Weekend Reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

February 12, 2022

Weekend Reads: The Reality of Net-Zero Targets; Natural Gas Needs a Rebranding

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

Microsoft, Google, other corporate buyers get creative as demand for renewable energy spikes (Utility Dive) Corporations around the world purchased a record 31.1 GW of renewable energy in 2021, up 24% from the previous record of 25.1 GW in 2020, according to research from BloombergNEF. Relentless demand for renewable energy amid supply chain constraints and interconnection bottlenecks led to a 5.9% increase in average power purchase agreement (PPA) prices in the last quarter of 2021, according to data from the LevelTen Energy Marketplace. Growing competition among corporate buyers has also led to increased innovation in the procurement process — from more flexible PPA contracts to customers who are reconsidering the PPA itself.

Why This Could Be a Critical Year for Electric Cars (The New York Times) Sales of cars powered solely by batteries surged in the United States, Europe and China last year, while deliveries of fossil fuel vehicles were stagnant. Demand for electric cars is so strong that manufacturers are requiring buyers to put down deposits months in advance. And some models are effectively sold out for the next two years. Battery-powered cars are having a breakthrough moment and will enter the mainstream this year as automakers begin selling electric versions of one of Americans’ favorite vehicle type: pickup trucks. Their arrival represents the biggest upheaval in the auto industry since Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908 and could have far-reaching consequences for factory workers, businesses and the environment. Tailpipe emissions are among the largest contributors to climate change.

Webinar: Optimizing Facility Design for both Decarbonization and Resiliency – It’s Not Too Good to Be True! (Enchanted Rock) Wednesday, February 16, 2022,12:00 PM EST/ 9:00 AM PST. The call for a sustainable, decarbonized future is being heard by manufacturing industry leaders, who are now rethinking legacy approaches such as diesel backup power that don’t fit the new environmental mantra. With the increased number of longer duration power disruptions due to extreme weather and an increasingly stressed electric grid, how can we both accelerate renewables adoption and ensure resilient operations? A variety of technologies exist to address resiliency requirements and zero carbon goals. This session explores modern microgrid innovation – solutions that meet high resiliency standards for the manufacturing sector and reduce carbon footprint without breaking the bank. REGISTER HERE

Most companies aren’t setting basic climate targets, putting net zero out of reach (S&P Global) The rising wave of major companies announcing ambitious, long-term emissions targets made “net zero” one of the top sustainability buzzwords of 2021. Large corporates around the world have pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible and offset the remainder, usually by the distant deadline of 2050. These announcements have grabbed headlines and give the impression that the corporate world is moving to tackle climate change. But the reality is more complicated. Data collected in the 2021 S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, or CSA, indicates that most companies globally have yet to set even initial emission reduction targets, much less net zero ones.

The end of natural gas has to start with its name (Vox) Locals in the town of Fredonia, New York, noticed in the early 19th century how gas would sometimes bubble up in a creek and catch fire when lit. This wasn’t much more than a curiosity until 1821, when a businessman captured and sold it for fuel to Fredonia shops. This “inflammable air,” as one newspaper called it, was cheap to transport relative to the other lighting fuels of the day — whale oil for candles and gas produced from coal. From the start, “nature’s gas,” as it was nicknamed, was celebrated as the healthy and virtually inexhaustible miracle fuel of the future. A big part of the early appeal was how much cleaner gas seemed than coal. In the 19th century, people could see and smell the particulate matter, sulfur, and nitrogen leaving a trail of smoggy air in cities. By comparison, natural gas is almost entirely made up of methane, a colorless, odorless gas that produces far fewer of these pollutants when burned.

Venture Capital Is Flowing to Climate Software and Hardware (Bloomberg) Two weeks ago I broke down the sectors and trends behind 2021’s three quarters of a trillion dollars of energy transition investment. Renewable energy was the leading sector, followed by electrified transport, taking in a total of more than $600 billion dollars. Most of that money flows to the financing of assets that will last decades (in the case of electric cars) or many decades (in the case of power generators). Importantly though, more than $50 billion flowed to early-stage private companies, and not just in energy or transport. A useful way to categorize that early-stage investment is either climate software or climate hardware. An example of the former is Watershed, which this week announced that it has raised $70 million to build software that allows companies to measure their greenhouse gas emissions. Watershed’s new investors are Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins, software-focused venture capital investors who also co-invested in Google.

Keywords: Weekend reads

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