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Innovation is the name of the game for luxury industry leaders like Rolls-Royce, so it’s no surprise they have a variety of sustainable travel projects in the works. Last month, Rolls-Royce released its newest project — an all-electric plane set to take flight later this spring. Dubbed ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight), the initiative is aimed at not only using electrification, but setting records in the industry, including a top speed of over 300 miles per hour. The current record for an all-electric plane is 210 miles per hour, so the goal is a leap in both power and performance. Plus, the plane is set to bring an  eco-friendly option  to a traditionally high-polluting industry. With the densest battery pack ever used in an electric plane, ACCEL should be able to travel around 200 miles per charge. For reference, that’s the distance between London and Paris. The three electric engines are expected to produce a constant 500 horsepower with a quiet ride and zero emissions. Related: AeroMobil reveals flying taxi that transforms from car to electric airplane Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane. This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a  low carbon global economy .” Rolls-Royce has undertaken this endeavor with a host of partners. YASA brings a history of electric motor manufacturing, and an eager start-up, Electroflight, provides technology and research. The team also includes the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK. Funding for the plane is subsidized by the government of the United Kingdom where the blue and white one-seater prototype was unveiled in December. Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The UK has a proud heritage and enviable worldwide reputation for advances in aviation technology. The electrification of flight has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and transform aviation for decades to come – ensuring we can travel worldwide while maintaining a low carbon footprint . Backed by Government funding, Rolls-Royce is pushing the boundaries even further, and this new innovation could become the fastest electric plane ever.” Continued testing is underway with the goal of making an initial run for the speed record in the spring of 2020. + Rolls-Royce Images via Rolls-Royce

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Rolls-Royce unveils prototype for world’s fastest electric plane

JetBlue embarks on journey to offset all U.S. domestic flights

January 14, 2020 by  
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The move is becoming more common in Europe but is unprecedented among North American airlines.

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JetBlue embarks on journey to offset all U.S. domestic flights

Why aviation needs to address its emissions problem now

January 7, 2020 by  
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Despite myriad efforts, the aviation industry unlikely to succeed in reducing its emissions given the current hurdles. In fact, the case is quite the opposite.

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Why aviation needs to address its emissions problem now

7 urban air mobility companies to watch

November 25, 2019 by  
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Think ride-hailing flying taxis, electric multicopters and passenger drones that can be summoned with an app.

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7 urban air mobility companies to watch

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