News of the Day:
IEA: Pathway to Net Zero Achievable But Narrow -Nothing backing pledges to get there.
Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, May 17, 2021
To limit climate change, by 2030 the world must install the equivalent of the current largest solar park — every day. The rate of energy efficiency improvements will have to triple the rate of the past two decades. And by 2035, the sale of the internal combustion engine needs to be a thing of the past.
Those are some of the items in a new International Energy Agency report titled “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector,” which warns that the pathway to net zero is “achievable” but “narrow.”
The report hails the rapid growth in the number of countries that have pledged to achieve net zero emissions; those pledges now cover about 70 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. China has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2060.
But the report warns that in many cases there is nothing backing up the pledges. Most of them “are not yet underpinned by near-term policies and measures,” the report said. Even if successfully fulfilled, the pledges to date would still fail to cover 22 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in 2050.
“We see a growing gap between the rhetoric and what is happing in the energy markets,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said.
With international leaders set to convene in Glasgow in six months to outline climate measures, the “commitments made to date fall far short of what is required by that pathway,” the IEA report said.
But the IEA notes that overhauling the planet’s climate is a tremendous economic opportunity. According to the agency, energy investment would surge to $5 trillion by 2030, adding 0.4 percentage points to annual global growth. Thirty million jobs would be created, though 5 million would be lost. And by 2030, global GDP could be 4 percent higher than it would be if the world economy continued on its current path.
In the report, the IEA has tried to spell out the measures needed to reach net zero by 2050 and to provide a “road map” that would outline interim steps along the way. The IEA road map is aimed at keeping climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit — slightly more ambitious than the 2-degree Celsius target set in the Paris climate accord in December 2015.
“It’s a really important milestone having the IEA on record,” said James Newcomb, managing director of RMI, a Colorado-based consulting firm. “We’re on steep and ongoing technological learning curves for the most important transitions.”
The road map, however, is a difficult one. It says that the sale of electric vehicles must go from around 5 percent of global car sales today to more than 60 percent by 2030. The amount of solar and wind power added every year would have to quadruple.
The agency also says that most of the global reductions in greenhouse gases through 2030 will be based on readily available technologies. However, the study notes, “in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase.”
Birol said that “in the next 10 years, we must make the most out of clean energy options such as solar, such as wind, such as [electric vehicles]. Then we have to push innovation very strongly in order to make sure that the technologies under development today” are adopted.
If the international community could stick to the IEA road map, there would be no need to invest in new fossil fuel supplies, the report says. Coal demand would plunge from 90 percent to just 1 percent of total energy use in 2050. The demand for natural gas would drop by 55 percent, and oil would tumble 75 percent to 24 million barrels per day, down from around 90 million barrels in 2020.
“It is incredibly significant that the IEA is saying there is no need for investment in new supply,” Newcomb said. “This is a message certainly working its way through the financial community.”
Instead, investment would focus on electricity transmission and distribution grids, more than tripling from now through 2030. The number of public charging points for electric vehicles would soar from around 1 million today to 40 million in 2030, requiring investments of almost $90 billion in 2030.
President Biden has also set high climate ambitions, vowing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by 2030.
Birol said new technologies could lead to new competition for critical materials such as copper, cobalt, manganese, and rare earth metals, use of which would grow almost sevenfold between 2020 and 2030 on the net zero pathway. The materials are used for climate-friendly energy devices such as batteries.
The outcomes could be perilous. “This creates substantial new opportunities for mining companies,” the report says. “It also creates new energy security concerns, including price volatility and additional costs for transitions, if supply cannot keep up with burgeoning demand.”
But the IEA head also flagged possible weaknesses in emerging markets where many governments lack the funds to make the large investments needed. He said that if industrialized nations fail to subsidize poorer nations, 90 percent of new emissions would come from less-developed nations. Due to decreases in oil demand, many oil-rich countries could face a drop in government revenues.
The report predicts that by 2050, due to energy efficiency, global energy demand will be around 8 percent lower than today. But it will be serving an economy more than twice as big and a population with an additional 2 billion people. That remaining energy demand largely will be met with renewable resources.
OIL & GAS:
The Renewables vs Oil Spend of Majors
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, May 19, 2021
How much will the majors pump into renewables and oil and gas over the next few decades?
BP (NYSE: BP) and Total (NYSE: TOT) have the biggest announced renewables targets to 2030 among the oil and gas majors, according to Rystad Energy, which highlights that the companies are aiming for 50 gigawatts (GW) of capacity.
This is more than double that of any other major during the same period, with Eni, Shell, Equinor, and Repsol all targeting under 20 GW of renewables capacity, Galp aiming for 10 GW and Chevron aiming for well under five GW, Rystad outlines.
If we take BP and Total’s 50 GW target by 2030 as their renewables investment benchmark, the companies will have to spend roughly $5 billion to $6 billion per year on new projects within renewables to reach their targets, according to Vegard Wiik Vollset, Rystad Energy’s vice president of renewable energy.
In comparison, Vollset highlighted that BP’s planned capital expenditure (CAPEX) on oil and gas projects to 2030 is $8 billion per year and Total’s planned CAPEX on oil and gas projects to 2030 is around $10 billion per year. Going by the figures above, on average, BP’s annual oil and gas spend would be around 37.5 percent to 25 percent higher than its annual renewables spend to 2030 and Total’s annual oil and gas spend would be around 50 percent to 40 percent higher than its annual renewables investment during the same period.
Looking further ahead to 2050, Vollset outlined a drastic shift away from fossil fuels. The Rystad Energy representative told Rigzone that total investment in renewable energy in 2050 is expected to be ten times that of oil and gas, even if the midstream and downstream part of oil and gas is included. Vollset highlighted that, in 2020, the world spent more on oil and gas projects than on renewable projects.
“With regards to what the oil majors will be doing by then , I think it depends on the individual company, as you see drastically different approaches between them,” Vollset said.
“Whereas the European majors have already made strategic shifts into renewables, the U.S. majors have yet to make any material investments within renewables energy,” Vollset added.
Commenting on what the potential percentage breakdown of investment among the majors may look like to 2050, Emma Richards, a senior oil and gas analyst at Fitch Solutions, noted that it would be hard to gauge as CAPEX projections tend to be short run.
“Net zero ambitions can offer a guide, but what this means in terms of spending on renewables versus oil and gas will depend on a host of factors, not least the deployment of carbon capture technologies and the use of carbon offsets,” Richards told Rigzone.
“In general, the percentage share is currently extremely low but, for those majors transitioning from big oil to big energy, clean energies will likely take the lion’s share of CAPEX by 2050,” Richards added.
The Fitch Solutions analyst went on to note that U.S. majors look set to retain oil and gas as a larger share of their portfolios than their European counterparts.
Seeking huge electric mine truck solutions
Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News, May 19, 2021
As a part of their commitment to lowering carbon emissions, many global mining companies would like to transform their large haul trucks from diesel to electric. This transition, however, has one big hurdle – the time it takes to charge up these enormous earthmovers takes away from productivity or requires mining operations to buy more of these multi-million-dollar electric trucks to do the same work as their diesel counterparts.
To find solutions to this dilemma, three of the world’s biggest mining companies launched the “Charge On Innovation Challenge,” a global competition for technology innovators to develop new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems to help significantly cut emissions from surface mine operations and unlock safety, productivity, and operational improvements.
BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale – the founding patrons of the challenge – have teamed up with Austmine to attract interest from other resource companies looking for innovative concepts to deliver electricity to large battery-electric haul trucks.
As an organization focused on making Australia’s mining equipment, technology, and services (METS) sector the best in the world, Austmine is considered the perfect vehicle for bringing together the mining companies and innovators needed to overcome the charging challenge.
“With 80% of METS companies supplying products and services outside mining, the challenge leverages the experience and innovation of industries in the automotive, battery makers, aerospace, defense, and other sectors,” said Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart. “We are confident that we will find a solution to the delivery of electricity to trucks in the complex operating environment of a large surface mine.”
There are currently no commercially produced fully electric surface mining haul trucks of the size – sometimes as large as a two-story house – utilized by these companies.
The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a preemptive move to develop charging solutions when the electric drive technology is ready.
“Mine electrification requires considerable integration between mine planning and operations. We need to develop new charging solutions that can be incorporated into our operations in parallel to the development of battery trucks, to ensure we create a truly sustainable electric haulage system in all aspects – clean, competitive, and flexible,” said Carlos Mello, ferrous engineering director at Vale.
Vale and its fellow founding patrons of the challenge expect the solutions that will lead to full fleets of efficient battery haul trucks will be incremental and could coincide with the scaling up of haul truck electrification.
“We expect the challenge will stimulate innovative ideas, some of which could be immediately applied to existing diesel-electric equipment and help fast-track implementation of longer-term solutions,” said BHP Minerals Australia President Edgar Basto. “We understand that these challenges will not be solved overnight, but together we can find the best concepts that can be applied across the industry.”
The most obvious solution would be to charge these enormous trucks during wait times during their normal cycle – while they are being loaded or dumping or waiting in queue to carry out these actions.
For trucks of this size to be able to charge during these rest points, multi-megawatt scale fast charging concepts capable of delivering around 400 kilowatt-hours to the batteries would need to be developed.
Another idea is to adapt trolley assist systems currently used to help diesel trucks climb steep grades faster while using less fuel for electric trucks. The idea here is that the trolly would reduce the amount of power used and could include a charger that boosts the battery while helping the truck up the slope.
BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale, however, say such systems suffer from a number of drawbacks that make them difficult to deploy economically.
The companies hope that bringing innovators together will improve these ideas and come up with new ones.
“We expect the challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defense to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks,” said Stewart.
The Charge On Innovation Challenge is accepting expressions of interest from individuals and companies from May 18 through June 30.
Candidates who make the shortlist are expected to pitch their concepts later this year.
“This is a global call-out to innovators to change the way haul truck systems operate in the mining sector,” said Rio Tinto Group Executive of Safety, Technical and Projects Mark Davies. “Innovation is the key to decarbonization, and we expect the challenge will deliver exciting new concepts that could drive huge long-term benefits for our industry and the environment.”
Lawyer who won landmark Alaska subsistence case in line to be Interior’s top attorney
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, May 19, 2021
A pioneering advocate of Alaska tribal sovereignty will have an important job at the U.S. Interior Department, assuming the Senate confirms him.
Robert T. Anderson, who represented Athabaskan elder Katie John in a landmark subsistence fishing case, is President Biden’s pick to be the solicitor of Interior.
Anderson, a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, began his legal career at the Native American Rights Fund.
“In 1984, I moved to Anchorage, Alaska as one of two attorney who opened an office for that law firm (NARF) to work on matters related to tribal status, tribal jurisdiction, hunting and fishing rights and amendments to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that were important to protection of the Native corporation land base in Alaska,” Anderson said Tuesday at his Senate confirmation hearing.
When Anderson opened the NARF office in Anchorage, the federal government had not yet recognized more than 200 Alaska Native villages as self-governing tribes. It was a controversial idea. Many Alaskans thought ANCSA precluded tribal sovereignty. Anderson advocated for that recognition and was a key player in getting the Clinton administration in 1993 to issue a list and a statement that says Alaska tribes have the same status as those in the Lower 48.
Anderson faced largely friendly questioning at the hearing. He taught at the University of Washington law school for 20 years and has been the acting solicitor for four months.
The Interior solicitor’s job is to interpret federal law for the department. Solicitor opinions sometimes stand as legal pillars for years. But Anderson has already withdrawn six opinions written by President Trump’s Interior solicitor. Anderson told senators it had to be done.
“When there is a solicitor’s opinion, written by a predecessor, whether he or she is a Democrat or a Republican, they need to be reversed when they’re plainly inconsistent with existing law,” he said.
Other opinions need to be tossed, he said, when they are intended to facilitate a policy that’s been rescinded.
Among the opinions Anderson has thrown out was one signed on the last day of the Trump presidency. It said the Interior secretary could not hold Alaska tribal land in trust. Some Alaska tribes want that legal status for parcels they own. It would make the land “Indian country” and immune from state and local taxation.
Anderson’s opinion calls for the Interior Department to resume processing land-in-trust applications from Alaska tribes, after a consultation period.
Biden administration reinstalls climate official Trump had removed
Ben Geman, Andrew Freedman, Axios, May 19, 2021
The White House said this morning that veteran climate scientist Mike Kuperberg is returning as head of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) following his removal from the position under President Trump.
Why it matters: The USGCRP coordinates climate research at 13 federal agencies and produces deeply researched, granular reports every four years that help inform policymakers, corporations and others about the causes and consequences of climate change on the United States.
What to watch: He’ll oversee the creation of the fifth version of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment that’s slated for release by the end of 2023, though that release date may slip.
Catch up fast: Kuperberg, who has been a climate scientist with the Energy Department for nearly two decades, led USGCRP for five years until last year.
- Trump had replaced him with David Legates, a meteorologist who disputes the scientific consensus on human-induced warming. In addition, NOAA chief scientist Ryan Maue was moved to a senior position within OSTP in the waning days of the Trump administration, in order to exert influence over the next edition of the NCA.
- The most recent NCA, published in 2018, angered the White House since it found that the effects of climate change would be extremely costly for the U.S.
- Both Legates and Maue were fired shortly before President Biden’s inauguration, after they published unauthorized climate science pamphlets with the White House seal on them. These documents, which were not reviewed by any OSTP officials beforehand, contesting mainstream scientific findings.
What they’re saying: “There is no doubt that the climate crisis is accelerating — and if we’re serious about tackling this crisis, we need proven scientific leadership that transcends politics,” said Jane Lubchenco, the top climate official at OSTP, in a statement.
- In an interview with the Washington Post, Kuperberg said he’s “really excited to be back.”
- “I think [the program] is a critical component for advancing the climate agenda of this administration.”
What’s next: Kuperberg needs to find a new scientist to run the report process itself, since the White House removed climate researcher Betsy Weatherhead in April. She too was appointed during the Trump administration, though she holds mainstream views on the causes and consequences of climate change.