Carbon markets get real on removal

 Pine forest from above, fall season, forest road

Trey Hill’s family has been working the land around Rock Hall, Maryland, since the early 1900s. Their company, Harborview Farms, now harvests corn, wheat and soy from thousands of acres. But something is different this year. The Hill family has a new crop: sequestered carbon, which they sell to individuals and companies across the United States.

Hill is doing his carbon farming in partnership with Nori, a Seattle-based startup that sells what it calls “carbon removals.” Hill deploys regenerative agriculture techniques, such as the use of cover crops, to draw carbon dioxide from the air and lock it into the soils he works. Nori then helps Hill verify the amount of carbon that he has removed from the atmosphere and sell the associated credit as a carbon offset. For $15, anyone can now fund Hill — and soon, many other farmers — to remove one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. (For comparison, a round-trip economy-class flight between San Francisco and London generates around a ton of CO2, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization).

The idea that companies can shrink their carbon footprints by paying other organizations to reduce greenhouse emissions is around two decades old. But Nori represents several game-changing trends, including the use of new technologies and an emphasis on removing CO2 from the atmosphere rather than reducing emissions. Together with the arrival of new buyers, most notably from the aviation industry, these trends will bring major changes to the market for carbon offsets in 2020 and beyond.

Until now, the bulk of the spending on offsets has gone to projects that avoid emissions. Some companies work with conservation organizations to prevent deforestation, for example. Others fund the development of renewable projects that displace fossil-fuel plants. This work remains essential, but recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have made it clear that emissions reductions alone are not enough — we also need to remove billions of tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere if we’re to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

In anticipation of future demand for removal offsets, Nori has built a digital marketplace that connects buyers with projects that draw down and store CO2, starting with a focus on farmers using regenerative agriculture to increase levels of soil carbon. Another new marketplace, developed by the Finnish company Puro, is offering removal credits linked to the production of biochar (a charcoal-like substance used to safely store carbon) and construction materials made in part from greenhouse gases.

The arrival of these marketplaces looks to be well-timed, because a few first-mover companies have already announced plans to invest significant amounts in carbon removal. Last August, payment services company Stripe committed to investing at least $1 million a year in carbon sequestration projects. A month later, Shopify, which develops e-commerce software, matched that target and declared that it would focus on industrial-scale solutions that involve capturing CO2 from the  air and storing it deep underground. “Our goal is to kickstart the demand and predictability of this market so industrial engineering can scale and the price can come down,” says Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke.

When Stripe and Shopify make their investments in carbon removal, they will have the option of working with Nori, Puro and other more established offsets sellers, such as Natural Capital Partners. Many of these firms are likely to see a surge in business as the demand for offsets of all kinds increases.

In 2018, the market for voluntary offsets more than doubled in size to 98 million tons, according to Ecosystem Marketplace, which collects data on market-based approaches to conserving ecosystem services. “In the past decade, a good year was always old companies doing new buying,” says Steve Zwick, the publication’s managing editor. Now major new buyers are entering the market. Companies are learning they can’t reduce emissions as deeply as they want to, and so are investing in offsets as well as reduction, explains Zwick.

One significant new buyer is Shell, which in 2019 committed to spending $300 million on forestry projects and other nature-based solutions over the next three years, in part to offset some of the emissions produced by the aviation fuel it sells in Britain and the Netherlands. Airlines will also likely be buying large quantities of offsets in coming years. British Airways and Air France have committed to offsetting 100 percent of emissions from their domestic flights starting this year.

And the industry as a whole has committed to capping emissions from international flights at current levels, which is forecast to require purchases of around 150 million tons a year by 2025.

Any company purchasing an offset should be asking hard questions about the ability of the project to reduce emissions. Offsets are sometimes criticized as unreliable, a complaint that surfaced again recently after an investigation by ProPublica into one class of offsets — forest-protection projects — concluded that polluters often “got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO2, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last.” Proponents of forestry projects noted that while ProPublica highlighted real problems, it also ignored known solutions to those problems. Nevertheless, the reputation of offsets probably took a knock.

It will always be challenging to plant and protect forests in remote areas of the world, particularly in regions of political instability. But another trend may help matters. Over the past few years, the resolution and coverage of satellite imagery have improved while prices have fallen. These changes make it possible to monitor forests at a new level of accuracy.

“You can identify someone who’s cutting down a tree with one day of notice,” Diego Saez-Gil, an entrepreneur working in this space, told Fast Company. Saez-Gil’s startup, Pachama, combines data from satellites, drones and a laser-scanning technology known as lidar with machine learning to create a dashboard that estimates the amount of carbon stored in a forest.

The emergence of these technologies suggests that the market for offsets is going to grow both in size and impact. At a time when the governments of the world’s two largest emitters, the United States and China, are failing to recognize the magnitude of the climate crisis, that’s a welcome piece of good news — and a great example of how the private sector can help fill the gulf left by government inaction.

EcoShuttle Puts the Go in Green Transportation

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Students at Lewis and Clark can get around in true Portland style with the planet friendly bio-diesel buses of EcoShuttle.  EcoShuttle operates five buses for the “Pioneer Express” between Lewis and Clark college and downtown Portland.  ECO stands for “Environmental Commuter Option” and it provides both student commuters and employees sustainable transportation to and from the affluent community of Lake Oswego and the downtown area.

EcoShuttle is the brain child of partners William Samson and Jessie and Fiona Yun.  Their vision is to “pave the street with more EcoShuttles and mass transits than single occupant commuters”.  They believe that all the buses across Portland should be running off of recycled French fry grease. According to Jesse Yun, “As the only fleet using 100% alternative fuels in Portland, we already set the bar high. So with all else created equal, why even consider going anywhere else? Our value, safety and legendary customer service set us apart.”

EcoShuttle is more than just guilt-free transportation – customers can have the reassurance that 100% of the bio diesel used in the bus is from locally sourced “waste grease”, a non-toxic, bio degradable and carbon friendly fuel.  It is a common myth that bio diesel is not environmentally friendly.  Many believe that using crops that could be food sources as fuel causes deforestation and increases food prices.  But in fact, there are over 30 million gallons of waste vegetable oil produced in restaurants every year.  The vast majority of these restaurants simply dispose of the excess oil. But this oil can be recycled, filtered and converted into fuel quite easily, thereby taking up zero agricultural land.

In addition to their daily shuttle service, EcoShuttle also provides Limousine style charter and tour services. The charter service provides customizable tour to the Oregon wine country, local microbreweries as well as corporate and sporting events.Wedding planners and tour operators can use the EcoShuttle bus service for private parties and special events as each trip is customizable with private reservation specialists working with party planners to create the best tour options.  Whether you use the EcoShuttle to trip out to Lake Oswego and back or for a private tour or simply as an airport shuttle service, there are plenty of ways to engage in eco-friendly travel around Portland without a polluting car.

Continue reading on Examiner.com EcoShuttle Puts the Go in Green Transportation – Portland Green Business | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/article/ecoshuttle-puts-the-go-green-transportation#ixzz1t4CREjgS

ERIC BAERREN: A climate-change skeptic confirms global warming

Published: Friday, October 28, 2011

There were, if you were paying attention last week, headlines that read essentially, “The thing that we knew all along is true, after all!”

The sad fact is that the confirmation was, in fact, the real news. It was a statement on the sad statement of how the Land of the Free perceives science.

Continue reading ERIC BAERREN: A climate-change skeptic confirms global warming

Green Path Transfers Speeds Past 100

Not too long ago, we reported that Green Path Transfers, the WHL Group’s global, eco-friendly airport transfer and ground transportation network, had notched up 50 destinations in more than 30 countries. That was in early June 2011, a mere three months after Green Path Transfers was launched.

ELECTRIC-BUS STARTUP CHARGES AHEAD

 

nic halverson

Analysis by Nic Halverson 
Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:32 PM ET 
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Proterra-electric-bus-556x450

With a gallon of diesel costing a dollar more than it did a year ago, bus companies are getting gouged every time one of their fleet members pulls up to the tank.

Enter Proterra, an electric-bus startup company that uses relatively small, low-cost lithium titanate battery packs that are intended to be frequently recharged at rapid-charging stations in 10 minutes of less.

BLOG: Ginormous Bus Straddles Road, Drives Above Traffic

Proterra’s EcoRide BE35 bus only has a range of 30 to 40 miles per charge, which makes it more practical as a transit bus that runs predictable routes and can regularly pull into FastFill Charging Stations.

future transportation
DNEWS VIDEO: FUTURE OF CARS AND TRANSPORTATION

As they pull into these fully automated charging stations, buses communicate wirelessly with an overhead charging arm that links the bus to a high capacity charger without driver involvement. As passengers load and unload, the bus is rapidly charged in 5-10 minutes.

Proterra CEO Jeff Granato believes each bus will save a transit company $600,000 in fuel costs over the 12-year life span of the vehicle, plus another $70,000 to $95,000 in maintenance costs. The bus costs about 18 cents per mile to charge, compared with about $1 a mile for diesel fuel. In the long run, Granato says these savings make the total cost of the electric bus comparable to that of a diesel bus even thought the electric bus is more expensive up front. (The company has not yet released how much the electric bus costs.)

CURIOSITY.COM: When Was the First Electric Car Built?

Proterra has raised $30 million in new funding, including $6 million from GM Ventures, which the company plans to use to increase production capacity. So far, Proterra has manufactured 10 buses, which are being used by transit agencies in California and Texas.

[Via TechnologyReview]

Credit: Proterra

ZeaChem signs biomass supply deal for Oregon cellulosic biorefinery

ZeaChem, Inc., has signed a long-term binding term sheet with GreenWood Tree Farm Fund (GTFF), managed by GreenWood Resources (GWR), to supply hybrid poplar woody biomass for its first commercial cellulosic biorefinery.

The combination of GTFF’s existing tree farms in close proximity to the biorefinery, GWR’s world leadership in development and management of tree plantations, and ZeaChem’s highly efficient biorefinery technology will enable the supply of low-cost fermentable sugars used in the production of advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals for years to come, it said.

ZeaChem will integrate feedstock from a portion of GTFF’s residual fiber with local agricultural residue suppliers to achieve feedstock costs 50% less compared to Brazilian sugar cane and 80% less compared to corn based processes.

Through this combination of forest and agricultural residuals, ZeaChem has secured 100% of the feedstock supply for the first commercial biorefinery.

Under the agreement, GTFF will be the primary feedstock supplier for ZeaChem’s first commercial biorefinery. GTFF will supply cellulosic biomass from its existing poplar plantations to the biorefinery, offering new markets for its wood products.

ZeaChem’s first commercial biorefinery is expected to have capacity of 25M gallons per year (GPY) and to be located in Boardman, Oregon.

“This landmark feedstock agreement represents a major milestone on the road to developing ZeaChem’s first commercial production facility and to become the world leader in low cost production of advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem.

“We are proud to have GreenWood Resources, a leading supplier of economical and sustainable cellulosic feedstock, as a partner in our commercial operation. The model we have developed provides a significant strategic advantage and is something that GWR and ZeaChem will seek to replicate around the world.”

“This agreement with ZeaChem is a significant step for GTFF and for GreenWood Resources into new markets and end-uses that closely align with our sustainability goals,” said Jeff Nuss, president and chief executive officer of GreenWood Resources. “We believe that hybrid poplars are the ideal feedstock for advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals and look forward to continuing to grow with ZeaChem.”

ZeaChem is currently constructing a 250,000 gallon-per-year demonstration-scale biorefinery in Boardman, Ore.

An existing GTFF hybrid poplar tree plantation near Boardman supplies feedstock to the facility, minimizing the transportation and logistics costs of cellulosic biofuel and bio-based chemical production. Hybrid poplar trees are an excellent cellulosic feedstock because of their high yield per acre, short rotation and ability to regenerate after harvest, providing superior economic and environmental benefits.

Additional advantages of woody biomass include the ability to aggregate forestry land and the forestry industry’s common practice of signing long-term contracts.

ZeaChem’s demonstration plant in Boardman, Ore. will begin to come online in 2011. The company is now developing commercial biorefineries for the production of advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

GWR, founded in 1998, is a global timberland investment and property management company specializing in the acquisition, development and management of high-yield, short-rotation, sustainable tree farms.

Next-generation biodiesels don’t pressure food supply, emissions

FARGO, N.D. — Amyris and Gevo are two of the highest-flying stocks in the biofuels sector in 2011. Each has posted spectacular gains since January. Both firms are intriguing because their emphasis is on the production of advanced biofuels.By: Cole Gustafson, Cole GustafsonFARGO, N.D. — Amyris and Gevo are two of the highest-flying stocks in the biofuels sector in 2011. Each has posted spectacular gains since January. Both firms are intriguing because their emphasis is on the production of advanced biofuels.Advanced biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent under the nation’s renewable fuel standard program. Amyris is unique in that it is focusing on the production of biodiesel using specialized yeast that utilizes sugarcane as its feedstock.First-generation biodiesels were derived from transesterification of agricultural oils, especially soybean and canola oils. More recently, corn oil obtained from additional fractionation of corn entering ethanol plants also has been used as a biodiesel feedstock.Not the sameProducing next-generation biodiesel or “renewable diesel” is a completely different process than the production of traditional biodiesel. Instead of relying on chemical catalysts, these new diesel fuels are produced from biohydrocarbons obtained from inedible plants, algae or waste streams and then processed into biodiesel using proprietary bacteria. This reduces the pressure on global food production and tailpipe emissions. Furthermore, they are designed to be “drop-in” true diesels that can be placed in a pipeline and used without any limitations on how much can be used.Minnesota, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington have state biodiesel blending requirements. Minnesota’s statute, which was enacted in 2005, has been waived several times because of biodiesel quality problems. However, the law is in effect again.Last year, Amyris announced that it had surpassed critical ASTM testing and received Environmental Protection Agency approval to raise its registered blend level of ultralow sulfur diesel from 20 to 35 percent, which is the highest blend rate approved for either ethanol or biodiesel.Gevo is constructing a plant in southern Minnesota to produce biobutanol from sugar beets. The common denominator between Amyris and Gevo is the use of sugar instead of cellulose. Sugar is abundant in many other crops, including sweet sorghum.Producing biodiesel from algae has garnered much public attention during the past couple of years. However, recent studies have questioned how ready the industry is for commercialization. For example, the Energy Biosciences Institute categorized the effort as a “nascent industry” that will require more substantial long-term research, development, demonstration and deployment.

EnviroMedia Celebrates Earth Day by Continuing its Commitment to Offset CO2 Emissions through Purchases from Green Mountain Energy Company

EnviroMedia will offset 100% of its carbon emissions by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates and Carbon Offsets from Green Mountain

Quote startGreen Mountain Energy Company is proud to have EnviroMedia – an organization dedicated to helping promote the environment – as a customer, and applauds its leadership and commitment to clean energy by offsetting its CO2 emissions.Quote end

Austin, TX (Vocus/PRWEB) April 14, 2011

Two Austin, Texas-based companies are continuing their partnership this Earth Day to support the environment and to leave a smaller carbon footprint. EnviroMedia, a public relations and advertising agency dedicated solely to improving public health and the environment, announced today that it will continue purchasing Green e-Energy certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Climate Action Reserve certified carbon offsets from Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s leading competitive retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions.

Over the past three years, EnviroMedia has tracked and offset 100 percent of its estimated annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and has committed to fulfill its environmental goals for another year. EnviroMedia will track and offset the annual CO2 emissions from electricity usage in its offices, corporate air travel, employee commuting, and corporate vehicles owned or leased by EnviroMedia. Green Mountain assisted EnviroMedia in developing its carbon footprint calculations using the World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

“Two-thirds of our carbon footprint is from the electricity we consume in our Austin and Portland offices, another quarter is from our employee commuting, and 10 percent is from air travel, based on Green Mountain’s calculations,” said Valerie Davis, co-founder and CEO of EnviroMedia. “We try to do all we can — our company vehicle is a hybrid, we offer telecommuting and rail passes to our employees, and we recently switched to a website host powered by renewable energy. But we still have a carbon footprint, and Green Mountain’s offset program is the next best thing to help minimize our business’s environmental impact.”

EnviroMedia’s commitment to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions over the past three years helps the company remain in sync with the needs of its environmental and public health clients.

“Green Mountain Energy Company is proud to have EnviroMedia – an organization dedicated to helping promote the environment – as a customer, and applauds its leadership and commitment to clean energy by offsetting its CO2 emissions,” said Scott Martin, vice president of Commercial Services, Green Mountain Energy Company. “We are excited to continue our partnership with this company that is making a difference in a city where many of our employees live, work, and play.”

To date, EnviroMedia has offset 960 metric tons of CO2 by purchasing 560 metric tons of carbon offsets along with 671,000 kWh of renewable energy credits. That’s like:

  •     Taking approximately 190 cars off the road for one year
  •     The amount of CO2 absorbed by over 125,000 trees in one year
  •     1,670 houses turning off all their lights for one year
  •     Recycling over 5 million aluminum cans
  •     Recycling a stack of newspapers over 70,000 feet high!

 

About Earth DayFriday, April 22 is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, an event many people around the world will celebrate by focusing on ways to reduce pollution, protect nature and lower their personal impact on the environment. Earth Day began in 1970 as an annual day to recognized the wonders and beauty of our planet and has evolved into a week-long – and in some cases, month-long – celebration.

About EnviroMedia Social MarketingEnviroMedia formed in 1997 as the nation’s first full-service marketing firm focused solely on creating authentic public education campaigns for environmental and public health clients. Offices include headquarters in Austin, Texas, and a West Coast branch in Portland, Oregon. For more information, visit EnviroMedia.com.

About Green Mountain Energy CompanyGreen Mountain, the nation’s leading competitive retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions, was founded in 1997 “to change the way power is made.” The company is the longest serving green power marketer in the U.S. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of clean electricity products from renewable sources, such as wind, as well as a variety of carbon offset products. Green Mountain’s largest customer is the “world’s most famous office building,” the Empire State Building in New York City. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 11.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. As a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, Green Mountain is backed by one of the nation’s largest renewable power producers. For more information, visit GreenMountain.com.

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Report: Oregon farmers eager to save energy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A new report says Oregon farmers and ranchers are eager to try alternative sources of energy and renewable energy projects to become more energy efficient.

But the Oregon Department of Agriculture report says many are having trouble getting started because of the cost of some projects and improvements.

Oregon farmers say energy typically costs them less than other production costs such as labor, but it’s still a significant and often unpredictable factor.

The state report includes a number of examples of agricultural energy efficiency projects, including growing biofuel crops.

Farmers and ranchers say they have gotten support from incentive programs offered by the state, utility companies, and national energy programs.

But the report says the up-front costs of energy efficiency projects are still a significant barrier to additional projects.

Read more: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/default/article/Report-Oregon-farmers-eager-to-save-energy-1335215.php#ixzz1JT3Daxe0