Energy Exchange

New science suggests methane packs more warming power than previously thought

Methane (CH4) Molecule

It’s long been known that methane is a major contributor to global warming, responsible for roughly a quarter of the warming we’re experiencing today and second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on the current climate.

But research suggests methane has an even more potent warming effect on the climate than scientists previously thought.

For example, a study in Geophysical Research Letters significantly revises estimates of the energy trapped by methane by including its previously-neglected absorption of near-infrared radiation (past research included only infrared absorption—a different part of the radiation spectrum).

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Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

As ESG goes mainstream, methane disclosure divide looms large on investor agenda

By Kate Gaumond and Sean Wright

The demand for corporate transparency is here to stay. Just last year, 390 investors representing more than $22 trillion in assets signed a letter in support of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, advocating for a unified set of recommendations for corporate climate disclosure. So as financial markets increasingly recognize Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks, and increasingly embrace ESG strategies, oil and gas companies failing to report on environmental risks, like methane emissions, will be at a disadvantage.

Yet despite the reputational and financial risks posed by methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, over 40 percent of oil and gas companies analyzed in a new EDF report fail to report even basic information on methane management. The report finds that the quality and quantity of methane risk management reporting has increased amongst nearly 60 percent of companies analyzed. But the overall improvement has not been enough.

The report also finds a link between investor engagement on methane and a company’s subsequent reporting, and suggests that the companies failing to provide any methane information should expect increasing pressure and engagement from investors as demand for material ESG information continues to rise.

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Pollution monitors should be standard in LA’s oilfields

There are several reasons to be optimistic about environmental progress in Los Angeles. The city is making massive investments in electric vehicles, making clean energy more accessible to everyday people, and cutting pollution from the ports and freeways to name a few. But with over 60,000 Angelinos living less than 500 feet from an active oil well – LA could do more to protect our health and our environment.

Oil and gas wells emit toxic chemicals that can increase our risk of developing asthma, cancer and other health problems. Recent studies by the California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District have uncovered elevated levels of benzene, a cancer causing agent, and other toxic compounds coming from oil and gas equipment in Huntington Beach and Signal Hill. In Santa Fe Springs  a rupture at an oil site coated numerous homes with oil and generated noxious odors.  Then there are the communities in Culver City, South LA, Compton and elsewhere living mere feet from drill sites who experience odors and health ailments on a regular basis. Most notoriously, the Porter Ranch community next to the Aliso Canyon gas field still reports respiratory problems and other symptoms stemming from a major gas leak in 2015.

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Posted in Air Quality, Aliso Canyon, California, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Markets offer solutions to New England energy challenges

A recent report published by ISO-New England, the Operational Fuel Security Analysis, has certainly grabbed the region’s attention.

“The ISO has been able to maintain power system reliability during severe winter conditions without using all its emergency procedures,” the report says. “However, the evolving generation mix is increasingly susceptible to variable and uncertain factors.”

The study looks ahead at the 2024/2025 time frame, examining 23 scenarios for coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources. While it says the system is maintaining a delicate balance for now, “study results suggest that in the future, New England could be headed for significant levels of emergency actions, particularly during major fuel or resource outages.”

Although EDF doesn’t necessarily agree with all the assumptions in the study, ISO New England is asking the right questions at the right time. So what are the best policies and actions we can take to ensure the New England utility grid is clean, reliable, and resilient?

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Posted in General, Natural Gas, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

Trump's energy policy: Is China the real winner?

By Xixi Chen, manager, EDF+Business 

This week, President Trump's administration announced plans to cut the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency program budgets by 72 percent, according to a leaked draft of the DOE budget for fiscal year 2019. This is the second major blow to the renewable energy industry, coming only days after Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar imports.

I find this ironic. On Tuesday, Trump stood before our country to deliver his first State of the Union address. It was a story on “America First,” and domestic policy took the center stage – tax cuts, trade, the economy, jobs … and more jobs. But as he praised the accomplishments in these areas over the past year, I couldn’t help but see the other side: the opportunities we’re missing and the jobs we’re giving up (now even more so).

I’m talking about jobs in the clean energy and sustainability economy. An industry that is growing faster than any other sector. According to Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) new clean energy jobs report, the solar industry grew 24.5 percent, and has experienced a 68 percent annual growth rate over the last decade. And with this growth comes jobs. Solar jobs now outnumber coal jobs 1.6 to 1 across the country. Today’s increasingly globalized supply chain is partially responsible for this enormous growth.

Trump’s decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on solar imports from Asian markets, including my home country, China, will set this progress back. Here’s what a tariff could do: Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Are electric vehicles finally taking off? Here's what you need to know.

By Jason Mathers, supply chain director at EDF, Corporate Partnerships

Electric vehicles are poised to take off. We’ve just closed a year of record demand and investment. It’s no longer a question of whether electric vehicles – or EVs – will arrive, it’s how: How big of a role will EVs play, how soon and how clean will they be?

Popularizing EVs will depend on tackling key challenges. We’re seeing progress on several fronts.  Read More »

Posted in Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed