Drought leaves Istanbul with just 45 days’ worth of water

January 14, 2021 by  
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Turkey’s capital Istanbul could run out of water in the next 45 days if rain does not fall. Other major cities in the country also face the risk of running dry in the next few months. These circumstances are due to poor rainfall in the past year, leading to the country’s severest drought in over a decade. Istanbul alone is home to over 17 million people but has very low levels of water. Akgün ?lhan, a water management expert at the Istanbul Policy Center, says that the country has been approaching the water scarcity issue the wrong way. Related: Thousands of farm workers face extreme conditions in California “Instead of focusing on measures to keep water demand under control, Turkey insists on expanding its water supply through building more dams … Turkey has built hundreds of dams in the last two decades,” ?lhan said. “The warning signs have been there for decades but not much has been done in practice.” Other cities facing major water scarcity include Izmir and Bursa. In Izmir, the dams are about 36% full while Bursa dams are approximately 24% full. Further, farmers in wheat-growing areas are struggling to retain their crops. Experts warn that if it does not rain soon, they risk losing a year’s yield. Turkey is a water-stressed country, with just 1,346 cubic meters of water available per person each year. The country has had to battle with severe droughts since the 1980s, but the situation has been getting worse. Droughts have now become recurrent and more severe due to climate change , which has been accelerated by industrialization and urbanization. To make the problem worse, population growth over the years continues to put pressure on the country’s water resources. Ümit ?ahin, who teaches global climate change and environmental politics at Istanbul’s Sabanc? University, said that government policies have not prioritized the conservation of water resources despite the fact that the country is water-stressed. “Yet in Istanbul, for instance, the most vital water basins, the last forests and agricultural land, [have been opened] to urban development projects … the new airport, the new Bosphorus bridge, its connection roads and highways, and the Istanbul canal project,” ?ahin said. “These policies cannot solve Turkey’s drought problem.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Drought leaves Istanbul with just 45 days’ worth of water

The European bison population is no longer vulnerable

January 14, 2021 by  
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The European bison’s population has increased sufficiently for it to be removed from IUCN’s list of vulnerable species. Thanks to long-term conservation work, the population has increased to more than 6,200, up from a 2003 figure of only 1,800. Rather than vulnerable, the European bison is now classified as “almost threatened.” Romania is the place to be if you’re a bison — or somebody who wants to see them roaming free. The largest populations are in Vân?tori Neam? Natural Park, ?arcu Mountains and F?g?r? Mountains. The Tarcu herd of over 65 bison was developed by WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe. Related: Cow escapes pen to live wild with a herd of bison in Poland The 5-year LIFE Bison project started in 2016 and is set to end March 30, 2021. Its mission is to create a viable population of bison in Romania that would breed in the wild, promoting biodiversity . The project also aims to use bison as an ecotourism draw that will help local communities. The LIFE Bison project is co-funded by the LIFE Programme, the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action that was created in 1992. “The bison calves born in the wild and the support of local communities are good signs that bison belong to these ancestral lands, but let’s not forget that the species is still threatened by various challenges, from habitat loss to ambiguity in legislative processes,” said Marina Drug?, LIFE Bison project manager, WWF-Romania, in a press release. “That is why we believe that only by working together can we ensure the progress made in the last 70 years will not decline, but that we will witness a change for the better.” The European bison hit a low point early in the 20th century, when it only survived in captivity. The reintroduction of the bison into the wild began in the 1950s. So far, Russia, Poland and Belarus have the largest subpopulations. But the species will still rely on conservation measures for the foreseeable future. + LIFEBison Photography by Daniel Mîrlea/Rewilding Europe via WWF

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Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures

January 14, 2021 by  
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Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures Sarah Golden Thu, 01/14/2021 – 04:11 After a strange year, corporate renewable procurement deals ended on a high note, with corporations inking some of the biggest, most complex transactions to date. The result was a blockbuster fourth quarter, with more than 7.3 gigawatts of contracts inked — more than any other single quarter since the start of the GreenBiz deal tracker .  The list includes familiar names: Amazon; Google; Starbuck; AT&T; McDonald’s among them. These corporations continued to innovate, inking bigger, more complicated and more holistic energy deals. The roster also included some fresh faces, including Crown and Kimberly-Clark.  Amazon inks largest renewable energy deal to date Web giant Amazon inked what it calls the largest corporate procurement deal to date: 3.4 GW spread over 26 projects across eight countries and four continents. Prior to this announcement, the largest comparable deal was Google’s 1.6 GW deal in September 2019. At the time, I called that jaw-dropping . Amazon just raised the bar substantially.  Among the dozens of projects within the deal is Europe’s largest offshore wind corporate power purchase agreement (PPA), according to the developer, Orsted. The offshore wind project is planned to be 900 megawatts, 250 MW of which Amazon will procure. Last quarter, Orsted inked what it called the largest corporate PPA from a single project: 920 MW of offshore wind in Taiwan. Amazon says it has overtaken Google as the largest corporate user of renewables, and the renewable procurement projects are in service of its climate pledge to reach net-zero carbon by 2040.  This deal also highlights how corporate climate trailblazers are bundling deals to make more of a splash. While the capacity procured here is huge, the average size per project is 130 MW — impressive, but not enough to get headlines on its own. The same could be said of Google’s announcement in 2019, which comprised 18 deals, meaning each averages at about 90 MW per project.     AT&T, Honda are lead offtakers in largest single U.S. solar development Corporations Honda, AT&T, McDonald’s, Google and Home Depot partnered with three Texas municipalities (Bryan, Denton and Garland) to be the offtakers in a massive 1.3 GW solar development. Developer Invenergy says, when complete, it will be the largest solar development in the United States.  AT&T is slated to take 500 MW, bringing the telecommunications company’s total procurements to more than 1.5 GW of capacity. Honda is the second largest offtaker, earmarking 200 MW, followed by McDonald’s with 160 MW.  The deal is an example of an aggregation project, where offtakers jointly shoulder the negotiations, risk and paperwork to streamline the offtake process. The model was spearheaded by Bloomberg, Cox, Gap Inc., Salesforce, Workday and developer BayWa r.e. at the start of 2019. At the time, the structure was unprecedented and inspired webcasts and case studies as others wondered if it could open up procurement opportunities to more types of companies. (The project came online last quarter .) While this new deal doesn’t include any companies new to the renewable procurement game, it reflects how the aggregation model can scale; this solar development is 10 times the size of the BayWa r.e. project.  Starbucks takes a holistic approach to procurements Starbucks announced its sustainability goals for 2030, which the company says puts it in line with becoming a ” resource positive company. ” The initiatives include components to address its carbon, water and waste.  Its fourth-quarter clean power announcement included four new investments in renewable energy, each using a different procurement strategy:  A supply chain virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) — a first for the company — in a move to reduce its Scope 3 emissions  Investments in 23 community solar projects in New York state to supply solar to its stores and the community  A VPPA and a virtual storage agreement (VSA) to provide energy to stories in California  An investment in a wind project in Washington state to power stores and the company’s roasting plant Starbucks does not provide a total procurement figure for the four investments. But the move reflects a trend noted in the Q3 2020 tracker : Corporations are beginning to think about renewable energy within their larger sustainability initiatives.  Notable mentions McDonald’s inked a deal for two wind farms and a portfolio of solar projects with a collective capacity of 1.13 GW . This massive deal is almost three times the size of the fast-food giant’s debut procurements in Q4 2019 , and it is in service of its broader climate and sustainability goals.  Two steel manufacturers made this quarter’s tracker: Evraz North America and Nucor Corporation. The procurement reflects the move for heavy industry to decarbonize on the eve of the Biden administration, which indicated decarbonizing steel as a climate priority.  Microsoft inked a tiny but important deal: its first peace renewable energy credit ( P-REC ), a clean energy deal with co-benefits that support the local community. The deal will directly finance the installation of streetlights in a recently electrified neighborhood in the Congo — and clears the way for more deals to consider energy access in their procurements. The move is in line with a trend identified in Q3 2020 , where companies are embedding social and environmental benefits into the renewable energy procurement process. The P-REC was executed with Energy Peace Partners, a VERGE Clean Energy Equity Showcase honoree . Home improvement giants made a strong showing this quarter, with Home Depot inking two deals (one an aggregation deal for 50 MW, the other a solar plus energy storage PPA for 75 MW) and Lowe’s inking a 250 MW solar deal. My hot take: The two are battling it out for the perception of climate leadership, and I am 100 percent here for this rivalry.  Topics Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements Corporate Procurement Collective Insight Clean Energy Deal Tracker Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of GreenBiz Group Close Authorship

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change 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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San Francisco Bay could make the perfect sea otter habitat

December 29, 2020 by  
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San Francisco Bay could become the new home to extinction-threatened sea otters, according to a  recent report  published in PeerJ. Although the bay is located in the middle of a major urban area, it may still offer a suitable environment for the otters. While most parts of the bay may not suit wild animals, some sections manage to meet the requirements for a conducive sea otter habitat.  Sea otters have struggled to grow in numbers due to increased shark attacks along California’s central coast, which has been their home for decades. In the early 1900s, people hunted otters to the brink of extinction due to their luxury fur. However, protection measures enacted in 1911 helped the otter population grow to about 3,000 by 2020. Unfortunately, their population seems to have stagnated over the past decade due to increased shark attacks. To help the otter population continue growing, wildlife managers have looked at alternative residences in pockets of coastal waters. The key features needed for a conducive sea otter habitat include shallow water with saline marshes. According to Jane Rudebusch, the lead author of the study and a spatial ecologist at San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center, the findings surprised the scientific community. At the start of the study, researchers did not expect the busy shoreline to accommodate such delicate animals. In the study, the researchers used existing data to create a map of the bay area, providing a clear picture of areas the animals could inhabit safely. “A large part of the north bay is a sweet spot,” Rudebusch says. As Scientific American further explains, “Much of this area is only about three feet deep and has ample salt marsh in protected areas, including China Camp State Park and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.” While the study identifies areas perfect for sea otters, some question food abundance for the animals. One 2019 study published in  PeerJ suggested  that the entire bay area contains enough food for about 6,600 sea otters. However, the study did not map the parts of the bay where the food can be obtained. Rudebusch says that the study findings are just the beginning. More research must be done before wildlife managers think of moving the otters to the area.  + Scientific American Image via Pixabay

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Animal activist impersonates Smithfield CEO on Fox News

December 29, 2020 by  
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Activist Matt Johnson won great acclaim from  animal rights  supporters by pulling off a neat trick: fooling Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo into interviewing him as Dennis Organ, the new CEO of Smithfield Foods, on her show last Wednesday. The prank went on for six minutes before Bartiromo caught on that something was gravely amiss. Unfortunately, those who want to watch the full hilarious video on  YouTube  are now blocked by the message, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fox Business Network (Fox Corporation).” However, you can find clips from the interview in a CNN video  here .  Related: Can robot dolphins replace real ones in marine parks? Bartiromo started the interview by asking Johnson about conditions at “his” company’s  South Dakota  pork processing plant, the site of the country’s worst COVID-19 cluster early in the pandemic. Johnson was respectful when talking about the workers, nearly 1,300 of whom contracted the disease, and four of whom died. In September, the U.S. Department of Labor fined the company $13,494 for failing to protect its employees — a fine which Smithfield contested. As the interview progressed, Johnson said Smithfield was taking responsibility for the awful conditions its workers endure. “The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next  pandemic ,” he said during the interview. He described Smithfield’s farms as “petri dishes for new diseases” and said hog farming “causes immense damage to our air and waterways.” While Smithfield Foods was founded in 1936 in Virginia, Chinese company WH Group, formerly known as Shuanghui International, bought it in 2013 for $4.7 billion. Johnson pledged “half a billion dollars a year starting in 2021” on behalf of WH Group to mitigate the environmental devastation of the  meat  industry. Perhaps this was the statement that led to Bartiromo finally recognizing the prank. At the end of her show, she issued a “very important correction,” calling Johnson an imposter who made false claims about Smithfield. In Bartiromo’s own words, “It appears that we have been punked.” Matt Johnson is actually the press coordinator for  Direct Action Everywhere . The  Smithfield  prank was part of the organization’s No More Factory Farms campaign. “A pandemic is ravaging global society, the sky is practically on fire, slaughterhouse workers are dying, and billions of  animals  are suffering needlessly,” Johnson said in a statement. “The signs could not be clearer. We must take bold action now.” Via The Daily Beast and CBS News Image via LinkedinEditors

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These were 10 key sustainable transport trends of 2020

December 16, 2020 by  
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These were 10 key sustainable transport trends of 2020 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 12/16/2020 – 01:00 Have you ever been more ready for a year to be over? In a little over two weeks, this dumpster fire of a year will be relegated to history. And while the world will be dealing with COVID-19 for many more months into 2021, something just feels so good about leaving 2020 behind.  Many books will be written about 2020 as a turning point in — you name it: American power. China relations. Democracy. In my corner of the universe, I think 2020 was a pivotal year for organizations, policymakers and the financial community to start to take sustainable and electric transportation more seriously as an emerging and powerful market — and as a key piece to tackle climate change. Here are my picks for the 10 most important sustainable transportation trends of 2020: 1. Gas car bans make it big: While some cities around the world have been adopting gasoline-powered car bans and phaseouts for a couple of years, California was the first U.S. state to adopt such an important, and jarring, measure. Just three months ago , California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to halt the sales of new gas cars within just 15 years. Newsom signed the order as a direct response to California’s historic and tragic wildfire season and as an effort to try to ratchet up his administration’s levers to decarbonize transportation in the battle against climate change. 2. Amazon remakes e-logistics: More than any other company, Amazon has been changing how the electric truck market operates. For years, slow-moving OEMs have failed to make the kinds (and volumes) of electric trucks that commercial businesses need to move goods and people. Amazon’s answer to this problem was to partner at the ground level with startup Rivian and to place an order that turns heads: 100,000 EVs. Amazon Director of Global Fleet Ross Rachey told us at VERGE 20 : “We realized we needed to take an active role in accelerating the products and the technology.” Now Amazon is working on deploying its first Rivian electric trucks by the end of 2021. 3. Ride-hailing looks to electrify: Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft made big pledges this year to move to all-electric vehicles. Lyft took the plunge first, announcing it would move to all EVs for both its owned vehicles and driver-owned vehicles by 2030. Uber followed that up with its own plans to move all its vehicles to electric in the U.S., Canada and Europe by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2040. The moves show the policy pressures on these companies from cities and states to clean up their emissions, as well as the changing economics that EVs can be cheaper to operate by eliminating gasoline.  4. Fleets decarbonize with low carbon and electric: Fleet managers of public and commercial vehicle fleets are buying new electric trucks and buses and switching out diesel fleets with low-carbon fuels such as renewable diesel. These organizations are being pushed by a combination of regulations, sustainability goals and customers. While the electric truck and bus markets are young, they’re becoming increasingly competitive for certain types of vehicles running certain routes, such as last-mile delivery.  5. Tesla and Elon defy gravity: While many car companies faltered in the wake of the pandemic, Tesla continued to soar and soar. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the second richest man in the world based on his Tesla shares, and the company plans to join the S&P on Dec. 18. The Silicon Valley-born electric car company has remade the auto industry, pushing the big car companies to chase its success into EVs, copy its online sales and promotions and mimic its over-the-air software systems.  6. Slow streets show what’s possible: 2020 saw the emergence of the slow-streets trend, where U.S. cities including Oakland, California, and Seattle blocked off miles of neighborhood streets to through traffic in a response to shelter-in-place measures. The slowed streets opened up possibilities for bikes, pedestrians and micromobility devices to move more safely, and reduced vehicles and air pollution in neighborhoods. The movement also gave city planners new tools to engage with residents and showed how cities can remake public spaces away from cars and towards humans.  7. The transport SPACs: An unusual financial tool — the Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC — emerged as the go-to choice for electric and autonomous transport companies to raise money and go public this year. It works like a reverse merger, where the company merges with a newly created entity and lists on an exchange, raising funds in the process. Why did these emerge this year? Going public via an IPO can take years, but opting for a SPAC can take mere months. Some new transport SPACs are speculative and pre-commercial, but many are legitimate companies with years of revenue and even profits. 8. Climate tech heats up: Venture capitalists and investors are increasingly interested in funding what the cool kids call “climate tech” today, and what we called cleantech in the mid-aughts. The new interest is coming from investors across the board, including old-school firms, brand-new climate funds and corporate arms ( a great resource here ). Entrepreneurs see growing markets, opportunities to work on world-changing solutions and more partners to buy energy, transport and carbontech. Is climate tech becoming so hot that there will be a bubble and bust? Probably. That’s the way Silicon Valley works.  9. Biden puts an end to the Trump darkness: While not strictly a transport story, the U.S. election of Joe Biden could be a major kickstart for the domestic electric vehicle and zero-emission vehicle industries. The president-elect could oversee the deployment of a massive ZEV infrastructure buildout and could quickly reverse the weakening of the auto emissions standards. His administration also will bring in new leadership that will prioritize decarbonizing transport and hopefully will set the bar even higher with new ZEV regulations.  10. Public transit moves into a crisis: mThe most disturbing transport story of 2020 is the crisis facing public transportation with the drop in ridership over safety concerns and COVID. Transit agencies across the U.S. are pleading with the federal government for help covering budget shortfalls, but even if tens of billions of dollars of help is approved, it likely won’t be enough. Many transit agencies will have to cut back on service, reduce staff and undermine the most climate-friendly source of transportation out there.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Public Transit Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Rivian made headlines in September 2019 when Amazon (one of its investors) announced its plans to purchase 100,000 of the automotive startup’s all-electric delivery trucks.

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NextEra jumps into fleet electrification

December 11, 2020 by  
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NextEra jumps into fleet electrification Katie Fehrenbacher Fri, 12/11/2020 – 02:00 The world’s biggest investor-owned clean energy provider sees promise in helping its customers adopt electric vehicles.  Clean electricity giant NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, announced Tuesday that it’s acquired a small Oakland, California-based startup called eIQ Mobility. The startup has built a business around using data and software to enable clients, such as utilities, to make decisions about what electric trucks and cars to buy, and how to build and manage EV charging infrastructure.  The companies didn’t release terms of the deal. Only two years old, elQ Mobility previously raised a seed round of funding from Schneider Electric’s venture arm. The deal highlights the growing market for companies, utilities, cities and government agencies to convert their fleets to electric vehicles in an effort to meet sustainability goals, adhere to regulations and in certain cases reduce operating costs by eliminating diesel use. (See GreenBiz’s Top 25 Most Sustainable Fleets ). “In the course of us doing our research, it became clear how complicated fleet buying decisions are and customers need to tackle this in a holistic way. We needed a tool to help customers make these decisions,” said Chelle Izzi, NextEra Energy’s resources executive director, explaining the strategy behind the acquisition.  Izzi also noted that customers that are already buying onsite solar, solar PPAs or onsite energy storage from NextEra Energy increasingly have been asking for ways to help manage electric vehicle fleets. “I think it’s going to eventually be a very large market. This is a long term commitment to be part of the solution for our customers,” Izzi said. NextEra Energy Resources customers focused on ESG (environmental, social and governance) are also beginning to be interested in looking at carbon footprints related to transportation, said Izzi. Electrifying fleets or enabling employees to adopt electric vehicles can be a good way to reduce transportation-related emissions.  While it’s still early days, more organizations are adopting electric vehicles for commercial purposes, whether it’s to move goods or people. Last-mile delivery — led by companies such as Amazon, UPS and FedEx — is quickly embracing electric because the routes are generally short and urban. Cities also are pushing for EV delivery vans to replace diesel ones as a way to clean up the air in neighborhoods. Transit buses are electrifying thanks to strong mandates such as California’s, which requires all transit agencies to phase out diesel buses by 2040. Companies such as Proterra, New Flyer and BYD are selling electric transit buses to cities across the U.S. Vehicle manufacturers — from big players such as Volvo and Daimler to startups such as Lion Electric and Rivian — are building out capacity for an expected jump in demand for electric trucks and buses over the coming years. The number of available and announced models of zero emission vehicles rose by 78 percent over the course of 2020, and that figure is expected to double again by the end of 2023, according to clean transportation nonprofit CALSTART. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Solar panels operated by NextEra Energy Courtesy of NextEra Energy Close Authorship

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You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility

November 24, 2020 by  
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You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility Lincoln Bleveans Tue, 11/24/2020 – 01:30 Relics. Environmental hotspots. Or maybe reminders of a simpler time. Good or bad, no one views America’s old coal-fired power plants with indifference.  In their day, they were reliable, cost-effective backbones of America’s economy, driving some of the most spectacular growth the world has seen. Powering industry, commerce and society, they generated not just electricity but economic ecosystems that stretched far beyond the plants themselves and often served as the mainstay for thriving middle-class communities.  But then the environmental realities came into sharper focus: air, soil, and water pollution and greenhouse gases at the smokestack. At the same time, advances in natural gas production such as fracking (controversial in their own right) have made natural gas-fired power a better economic choice than coal-generated power. Recognition of those externalities, especially GHG emssions, further erodes coal’s competitiveness. More broadly, expanding renewable energy further divides the pie, while increasing energy efficiency keeps the pie from growing or even makes it smaller.  As a result, coal-fired power plants are closing and those economic and social ecosystems collapsing around the country. Jobs are lost, communities are imperiled and hard-earned skills are suddenly obsolete, sacrificed to the altars of economics and sustainability. “Sad but inevitable,” goes the collective sigh, “wrong place, wrong time.”  Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. I disagree. We can and must do better. Much better.  That’s not just idle hope: My utility, Burbank Water and Power (BW&P) in California, is on the frontline of these transformations. Every day, our company manages a long-term commitment to a large coal-fired power plant in rural Delta, Utah, while it races towards a zero-GHG future — and not just by abandoning the old for the new. Together with our neighbors, Los Angeles and Glendale, and our partners in Utah, BW&P is bringing that old coal-fired power plant (and its local and regional ecosystem) along into the sustainable future — even though we will retire the coal plant itself in 2025. But to what? And when and why and how? You see an old coal plant and an obsolescent workforce; I see a superb opportunity for green hydrogen. Green? Hydrogen? Let’s start with hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but just coming into its own as a versatile fuel for a world moving away from hydrocarbons. Capturing hydrogen is simple in theory: just apply a lot of energy to water to break the two H’s (hydrogen) from the O (oxygen) to create pure hydrogen. Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. The technology is proven. Until now, though, the cost of that energy has kept hydrogen from widespread adoption. That’s changing fast; it’s also the “green” in “green hydrogen.” In the Age of Renewables, electricity is increasingly abundant and cheap (or free or even negatively priced, as in you get paid to take it) when solar power dominates the midday grid. In turbine-generators, an evolution of the ones currently powered with natural gas, that green hydrogen produces the holy grail of a zero-GHG power system: dispatchable renewable electricity ready to turn intermittent renewables such as solar and wind into a reliable power supply. The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. Back in Delta, Utah, I see an industrial site and a community ready for redevelopment. I see a skilled and experienced industrial workforce ready to build, operate and optimize complex systems. I see transmission lines to bring in the renewable energy needed for green hydrogen production. And I see the water rights, in mind-boggling amounts, that are a prerequisite for both today’s coal-fired power generation and tomorrow’s green hydrogen production.  The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. That transformation is already underway in Delta. We are replacing the coal plant with state-of-the-art natural gas turbines ready for 30 percent green hydrogen co-firing right off the bat. Those turbines and the rest of the plant are being future-proofed, engineered by turbine manufacturer Mitsubishi Power to be ready for each technological advancement, step-by-step, to 100 percent green hydrogen by 2035. (Mitsubishi is no outlier in this regard: General Electric is on a similar innovation path for its machines.) That green hydrogen, in turn, will be produced on-site using renewable energy (especially that midday solar) imported by the same transmission lines that export power to California, Utah and Nevada. Soaking up that excess solar power, in turn, helps the entire Western electric grid keep costs down and reliability up. And the workforce is top-notch: Coal plants are complex and demanding and they are the best in the business.  But the key is water. The coal plant uses up to 26 million gallons every day to generate electricity but has rights to far more. That’s a lot of low-cost, zero-GHG green hydrogen. That’s also lot of skilled jobs and tax revenue: the durable foundation for thriving, hard-working communities. Now pan back from Delta to the other 350-plus coal-fired power plants dotting the map of the U.S. Every one of those dots represents communities, economic ecosystems, workforces, water and transmission surrounded by ever-increasing renewables. Every one of those dots can be an opportunity to flip the script: Rather than left behind, they can be hubs for a thriving and inclusive transition to a zero-GHG future. Pan back even further to the 2,400-odd coal plants in the world. Do you see what I see? Let’s transition to a sustainable future together. Pull Quote Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. Topics Energy & Climate Utilities Jobs & Careers Hydrogen Coal Solar Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Burbank Water & Power Close Authorship

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You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility

The chef who wants diners to fund regenerative ag

November 20, 2020 by  
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The chef who wants diners to fund regenerative ag Jim Giles Fri, 11/20/2020 – 01:30 “We have solutions that are bipartisan and cost the government $0.” That was the opening line of a message I received from award-winning chef Anthony Myint, who replied to my request for elevator pitches for president-elect Joe Biden . Myint went on to describe a scalable mechanism for capturing large amounts of carbon in agricultural soils that would, indeed, cost governments $0. If this sounds too good to be true, consider what happened 20 years ago in a different economic sector. Solar and wind are cost-competitive means of producing electricity, but this wasn’t the case in the late 1990s. Back then, renewable energy advocates were trying to figure out how to scale technologies that were more expensive than fossil-fuel incumbents.  Some state governments simply mandated the use of renewables, but in places without mandates, advocates had to get creative. Even in states with mandates, some utilities wanted to do more. One solution was to ask consumers to chip in. The thinking was that if enough people opted to pay a little extra on their electricity bill, the combined funds would be enough to swap out some coal and gas plants for wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. The idea worked. In 2019, close to 8 million people in the United States voluntarily paid for electricity from renewable sources. This mechanism alone would not have driven the extraordinary growth of renewables witnessed over the past two decades, but it played an important role in kick-starting the renewables market, said Jenny Heeter , an expert on voluntary pricing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. This brings us back to Myint, co-founder of a fantastic Chinese restaurant in San Francisco and director of partnerships at Zero Foodprint , the organization behind his pitch to the president-elect. Myint’s idea is to add a 1 percent charge to restaurant bills — perhaps someday to every bill in every restaurant — and $1 per month to waste hauling charges. The money would be used to help farmers implement regenerative agriculture techniques that boost soil fertility and store carbon.  We’re trying to unlock the ability of citizens and consumers to take climate action. Right now, Myint and colleagues are signing up restaurants one-by-one. Although progress has been slowed by the pandemic, around 40 restaurants in California and beyond are funding carbon farming, including big names such as Noma and Chez Panisse. Farmers apply to Zero Foodprint for a share of the proceeds; the proposals that sequester the most carbon for every dollar are selected for funding. “We’re trying to unlock the ability of citizens and consumers to take climate action,” Myint told me. To take it to the next level, he’s asking regional or state governments to create legislation that would make the charge a default on all restaurant bills. Diners will be able to opt out, but data on other funding schemes that use opt-in as the default show that few are likely to do so. For policy-makers that want to establish a renewable food economy, Zero Foodprint can provide model legislation that they can use as a starting point.  There’s another similarity here with renewables. I said that voluntary charges alone would not have driven renewable growth: It took a portfolio of initiatives, including state mandates and tax credits. It’s exciting to see something similar happening in regenerative ag. Companies are paying farmers to implement regenerative practices in return for carbon offsets generated — either direct, as in the case of Cargill and Bayer , or via a marketplace, such as those offered by Nori or Indigo Ag . Producers also use regenerative branding to justify premium prices . And investors are linking interest rates to carbon storage and soil health .  The challenge of reforming the way we manage the almost 1 billion acres of U.S. farmland can seem overwhelming, but we’re seeing the emergence of a suite of solutions that might be up to the job. One critical next step will be support, or lack of it, from the incoming administration. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote We’re trying to unlock the ability of citizens and consumers to take climate action. Topics Food & Agriculture Policy & Politics Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Anthony Myint, director of partnerships, and Karen Leibowitz, executive director, of Zero Foodprint. Courtesy of Zero Foodprint

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The chef who wants diners to fund regenerative ag

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