2020-02 26
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Research projects to reduce the impact of carbon emissions on climate



The correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and global climate change is a critical issue that has significant impact on society, communities, and economies. Yet, the capacity to store carbon dioxide in underground geologic formations -- also known as carbon sequestration -- is widely recognized as having vast potential for mitigating the effects of carbon emissions. With separate grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Cheng Chen, an assistant professor of mining and minerals engineering in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, is working on new ways to reduce the impacts of global climate change through carbon sequestration, the capacity to store carbon dioxide in underground geologic formations. Chen offers an innovative approach for examining how gas can be injected into subsurface geological formations for long-term storage. Results of his work could have significant implications on cutting back carbon emissions around the globe by providing a safe, secure means of storing it. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory grant: Machine-learning based model Chen was awarded $480,000 from the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory's University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research Program. The two-year project seeks to develop a machine-learning-based, scale-bridging, data assimilation framework with applications to geologic carbon sequestration. Chen and his team will work to develop a less time-consuming approach to analyzing the permeability of geologic rock formations, which is based on large amounts of visualization data, such as that of CT scans. This analysis is critical to understanding a rock's permeability and its effect on carbon dioxide injection. Normally, this data is analyzed with computer modeling, but it can be slow and time-consuming, Chen explained. The objective of a machine-learning based approach is to collect only a specified quantity of sample data. "Once there is enough mapping between the rock geometry and the fluid mechanics properties of the rock, a model can be trained to predict the fluid mechanics properties of new samples," said Chen. Researchers will collect image data from associate professor of mining and mineral engineering Nino Ripepi's field scale injection site, then develop a number of machine-learning models to analyze that data. National Science Foundation Grant: Convection in porous media The National Science Foundation also awarded Chen with a $368,000 grant from the Division of Earth Sciences to study the fundamentals of miscible density-driven convection in porous media, which is encountered in geologic carbon sequestration. This project entails laboratory experiments in which researchers will control and study the process of miscible density-driven convection. A possible means for storing carbon dioxide is by injecting it into deep saline aquifers. Once injected, the carbon dioxide is in a supercritical state -- somewhere between a gas and a liquid. Over a period of 10 to 100 years, the gas begins to dissolve into the water. "The pore water near the top cap rock of the aquifer is saturated with dissolved carbon dioxide and thus is denser than the underlying water not saturated with carbon dioxide, which can therefore cause miscible density-driven downward convection," Chen said. According to Chen, the process effectively improves the long-term security of geological carbon dioxide storage. The miscible density-driven downward convection transports dissolved carbon dioxide away from the cap rock and reduces the risk of the gas leaking at the cap rock. It also has the potential to enhance subsequent carbon dioxide dissolution from the supercritical phase into the aqueous phase. Salinity of underground aquifers affects the convection of carbon dioxide. Chen's approach is novel in that it seeks to design well-controlled laboratory testing methods for testing the process and numerous models used to understand it. Chen and his team will improve existing numerical models by carrying out simulations and lab experiments to confirm their hypothetical models and construct a porous media replica, or analog model. "The analog model enables us to control permeability distribution and porous media, while its glass panel construction enables the flow of the dyed fluid to be observed and recorded with a high-speed camera," he said. Chen is working with co-principal investigators Yang Liu, associate professor in mechanical engineering's nuclear energy program; Heng Xiao, assistant professor of aerospace and ocean engineering; James McClure, computational scientist at Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing Center; Ripepi; and engineering graduate students. "Geological sequestration is perhaps the only viable technology to mitigate global climate change while continuing large-scale use of fossil energy," Chen said. "If, as a society, we still depend on fossil fuels in the foreseeable future, our understanding of density-driven convection in porous media and the ability to better predict and model the fluid mechanics of deep saline aquifers might allow us to safely reduce or even eliminate greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere." Source: VIRGINIA TECH Author: Lindsey Haugh Date:26-FEB-2020

2020-02 21
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Net zero carbon by 2030 is do-able



IT HAS been intriguing to watch the reaction to the decision by the Gen­eral Synod last week to back a 2030 net zero carbon target over and above the recommended 2045 (News, 14 February). Some, both inside and outside the Church, have been euphoric. “This is exactly what the Church should be do­­­­­­­­­ing,” they say. “It’s prophetic.” “It’s missional.” “At last, the Church has taken the lead,” others say. Re­­­spond­­­ing to the historic vote, Christian Aid applauded the Synod’s cour­­­age, calling the decision “truly good news for the poor”, and urging politicians to “rise to the ambition set by the Church”. Others, however, have been more circumspect. The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment, while welcoming the vote as “a clear statement of intent across the Church”, said that he feared that the new target could cause resentment. Mean­­­­­­­­while, hard-pressed parishes are asking how they will find the time and money to lower their church­­­­­es’ carbon emis­sions, not least when it involves the challenges of ancient buildings and the faculties needed for any changes.   THERE is no doubt that a 2030 target is ambitious. We are in un­­­chart­­­ed territory. We do not yet have a clear baseline of what the Church’s current carbon emissions are, mak­ing planning difficult, although tools for this are improving all the time. But this is not a reason to be de­­featist. For the sake of future gen­er­­­­a­­­­tions, and for brothers and sisters across the world already suffering from climate change, it is vital to do everything in our power to try to hit the target. It is, after all, ten years that we have given ourselves, not ten minutes. You can do a lot in ten years if you put your mind to it. The motion approved by the Synod calls on parishes, Bishop’s Mis­­sion Orders, education institu­tions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the National Church Institutions to work to achieve year-on-year reduc­tions in emissions, to reach net-zero emissions by 2030. It calls on the Church to examine urgently what it will take to reach net zero, to draft action plans, and to report regularly on progress. (Now that the target is 2030, it is unlikely that the three-year reporting cycle agreed last week will be adequate.)   WHAT needs to happen to get us on the road to net zero by 2030? The first thing to say is that we will not achieve the target if indi­vid­ual churches are simply left to get on with it. Achieving net zero by 2030 will need a big push by the Church nationally. We cannot have 16,000 churches, or even 42 dioceses, work­ing out how to solve problems in­­­di­­vidu­ally. We need to strengthen lead­­er­ship and establish best prac­tice. Hitting the 2030 target will un­­doubtedly require a significant in­­­jec­­tion of money across the whole Church, and some of it will likely have to come from government. But we do have money, and it is now a choice about how we spend it. Meanwhile, strategic plans at all levels of the Church will need to be adjusted, on the understanding that tackling the climate emergency will be a significant part of the Church’s work for the next decade. It is not that we won’t be able to do other things, but we will need to give this work priority over some of our planned activities. If we truly believe that the future of God’s creation is at stake, however, this can only be right. While, undoubtedly, there are chal­­­­­­­­­­lenges, let us not exaggerate them. Churches will need guidance and resources, but there are things that they can do right now to get themselves on the path to net zero, as many are discovering. Moreover, there are exciting missional oppor­tun­ities here, not least for con­necting with young people and the wider com­­mun­­ity. The charity Climate Stewards re­­com­mends six steps that churches can take to lower their emissions: carrying out a carbon-footprint audit and reducing emissions where you can; switching to a green energy sup­plier; registering for the A Rocha Eco Church scheme; joining in with the LiveLent campaign; engaging with your diocesan advisory com­mit­­­­tee; and offsetting unavoidable emis­sions. (The point about net zero is that it allows for some offsetting.) Yes, some appear to have been un­­settled by the Synod vote. But, by committing itself to altering radically the way it lives for the sake of others, the Church is doing no more than following Jesus’s teaching. As a re­­sult, more will learn of Jesus’s love. Source: CHURCH NEWS Author: MARTIN GAINSBOROUGH Date: 21 FEBRUARY 2020

2020-02 14
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Singapore Airlines implementing measures to reduce carbon footprint



Singapore Airlines reported (14-Feb-2020) it has implemented measures to reduce the amount of single use plastics and waste on board aircraft and in its facilities. The carrier added steps have also been taken to increase the use of renewable energy and lower electricity consumption in order to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Excerpt from original report: Wide-ranging Transformation Continues to Drive Strong Results  Operating our business in a sustainable manner has always been a priority for the Group. We have invested heavily in a young fuel-efficient fleet, and constantly seek ways to further improve efficiency by optimising flight routings, reducing aircraft weight and leveraging data analytics to optimise fuel uplift. We have rolled out measures to reduce the amount of single-use plastics and minimise waste both on board our aircraft and in our facilities. Steps have been taken to increase our use of renewable energy and lower our electricity consumption. We will aggressively pursue opportunities and embark on initiatives that will help the Group to further reduce its overall carbon footprint.  Source: CAPA Author: Singapore Airlines Date: 14-Feb-2020

2020-02 05
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EU Eyes Carbon-Neutral Data Centers by 2030 in Green-Tech Switch



Data centers should be made more energy-efficient and be carbon-neutral by 2030, the European Union urges in a draft digital strategy plan to be unveiled later this month. Information and communications technologies must undergo their own “green transformation” to deliver their benefits, the European Commission said in the document obtained by Bloomberg. The EU’s executive is set to publish the strategy on Feb. 19 alongside other announcements, including plans to legislate on artificial intelligence. Digital industries account for between 5% to 9% of the world’s total electricity use and more than 2% of all emissions, the EU’s executive arm said. Data centers in particular contribute to a major portion of energy use in the sector. Despite the tech industry’s focus on renewables, the advent of streaming, artificial intelligence and other services requiring lots of data is accelerating the amount of fossil fuels burned to keep data servers up and running. The EU initiative is part of the bloc’s broader plans for a sweeping economic transformation, dubbed the “Green Deal,” across the 27-nation bloc. It plans to impose stricter emissions standards on industries, energy taxes and tougher air quality standards. In the document, the EU said it is also planning an initiative to recycle devices, including a right to repair to extend the lifecycle of electronic devices. Politico earlier reported on the draft. Data centers currently consume about 2% of the world’s electricity, but that’s expected to reach 8% by 2030. Moreover, only about 6% of all data ever created is in use today, according to research from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Read more about data centers and energy use here The document also outlines plans to launch a sweeping antitrust inquiry “with a strong focus on these new and emerging markets that are shaping our economy and society.” A previous probe into online sales led regulators to investigate Amazon.com Inc. and fine Nike Inc. and NBC Universal LLC. The paper promises action on Internet giants later this year, saying forward-looking “regulatory responses” might be needed where online platforms have effectively become “large private gatekeepers and rule-setters.” The EU will also review and consider updating its competition rules to be able to catch any anti-competitive behavior it might be missing in the digital economy. In addition, the EU is considering a legislative act on self-driving and connected cars to foster the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles in Europe. Source: Bloomberg Green Author: Natalia Drozdiak Date: February 5, 2020

2020-01 22
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World’s carbon markets grow 34% in value to $215 billion in 2019 -report



Global carbon markets grew by 34% in 2019 to hit €194 billion ($215.1 bln) in value, according to analysts at Refinitiv, marking a third straight year of growth and a nearly fivefold increase in two years. In a report published Wednesday, the company said the value of almost every major carbon market worldwide had increased markedly year-on-year, in spite of overall trading volumes dipping by some 370 million tonnes or 4% to 8.73 billion tonnes. A surge in allowance prices in the EU ETS was the primary driver for the rise in global carbon markets’ value, with the average jumping by some €9 to near €25 between 2018 and 2019. The European carbon market – the world’s largest by volume and value – rose in worth by 30% to €169 billion to make up by far the largest share of the global total, despite a 12% drop in traded EUA and EU Aviation Allowance (EUAA) volumes to 6.78 billion. “The main driver for this increase was the Market Stability Reserve that came into effect in Jan. 2019, withholding a significant amount of allowances and tightening the supply side,” the analysts wrote. “The Green Deal proposals of the new European Commission, and talk of reopening the 2030 emission target, also lent support,” they added, referring to the EU executive’s plans for a wide-ranging decarbonisation programme for the bloc and the proposal to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas cutting goal to 50% or 55% below 1990 levels by the end of this decade. The analysts noted that the rise in EUAs came despite a drop in natural gas prices, which is expected to lead to lower emissions due to the fuel’s lesser CO2 output compared to coal. Coal prices also fell last year, but less compared to gas, which translated into lower fuel-switching costs for European utilities. Additionally, renewable capacity increased significantly across the EU, while coal-fired output plummeted also because of domestic measures such as the UK’s carbon tax. The EU ETS has grown by nearly 450% in value from €30.9 billion in 2017, with the surge also fuelled by new investors entering the market. Breaking down last year’s numbers: 589 mln EUAs were auctioned (down 36% from 2018) for a total €14.5 bln (up 3% YoY) 82 bln EUAs were exchange-traded (down 3%) at a total value of €145.2 bln (up 43%) 360 mln EUAs were traded OTC (down 57%) at a total value of €9.1 bln (down 33%) 6 mln EUAAs were traded (unchanged) at a total value of €137 mln (up 32%) NORTH AMERICA Meanwhile, North America’s main two carbon markets – the Northeast US’ RGGI scheme and the California-Quebec linkage under WCI – when combined ranked second globally in volume and value at 1.67 billion metric tonnes and €22.37 billion ($24.79 billion) respectively, the report said. Traded volumes in the sibling systems gained 49% YoY, while their value soared by 74% to make up a 12% share of the global total. “Both the WCI and RGGI are operating under expectations of a significantly tighter market next year, as they enter a new trading period with more ambitious caps from 2021,” the analysts wrote. Examining the figures, WCI saw over 1.3 bln tonnes change hands with a total market value of $23 billion, while RGGI recorded volume of 323 mln short tons (293 metric tonnes) for a total value of $1.8 bln. Allowance prices in WCI rose over the first half of the year, spurred by speculative buying following an oversubscribed February auction to peak at nearly $19 in early May, just before the year’s second primary market sale. They then receded in the second half on numerous bearish factors, the analysts said, including falling power sector emissions in California and lower-than-expected fuel consumption. A lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice in October against the state’s market link with Quebec under WCI also didn’t help sentiment, the report added. In the power sector-only RGGI market, prices mirrored those of WCI to peak in May and fall after that, also on signs of weakened demand. However, sentiment picked up ahead of New Jersey rejoining the scheme this month, with prices also influenced by the upcoming 2021 launch and $6 starting trigger level of the price-supporting Emissions Containment Reserve (ECR). RGGI and WCI’s combined value has jumped from €9.2 billion in 2017, while traded volumes have almost doubled from 923 mln metric tonnes over that time. The North American figures did not include the existing, smaller emissions trading schemes such as those in Massachusetts, Alberta, or Nova Scotia. Breaking down last year’s numbers: In WCI, 1.38 bln tonnes were traded (up 56%) at a total value of €20.7 bln (up 76%) In RGGI, 293 mln metric tonnes were traded (up 23%) at a total value of €1.63 bln (up 47%) CHINA Across the Pacific, most companies in China are focussed on the anticipated launch of country’s long-awaited national ETS later this year – a market poised to become the world’s biggest. “Intense preparations have been taking place in 2019 to get the market’s rules in place and the participants ready so that trading can start in 2020,” the analysts wrote. “After the release of several draft policy documents last year, the authorities are set to publish the final legislation early this year. We expect a detailed regulatory framework for the national ETS to be released in Q1 2020 and actual trading to start in Q3 2020.” The national ETS will cover 1,700 entities in the power sector that collectively emitted roughly 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2019, the analysts said, adding that they expect allowances in the Chinese market to be initially priced around €10/tonne. The government intends to expand the scheme to cover eight industrial sectors by 2025. In the short term, China’s nine existing regional pilot schemes – all of which cover some non-power sectors – will continue to operate in parallel to the national market, as the power sector emissions will be covered by the national scheme. Eight of the regional markets collectively saw trading of 136 Mt worth a total €272 mln.  Those figures were up respectively by 35% and 40%, with the carbon markets combining to account for around 1.6% of global GHG trading volumes and just 0.1% of the total value. Refinitiv did not report numbers for Sichuan’s ETS. Guandong was by far the largest in traded volume at 45.4 Mt allowances (up 60% YoY), with Shenzhen a distant second at 14.6 Mt (up 14%). Guandong’s market was also worth the most of the eight at €111.1 mln (up 142% YoY) based on an average allowance price of €2.45 (up 51%). “We attribute this sharp climb in trading and prices to policies released in 2019,” the analysts said, pointing to a futures exchange in provincial capital Guangzhou that was initiated by a regional development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area released last February. “The favourable investing environment attracted liquidity providers, which in turn led to an increase in the number of transactions involving financial products such as carbon repo deals and futures – those accounted for 18% of the total traded volume in Guangdong in 2019.” Beijing’s ETS ranked second in value at €55.3 mln, but that was based on just 7 Mt trading at an average price of €7.81/tonne – the highest cost across the eight schemes. In terms of market growth, Chongqing’s tiny market saw the largest YoY rise in both volume and value. Traded tonnes grew by 370% to 1.27 Mt, while the value climbed by 1654% to €2.68 mln and the price by 273% to a mean €2.12. Overall, the eight markets experienced a 28% increase in allowance trading to 92.9 Mt, a 40% rise in value to €271.9 mln, and a 9.9% increase in average price to €2.93/tonne. “With increased certainty that allowances of the pilots will not be valid under the national ETS, regional authorities sought to reduce surplus allowances in their programmes with more tightening, and this was typically done by adopting tougher benchmarks and/or tougher emission reduction factors,” the report said. This contributed to YoY price rises across nearly all most the schemes, though that in turn led to fewer participants in some markets, causing a drop in volumes. And in the background, trade in Chinese CER offsets (CCERs) continued, with volumes rising 40% YoY to 43 mln – an increase partially linked to the May 2018 resumption of the country’s CCER market, ending a 14-month suspension, despite the ongoing halt in project registrations and credit issuances. Shanghai continued to have the most active offset market, transacting nearly 15 mln CCERs last year to account for 35% of total volume across all the pilots. Sichuan saw almost 12 Mt, and Guangdong around 9 mln. Chongqing and Tianjin did not see any CCER trading in 2019. Only the Shanghai, Beijing, and Sichuan exchanges disclose CCER prices, with last year seeing a range from €0.80 to €3.50. By the end of 2019, some 2,871 Chinese offset projects have been made public for review and 1,104 have been registered, and CCERs have been issued to 358 projects. “Since the regulator started issuing CCERs in 2014, around 73 million have been issued. Certification reports are available for 291 of those, showing that they collectively represent 59 million tonnes CO2 equivalent,” the analysts wrote. “The reports indicate that wind, small-scale hydro, solar PV, and household biogas projects are most popular – this is due in part to the offset rules for CCERs in the pilot carbon markets.” OTHER MARKETS The South Korean ETS was the only major carbon market to diminish in value last year, falling 4% to €373 mln as a drop in volumes outweighed the effect of rising prices. Permits in the scheme rose in value due to a tightening in supply linked to emitters’ unwillingness to sell their spare units. “The Korean carbon market is over-allocated, but only very few allowances were in circulation as Korea’s industrial entities are banking KAUs ahead of next year’s compliance deadline,” Refinitiv said. The benchmark KAU-19 contract increased by 70% to nearly KRW 41,000 (€31.70) in late 2019, making the allowances the most expensive of any major carbon market worldwide. Almost 17 mln allowances and offsets changed hands in Korean ETS throughout 2019 – a 23% drop on the previous year. The government is attempting to address the price hike by forcing emitters holding a significant surplus to sell rather than continuing to bank them, though the effects of these policies have been minimal so far. South Korea also plans to tighten the market’s rules in the third phase of the KETS from 2021-25 by reducing annual allocation by 4% compared to the current 2018-20 phase, and increasing the share of KAUs it auctions to 10% from 3%. “These prospects send a bullish signal to the market, which is already seeing record-high prices due to a lack of permits in circulation,” the analysts said. “We expect prices for KETS allowances and offsets to stay high in 2020, due to the existing shortage of available units and expectations of a tighter market,” they added. “But decreasing energy-related emissions (as a result of lower power demand and increased nuclear power generation) forecast for 2019 and 2020 could dampen the price growth by the end of this year.” To the south, New Zealand saw ETS trading of 119 Mt in 2019, worth a total €1.75 bln, Refintiv said. However, those numbers are likely reflecting transfers of NZUs rather than actual trades. Prices stayed above the programme’s fixed price option of NZ$25 (€14.90) for most of the year because participants expected the government to announce major reforms to the ETS that would tighten the market  – an announcement that eventually came last month and caused NZU prices to immediately surge by 15%. “We expect the prospect of a tighter market to keep sending bullish signals to the market in 2020,” Refinitiv said. Elsewhere, trade in offsets under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) remained muted in 2019, with just 8 mln CERs changing hands on the primary market at a total value of €39 mln. That compares to 8 Mt worth €30 mln done in 2018. On the secondary market, CER volumes were softer at 3.4 Mt worth €700,000 – marking respective falls of 4 Mt and €1.3 mln from 2018. “Roughly half of the CERs cancelled in 2019 were applied toward compliance to the Korean ETS as offsets and to Colombia’s carbon tax in lieu of that country’s $5/t payment requirement. The rest satisfied corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals of voluntary buyers in various other countries,” the report said. And at around €0.20-0.25, prices for CERs in the EU ETS also remain depressed and near their record lows due to non-existent demand from emitters. Source: Cabron Pulse Author: Mike Szabo Date: January 22, 2020