This is not just about balancing carbon, it’s about transformational change.
The world is starting to look towards a vital global goal: Net Zero. According to science it is essential that we meet this goal no later than 2050 if we are to give ourselves a chance of limiting global warming to relatively safe levels.
The reality of this target is a requirement to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year between 2020 and 2030. In 2020, it may be possible we will come close with emissions predicted to fall between 4-7% but under the tragic circumstances of a global pandemic. This puts into stark relief the scale of change required. However, the window of opportunity it still open and it is possible to achieve our target and make our businesses more resilient in the process.
For an organization, what does Net Zero really mean? How do you devise a robust strategy for reaching Net Zero and what actions should be taken?
The definition of Net Zero
The challenge with Net Zero has been the lack of internationally recognized definition and the absence of any universal guidelines on how to achieve it.
With no time to lose in limiting global warming, there is a growing consensus between climate experts who have been working with terms like “carbon neutrality”, “net zero emissions” for some time. Put simply, Net zero is a state where we add no incremental greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This means emissions output is balanced with removal of carbon from the atmosphere via carbon sinks (e.g forests, mangroves, carbon capture, etc). Essentially, what goes in, must be removed.
Perhaps the most important part of Net Zero, however, is that it requires drastic reductions in emissions outputs – to as close to zero emissions as possible. Then what is left should be removed to achieve Net Zero.
This is why Net Zero means more than balancing carbon, and why it really means transformational change.
What does a robust strategy for Net Zero look like?
The path to Net Zero will look different for every organization. Therefore, a robust strategy for Net Zero is one that is well-informed of your business priorities, stakeholder inputs and the risks and opportunities that climate change poses to your unique business.
Senior management must be on board, ideally driving forward the objective. It will be impossible to achieve the change required without full buy-in from the business and an alignment with the overall business strategy. Your C-Suite needs to be championing your commitment to make it work.
It must be underpinned by robust systems for data collection, monitoring and reporting. Without this, your ability to credibly report your emissions, your target and manage the increasing demands for transparency will be severely challenged.
A Net Zero ambition will need to include a science-based target for emissions reduction. This is to ensure that emissions are being reduced in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
It will need an action plan to reach the target, taking into account projected business growth, all planned and potential reduction initiatives as well as an understanding of the financial investment required to activate change in your organization.
It must also have a credible strategy for offsetting emissions. Make sure you are using a reputable and experienced supplier and that all projects are certified by internationally recognized standards. The projects you choose should also do more than benefit your organization from a carbon perspective, but also have a positive social and environmental impact on the communities in which they operate.
What should I do next?
Make a commitment – the more of us that do, the more we can start to collectively activate change and make the global goal achievable. It will also continue to send a message to governments that this is an important priority for business and we need their collaboration.
Get your fundamentals (data) right – Whether it is measuring your emissions, setting targets or reporting, good data and systems in our experience are crucial. Make sure you have a good system and evaluate your internal processes for possible improvements.
Start engaging your stakeholders and collaborating – You need to understand, listen to and incentivize your stakeholders as you will need them to help you to achieve your targets and affect change. You are not alone in grappling with the challenges, look to industry groups and corporate sustainability experts to access information, and join the conversation.
Seek out opportunities in change – Consumers and clients as well as internal stakeholders are looking for answers to help them be more sustainable. There are new markets and opportunities to be explored. This will be an enormous driver for innovation and transformational change. There are also savings to be made in better efficiency, and reputational advantages to showing proactivity and stepping ahead on the journey.
Take action today on your full impact – With a closing window to reduce emissions adequately, we need to utilise every tool in our toolbox to minimize our impact. We’re not going to be able to eliminate all of our emissions tomorrow. Consider ways to take responsibility for your full impact while you urgently reduce emissions. One way to do this is through offsetting your remaining emissions with credits from internationally certified sustainable development projects. These projects help to improve lives, share technologies, protect precious ecosystems, and ultimately to make sure that we are taking every possible action today to minimize our global impacts. Not all of these projects sequester/remove carbon, but regardless they can play a valuable role in our transition to a Net Zero future.
EcoAct’s A to Zero programme.
Earlier this year, EcoAct launched their A to Zero programme. This modular programme has been designed to support organizations in navigating the challenges of Net Zero. It sets out a robust pathway for corporate climate action that will help a company to activate the transformational change required for Net Zero and to build a more resilient future.
Most coronavirus infections seem to occur at short distances, when infected persons sneeze or cough. However, many infections also seem to occur with airborne transmission, when smaller drops (aerosols) with the virus stay suspended in the air. ASHRAE provides many guidelines to help prevent the airborne transmission of coronavirus. One of the recommendations is using air filters with at least a MERV 13 rating, or the superior HEPA rating if possible. This article will briefly describe each filter rating and its applications.
The professional opinion of an HVAC engineer is strongly recommended before attempting to upgrade any air filters. More efficient filters cause a higher pressure drop, and your air handling unit may not have enough capacity. There are three main options to improve air filtering in buildings:
Upgrading to more efficient filters, while staying within the operating capacity of your ventilation system.
Upgrading to an even higher filter efficiency, but also upgrading your ventilation system to overcome the additional pressure drop.
Using portable air cleaners with high efficiency filters. These can complement HVAC filter upgrades, or they can be used as an alternative when an upgrade is not possible.
Air filters are not only a prevention measure against airborne pathogens. They also capture inorganic pollutants like particulate matter, improving your indoor air quality in general. For even better results, filtering can be combined with an air purification method, such as Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI). Air purification with UVGI not only inactivates viruses, but also bacteria and mold spores.
Air filtering and other indoor air quality measures for coronavirus are intended as a complement for the guidelines provided by health authorities: social distancing, handwashing, personal protective equipment (PPE), etc. These measures cannot be overlooked, even if your building has the best air filtering and disinfection systems in the market.
The MERV of a filter is determined with laboratory tests according to ASHRAE Standard 52.2. The test uses an aerosol generator and synthetic dust specified by ASHRAE, and particle counts are measured upstream and downstream from the filter. The testing procedure for the MERV rating uses 6 measurements and 12 particle sizes, which results in a total of 72 data points.
To help prevent coronavirus infections in buildings, ASHRAE recommends upgrading air filters in HVAC systems to at least MERV 13.
In cases where this is not possible, portable air cleaners with MERV 13 or better filters can be used.
In residential settings, ASHRAE recommends upgrading typical 1-inch filters to MERV 13, and upgrading 2-inch filters to MERV 16. However, you should double-check with an HVAC engineer before proceeding.
When using UVGI for in-duct air cleaning, ASHRAE recommends using at least MERV 8 filtering to complement the disinfection system.
Our engineering firms are looking to prevent the spread of a virus like SARS-Covid-2 and many others helping in make our places safer and minimizing risks.
When industry firms first complied with stay-at-home orders and shutdowns earlier this year, many assumed it would be a few weeks of logging in remotely and performing triage on the most critical projects. But as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, with jobsites slowly reopening under the specter of future shutdowns, many construction industry and engineering firms and software providers are wondering if these temporary measures will result in permanent technological adaptations.
Technology is also being used to better understand the scale of the construction slowdown. Procore analyzed its project management platform’s user data on changes in employment and worker-hours in different regions and correlated it with similar information from the Associated General Contractors of America.
Now we are going to see how we can adapt better to overcome this pandemic relying more on technology and incorporating new one.
Seeing how many companies can better adapt to the new conditions generated by this global pandemic, depending more on the use of different types of previous technologies and incorporating new technologies that can greatly improve our business production. The digitization of many of our sectors is going to be an essential part in our work activities, we must find a way so that many of our activities can be carried out remotely without affecting the efficiency and delivery of each phase in our engineering projects. We hope that we can return to normality in 2020 so that our economies can recover in search of sustainable development.
Coronavirus face masks could have a devastating effect on the environment. Discarded single-use face masks used to stop the spread of coronavirus could be causing significant harm to the environment.
Environmental groups found masses of surgical masks washing up on the shoreline.
Over time it has seen the odd mask here and now, however this time they were all along the high tide line and foreshore with new arrivals coming in on the current. When you suddenly have a population of millions people wearing one to two masks per day the amount of trash generated is going to be substantial.
A mask that is ingested by a local turtle, pink dolphin or finless porpoise, for example, could easily become stuck in the digestive system of this animal, thereby killing it.
Most of these masks contain or are made of polypropylene, which does not break down quickly. Marine plastic pollution is a serious problem. It is estimated that every year, over eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans. This plastic does not disappear but rather slowly breaks down into micro-plastic, which enters food chains, with devastating effect.
Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and over a million sea birds are killed by marine plastic annually. Marine plastic adsorbs toxins, which results in it poisoning animals that accidentally ingest it.
People should consult with their local authorities to learn about the proper ways to dispose of surgical masks correctly and notes the surge in mask-based rubbish highlights “serious weaknesses in waste management and public education”.
The “Flow” device is small enough to fit into a backpack and can enable the user to purify water, set up a sink or even have a shower
A US manufacturer of innovative solar products has unveiled the ‘world’s first’ portable solar-powered purifier, which filters 99.9% of pathogens from water.
“Flow” device is small enough to fit into a backpack and can enable the user to purify water, set up a sink or even have a shower.
Instead of manual pumping, a USB-powered pump enables the delivery of water wherever it is needed.
An included power bank supplies power to the pump which can also be run off a mobile phone or directly from the integrated solar panel.
The purification of one liter of water is estimated to take approximately one minute.
Now is the time to work together, innovate, and create products that make the world cleaner and more resilient.
Being able to function and adventure during the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming critical, so is working to help fuel everyone’s outings and keep them safe. Now, with a kitchen sink that fits in your backpack, you’re able to have freshwater on-demand, when you are away from home.
Send us a message if you want to know more about this product.
Only 1% of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans is immediately visible.
It is an environmental dangers posed by often-invisible microplastics because the vast majority of the plastic waste in the seas is suspended in the water or lies on the seabed.
Microplastics come from a variety of sources, such as clothes being washed, packaging waste, industrial output and disintegrating fishing nets.
Build-ups of plastic were focused in certain areas, such as deep-sea, remote regions, where they can be carried by sediment avalanches and ocean currents , we are warned this could lead to particularly damaging impacts as such areas are generally very biodiverse.
“The problem of plastics is that they last for a very long time so the rate of degradation is very slow and if we keep producing at this rate they will keep accumulating in the oceans.”
The $1 billion solar plant could be the ‘eighth-largest solar power facility in the world’ when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in Las Vegas
The US Government has approved the construction and the operation of the ‘largest solar project in US history’.
The estimated $1 billion (£810m) Gemini Solar Project could be the ‘eighth-largest solar power facility in the world’ when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in Las Vegas and potentially help supply energy markets in Southern California.
The 690MW photovoltaic solar facility is estimated to generate enough renewable electricity to annually offset the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of about 83,000 cars, the equivalent of 384,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.
It says the new plant, which will support up to 1,100 jobs in the local community and create $3 million (£2.4m) in annual revenue, is scheduled to be constructed in two phases – the first could come online in 2021, with the final completion being scheduled for 2022.
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said: “Despite the challenges of the coronavirus, we’re pleased to see that Nevada will soon be home to one of the biggest solar projects in the world.”
Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, commented: “This action is about getting Americans back to work, strengthening communities and promoting investment in American energy.”
Green hydrogen produced using renewable energy is increasingly seen as a key asset for grid and transport decarbonization.
Interest in the technology is surging. Shell believes the hydrogen sector deserves the same levels of support that went to solar energy over the years.
But at least in the medium term, the decarbonization potential of hydrogen is limited. In some areas, it’s “just not economical, and it won’t be,” said Wood Mackenzie senior analyst Ben Gallagher.
Green hydrogen remains inefficient and expensive today, with an end-to-end efficiency of only around 30 percent, said Gallagher.
As a result, it’s hard to see it being used for electricity generation in markets such as the U.S., where natural gas prices are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.
Similar challenges could hamper attempts to make hydrogen a viable alternative to electrification in the automotive sector.
“On the mobility side, you not only have the electrolyzer, you have a large distribution network that you need to build out,” said Gallagher. “Compared to either EVs or gasoline, I don’t understand how it’s going to be cost-competitive in any way, anytime soon.”
Not much “green” today
Gallagher’s views echo the findings of a major report on green hydrogen published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in September, which warned that the fuel “should not be considered a panacea.”
“A hydrogen-based energy transition will not happen overnight,” Irena’s report states. “Hydrogen will likely trail other strategies such as electrification of end-use sectors, and its use will target specific applications. The need for a dedicated new supply infrastructure may limit hydrogen use.”
Despite the challenges, many are bullish on green hydrogen’s growth prospects.
In research published last month, Wood Mackenzie said more than 3.2 gigawatts of green hydrogen electrolyzer capacity might be deployed between now and 2025, a 1,272 percent increase on the 253 megawatts installed from 2000 to the end of 2019.
“The large increase in the 2019-2025 period is partially due to the nascency of the market,” Gallagher said. “But aggressive targets in East Asia and increased interest from major international stakeholders will drive deployment in the near term.”
Green hydrogen is produced when renewable power is used in the electrolysis process. The resulting hydrogen can be used later to return electricity to the grid via a fuel cell.
At present, around 99 percent of the roughly 130 million tons of hydrogen a year used for industrial processes — mostly oil refining and ammonia production — is made using coal or lignite gasification processes, or steam methane reformation.
The hydrogen industry is looking to move away from these carbon-intensive production methods, either by pairing steam methane reformation with carbon capture and storage or by using renewable energy to power water electrolysis.
Neither option is cheap, though. And the first one, which yields what’s called “blue” hydrogen, is not inherently carbon-free, Irena noted.
“Development of blue hydrogen as a transition solution also faces challenges in terms of production upscaling and supply logistics,” said the agency.
On the other hand, the cost of green hydrogen looks set to fall as electrolyzer production ramps up and renewable energies get cheaper.
As a result of these changing dynamics, Wood Mackenzie expects green hydrogen production to be competitive with gasification and steam methane reformation by 2030 in Australia, Germany and Japan.
Playing the heating card
Given that current production methods account for around 2.5 percent of all global carbon emissions, once renewable-energy-based electrolysis becomes competitive, “[green] hydrogen will be used to replace [other forms of] hydrogen,” said Gallagher.
Beyond that, green hydrogen’s fortunes will likely be tied to how efficient its production and usage can become.
Neil Crumpton, a U.K. energy consultant and former chair of the green hydrogen advocacy group called Planet Hydrogen, said next-generation electrolyzers might be able to achieve a near 80 percent conversion efficiency.
This could bring up green hydrogen’s round-trip efficiency for electricity production to between 45 percent and 50 percent depending on the type of fuel cell, turbine or gas engine used to deliver power to the grid.
The efficiency could be higher if hydrogen were used for heating instead of electricity production. “All the thermal energy could be available for heating,” said Crumpton. “The electrolyzer’s reject heat could also be utilized to heat buildings.”
The wide range of possible uses for green hydrogen means that efficient and cost-effective production could be a boon for countries where high levels of renewable energy generation are already leading to significant amounts of curtailment.
Hydrogen can be transported by ship, so it could release “otherwise stranded renewable energy resources” in places such as Australia, said Crumpton. “In a well-designed system with timely deployment of transmission lines, there would be zero curtailment necessary,” he said.
“All the electricity generated would either meet consumer demand [or be sent] to electrolyzers.”
This is a vision that has seduced countries such as China and Germany, along with companies the size of Shell and BP.
Scale rivaling utility players. Power shutoffs. And a whole lot of batteries. Here are the latest trends in the U.S. home solar market.
Fall earnings season brought a barrage of new data on the performance of rooftop solar installers, since all the large national players are publicly traded.
For one thing, the national residential solar company is very much alive, contrary to fears of years past that these companies couldn’t survive and arguments that solar is an inherently local business. Current market is looking at double-digit percentage growth in deployments compared to last year.
Meanwhile, a series of wildfires and wildfire-related grid outages in California, solar’s largest market, made the combination of home solar-plus-batteries look more important than ever.
Rooftop solar deployments now rival massive utility-scale plants
By definition, residential solar is small and utility-scale is very large. But recently, the annual output of the most prolific rooftop solar installers is starting to rival utility-scale plants.
Sunrun leads the pack; it is on track to install more than 400 megawatts this year through its in-house crews and installer partners. That puts it on par with, for instance, the 400-megawatt Eland project 8minute Solar Energy is developing for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. That project’s scale helped it nab the lowest price for combined solar-storage in the country.
But Eland got final approval this fall and will take three to four years to fully complete. Rooftop solar costs more than massive plants in the desert, but it can move much more quickly through the contracting and installation processes. The actions of the biggest installers are validating the argument that small-scale solar can add up to big capacity, a key test as California in January begins implementation of its mandate that all new homes install solar.
And Sunrun’s annual installations keep growing, expected to rise about 10 percent this year; the company reported that labor constraints will prevent a higher rate of deployment, but sales track with 15 percent growth year-over-year.
The problem, as far as rapid grid decarbonization is concerned, is that there’s only one Sunrun. Runner-up Vivint installed about two-thirds of what Sunrun did last quarter, 65 megawatts. No. 3 installer Tesla did even less, 43 megawatts, and that was a surprise improvement from the previous quarter’s paltry 29 megawatts.
It’s clear that national rooftop installers can contribute serious scale. The next question is whether there’s a market for several companies pumping out a decentralized 400-megawatt power plant every year. Will residential leaders eventually dwarf even that level of achievement?
Give me a P, give me an S…
About 150,000 Californians braced for another round of preemptive power shutoffs Wednesday, as utility Pacific Gas & Electric warned of exceedingly dry and windy conditions in 18 counties.
The threat of days without power has become business as usual in particular parts of the state this fall, with PG&E initiating rounds of blackouts to deter wildfires (it’s unclear whether it’s worked; the state is still investigating the cause of Sonoma’s Kincade fire, but the utility reported a malfunction in the area).
The situation has created dangerous conditions for vulnerable residents, riled up policymakers and caused a headache for PG&E. But home solar-and-storage companies say they’re seeing the upside.
Vivint Solar CEO David Bywater said in November that the shutoffs provided a “reset” in California, offering the company a renewed entrance into a market where lots of early adopters have already gone solar.
Residential solar executives including Sunnova’s John Berger and SunPower’s Tom Werner have also noted increased interest coming from customers in the state, though they’ve so far demurred on offering specific figures on any increase in sales.
SunPower cited residential storage attach rates averaging 20+ percent in Q3 — fortuitously, it unveiled its in-house residential storage product in September — but said that percentage is higher in California. Sunnova reported Q3 battery attachment rates at 15 percent, up from 11 percent in Q2, citing a “large growth opportunity surrounding storage.”
“With the devastation in California caused by wildfires and the resulting blackouts and deliberate power shutdowns across the state, it is clear we are witnessing a critical moment across the energy landscape,” said Berger. “As a result, we are seeing stronger demand for our storage products as customers look for alternatives that provide energy resiliency and reliability in the face of the effects of climate change.”
In a particularly stark snapshot of changing customer attitudes, Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich told GTM that the percentage of Bay Area customers choosing storage alongside solar doubled in October, from 30 percent to 60 percent. That was the month PG&E initiated its biggest power shutoffs so far. Sunrun’s rate of storage adoption was 30 percent for California overall in the third quarter.
The demand for backup power is also compelling companies to shift their offerings. Vivint, a bit of a laggard in the residential storage space, expanded its financing options in California to include storage in solar power-purchase agreements (more on that below). And in September, Sunnova added a 10-year finance agreement to its existing stable of options, which includes leases and loans.
Vivint is behind on storage, but doesn’t seem to care
Vivint doesn’t seem to be in a hurry when it comes to solar-plus-storage.
The No. 2 rooftop solar installer initially staked its storage success on a partnership with Mercedes-Benz Energy back in 2017. What the latter lacked in market-ready products, it made up for with great brand recognition. A year later, the German carmaker gave up on residential storage, and Vivint never followed up with a similarly high-profile replacement (but it did start stocking LG Chem’s Resu battery).
That quiet touch is surprising, given that competitors Sunrun and Tesla talk up their energy storage achievements on each quarterly earnings call, and companies like SunPower increasingly frame the solar value proposition as inseparable from storage.
Vivint, instead, only sells solar-plus-storage in California and Hawaii, making it easily the most geographically limited of the major rooftop solar companies. And Vivint declined to launch a no-money-down offering in California, the largest market by far, until this month. It’s possible to convince customers to buy batteries outright, but no money down sweetens the deal by lowering upfront sticker price.
Leadership launched the service after conducting a survey of several hundred California homeowners in August, in which the company noted increasing interest in the product. That result shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to Vivint — for the last few months, the news has been awash with coverage of California’s fires and Pacific Gas & Electric’s deliberate grid outages.
Adding batteries gives solar installers a chance to upsell. In places where time-of-use rates hurt standalone solar returns, it may even be vital to the economics. Given the upside, it’s hard to see the strategic value of trailing the competition on this growing sector of the market.
Then again, home storage sales are small enough that Vivint hasn’t missed out on much in terms of revenue. It’s more the opportunity to get the hang of a product that will play an increasingly central role in the industry.
The International Energy Agency’s latest and most comprehensive assessment of clean energy transitions finds that the vast majority of technologies and sectors are failing to keep pace with long-term goals.
Of the 45 energy technologies and sectors assessed in the IEA’s latest Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP), only 7 are on track with the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS). The SDS represents a pathway to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, deliver universal energy access and significantly reduce air pollution.
These latest findings follow an IEA assessment published in March showing that energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide rose by 1.7% in 2018 to a historic high of 33 billion tonnes.
Some clean energy technologies showed major progress last year, according to the new TCEP analysis. Energy storage is now “on track” as new installations doubled, led by Korea, China, the United States and Germany. Electric vehicles had another record year, with global sales hitting 2 million in 2018. China accounted for more than half of total sales.
Solar PV remains on track with a 31% increase in generation – representing the largest absolute growth in generation among renewable sources. But annual capacity additions of solar PV and renewable power as a whole levelled off in 2018, raising concerns about meeting long-term climate goals.
This year’s analysis expands coverage to include flaring and methane emissions from oil and gas operations, which are responsible for around 7% of the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Despite some positive developments over the past year, current technology deployment rates, policy ambition and industry efforts are still falling well short.
The buildings sector also remains off track, with emissions rising again in 2018 to an all-time high. This was the result of several factors, including extreme weather that raised energy demand for heating and cooling. Another concerning development was the slowdown in fuel economy improvements around the world as car buyers continued to purchase bigger vehicles.
Given the urgency and scale of actions needed for clean energy transitions around the world, this year’s TCEP features much greater emphasis on recommended actions for governments, industry and other key actors in the global energy system. The analysis also includes in-depth analysis on how to address more than 100 key innovation gaps across all sectors and technologies.
TCEP provides a comprehensive, rigorous and up-to-date expert analysis of clean energy transitions across a full range of technologies and sectors. It draws on the IEA’s unique understanding of markets, modelling and energy statistics to track and assess progress on technology deployment and performance, investment, policy, and innovation. It also draws on the IEA’s extensive global technology network, totalling 6,000 researchers across nearly 40 Technology Collaboration Programmes.
TCEP is part of the IEA’s broader efforts on tracking energy transitions and key indicators to help inform decision makers on where to focus innovation, investment and policy attention to achieve climate and sustainable development goals.