Tuesday, February 22, 2022

California’s green-energy subsidies spur a gold rush in cow manure

Another absurdity in pursuit of the zero carbon chimera

Clean Energy Fuels, a major distributor of natural gas made from waste, found a way to boost its earnings by millions of dollars, virtually overnight.

All it had to do was switch the main biofuel it supplies to power cars and trucks in California – currently a type of natural gas produced with methane emissions from garbage – to a chemically identical gas produced from the manure of cows.

California’s clean-fuels grading system gives cow-poop gas a much better score – and much higher subsidies – than landfill gas. So that simple substitution could net Clean Energy an additional $US70m in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation by 2026, the company estimates.

Together with European energy giants BP and TotalEnergies, Clean Energy is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into gas production on dairy farms to milk that advantage. A host of developers, financiers and carbon-conscious corporations, from Chevron to Amazon.com, are looking to buy or produce the fuel as well.

“It is like magic,” said Andrew Littlefair, Clean Energy’s president and chief executive, of the projected earnings boost.

The surging interest in dairy renewable natural gas, as it is called, shows how incentives can spur action to address the emissions linked to climate change – and sometimes unintended consequences as well. Until a few years ago, the gas, which is interchangeable with conventional natural gas and can replace dirtier fuels like diesel, was a niche product that was too expensive to make commercially.

Now, California’s generous subsidies have prompted what some observers are dubbing a manure gold rush. One developer said he showed up at a dairy only to discover that the farmer had gotten more than 10 pitches for business tie-ups already. Others said competition for business has gotten so heated that some developers are promising to pay farmers a fixed amount per cow – a risky setup if the price of the California credits plummets.

Driving the boom is California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. The standard requires companies that sell transportation fuels in the state to lower their products’ carbon intensity – the carbon dioxide emitted during manufacture, distribution and consumption. Companies that exceed the carbon-intensity maximums have to buy offset credits, each of which represents a metric ton of emissions. Those with low-scoring fuels generate credits, whose price goes up and down depending on demand.

The lowest carbon-intensity scores go to fuels that keep warming gases out of the air – particularly methane, a greenhouse gas that can be 84 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific group that helps the United Nations evaluate the state of research on the issue.

Other waste sources such as landfills produce methane, too. But California already requires landfills to curb methane emissions while farms don’t have to, and thus they emit more. So capturing the methane from decomposing manure at dairies to make truck fuel cuts net emissions a lot, and reaps some of the best scores of all.

US regulators haven’t generally imposed controls on methane emissions from livestock, since they are tough to implement and politically sensitive.

California Bioenergy LLC, which develops projects to make energy out of manure, in 2016 received the first provisional carbon-intensity score – around negative 270 – for a dairy-gas facility. Diesel by comparison has an average carbon-intensity score of more than 100. CalBio, as it is known, now has 41 dairy-gas projects in operation and another 60-odd projects in development.

Its latest project to go online is the 1500-cow Rib-Arrow Dairy in central California, where manure is now flushed from the floor of the stalls into a covered lagoon, called a digester, so the methane can be collected for processing rather than released into the air. That raw biogas, which is around 60% methane and the remainder mostly carbon dioxide, is piped to a central facility that collects gas from a cluster of dairies in the area and purifies it for injection into the local utility’s pipeline.

David Ribeiro, a third-generation co-owner of Rib-Arrow, said he had been approached by digester salesmen before, but that adding the gas sales to the environmental benefits finally made everything economically feasible: “We’re like, ‘Wow, this makes sense.’” There are 116 such facilities currently operating in the US – more than half of which went online last year – and another 121 planned or in construction, according to the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, a non-profit that promotes gas made from waste. Analysts say thousands more dairies could support such plants, which can reduce foul odours in addition to capturing emissions.

The market is likely to remain small compared with the US’s overall appetite for natural gas in homes, businesses and transport. Even in an optimistic scenario, biogas from manure would supply only around 3% of today’s demand by 2040, according to a 2019 study commissioned by the American Gas Foundation.

Still, money is pouring in from big companies looking to lower their carbon footprints quickly – as well as entrepreneurs smelling a business opportunity. Clean Energy said it is working on more than a billion dollars worth of deals through its dairy-gas joint ventures with BP and Total, and that it hopes to channel more than $US2bn in investment by 2026.

California-based Chevron has committed around $US500m to develop renewable natural-gas supply, starting with dairies. A Chevron investor presentation in September showed plans for a national network of as many as “190,000 milking cow equivalents” and forecast double-digit returns. Amazon has inked a deal with Clean Energy to buy biogas for its massive trucking fleet; it declined to comment.


China Signals Coal Reliance to Continue With Three New Mines

China’s top planning agency approved three different billion-dollar coal mine projects on Monday as the country continues to support the fuel that much of the rest of the world is shunning.

The National Development and Reform Commission gave the go ahead to two mines in the northwestern province of Shaanxi and another in Inner Mongolia. The three projects will require a total investment of 24.1 billion yuan ($3.8 billion) and produce 19 million tons of coal a year.

The approvals follow a massive surge in mine activity late last year as China boosted production to record levels after fears of an energy shortage sent prices skyrocketing. Each of the projects plans to rely on bank financing for about 70% of the capital involved, a sharp difference from most of the rest of the world where lenders have promised to stop funding new coal mines.

China's coal output soared to record levels to stave off an energy shortage

China has ambitious long-term climate goals and world-leading renewable energy industries, but its leaders have placed top priority on energy security and have vowed to continue supporting coal, which still generates about 60% of the country’s electricity. While benchmark coal futures in the country have fallen by more than half from an all-time peak in October, they’re still 40% higher than they were a year ago.


Virginia and Climate Change – No visible effect

Maybe Virginia is not part of the globe

A team of experts assembled by the CO2 Coalition has completed a detailed examination of effects (or non-effects) of climate change in the Commonwealth of Virginia. View the entire document here (pdf) Virginia and Climate Change.


This detailed analysis of climate change and its alleged impact on Virginia finds the following to be true and supported by voluminous governmental and peer-reviewed studies concerning the Commonwealth:

There is no unusual or unprecedented warming
Heat waves have been declining
Severe weather is not increasing
Crop and forest growth are increasing
Droughts are in decline
There is no increase in hurricanes
Complete elimination of carbon dioxide emissions within Virginia will have an impact that is so close to zero that it is meaningless

In short, there is no climate crisis and any attempts to eliminate CO2 via regulation or taxation are simply “solutions in search of a problem.”


Apartment buildings face massive bill for electric vehicle charging stations

The costs and other obstacles are such that NO charging stations are likely to be provided in most existing apartment buildings. That might effectively prohibit electric car ownership for most apartment dwellers, a very large number

Building managers are facing costs in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to retrofit complexes to accommodate the power to supply electric vehicles, experts have warned.

There’s also likely to be confrontation between those who want to retrofit a complex and unit owners who do not drive nor live there and have no interest in the paying for an EV charging stations, says strata title specialist Chris Irons.

Unit owners may not even have the right to install an EV charger in their ‘exclusive’ car space even if they foot the bill, the former Queensland commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management said.

“If you have exclusive use of a parking space, or even it is on the title, to install a charging station may require a motion at an AGM to be passed as technically the car park is common property,” Mr Irons said.

“Even if the building owners decide to install several charging stations as a convenience, but on common property, there may be owners who do not own electric vehicles and do not want money spent on them.

“You also have the issue of where they are going to be placed and how is the vehicle owner charged for the use of the power if it is a shared meter.”

Transformers for established complexes are highly unlikely to cope with the power demand to service dozens of EV charging stations, said Master Electricians Australia CEO Malcolm Richards.

Bodies corporate can expect to pay more than $100,000 alone just to upgrade a transformer, before pricing the cost of retrofitting the wiring for their complex and individual meters, he said.

“In terms of putting car charging stations in the basement of existing premises, you have got a significant headache for the body corporate to put infrastructure in place,” Mr Richards said.

“They have to determine what type of chargers are going to be installed, how much extra power they going to draw.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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