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

Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

November 24, 2020 by  
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Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments Whitney Mann Tue, 11/24/2020 – 00:40 Recent months have seen major moves on climate action by some of the world’s largest private banks, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and Morgan Stanley. What sets this latest wave of climate pledges by financial institutions apart from past announcements? Building on previous commitments that increase green investments or restrict financing to certain high-emitting activities, recent pledges add to growing evidence that banks are taking a more holistic approach to the climate emergency. Looking across their investments in different sectors and regions, more banks are considering how to reduce the carbon intensity of entire portfolios over time. After all, through their product offerings, lending activities and client engagement, financial institutions can play a key role in influencing the transformation necessary for a net-zero emissions economy. What we have given the market is an ambition that our total financing by 2050 will be net zero. That is a far bigger prize or goal than picking a sub-segment of our portfolio and saying ‘I am not going to bank you’ because that’s not what the world needs. That industry or that customer may then just go to Bank X, Bank Y, or Bank Z. They won’t have changed their business model. — Noel Quinn, CEO, HSBC, in an interview with Reuters on Oct. 9, 2020. While recent commitments signal increased ambition, they vary in content and structure across institutions. RMI established our Center for Climate-Aligned Finance in July to support financial institutions — as well as their stakeholders and shareholders — in overcoming practical challenges to align portfolios and investment decisions with a 1.5 degree Celsius world. As part of this work, the center seeks to bring transparency to the new landscape of climate commitments — discerning barriers to success and pinpointing opportunities to ensure measurable impact from this promising momentum. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Unpacking commitments October announcements by JPMorgan Chase and HSBC outline their intended contribution to the low-carbon transition over a given time. Specifically, JPMorgan Chase announced in October that it would shape its financing portfolio in three key sectors to align with the Paris Agreement; three days later, HSBC announced its statement of net-zero ambition . This past year has seen a slew of similar statements, including from Barclays in May — making it one of the first banks to announce ambition to go net zero by 2050 — and then from Morgan Stanley in September. While this blog focuses on a subset of global banks, their commitments are part of a larger movement across the financial sector that includes institutional investors and broader coalitions. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Below, we identify signposts to help pick apart the differences between similar-sounding commitments. These categories represent critical questions facing a financial institution that has committed or may be looking to commit its portfolio to alignment with a climate goal. Coverage Coverage refers to the business units and financial products included in the commitment to measure, manage and reduce emissions. For instance, several banks have committed to align their lending portfolios. Barclays’ accounting additionally covers the capital markets activity it supports. Coverage also often can be delineated by sectors, such as BNP Paribas’s decision to prioritize decarbonization within its power portfolio, or ING’s inclusion of nine sectors in its annual Terra Report . ING has iterated further by indicating which part of the sectoral value chain is included in the scope (upstream oil and gas rather than trading, midstream, storage or downstream). JPMorgan Chase has committed to a sector-specific approach that will seek to address all emissions, including scope 3 emissions in their priority sectors. Targets and pathways For the designated coverage, commitments are further distinguished by targets (what will portfolio emissions be reduced to and by when?) and pathways (what trajectory will portfolio emissions take over time toward the specified target?). Pathways incorporate technology roadmaps based on a set of assumptions about what the world will look like over time. The extent of decarbonization achievable over time depends on which low-carbon technologies will be available when — projections that hinge on assumptions about investment rates, policies, demographic shifts and beyond. BNP Paribas and Barclays are among the institutions that will use the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) to guide their energy and power commitments, but many other pathways exist. RMI’s Charting the Course highlights that selecting a pathway from the nearly limitless options presents a key challenge to financial institutions taking meaningful steps toward alignment. Tools for analysis Many analysis tools, methodologies, models and platforms exist to support institutions in understanding where their emissions are today, and how they can transition their portfolios over time. For instance, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citi recently announced their participation in the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF)  — a coalition working on measuring financed emissions and improving transparency through disclosure. Other tools are more forward looking to support investing that steers portfolios in line with climate commitments over time. For instance, 17 global banks recently piloted PACTA for Banks to analyze their corporate loan books with different climate scenarios and inform future decision-making. And 58 financial institutions have committed to SBTi’s financial sector framework , which helps financial institutions “set science-based targets to align their lending and investment activities with the Paris Agreement.” Disclosure and reporting Disclosure in line with The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure recommendations, much like other financial risk disclosure obligations, is critical for transparency and accountability, and to ensure risks are accurately priced in financial markets. There are currently many voluntary standards and frameworks for reporting material factors across sectors, creating a complex landscape and motivating five standard-setting groups — Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, Climate Disclosure Standards Board, International Integrated Reporting Council and CDP — to collaborate toward a commonly accepted reporting framework. These existing standards ultimately could inform what disclosure and reporting mandates from forward-looking regulators might look like in the future. Implementation actions How do banks turn statements of ambition into progress along their pathway and, in turn, measurable impact in the real economy? When investing in a world believed to be on track to warm to 4 degrees Celsius, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. However, it cannot in and of itself create the low-carbon world and attendant investment opportunities needed for banks to achieve their climate alignment commitments. Rather, by influencing the availability and cost of capital, banks can more strategically and actively shape the real economy. When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. ” Breaking the Code ,” RMI’s August survey of climate action efforts in the financial sector, outlines different influence levers financial institutions possess. These levers range from designing products to support the transition of high-emitting assets to offering services to support their clients’ transitions. These levers can and should be employed in unique ways across business units and asset classes based on an institution’s particular commitments and individual context. Organizational approach Finally, banks are adopting different organizational responses to support implementation of new products, offerings and services stemming from commitments. One such approach reflects an “embedded” model, wherein responsibility is dispersed across existing business verticals by, for instance, placing a climate expert within a bank’s asset management team. Alternately, banks may opt for a more “centralized” model involving some sort of systemic re-organization around their commitment. A centralized model may involve creating new business units with a dedicated remit spanning the institution. JPMorgan Chase, for example, is launching its Center for Carbon Transition , which will provide clients with centralized access to sustainability-focused financing, offer research and advisory solutions and engage clients on their long-term business strategies and related carbon disclosures. Of course, significant variation exists. Notably, Credit Suisse has adopted a somewhat hybrid approach involving elements of both a centralized and embedded model. JPMorgan Chase has put partnering with its clients in carbon-intensive industries at the center of its new commitment. — Paul Bodnar, Chair, Center for Climate-Aligned Finance JPMorgan Chase is one of the center’s founding partners , alongside Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. Next steps The landscape of climate commitments by financial institutions is changing rapidly. At the center, we expect our analysis to broaden and deepen as we work with this sector to first crystallize and then actualize commitments toward climate alignment. Innovation is at the heart of competition among financial institutions, and actions advancing climate alignment should be no different. We expect future analysis to focus on frameworks for enabling comparability across institutions. Our goal is to broaden the path forged by these alignment pioneers, reinforcing their efforts to accelerate change at the scale demanded to meet the challenge of climate change. Pull Quote Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. Contributors Shravan Bhat Brian O’Hanlon Topics Corporate Strategy Finance Banking Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  wutzkohphoto  on Shutterstock

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Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

Sustainable fleets are at an inflection point

August 12, 2020 by  
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Sustainable fleets are at an inflection point Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 08/12/2020 – 00:15 Companies and cities are increasingly adopting lower-carbon fleets — including trucks and buses that run off electricity, renewable diesel and renewable natural gas — according to a new report from the research team at Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA).  It’s still early days for many of these markets, and sustainability goals remain one of the top drivers for fleets to buy these vehicles. But the metrics that fleet managers care about —  total cost of ownership  — are becoming more competitive for these lower-carbon vehicles, the GNA report found. I read the analysis, which also covers diesel efficiency, natural gas and propane, and picked out these points that I thought were particularly interesting: Renewable diesel is winning fans:  Fleet managers report satisfaction with the performance of renewable diesel, which can be dropped into diesel trucks and buses and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent. The amount of renewable diesel used in California tripled between 2015 to 2019 to 620 million gallons. However, fleet managers say the market is constrained by supply outside of California and Oregon. Diesel still dominates:  GNA predicts diesel vehicles will continue to dominate fleets for at least a decade, especially in heavy-duty applications such as long-haul trucking. Thus efficiency tools — such as aerodynamic packages, anti-idling and driver education — are still important. Natural gas trucks are big but slowing:  There are already 53,000 registered natural gas vehicles in the U.S., and 85 percent are used for heavy-duty applications such as garbage collection, transit and utility trucks. But natural gas trucks only reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel trucks by 11 percent, and regulators such as the California Air Resources Board have pushed the state’s fleets to adopt zero-emission vehicle options, such as electric. Renewable natural gas is growing fast:  Renewable natural gas (RNG) can lower greenhouse gas emissions from fleets compared to diesel by between 60 and 300 percent depending on the source (yes, that’s carbon negative). Between 2015 and 2018, the consumption of renewable natural gas by natural gas fleets grew by 475 percent, and in 2019 in California, 80 percent of the natural gas used for transportation was renewable. But RNG constraints are real:  Because the costs are high to capture and process renewable natural gas, the market essentially has been created by California’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). States that want to create a similar market need to create their own LCFS. Don’t overlook propane:  Propane is being used to power school buses that carry 1.2 million students in the U.S., although propane only reduces greenhouse gas emissions over diesel by 20 percent. The industry has been developing renewable propane, which is really only available in California. Electric trucks are moving forward:  Thanks to big commitments by companies such as Amazon, FedEx and PepsiCo, U.S. deliveries and deployment of electric trucks are supposed to double between 2021 and 2022. Today, more than 20 automakers produce over 90 electric truck and bus models. But EV infrastructure challenges remain: Early market challenges include expensive upfront costs for vehicles, complicated and a lack of charging infrastructure and limited range. Fleets also can face both higher or lower costs of electricity in comparison to diesel, so most need to work with partners and use smart charging tools to make sure they’re charging during low cost times of day. I’ll be highlighting zero- and low-carbon fleets during our upcoming VERGE 20 (virtual) conference , which will run the entire last week in October (Oct. 26-30). This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A UPS compressed natural gas fueling station fills up a UPS natural gas-powered truck. Courtesy of UPS Close Authorship

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Dow embraces circularity . . . and fossil fuels

February 7, 2020 by  
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Dow is looking to lead on the circular economy — not so much on moving away from fossil fuels.

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Dow embraces circularity . . . and fossil fuels

Kaiser Permanente’s Rame Hemstreet on reaching carbon neutrality by mid-2020

November 14, 2019 by  
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The Oakland-based company working to wean itself off of natural gas as it has done with carbon-intensive electricity.

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Kaiser Permanente’s Rame Hemstreet on reaching carbon neutrality by mid-2020

The risky economics of the new natural gas infrastructure in the United States

September 17, 2019 by  
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Low natural gas prices have helped to shutter many coal plants. Watch a similar effect on natural gas generators as clean energy becomes more affordable.

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The risky economics of the new natural gas infrastructure in the United States

Mergers are coming: How to manage ESG through the M&A process

September 17, 2019 by  
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As business leaders across industries pursue mergers and acquisitions, there will be substantial ESG opportunities and risks. Here’s what to look for.

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Mergers are coming: How to manage ESG through the M&A process

Volkswagen unveils hotly anticipated ID.3 electric car

September 17, 2019 by  
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The EV market is about to get even more competitive following VW’s unveiling of what it hopes will become the ‘people’s EV.’

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Volkswagen unveils hotly anticipated ID.3 electric car

City of Berkeley bans natural gas in new buildings and homes

July 23, 2019 by  
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The Californian city of Berkeley has become the first in the country to pass a ban on natural gas piping in new buildings, including private homes. Although it is considered cleaner than oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel and contributes to global warming . New buildings in Berkeley, with few exceptions, will have to rely on electricity for heating water and kitchen appliances starting in January 2020. The natural gas ordinance was spearheaded by councilmember Kate Harrison, who told the San Francisco Chronicle , “It’s an enormous issue. We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas .” Related: California is the first US state to require solar energy for new houses The legislation passed unanimously, but some critics outside of the city town halls and council meetings argue that electricity prices are higher than natural gas . The mandate will come at an expense to homeowners and renters in the Bay Area’s already stifling housing market. The ordinance also comes with funding for a two-year position for one staff member in the Office of Planning and Development who will oversee the implementation of the ban. David Hochschild, chairman of the California Energy Commission, reported that at least 50 other cities throughout the state of California are considering such a ban in hopes of addressing the contribution that buildings make to climate change and to encourage higher usage of electricity and renewable energy. Berkeley has a history of progressive bans, including becoming the first city in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars back in 1977. Earlier this year, the city banned single-use plastic utensils in restaurants (such as plastic forks). Restaurants and cafes throughout the city must use compostable utensils for takeaway meals and beverages. The city also passed an ordinance adding a 25 cents tax onto single-use cups, such as coffee cups. Via San Francisco Chronicle and NRDC Image via Pixabay

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City of Berkeley bans natural gas in new buildings and homes

Let’s talk about Renewable Energy Certificates … for natural gas

July 19, 2019 by  
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Ready for RECs for RNG?

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Let’s talk about Renewable Energy Certificates … for natural gas

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