A relatively tiny number of Permian oil and gas sites are responsible for a wildly disproportionate amount of methane pollution, a new study from Methane Source Finder found. The research, a joint project of NASA, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University, revealed just 123 of the 60,000 sites (0.205%) surveyed in the month-long study accounted for 29% of the region’s methane pollution — largely from leaks that are typically easy to repair.
Methane traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20 year period, and the research echoes an analysis of EPA data released last week that found the 195 smallest U.S. oil and gas extractors were responsible for 22% of total emissions, despite only accounting for 9% of production.
The Trump administration weakened methane leak detection and repair requirements in its final months and the Senate, though not the House, has taken action to reinstate the Obama-era protections.
Source: E&E $
Originally published by Nexus Media.
Tata Group Commissions India’s Largest Solar Carport
Tata Power has announced that it has commissioned a solar-powered carport in Pune, Maharashtra, India. The company claims that the 6.2-megawatt carport is the largest of its kind in the country. The project, commissioned at Tata Motors’ plant, can generate 8.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and offset 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
The project is spread across 30,000 square meters and will be used as covered parking for finished cars manufactured by Tata Motors. Tata Power also commissioned a solar carport at Kochi airport. The Kochi carport is 2.67 MW in size and is spread across 20,300 square meters. It was also the largest solar-powered carport in the country when it was commissioned in 2018.
Tata Power also commissioned India’s first solar-powered carport. It completed a 300 kW project at a commercial mall in Delhi in 2017. The project was commissioned in partnership with another group company — Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited.
Tata Power, which owns and operates one of India’s largest coal-fired power plants, recently shifted focus to renewable energy. The company’s “Strategic Intent 2025” plan calls for 70% of all new capacity addition coming from renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.
Tata Motors, too, has committed itself to shifting to 100% renewable energy consumption. It is a signatory to the RE100 initiative and targets net zero carbon operations by 2039. The company reported that it increased its share of renewable energy in its total power consumption from 16% in financial year 2019 to 21% in financial year 2020.
India’s Acme Sells Stake In 250-Megawatt Solar Power Project To Foreign Investors
According to media reports, Acme Cleantech has sold 49% stake in a 250-megawatt solar power project currently under development in the state of Rajasthan. Denmark’s IFU has acquired 39% on behalf of the Danish SGD Investment Fund while the United Nations’ Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments (S3i) has acquired 10% stake in the project.
News of the transaction comes just days after Acme announced a plan to sell 50% equity stake in 900 megawatts of solar power capacity also under development in Rajasthan to Norwegian developer Scatec Solar. Acme had also sold a 400-megawatt project to Actis Long Life Infrastructure Fund and a 100-megawatt project to competitor Amplus Solar.
Deals and transactions in India’s renewable energy market have shot up significantly over the last few months.
Most developers have been looking to raise funds to develop new projects, while some have fully exited the market. SoftBank-based SB Energy has reportedly decided to sell its entire 4.9-gigawatt solar and wind portfolio to competitor Adani Green Energy.
Developers Hero Future Energies and Sterling & Wilson also sold a total of 375 megawatts of capacity to Adani Green Energy. Some developers have been looking to raise funds from capital markets. ReNew Power will be listed at Nasdaq through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), while another company, Mytrah Energy, is also exploring a similar route for listing.
Tata Power was reported to have been planning to list a yieldco of its renewable power projects. French utility Total earlier this year acquired a 20% equity stake in Adani Green Energy and a 50% stake in a yieldco of its solar power projects. Greenko Energy Holdings continued to raise debt through green bonds this year.
Cold Climate Housing Research Center Completes Year 1 as NREL’s Subarctic Laboratory
By Molly Rettig
In June 2020, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) expanded from its sunny campus in the foothills of Golden, Colorado, to the frozen tundra of Fairbanks, Alaska, by adding the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) to its team.
“They brought 20 years of unrivaled experience in sustainable housing in extreme climates,” said NREL Director Martin Keller. “At the same time, their expertise expanded our sense of cultural appropriateness by honoring thousands of years of tradition and keeping our partnerships focused on energy equity for local communities.”
The inaugural year saw several notable collaborations, including a project to create affordable prefabricated housing, advice on improvements to military housing, and construction of demonstration homes in marginalized communities.
Affordable Housing in Alaska and Beyond
This July, CCHRC building researchers will load a 20-foot shipping container outfitted with a kitchen, bathroom, and mechanical room onto a barge headed for Unalakleet, a largely Inupiaq village perched on the Bering Sea. After a three-week journey around the long tail of the Aleutian Islands and up Alaska’s western coast, crews will hoist the fully plumbed container from the barge with a boom truck, drag it down a series of gravel roads etched into the tundra, and place it inside a newly framed home.
This home will provide healthy, modern amenities for a family that has spent many years in overcrowded conditions. Further, combining prefabricated components such as the kitchen-bathroom container with site-built components could begin to address the shortage of affordable housing in Alaska.
“Unalakleet is a great example of listening to a community to make sure technology meets their needs,” said CCHRC Regional Director Bruno Grunau. “The village council told us they needed affordable housing for their elders and young people, but they also needed jobs. So we built the most expensive parts of the home in the lab, while leaving the rest of the home to be constructed by local workers. It’s not just a house, it’s an engine for the local economy.”
Thinking beyond one village, researchers are asking how modular technology might transform the nation. NREL’s Fairbanks and Colorado teams are working together to investigate the ways in which building homes (or parts of homes) in factories with standard, repeatable processes can both improve performance and lower costs, similar to the way the assembly line transformed automobile manufacturing a century ago, leading to a car in almost every driveway. In theory, such construction could produce millions of homes needed across the nation.
At the same time, building engineers and designers must solve the problem of how to make them affordable without compromising on performance. That is where CCHRC’s experience comes in, noted NREL Engineer Stacey Rothgeb.
“CCHRC is waist-deep in affordability,” she said. “Because Alaskans live in an extreme climate, they are doing this work on the front lines. That’s really important to us.”
Another innovation taking shape in the Fairbanks lab is called Adaptable, a kit home that packages high-efficiency building technologies into a simple panelized system. Adaptable can be customized and ordered online, like an IKEA closet, then shipped in flat-pack containers and assembled on-site.
“Think of the way Legos fit together — you can mix and match different pieces — but in this case you have superinsulated vacuum panels, solar panels, and other future technologies,” Grunau said.
With support from a Department of Energy Advanced Building Construction grant, CCHRC is assembling the components that would ensure not just a sustainable building, but one that also reflects a family’s lifestyle, with the ability to accommodate a mudroom, a workshop, or even a space for processing subsistence foods.
Additionally, with a Department of Agriculture Wood Innovation grant that NREL and CCHRC recently won, researchers are exploring ways to incorporate low-value timber, often left to rot on the forest floor, into a structural frame for Adaptable. In doing so, they are connecting the dots of the circular economy.
Military and International Work
The military families that move around the country must adapt quickly to new environments. Nowhere is this more true than in Alaska. For the 20,000 active military personnel based in the 49th state, one of the most important elements of success is a warm, healthy home.
“There are a lot of dynamics that occur within buildings in an extreme environment like Alaska, even though you don’t always see them,” said Jack Hébert, a senior advisor at NREL who founded CCHRC more than 20 years ago to address just these issues. “Poor building science leads to a cold, uncomfortable building that affects our health, our performance, and our happiness.”
To ensure safe and comfortable housing at Fort Wainwright, in Fairbanks, CCHRC is advising military planners on retrofit strategies that would improve efficiency without compromising indoor air quality. Reducing energy costs not only frees up money for mission-critical work but also improves quality of life for U.S. servicemen and servicewomen in cold climates.
Coupled with energy retrofits, engineers are also investigating how air-source heat pumps could offset diesel consumption at Fort Wainwright and other cold places. Because air-source heat pumps rely on “heat” from the outside air to run a refrigeration cycle (just like your refrigerator absorbs “heat” from the items inside it), these pumps have not been widely used in extremely cold climates. With hardier models now hitting the market, CCHRC is tackling performance challenges such as icing that can form on the evaporator. Solving these challenges means air-source heat pumps could replace traditional heating systems like oil boilers or gas furnaces, not just in Alaska but across the north.
While NREL laboratories build technology for the future, social scientists are studying the impact of culture on these technologies. CCHRC is currently looking at community attitudes toward past building designs in rural Alaska, such as modular buildings that cropped up in villages and oil camps in the 1960s and ‘70s. Working hand in hand with communities and designers, we are learning from the past to make sure new building and energy systems emphasize local traditions, resources, and workforces.
A Just Energy Transition
A future powered by clean energy is the vision of NREL and its newest center, CCHRC. Part of getting there is identifying disparities within the current energy system. CCHRC’s deep experience working with Indigenous and frontline communities furthers NREL’s goals of achieving energy justice for all.
On the edge of the Arctic, NREL’s northern laboratory has a front row seat to climate change. Warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, many Alaska villages are already losing their homes, schools, and subsistence lands to erosion and thawing permafrost. CCHRC has worked for more than a decade to develop sustainable housing and infrastructure so that villages can adapt to this change, while helping others relocate entirely.
For example, CCHRC designed energy-efficient, durable homes for Mertarvik, a Yup’ik village driven to higher ground by coastal erosion—and helped oversee construction of 13 new homes in 2019. Now NREL is developing an Arctic Strategy to establish its long-term energy priorities, with Arctic voices at the center.
“This isn’t about observing climate change from the outside. Alaskans and northern people are living the climate transition,” said Arctic Strategic Program Manager Sherry Stout. “The goal of the Arctic Strategy is to help Arctic peoples meet their energy and housing goals in this changing environment, and do it in a way that minimizes the impacts to traditional ways of life.”
The partnership will continue to expand. As Keller noted, “Though thousands of miles away, our people at CCHRC have blended in with NREL and enriched us all.” This new combination of CCHRC and NREL means a deepening focus on energy equity as researchers push for a clean energy transition that leaves no one behind.
Article and images courtesy of NREL, the U.S. Department of Energy.
A Look At Tesla’s Conflict Minerals Report
Last month, Tesla released its Conflict Mineral Report for the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2019, and emphasized the importance of sourcing only responsibly produced materials. “This means having safe and humane working conditions in our supply chain and ensuring that workers are treated with respect and dignity,” the company said in its SEC filing.
Tesla’s Conflict Minerals Policy
Some common myths surrounding Tesla and mining include the idea thatg Tesla is using child or slave labor. Tesla ensured that it obtains the minerals in its products humanely and that it doesn’t use child labor, slavery, or human trafficking. Although Tesla’s suppliers obtain many of its minerals, Tesla has emphasized that they must be DRC Conflict Free. This means armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (or any adjoining country) such as those utilizing slave or child labor do not benefit from Tesla’s purchase of minerals.
In the filing, Tesla shared what these conflict minerals are:
- Columbite-tantalite (Tantalum)
- Cassiterite (Tin)
- Wolframite (Tungsten)
- and any derivatives of the above.
If these minerals do not benefit armed groups within the DRC or its adjoining countries, then they are considered conflict-free. Tesla’s suppliers are required to establish policies, due diligence frameworks, and management systems consistent with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (OECD Guidance).
The company also expected its suppliers to stay up to date with and use validated conflict-free smelters and refiners that are assessed by the Responsible Mineral Initiative (RMI) and similar organizations.
“Tesla recognizes the importance of mining responsibly and in a way that contributes to economic and social opportunity and development in the DRC region. Suppliers are allowed to source from the DRC or its adjoining countries, so long as it is from validated conflict-free sources such as smelters recognized as conformant under the RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Program (“RMAP”).”
Tesla’s Human Rights Policy
Tesla stated that it is committed to ensuring that slave or child labor or human trafficking isn’t happening within its supply chain. Although these types are slavery are crimes under state, federal, and international laws, it still happens. Tesla has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to slavery, though.
“Tesla does not, and will not, tolerate the use of slave or child labor in the manufacturing of its products and does not, and will not, accept products or services from suppliers that engage in human trafficking in any form.”
Tesla ensures that its suppliers are in compliance with its expectations, code, and policy along with applicable legal requirements, and in order to do this, it is committed to the following:
- Continuously evaluating our supply chain to address any risks related to conflict minerals, human trafficking, slavery, and child labor.
- Reviewing suppliers’ practices to ensure their compliance with Tesla’s Policy.
- Requiring our Tier 1 suppliers to certify that their materials incorporated into Tesla products comply with the applicable laws related to conflict minerals, slavery, child labor, and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business.
- Disciplining contractors and appropriate parties who fail to meet the requirement of our Code and Policy, including potential termination of contract.
- Ensuring appropriate Tesla employees are aware of issues regarding conflict minerals, human trafficking, child labor, and slavery, particularly with respect to mitigating risks within Tesla’s supply chain.
- Investigating if Tesla has a reasonable basis to believe that a supplier may be engaging in human trafficking, slave or child labor, or use of conflict minerals.
- Transitioning away from purchasing goods or services from any supplier that is believed to be engaging in human trafficking, slave or child labor, or use of conflict minerals if the supplier does not take corrective actions.
Tesla’s Process Of Due Diligence
Tesla’s conflict minerals process and policies aim to follow the OECD Guidance and it has several steps it takes in order to ensure this. They are:
Establish Strong Company Management Systems. This includes its Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy along with the published Tesla Supplier Code of Conduct. Tesla also has a supplier manual that addresses its policies on conflict minerals while stating the company’s expectations of its suppliers. Tesla also has a specialized team within its supply chain organization that leads the company’s due diligence efforts.
Identify and Assess Risk in the Supply Chain. Tesla has a risk identification and assessment process that starts with the RCOI process and then leverages the CMRT. Its in-scope Tier 1 suppliers are engaged multiple times during this process, and internal stakeholders are also engaged. This is to emphasize the importance of participation by Tesla’s suppliers.
Along with this, Tesla collects supplier data over a 10-week period to allow for follow-up and further validation. The company carefully monitors responses from its suppliers on their own internal policies and processes regarding conflict minerals.
Design and Implement a Strategy to Respond to Identified Risks. Tesla monitors smelter validation progress by the RMI, and the Steering Committee will review and take action if there are any concerns with supplier responses throughout the data collection process.
Perform Independent Third-Party Audit of Supply Chain Due Diligence. Tesla fully supports the RMI, which audits due diligence activities of smelters and refiners. It supports the organization’s outreach efforts and RMAP smelter audits by being a member of these programs. Tesla also has the right to ask any high-risk Tier 1 supplier to audit their supply chain conflict minerals due diligence program using a third-party independent auditor.
You can read Tesla’s full Conflict Minerals Report here.
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