ESG & Industry Updates

Transportation DeCarbonization Blueprint: Pipelines

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 1, 2023 7:45:00 AM

As we have been discussing, the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization breaks the Transportation sector into seven categories, each of which has its own targets for emission reduction/elimination, and strategies for how those declines in emissions will be achieved. The next category addressed in the Blueprint is pipelines.

We don’t generally think of pipelines as “freight” (versus items carried by truck, etc.) but actually, pipelines were responsible for 18% of all freight by tonnage in the US in 2015. In the US, pipelines for petroleum and natural gas span over 3 million miles across the country, and the fuels they carry cover close to 70% of energy use in the country currently. Although pipelines transport fossil fuels, the pipelines themselves are remarkably efficient. The major focus of the blueprint when it comes to pipelines is developing enhanced safety controls to avoid unintentional releases that can cause extreme environmental damage, and development of enhanced leak detection and repair. When pipelines have leaks, the main concern is the released methane, which as we know, has an even greater impact environmentally than carbon itself (more on that here: 2021: Methane Regulations on the Agenda)

Outside of those two major points, there are emissions gains to be realized by moving to more efficient systems for pumps, compressor systems, and other ancillary equipment used to keep fuels moving through the pipelines.

Keep in mind, the steps outlined for pipelines are in theory transitional, as the ultimate goal would be pipeline systems designed to transport sustainable/alternative fuels and carbon, versus fossil fuels. As it stands currently, there are substantial challenges and safety questions regarding pipeline transport of current alternative fuels based on variances in their chemical makeup like solvent properties, flammability, pressure issues, etc.

The steps outlined are:

  • Policy & Regulation: The Safety Act of 2020 has a substantial focus on minimizing methane emissions. This is done under the DOT’s PHSMA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration). PHSMA has issued multiple regulations on pipeline safety & leak regulation – these regulations target the main two issues around pipeline transport: accidental releases, and methane leaks. (The regulations are included under the US Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, if you would like more detail on their specifics)
  • Infrastructure Planning & Investment: Part of the Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021 provides for funding to upgrade the pipeline infrastructure via the “Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety & Modernization” grant program. This grant exists to fund repairs/replacement of portions of pipelines or their operating systems that are outdated, faulty, or prone to failure. The repairs done through this grant will automatically have a positive impact on reducing methane leaks in the existing system, which, as mentioned, is a major goal of this segment’s planning.
  • Research & Innovation: continuous development of monitoring and reporting technology for methane is the major focus of technological advancements & research for this segment. Enhanced leak detection, and enhanced fire prevention at risky sites (like LNG terminals) are the main focus for existing infrastructure, while research into the risks and requirements for safe pipeline transport of alternative fuels is the focus for the new infrastructure we would need to see in order to transition the system to non-fossil fuels, ultimately/

The main takeaway for this segment's goals is methane leak detection and prevention is of paramount importance. We don't necessarily think of small inadvertent leaks being controlled as being a major "thing" in the way we would think about switching to an EV vehicle, or a similar "large" move. However, the EPA estimates that methane leaks in 2019 were an estimated 57 MMT of CO2 equivalent emissions - more than that generated by the more visible parts of pipeline transport like compressor stations.  Natural Gas & Methane leaks have an enormous environmental impact, and an enormous financial one as well (for a quick refresher, take a look at this throwback article from 2015: Harvard Finds Boston is Leaking $90 Million of Natural Gas Annually )  Stopping leaks and spills as an interim step to control pipeline segment emissions is critically important to the overall plan for carbon emission reduction in the United States.  

 

 

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Topics: methane, Carbon Emissions, Biden Administration, decarbonization, pipeline

Transportation DeCarbonization: Aviation

Posted by Kelly Burke on Sep 26, 2023 7:15:00 AM

As we have been discussing, the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization breaks the Transportation sector into seven categories, each of which has its own targets for emission reduction/elimination, and strategies for how those declines in emissions will be achieved. The next category address in the Blueprint is Aviation.

Jet fuel combustion from international & domestic aviation comprises approximately 10% of total GHG emissions in the United States, with domestic emissions roughly equivalent to the emissions from international flights in & out of the country.

The “United States Aviation Climate Action Plan” is a whole of government approach to a net-zero target for aviation emissions by 2050. A key factor for the aviation sector is new technology in new aircraft engines to combat emissions. The “Sustainable Flight National Partnership” is working to develop a suite of aircraft technology to hit a 30% improvement target over today’s premier aircraft.

Aviation is a heavy demand growth sector, so in addition to new technologies for fuel economy, the overall plan for the sector includes optimizing other factors involved, such as optimizing take-off and landing patterns and surfaces, and infrastructure changes to mitigate aircraft congestion that results in wasted fuel and increases noise and pollution for nearby areas.

Sustainable aviation fuels, versus electrification type efforts, will be critical. SAF would allow a move to decarbonize without impacting the fundamental infrastructure of air travel. While drop in solutions like hydrogen and electrification are seen as viable for short distance travel – even if that were to happen 100%, flights shorter than 500 nautical miles only make up 50% of air travel and only 15% of sector emissions. The real culprit for the sector’s emissions is long 1000 nautical mile flights (largely cargo shipping) that account for 65% of emissions, despite being only 20% of total operations. Given those numbers, it's not so surprising to learn that even a 100% move to hydrogen or other carbon zero systems across all shorter flights (under 500 nautical miles) would not be expected to lower sector emissions at all, according to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization. As compared to this – the projected production and use of SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) across the segment could almost entirely decarbonize it by 2050, assuming the SAF industry production level of 35 billion gallons is met.

The steps outlined by the Transportation Decarbonization Blueprint are laid out for aviation as:

  • Policy & Regulation – the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) requires aircraft carriers to either use CORSIA eligible fuels or purchase carbon offsets. Because CORSIA is an international program, adherence to its regulations and rulings is critical to a global approach. Like vessels, the aviation sector is obviously international, which is a hurdle in terms of policy setting, as domestic application of new technologies and emissions regulations don’t necessarily translate into any impact on a global scale without buy-in and adoption from other nations and organizations.
  • Research & Innovation – development of new technologies and sustainable aviation fuels to lower emissions. The process will include SFNP flight simulations to enhance environmental efficiencies. Modernization of the National Aerospace System to support emerging technologies and optimize fuel efficient trajectories and patterns. Ongoing collaboration across government and private sector agencies with the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative.
  • Expand Stakeholder engagement and partnerships: much focus on this sector must deal with the international nature of aviation, as mentioned previously. Measures to lower emissions and mitigate climate impacts will need to be incentivized in a manner that encourages international adoption of, and adherence to multilateral, multinational agreements. This is obviously no small challenge and will be a critical factor in how we see changes across the segment over time.

 

              

 

 

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Topics: Climate Change, Biden Administration, decarbonization

Transportation DeCarbonization: Maritime Vessels

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 6, 2023 7:45:00 AM

As we have been discussing, the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization breaks the Transportation sector into seven categories, each of which has its own targets for emission reduction/elimination, and strategies for how those declines in emissions will be achieved. The next category addressed in the Blueprint by emissions % is the Maritime Sector.

The Maritime sector includes domestic, international, and recreational vessels under its umbrella. All in, there are an estimated 12 million privately owned recreational vessels, and 38 thousand commercial vessels including ferries, tugboats, container ships, etc.

About 20% of emissions in the sector come from recreational vessels, which primarily use gasoline. Domestic shipping and International shipping both contribute around 30% of the emissions share each. This segment primarily runs on diesel, with some percentage coming from heavier residual oils in large international vessels.

An important factor in emissions calculation for the Maritime sector, as well as for how effective efforts to curb them will be is the fact that its very difficult to get exact numbers on emissions given the complicated nature of international vessel traffic and fueling. Additionally, international vessels (including those flagged under the US) fuel up across the globe, often in areas that may not have the same options for less carbon intensive fuels.

The maritime sector, given its multinational presence, will require huge amounts of cooperation and agreement across nations in order to address the sector as a whole. Coordination amongst port owners, vessel operators and local and international governments will be pivotal to success. Part of this process thus far is the DOE “Mission Innovation Zero-Emission Shipping Mission” which aims to ensure that at least 10 ports on 3 continents can supply zero-emission fuel by 2030, and that 5%+ of the global fleet runs on those zero-emission fuels.

Ports are a huge factor in decarbonizing the sector, and international cooperation will be critical to movement forward.

The global nature of the maritime sector is a huge segment needing to be addressed as relates to Environmental Justice concerns, as well. Port communities in some areas are now and have historically been made up of disadvantaged groups that disproportionately bear the brunt of poor air quality and pollution sometimes caused by the industry. Resolving the emissions and pollution issues around port cities globally will need to be part of the long-term strategy on climate.

A major hurdle in addition to the global nature of vessel transport, is the long lifecycle of maritime equipment. When we think of upgrades in technology and emissions regulation adoption, we typically picture cars and trucks – both of whom have a much much shorter lifecycle than maritime vessels. The usual turnover time for large marine vessels is upwards of 30 years, and the cost associated with new vessels can be staggering. All of which is to say that advances likely won’t have substantial impacts in the near term unless they work with existing fuel types and refuel patterns.

Areas of focus include sustainable liquid/gas fuels that are drop-in replacements for the existing fossil fuels being used. This option is likely the most viable interim option, given the long lifetime cycle of the vessels and the existing port infrastructure that keeps them fueled and moving. On smaller boats, there are options for electrification that may or may not prove viable over time but again, where recreational/small vessels are not the major offenders, the offset by this solution seem minimal.

Two interesting and seemingly easily adoptable options for overall reduction in emissions appear to be the following

  • Cold Ironing – this is essentially “plugging in” or running large vessels off electricity during their time in port to offset emissions, particularly those that harm the immediate port city environment.
  • Exhaust Treatment and Carbon Capture – there is an idea that post exhaust emissions from vessels could be treated and neutralized (sort of like a reverse DEF process) to mitigate the ultimate CO2 impact. Logistically there seems to be some issues with how exactly the process would work, and what the options for storage and disposal would be in a marine environment.

Much like the other sectors we have discussed, investment in infrastructure will be a huge critical piece of the puzzle. Part of the underlying requirements for success of new regulations is that people are able to access the things that make complying with them possible, whether that is a fuel type or charging station, etc. In the Maritime sector this is more complicated, as discussed. There are however, options being made available through the Inflation Reduction Act (funding for ports to purchase zero-emission equipment, resources for climate planning), and the Port Infrastructure Development Program (grants for terminal infrastructure improvements).

 

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Topics: Marinas, Emissions, Biden Administration, Carbon Capture, decarbonization

Solar & Wind Production Ramps up Over 2022

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 3, 2023 12:43:00 PM

Independent research organization Climate Central published a report recently that showed how the national capacity for solar and wind generated power shot up in 2022. The report comes just as the Biden Administration begins rolling out billions of dollars to renewable energy projects as part of its commitment to decarbonizing the grid completely by 2030 and getting the US to net zero emission by 2050.

Here are some of the key points from the report:

  • The US generated over 680K of electricity from solar & wind (combined) in 2022, which equates out to about $82 billion of revenue generation. 
  • Solar & Wind capacity increased by 16% year over year from 2021 - that's enough of an increase to cover the electricity generation needs of approximately 64 million American homes. 
  • Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa let the nation in wind production
  • A myriad of State incentives helped encourage different states to up production, including a California's mandate on solar panels for new buildings, Iowa's tax credits for wind generation, etc. 
  • Larger States had more impressive gains than smaller, more densely populated ones. Smaller, more dense areas are less able to take advantage of space for larger scale generation projects - a good example of this is the growth we see in Texas or Iowa versus New England States, which haven't made similar gains despite also having incentives. 

We wrote an article for Oil & Energy Magazine that goes further into the points, the holdups to progress on renewables, and what the future looks like it might hold. If you are interested, you can read that article in its entirety here: Solar and Wind Growth Soars in 2022

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Topics: Solar, Carbon Emissions, renewable energy, Biden Administration, offshore wind, decarbonization

Transportation DeCarbonization: Rail Transport

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 3, 2023 10:50:32 AM

 

In recent political cycles, we’ve heard a lot of talk about Rail transport in the United States. Most of that talk has been in the context of the US needing more rail accessibility, so it may surprise some to discover that the United States actually has the largest rail network in the world. The catch is, this network is used primarily for freight, not passenger transport, and generally when we speak about rail (at least in politics and on the news), we mean for passengers. Freight made up 91% of all rail-use energy in 2019, so we almost exclusively use it for freight transport, in fact.

Rail accounts for 28% of freight transport by ton-miles, but only resulted in 2% of total transportation emissions. So, given that rail is astonishingly more efficient than both trucking and single vehicle passenger transport (cars), part of the focus on rail is an effort to expand its accessibility, particularly on the passenger side. This would have a two-fold impact on emissions because we would see both an increase in utilization of a lower emission intensive mode of transport, and a simultaneous impact on decreasing traffic related emissions from more intensive transport methods.

Freight rail transport in the US uses diesel locomotive engines almost exclusively, where passenger rail has a mix of diesel and electric. Most intercity transport is diesel, where some light rail and streetcar transport is electrified (think Commuter Rail versus Green Line MBTA lines). Full electrification looks like a near impossible hurdle for US freight transport, because of both the long distances and low traffic levels on most rail lines. Additionally, the current electrification modes in use like overhead lines, or third rails are obviously not at all conducive to long rail lines – emission reductions in this segment would most likely have to come from renewable fuels, hybridization, or new technologies. However, electrification of commuter lines may offer an avenue for further sector emission reductions.

The goals and steps outlined by the Federal Government in the Transportation Blueprint for rail include:

  • Infrastructure Investment: electric locomotives and electrification corridors investment, as well as investment in facilitating the availability of clean/renewable fuels.
  • Multi-stakeholder Collaboration: enhanced partnerships amongst those in government and industry with a vested interest, in order to accelerate the pace of technology development, adaptation, and accessibility.
  • Research & Innovation: investment in research to determine the best and most viable strategies for decarbonization of the sector, particularly through the use of pilot programs to optimize the gathering of real-world data and allow accurate analysis of all the vehicle and environment factors involved to accelerate development in the best clean technologies.

Again, as with the other segments being discussed, a successful pivot away from primarily diesel based rail transport in the United States would have longer term impacts on the market in terms of supply & delivery demands for diesel fuel and associated lubricants.

Something to keep in mind, and that we will keep an eye on as the process continues.

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Topics: EPA, Carbon Emissions, railcar regulations, renewable energy, Biden Administration, decarbonization

Transportation Decarbonization: Off-Road Vehicles and Mobile Equipment

Posted by Kelly Burke on Feb 6, 2023 12:48:53 PM

As we have been discussing, the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization breaks the Transportation sector into seven categories, each of which has its own targets for emission reduction/elimination, and strategies for how those declines in emissions will be achieved. The next category addressed in the Blueprint by emissions % is Off-Road Vehicles and Mobile Equipment.

The Off-Road Vehicles and Mobil Equipment segment includes a LOT, from heavy mine drilling equipment and excavators to dirt bikes and lawn mowers. The off-road segment is accountable for approximately 10% of emissions, but where 79% of the segment uses diesel, the changes that would be applicable to the medium and heavy duty (on road) sector would carry over fairly cleanly to the off-road sector, which is why they make sense to address in tandem. We saw a similar approach to this with the transition to ultra low sulfur diesel – the initial priority was on road vehicles, as they are more uniform in fuel technology requirements and also contribute more on emissions. Once the tech is there for on-road, its fairly simple to adopt it down into the off-road sector for diesel fueled equipment.

However, the caveat to the “ease” of transferring the technology is that unlike on road equipment, most off road equipment is multi functional – i.e. a combine harvester both needs to be propelled forward, and work at threshing or harvesting the area it works through simultaneously. That is a lot more difficult equation to account for in terms of optimizing power in a sustainable way than say accounting for a simple weight times distance on-road vehicle requirement. It is likely that the solution on heavier off-road equipment will involve some hybridization to offset emissions, more so than other segments will ultimately see in the final picture.

There is however, a lot of variance within the off road segment and some portions of the market will be a lot less demanding in terms of ability to pivot toward more renewable power. The segment breaks out as follows in order of energy use:

  • Construction & Mining Equipment – 36%
  • Industrial Equipment – 23%
  • Agricultural Equipment – 21%
  • Lawn & Garden Equipment – 15%
  • Recreational Vehicles – 4%

The smallest two segments (lawn & garden equipment, and recreational vehicles) should be the easiest to pivot, at least in theory, as they are more easily moved to EV power. We are already seeing this in the consumer level equipment for lawn care, etc. The hurdles for larger scale adoption on landscaping equipment is mainly power and length of run issues with electric power. Equipment needs to be reliable through the entire job. The hurdle on the recreational vehicle segment is largely performance and preference related. Like it or not, an electric dirt bike isn’t very appealing, and an electric snow mobile seems like a non starter given both the conditions the battery would be anticipated to perform in, as well as the potential for being stranded in the event of a drained battery.

The stated goals of the Blueprint on this segment are:

“Increase Targeted research and innovation efforts” – this involves both understanding the depth and breadth of off road equipment and its functional goals, and developing targets for battery and fuel cell technology based on understanding more about the performance levels required.

“Implement Policy and Regulations” – as mentioned earlier, off-road regulations and standards generally seem to mirror the standards on on-road vehicles to a large degree. It’s likely safe to assume that what we start to see come out regarding trucks and busses will eventually be applicable to your off road equipment in terms of fuel and emissions requirements.

“Invest in strategic demonstration” for this segment, this portion of the plan is essentially a doubling down on the focus in the on road vehicle portion, which is to say it focuses heavily on infrastructure for EV charging and availability of technology to coincide with regulatory requirements. It goes without saying that clearly the infrastructure for on road EV would be essentially useless for most off-road applications, given sheer geographic factors. Clearly then, they are also looking at options outside what we typically picture as the EV charging network options, but it isn’t clear yet what that might look like. There is an acknowledgement in the blueprint that hydrogen fuel and renewable diesel options may be necessary for the foreseeable future because of the logistical difficulties with both continuously operational off road equipment, and the tendency of much of the sector to be remote, rural, and/or difficult to access.

There is less clarity in this section of the blueprint, as it hasn’t been a major focus of the push to EV and renewable energy as much in recent years as have on road vehicles. We will have to keep watch on this in terms of presumably forthcoming EPA guidance and proposed regulations on the off road equipment markets.

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Topics: EPA, Carbon Emissions, Biden Administration, decarbonization

Transportation Decarbonization: Medium & Heavy Duty Vehicles

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 30, 2023 1:07:12 PM

As we have been discussing, the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization breaks the Transportation sector into seven categories, each of which has its own targets for emission reduction/elimination, and strategies for how those declines in emissions will be achieved. The second segment by emission % is Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles.

For the purposes of the Decarbonization Blueprint, “Medium and Heavy Duty On-Road Trucks and Buses” includes everything from heavy-duty pickup trucks to long haul semi’s (and everything in between). MHDV make up approximately 5% of vehicles, but they are responsible for 21% of transportation emissions. A further 50% of those emissions are from heavy duty trucks that make up about 10% of the total MHDV category. So when we are talking about this category’s emissions, most of the effective action that can be taken should be focused on a small segment of the total. The other simultaneous focus for MHDV category is the social and environmental justice issue. Where the emissions from light duty vehicles are more ubiquitous, the emissions from MHDV are often concentrated in major urban areas and along disadvantaged corridors within the country.

In terms of the numbers, 81% of the MHDV segment is diesel powered, and unlike light duty vehicles, there is not really a clear ability to easily pivot to EV or hydrogen options (outside of potentially in some of the lighter vehicles that run smaller ranges without heavy freight – like postal trucks). So the suite of zero emission options for the MHDV segment will necessarily be more varied than LDV or other segments where there is less variation in use and function for the vehicles in question. That means a LOT of research & development. Additionally, turnover and replacement timelines for heavy duty vehicles are substantially longer than those for light vehicles, so all the proposed new changes would end up slow rolling out on newer vehicles over time. This is where renewable diesel options will likely become a key factor in pushing MHDV toward hitting emissions goals.

In November of 2022, the US joined the “Global Memorandum of Understanding on Zero Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles” introduced at COP26 which agrees that we will be on a path to 100% new zero-emission MHDV by 2040 at the latest, with a target of 30% by 2030. In January 2023, the EPA announced their “Final Rule and Related Materials for Control of Air Pollution from New Motor Vehicles: Heavy Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards” that sets new emission standards for HD vehicles in line with the Decarbonization plan (you can read that EPA rule here: Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards )

All of this to say that despite the lack of current technology with which to make the changes required to hit emissions targets, it appears all the rules and regulations coming out across Federal Agencies are intending to follow through on the goals set. This portion of the policy obviously carries serious implications for trucking and transportation companies across the board in terms of their equipment purchasing, maintenance of current options, etc. This is definitely a portion of the plan that is still very much unsettled in terms of immediate and longer range impacts. We will keep a close eye on developments and continue to keep you informed of major changes that impact the industry.

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Topics: EPA, Carbon Emissions, Emissions, Biden Administration, paris accord, decarbonization

Transportation DeCarbonization Blueprint: Light Duty Vehicles

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 20, 2023 10:41:32 AM

The US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization splits the Transportation sector into seven categories of focus: Light-Duty Vehicles, Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Off-Road, Rail, Maritime, Aviation, and Pipelines. We will discuss the major items involved in each of these, from largest % of carbon share to least, starting with Light Duty Vehicles.

Light-Duty Vehicles produce 49% of current transportation emissions (of note, for the purposes of the Blueprint “current” refers to 2019 levels due to the pandemic and related shutdowns making 2020 & 2021 data unreliable/useless).

The United States has over 280 million light duty vehicles on the road and these vehicles:

  • Account for 75% of passenger transport miles,
  • Account for 50% of total transportation energy use and emissions
  • Consume over 120 billion gallons of gasoline annually
  • Emit over 1,000 MMT CO2 annually

As we are all aware, Light Duty Vehicles (LDV) in the US have been subject to increasingly strict emissions requirements over the past few decades, and we have seen a massive increase in the availability of electric vehicles (EV) as well. To put specific numbers on it, in the past 15 years, LDVs have seen a 30% improvement in fuel economy (some of the ultimate impact of this however was mitigated by the trend toward larger, more fuel intensive passenger vehicles during that time period). EV have seen an explosion in popularity, it used to be you’d see a Prius or Volt here or there, now you would be hard pressed to drive to Boston without getting stuck behind a Tesla or two. Again, in terms of specific numbers, EV sales reached over half a million vehicles sold, bringing the total to 4.5% of market share in 2021 (18% in California!).

One of the major focuses of the blueprint in the LDV sector is the promotion of EV and zero emission vehicles, with an obvious preference for EV adoption. In tandem with EV adoption, there is a necessary push for charging infrastructure to make them a more feasible option for consumers. The goal is to have 50% new light duty EV sales by 2030, which would be a major step down the road to the ultimate goal of 100% EV adoption.

There is also an included focus on “Funding Research and Innovation” in this section of the Blueprint, which largely functions as an acknowledgement that we aren’t quite there on battery life and battery cost. Part of the legislative language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) included large investments toward the development of a reliable EV manufacturing supply chain. The legislation also references research and development aimed at achieving price parity between EV and traditional combustion engine vehicles to make them more accessible to the average consumer in terms of price, practicality, and maintenance costs over time. Studies indicate that battery cost has dropped 90% from 2010 to 2020, and projections indicate that when the price reaches $100/kwh the MSRP on EV will hit parity with combustion engine vehicles. The legislation mentioned above intends to fund the research on battery technology to make those price levels reality.

So that is the overview, the major takeaways being that the major goals for this section are:

  • “Achieve 50% of new vehicle sales being zero-emission by 2030, supporting a pathway for full adoption, and ensure that new internal combustion engines are as efficient as possible.”
  • “Deploy 500,000 EV chargers by 2030”
  • “Ensure 100% of Federal Fleet procurement be zero-emission by 2027”

Obviously, for the purposes of energy suppliers, particularly at the consumer level, the growth of EV adoption implies a longer-term shift in the mix of gasoline demand and delivery, especially to stations and municipalities. Actual changes in market share of EV and zero-emission vehicles is something to watch.

Next up, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

Stay Tuned!

 

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Topics: EV Charger, EPA, Carbon Emissions, Emissions, Biden Administration, ev, DOT, decarbonization

Inflation Reduction Act - Relevant Industry Item Snapshot

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 22, 2022 12:43:46 PM

 

Last week President Biden signed into law the “Inflation Reduction Act”, which is essentially a slimmed down adjunct bill to the “Build Back Better Act”. As the name implies, ,the goal would be to combat the crippling inflation facing the country currently – although most analysis by both CBO and federal groups has not concluded that would be the case in the long term. We shall see.

In the meantime, we pulled together some of the major industry-relevant items to keep an eye on

Federal analysis of the Inflation Reduction Act projects that the law will help cut United States emissions to 40% lower than 2005 levels by 2030. This aligns with the longer term goal of a net zero emission economy by 2050.

$370 billion dollars of the $740 billion dollars contained in the Inflation Reduction Act are directed toward addressing climate change, (including the potential cost of tax credits)

Among the points focused on are:

  • Removing the per-manufacturer cap on tax credits per unit sold of Electric Vehicles, which is meant to stimulate growth in EV sales and usage. However, there is also a provision that EV batteries have to be sourced 40% from domestic sources, which will be a major hurdle for some companies.
  • $60 billion in production tax credits for companies involved in domestic clean energy production, including multiple incentives for nuclear production to the tune of $30 billion
  • EPA granted the authority to fine oil & gas companies for emitting excessive methane emissions. This is a first of its kind provision that would kick off in 2024 and fine $900 per metric ton initially, and increase annually thereafter.
  • $9 billion dollars toward promotion of consumer adoption of renewable energy for residential use in the form of solar, heat pumps and electric systems instead of natural gas.
  • $60 billion for Environmental Justice programs, in the form of both renewable energy conversions and pollution, drought, and flooding remediation for impacted communities.
  • $51 billion for renewable energy production
  • $51 billion for clean energy investment
  • $3.2 billion for carbon capture technology
  • $27 billion for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (a financing agent for startups focused on decarbonization, essentially)

Of note is that most of the federal analysis seems to conclude that the emission reductions projected would require a heavy reliance on Carbon Capture & Store technology, which at the moment is a complicated and cost prohibitive solution in many situations.

As with any massive piece of legislation, its hard to predict how different provisions will impact industry segments until the rubber hits the road as they say. Definitely something to keep an eye on as it unfolds.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: Carbon Emissions, Biden Administration, environmental justice, inflation, ev, Inflation Reduction Act, Carbon Capture

Slimmed Down Biden Infrastructure Bill Clears House

Posted by Kelly Burke on Nov 8, 2021 12:07:44 PM

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This past Friday, November 5th, the House passed a $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill after weeks of legislative infighting, primarily between progressive Democratic members and their more centrist colleagues, in addition to the given squabbling across party lines. 

At the end of the day, 13 Republicans supported the measure where 6 Democrats did not. Simply put, the moderate republicans & democrats a la Joe Manchin ultimately voted “yea” where “the Squad” went “nay”.

Some of the more ambitious social spending related items were ultimately trimmed from the original proposal, including parental leave, $100 billion for workforce development, $400 billion to bolstering care for disabled and elderly Americans via expanded access to long term care services, $18 billion for VA Hospital modernization, and items regarding home health care worker pay levels.

Also conspicuously absent on the other side of the ledger – the proposed increase in corporate tax rate (from 21 to 28%) was scrapped, as were multiple tax hikes proposed to pay for some measures. Presumably, the social spending items that were ultimately trimmed from the Infrastructure package will be added to the separate 1.75 trillion Climate & Social spending bill (the so called “Human Infrastructure” bill) up next.

What’s still included?

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major infrastructure projects.
  • $11 billion for Transportation safety, including crash mitigation for cyclists.
  • $1 billion to reconnect communities divided by prior infrastructure projects, particularly in minority neighborhoods disproportionately impacted.
  • $39 billion to modernize public transport systems
  • $66 billion on rail infrastructure additionally, to reduce the Amtrak backlog and modernize the Northeast corridor.
  • $65 billion in Broadband Infrastructure expansion & improvement
  • $17 billion to Port infrastructure
  • $25 billion to Airports
  • $7.5 billion for zero & low emission busses and ferries
  • $7.5 billion for building out EV charger network
  • $21 to environmental remediation of Superfund sites, abandoned mines, and orphaned gas wells.
  • $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, including removing lead piping.
  • $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid

As mentioned previously, the passage of the infrastructure package from the view of those who work in utility contracting, electrical contracting, and other related union jobs (particularly in the Northeast) will be a huge boon to their members in terms of providing multiple long term projects, and thus multiple long term well-paying jobs.

One major variable to keep an eye on will be how much ongoing frustration and shortages along all facets of the supply chain, from manufacturing to delivery, may serve to push timelines on projects and ultimately slow progress forward on the outlined goals of the bill.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: Energy Infrastructure, Biden Administration

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