How to Avoid a New Cold War Over Critical Minerals
Payne Institute Fellow Cullen Hendrix writes how to prevent a return to the zero-sum logic of Cold War resource politics, critical mineral supply chains must be widened at every step. Will the 21st century be the century of the green great game? In the early 20th century, then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill oversaw the conversion of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy from coal- to oil-powered ships. Oil was comparatively more energy-dense, easier to transport, and allowed ships to travel farther faster. But the transition to oil-fueled navies in the 20th century meant that, for the first time, projecting military might would require most major powers to rely on energy sources over which they were not sovereign. November 22, 2022.
Retiring Coal? The Prospects Are Brighter Than They Appear
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how as COP27 draws to a close, the conference is proving to be a disappointment for environmental advocates focused on eliminating the planet’s number one emitter: coal-fired power. In the tumult of international uncertainty, governments have looked to coal as a security blanket of sorts. Coal’s ability to deliver power 24/7 compares favorably to some renewable energy, like solar and wind, that is variable and, at least to some degree, unpredictable. November 11, 2022.
A New Paradigm for Managing Mineral Trade Routes in Africa
Payne Institute ESG Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how the African Copper belt is a major supplier of key minerals such as Copper, Nickel, and Cobalt to the world economy. Extracting and transporting these minerals to market will be essential to the success of the energy transition as demand for solar and wind energy, and battery metals soar exponentially over the next three decades. In contrast, the dismal state of road infrastructure for transporting the minerals from mine to port creates a major impediment to the commercial competitiveness of miners in the region and threatens economic rents accruable to host countries and communities. This commentary describes a new paradigm that could radically transform the design of solutions to ease logistics problems in the region. November 16, 2022.
MOVING BEYOND ‘ALL OR NOTHING’: FINDING THE PRAGMATIC MIDDLE GROUND ON GAS IN AFRICA
Payne Institute and Mines/NREL Advanced Energy Systems student researcher Bonnie Powell, Program Manager Brad Handler, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how Europe’s energy crisis is aggravating a decades-old tension between the developed and the developing world. As wealthy countries increase natural gas imports (including from Africa), many of them are maintaining policies that restrict development finance for gas-fired infrastructure projects in poorer nations. This hypocrisy is not lost on African leaders. November 15, 2022.
Highest heating bills in years, U.S. Energy agency predicts
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article discussing the how the Energy Information Administration is predicting the average U.S. household will spend $900 on natural gas or $1,366 on electricity between Oct. 2022-March 2023. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is forecasting a spike in this winter’s heating costs, across the board. EIA’s forecast shows the average household will pay roughly $900 between October and March when using a gas heater, or roughly $1300 for electricity. That’s higher than at least the last seven winters, EIA data shows. November 15, 2022.
GLOBAL RESILIENCE INDEX INITIATIVE LAUNCHES NEW DEMONSTRATOR; CALLS FOR CLIMATE DATA COLLABORATION 11/12/2022
GLOBAL RESILIENCE INDEX INITIATIVE LAUNCHES NEW DEMONSTRATOR; CALLS FOR CLIMATE DATA COLLABORATION
Payne Institute Fellow Ben Caldecott comments on how the UN launched their new Global Resilience Index Initiative at COP 27. The new GRII initiative calls for worldwide climate data collaboration. The GRII is a global public-private partnership to address the climate data emergency with consistent, accessible and reliable risk information for use by governments, the financial sector and wider communities to create a new climate risk data architecture to provide globally consistent, open baseline datasets on climate risk and resilience metrics as a public good. November 12, 2022.
7 Keys to the Future Oil and Gas Production Facility: The Colorado Story
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton, and Mines Student Researchers Wyatt Lindsey and Chiang Cheng Siew write about how seven facilities design and public engagement principles are identified as key elements for the future oil and natural gas production facilities for the DJ Basin, and maybe even as a guide for other North American onshore shale basins. With growing concern about climate change, the need for a diversified energy portfolio for energy security and the expectation for an energy transition away from fossil fuels to noncarbon energy solutions, such as renewables, all suggest that the energy transition has already begun. November 11, 2022
Oil and Gas Industry Being a Good Neighbor: Getting a License To Operate Through Proactive Community Engagement 11/10/20022
Oil and Gas Industry Being a Good Neighbor: Getting a License To Operate Through Proactive Community Engagement
Mines Student Researcher Wyatt Lindsey and Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton, write about how operators have increased stakeholder engagement by participating in proactive and continued communication with relevant stakeholders, which has led to positive unintended outcomes for operators, communities, and regulators. In the DJ Basin in Colorado, there has been a collision of industry activities and community development due to the “mini-boom” of oil and gas development, stemming from hydraulic fracturing of the Niobrara Formation and the growing population along the Front Range. November 10, 2022.
Climate bill boosts Biden’s credibility at COP27 as countries look to US to deliver
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how this year, President Biden heads to the United Nations climate summit with major legislation to tackle the issue he can trumpet. The passage of the inflation Reduction Act gives Biden something concrete to point to, a sharp contrast to former President Trump’s climate denial. Biden will give a special COP27 address on American efforts to reduce emissions and help the vulnerable build resilience to climate change. November 10, 2022.
The Mining Gap: Critical Minerals and Geopolitical Competition
Gregory Brew and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about how this year’s COP-27 conference carries with it the weight of the climate challenge, an enormous threat facing humanity, but also comes at a time of growing volatility in global energy markets, rising energy prices, a food security crisis, and war. As a result, countries both rich and poor will be focused on immediate security and economic threats. November 7, 2022.
As EV sales accelerate, battery makers face a new shortage of a crucial mineral: graphite
Payne Institute Morgan Bazilian contributes to this podcast about how Ford Motor Co. reports that it sold twice as many electric vehicles in the month that just ended as it did in October of last year. But as demand for electrics is surging, manufacturers are facing yet another shortage of yet another crucial material — not lithium this time, but graphite. November 3, 2022.
Africa’s Energy Transition & Critical Minerals
Payne Institute Critical Minerals Research Associate Caitlin McKennie and student researchers Al Hassan Hassan, and Mama Nissi Abanga Abugnaba write about how as the energy crisis perseveres and governments around the world attempt to meet net zero emission timelines, there are many eyes on Africa’s natural resource supply. Africa is resource rich. The continent is endowed with significant hydrocarbon reserves and critical minerals required for low-carbon technologies. As political and environmental developments around the world seek to decarbonize supply chains, pivoting investments over time towards critical minerals in Africa can help and bridge the gap between emerging/developing economies and energy security. November 3, 2022.
How Critical Minerals Became So Critical
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee writes about how critical minerals are minerals and metals that are designated by governments as being “essential to economic or national security” – but also have supply chains vulnerable to interruption and play important roles in manufacturing everything from jet engines to fiber-optic cables. In short, they are the raw ingredients for dozens of engineering miracles that, while often unfamiliar to non-specialists, are vital to modern technologies. October 31, 2022.
Oil & Gas Industry being a Good Neighbor: Getting a License to Operate Through Proactive Community Engagement 10/27/2022
Oil & Gas Industry being a Good Neighbor: Getting a License to Operate Through Proactive Community Engagement
Payne Institute student researcher Wyatt Lindsey and Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton write about how in the DJ Basin in Colorado, there has been a collision of industry activities and community development due to the “mini-boom” of O&G development, stemming from hydraulic fracking of the Niobrara Formation and the growing population along the Front Range. After the O&G industry was challenged by regulatory agencies and environmental activists that many traditional practices were no longer going to be accepted, operators had to make a greater effort towards new forms of proactive community and local government engagement to prevent permit delays and operational downtime. October 27, 2022.
On Equal Footing: The Impact of FERC Order 841 on Grid Battery Installations
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange, student researcher Anuja Oke, and Critical Mineral Research Associate Caitlin McKennie write about how new technologies don’t often “fit” within market designs as well as the incumbent technologies. As a result, subtle changes in market rules can have large impacts on new technology adoption, and their associated supply chains. This research measures the impact on grid battery installations, and the resulting lithium demand – both generated by the June 2020 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 841. October 26, 2022.
The Keys to the Future Oil and Gas Production Facility: The Colorado Story
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton, and Mines Student Researchers Wyatt Lindsey and Chiang Cheng Siew and write about how with the growing concern about climate change, the need for a diversified energy portfolio for energy security and the expectation for an energy transition away from fossil fuels to non-carbon energy solutions, such as renewables, all signals suggest that the energy transition has already begun. States like Colorado has been rewriting regulations to include stricter rules on oil and gas production. While the energy industry is transitioning due to market forces, public policies, and technological advances, fossil fuels are not yet out of the picture for the total energy supply of the future. October 26, 2022.
The Future of Oil and Gas Production in Urban and Suburban Environments: “Is Colorado an Example of Where the North American Crude Oil and Natural Gas Industry Might be Headed?”
Mines Student Researcher Wyatt Lindsey, Alumni William Jordan, Student Researcher Chiang Cheng Siew and Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton write about how there has and is much discussion about the future of fossil fuels, specifically the oil and gas industry. With growing concern on climate change, the need for a diversified energy portfolio, incorporation of clean energies into energy production, and the expectation for an energy transition away from fossil fuels to non-carbon energy solutions, such as renewables, signifies that the energy transition has already begun. While the energy industry is transitioning due to market forces, public policies, and technological advances, fossil fuels are not yet forgotten in the total energy supply of the future. October 25, 2022.
Novel Steel Industry Flaring Capability at Payne Institute
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Director Christopher Elvidge, Research Associate Mikhail Zhizhin, Communications Associate Kelly Tabor, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the they have developed a new method for detecting flaring at industrial sites with the capability to produce worldwide data on steel mills. This data is relevant for policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, and industry leaders seeking innovative Green Steel solutions; traditional steel manufacturing produces more CO2 emissions than any other heavy industry. October 24, 2022.
Aligning Value with Communities: Conceptualizing a ‘Carbon Steward’ Federal Tax Credit
Ashleigh Ross and Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield write about how there is a significant and growing risk to wide-spread deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the US that exists not in the technical space, but rather with social license to operate. The central challenge is how to achieve the principles of environmental justice for communities when the only incentives go directly to industry, and stakeholders must negotiate for fair compensation. Here we propose that a direct to community and landowner tax credit, the ‘Carbon Steward Tax Credit,’ may be the solution that enables true alignment between projects and communities. October 20, 2022.
Supporting a Just Energy Transition through Alternative Funding Strategies for African Hydrocarbon Developments 10/18/2022
Supporting a Just Energy Transition through Alternative Funding Strategies for African Hydrocarbon Developments
Payne institute ESG Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how Africa contains significant amounts of hydrocarbon reserves that contribute extensively to state revenue and facilitate social and economic development. The growth prospects for these African countries are however under threat as international financial institutions reduce their funding for hydrocarbon developments in response to global warming and its adverse effects. The paper reemphasize the importance of hydrocarbon resources to African development and present alternative funding strategies that can minimize disruptions to growth and are consistent with notions of a just energy transition. October 19, 2022.
9 Element Strategic Programming Framework
SPE Gaia’s Sustainability Program is an engaging and empowering framework for engineers and scientists to generate scale and act with urgency & purpose. Their vision is to advance the oil and gas community’s ability to meet the world’s energy demands in a safe, environmentally responsible, and sustainable manner. They achieve this through the mission of collecting, disseminating and exchanging technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources and related technologies for the public benefit; and by providing opportunities for professionals to enhance their technical and professional competence. October 18, 2022.
Mines professors contribute to roadmap for successful wind energy projects
Electrical Engineering’s Kathryn Johnson and Payne Faculty Fellow Engineering, Design & Society’s Jessica Smith were co-authors on the findings recently published in JOULE. The two Colorado School of Mines professors were part of an effort to create a first-of-its-kind roadmap that demonstrates how communities, governments and researchers can work together to consider social, technical, economic and political challenges and opportunities to create successful wind energy projects – even when the wind doesn’t blow. October 14, 2022.
UN climate talks in Egypt must urgently focus on methane
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, Fellow Arvind Ravikumar, and Communications Associate Simon Lomax write about how in about a month the global climate community will descend upon Egypt for the next round of annual climate change talks convened by the United Nations. At the same time, much of Europe will be bearing up in the face of a very tough winter for energy security. If the delegates in Egypt are serious about taking swift action by 2030, they must give another greenhouse gas some urgent attention — methane. October 11, 2022.
Multiscale Methane Measurements at Oil and Gas Facilities Reveal Necessary Frameworks for Improved Emissions Accounting 10/6/2022
Multiscale Methane Measurements at Oil and Gas Facilities Reveal Necessary Frameworks for Improved Emissions Accounting
Jiayang Lyra Wang, Payne Institute Researcher Associate William S. Daniels, Faculty Fellow Dorit M. Hammerling, Matthew Harrison, Kaylyn Burmaster, Fiji C. George, and Fellow Arvind P. Ravikumar write about how methane mitigation from the oil and gas (O&G) sector represents a key near-term global climate action opportunity. Recent legislation in the United States requires updating current methane reporting programs for oil and gas facilities with empirical data. While technological advances have led to improvements in methane emissions measurements and monitoring, the overall effectiveness of mitigation strategies rests on quantifying spatially and temporally varying methane emissions more accurately than the current approaches. In this work, we demonstrate a quantification, monitoring, reporting, and verification framework that pairs snapshot measurements with continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) to reconcile measurements with inventory estimates and account for intermittent emission events. October 6, 2022.
The demand for electric vehicles is skyrocketing. Can the supply of lithium and other critical minerals for batteries keep up? 10/4/2022
The demand for electric vehicles is skyrocketing. Can the supply of lithium and other critical minerals for batteries keep up?
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about how if the world wants to replace all its gas-burning cars and trucks with cleaner electric vehicles, it will have to dig up rocks. A lot of rocks. Demand for EVs is soaring in many parts of the globe, and a wave of domestic policies will send it skyrocketing in the U.S. soon. The batteries that power all those EVs need minerals — cobalt, nickel, graphite and, in particular, lithium — and the race is now on to mine and process enough of them. October 4, 2022.
Europe vows ‘robust’ response to alleged sabotage of Russian gas pipelines
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about the large disturbance in the sea can be observed off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 following a series of unusual leaks on two natural gas pipelines running from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany have triggered concerns about possible sabotage. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says she “cannot rule out” sabotage after three leaks were detected on Nord Stream 1 and 2. September 28, 2022.
Colorado must move quickly to keep pace on carbon capture
Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield, Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler, and Director Morgan Bazilian write an opinion piece about promoting safe and secure injection of CO2 is in the public’s interest, and how Colorado is poised to be central in the effort. Amid growing interest in using carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, as a tool in the fight against climate change, several states’ legislatures approved CCS-related rules governing commercial and liability issues during their recently ended sessions. Colorado was not among them. September 28, 2022.
The Latest in Nuclear Energy Innovation and Deployment, with Alex Gilbert
Payne Institute Fellow Alex Gilbert is featured on this podcast about the latest developments in nuclear energy innovation, policy, and deployment. In the podcast, he discusses the types of nuclear technologies in the development pipeline, how they differ from older technologies, which technologies are being piloted, and how recent policies—especially the Inflation Reduction Act—are incentivizing the deployment of these technologies. September 27, 2022.
How a clean energy future is colliding with mining’s dark past
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how no one wants a mine in their backyard. Clean energy will require a lot of metal. As global demand for these “critical minerals,” a group that includes lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper, is projected to increase by 400-600 percent driven by a surge in manufacturing of renewable technologies. September 22, 2022.
The Inflation Reduction Act Is the Start of Reclaiming Critical Mineral Chains
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian and Gregory Brew write about how green technologies depend on the supply of a few key resources. But one important component of the the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been largely overlooked. Built within the IRA is a commitment to increasing the domestic U.S. supply of critical minerals—lithium, nickel, manganese, and graphite, among others—to provide the materials necessary for a vast expansion in electric vehicles (EVs), batteries, and renewable power production infrastructure. September 16, 2022.
EU official unveils proposals to address energy crisis amid Ukraine war
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the European Commission proposed emergency measures on Wednesday aimed at quelling a burgeoning energy crisis that is rattling the continent amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The plans — which individual EU member states must still approve — would serve to tackle soaring prices exacerbated by “a severe mismatch between energy demand and supply,” the commission said, attributing the circumstances to “the continued weaponization by Russia of its energy resources.” September 14, 2022.
Lithium mining’s water use sparks bitter conflicts and novel chemistry
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jessica Smith is featured on this podcast exploring the impact of the world’s hunger for lithium-ion batteries, an important tool in the fight against climate change. Mining of lithium used to manufacture batteries in electric cars comes with a cost to the local environment and access to water. September 13, 2022.
Monitoring of Portovaya Gas Flares
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Christopher Elvidge, Mikhail Zhizhin, Communications Associate Kelly Tabor, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how using a proprietary Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Nightfire clustering algorithm, Payne Institute scientists are monitoring two flares from Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production facilities owned by Gazprom near Portovaya, Russia. September 12, 2022.
How Ukrainians Purchased Military Equipment
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Kathleen Hancock is featured on this podcast about how Ukraine and the IAEA say they’ve learned of a serious development at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The challenges facing the European Union as ministers meet to discuss what to do about soaring energy prices, as Russia threats to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe. September 9, 2022.
Closing the Energy Poverty Gap in Africa Using Landfill Gas
Payne Institute ESG Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how energy poverty is widespread in African countries and power generation capacity has continued to lag population and economic growth. The prospects for adding generation capacity are currently diminished as global financial institutions reduce lending for carbon-based energy developments in response to the adverse effects of climate change. This paper looks at the economic feasibility assessments of African landfill power generation projects from literature and develops options for policymakers to boost landfill gas power penetration on the continent. September 8, 2022.
Mines celebrates 100 years of Petroleum Engineering with new Hall of Fame
The Petroleum Engineering Department at Colorado School of Mines will mark its 100th Anniversary in 2022 by founding the PE Hall of Fame, which recognizes alumni, faculty and supporters for their contributions to the oil and gas industry and to the department. Mines’ Petroleum Engineering Department is one of the oldest and highest-ranked programs in the United States. Nearly 5,000 students have come from around the world to earn hands-on, interdisciplinary applied science undergraduate and graduate degrees. September 6, 2022.
High energy prices could threaten European utilities’ ability to keep doing business
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this podcast about how over the past few days, Europe’s energy crisis has started to look like it might turn into a financial crisis as well. The turbulence in the natural gas market is threatening the ability of some European utilities to buy the gas they need. September 6, 2022.
Shifts in the Energy Workforce
Payne Institute Critical Minerals Research Associate Caitlin McKennie, Director Morgan Bazilian, and Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler write about how the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act heralds an unprecedented era of climate investment for the U.S. Such investment brings with it the promise of new jobs across the clean energy landscape. For rural communities that have historically depended on fossil fuel development or use, however, included several in Colorado, the outlook is at least more complicated. September 6, 2022.
Using electricity to reduce emissions
Where possible, we invest in infrastructure to power compression engines and drilling rigs using electricity from the power grid. When we can use grid electricity to power a rig, we eliminate 100 percent of nitrous oxides and other ozone precursor emissions from rig operations in summer months and approximately 75 percent in colder months, when operations require the use of boilers for heat. In the Mustang area, we have drilled 56 wells using utility electric power since 2019. September 5, 2022.
Colorado School of Mines, BHP announce founding partnership for Global Energy Future Initiative 8/30/2022
Colorado School of Mines, BHP announce founding partnership for Global Energy Future Initiative
Colorado School of Mines Global Energy Future Initiative and BHP announce a founding partnership ahead of the Inaugural Global Energy Future Innovation Forum and Innov8x Challenge set for Sept. 7-8. BHP becomes a founding partner of the initiative to drive innovative sustainable energy solutions. Through this partnership, BHP will sponsor research projects and participate in steering committees and working groups, adding industry expertise to solve complex problems. In exchange for their expertise, BHP will gain access to cutting-edge research critical to building a sustainable future for the mining industry. Through this partnership, BHP and GEFI aim to develop renewable, secure, resilient, and adaptive energy systems and infrastructure, fostering worldwide economic development while reducing environmental impacts. August 30, 2022.
Free energy efficiency assessments now available for Colorado, Wyoming businesses
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Paulo Tabares-Velasco is the assistant director of the new Rocky Mountain Industrial Assessment Center (RMIAC). The center assists small- and medium-sized manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy costs by offering free energy system assessments for local manufacturers, with the goal of helping them improve their facilities’ energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions. August 30, 2022.
Woburn startup wants to steer the steel industry away from coal
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow John Speer contributes to this article about how Boston Metal has developed a way to manufacture iron using sustainable electricity. The startup, Boston Metal, wants to help the steel industry reduce its dependence on burning coal-based fuel and use electricity instead — ideally sustainably produced electricity from sources such as hydropower or solar. August 29, 2022.
Oil and gas industry concessions take the sting out of Biden’s climate bill
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how the new Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 legislation’s impact on US oil and gas production likely to be modest. From the domestic industry’s standpoint, if could have been much worse. August 26, 2022.
Mines department head wins Society of Petroleum Engineers international award
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jennifer Miskimins is awarded 2022 Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The honor recognizes superiority in classroom teaching, excellence in research, significant contributions to the petroleum engineering profession and special effectiveness in advising and guiding students. August 25, 2022.
More Than Just a ‘School of Mines,’ CSM Is a Major Player in Climate Research
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how the Colorado School of Mines, with its historic connection to fossil fuel and mineral extraction, would seem an unlikely place for a high-level pursuit of the transition from a world powered by fossil fuels to a world of clean energy. However, Mines recognizes that saving our planet depends on transitioning from oil and gas to other forms of energy that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. August 25, 2022.
Pandemic, War, and Global Energy Transitions
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian co-authors this paper about how the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine have impacted the global economy, including the energy sector. The pandemic caused drastic fluctuations in energy demand, oil price shocks, disruptions in energy supply chains, and hampered energy investments, while the war left the world with energy price hikes and energy security challenges. The long-term impacts of these crises on low-carbon energy transitions and mitigation of climate change are still uncertain but are slowly emerging. This paper analyzes the impacts throughout the energy system, including upstream fuel supply, renewable energy investments, demand for energy services, and implications for energy equity, by reviewing recent studies and consulting experts in the field. August 23, 2022.
The case for closing coal plants at scale
Deb Chattopadhyay, Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how pressure to retire coal-fired power plants is building due to economic and environmental concerns. Four business models can be applied to plant closures but greater efficiencies can be achieved when there are coal plant closures-at-scale. A hybrid model is likely better when a country or region wants to look at a large programme of coal plant closures-at-scale. August 23, 2022.
The Inflation Reduction Act’s modest impact on oil and gas
Payne Institute Research Associate Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and how it can be easy to miss that the new law includes several items related to the future of the oil and gas industry. The goal is both to foster more U.S. oil and natural gas development while pursuing lower methane emissions and sharing more revenue with taxpayers. August 22, 2022.
Perceptions and realities of mercury contamination in a Peruvian artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) community 8/22/2022
Perceptions and realities of mercury contamination in a Peruvian artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) community
Rolando Quispe Aquino, Payne Institute Research Associate Aaron Malone, Faculty Fellow Nicole M. Smith, and Fredy Fortunato García Zúñiga write about how artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the leading global source of mercury pollution. Efforts to reduce or eliminate mercury use in ASGM have produced limited results, in part because they do not engage the complex socio-technical nature of mercury issues in ASGM. The paper takes a multidisciplinary approach to understand the mercury issue with a socio-technical lens, pairing sampling of mercury in soils with surveys of miners’ and residents’ perceptions of mercury pollution and its dispersion. August 22, 2022.
COMPLETION EQUIPMENT CONSTRAINTS
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler has prepared a quarterly report on how activity in the U.S. oil patch has reached the point of being supply constrained. Areas of tightness had been identified earlier in the year and include wellbore pipe known as Oil Country Tubular Goods, or OCTG), hydraulic fracturing (frac) services and frac sand. For now, the oilfield services providers are not yet focusing on adding meaningful amounts of capacity. They, like their oil company customers, have received clear messages from investors and lenders to prioritize financial returns over growth. And for at least some services, it is only with further price increases — and confidence that demand will persist — that the providers can justify investing in new equipment. August 22, 2022.
The technology trying to make farming more sustainable
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Mike McGuirk contributes to this BBC video on how climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, mainly caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. Attempting to offset carbon emissions to combat climate change is becoming more important for companies around the world. One new permanent solution is to convert unwanted biomass from farmers’ fields or forest debris – which contains carbon – into oil. August 20, 2022.
Everything to know about the Biden administration’s new EV subsidies
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this brief guide to buying an electric vehicle with Inflation Reduction Act tax credits. The new law also includes tax credits for purchasing new and used electric vehicles, with several stipulations. Here’s a brief guide to buying an EV with IRA rebates. August 19, 2022.
Copper is key to rolling out climate tech—but supply may not keep up
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how the electrification of everything is copper’s time to shine, but soon the metal could become harder to find. Copper is a standout electrical conductor—only silver allows electricity to flow more easily. While it is commonly used today in electrical wiring, renewable energy sources and EVs will require much more copper than their fossil-fuel-powered predecessors. Global demand for the metal could nearly double by 2035, from ~25 million metric tons to ~50 million MT, according to a July report from S&P Global. August 19, 2022.
CUBAN FUEL DEPOT FIRE CAUSES ENERGY CRISIS
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student researcher Elijah Mt.Castle uses satellite imagery to look at how a fuel storage depot in Matanzas, Cuba burned for 5 days. The fire destroyed 4 crude oil tankers in the port which made up 40% of the country’s reserves. The oil in Matanzas is mainly used for generating electricity. The country has already been experiencing blackouts in the last months and shortages on gasoline and other items. August 11, 2022.
How energy subsidy reform can drive the Iranian power sector towards a low-carbon future
Vahid Aryanpur, Mahshid Fattahi, Siab Mamipour, Mahsa Ghahremani, Brian ÓGallachóir, Payne Institute Director Morgan D. Bazilian, and James Glynn write about how substantial energy subsidies are recognised as the leading cause of Iran’s inefficient electricity generation and consumption. This paper investigates the impacts of subsidy removal on future electricity demand and the required generation mix. A hybrid modelling framework is developed to analyse supply and demand sides under harmonised assumptions. August 11, 2022.
Why isn’t Big Oil up in arms about the climate-friendly Inflation Reduction Act?
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this podcast about how there’s a lot of stuff baked into the 755-page Inflation Reduction Act, which was approved in the Senate and is expected to pass in the House. Top of mind for many is the nearly $370 billion set aside for energy transition and climate change mitigation. In fact, some are calling the Democrats’ measure the biggest piece of climate legislation in U.S. history. On the surface, that sounds like it could be bad news for traditional fossil fuel companies, specifically Big Oil and Gas. But believe it or not, some of them sound fairly encouraged by the bill. August 8, 2022.
Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage in the New Inflation Reduction Act
Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield writes about how the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 should offer an immense boost to the carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) industry. With $369 billion allocated to energy security and climate change, the expectation is to ‘lower energy costs, increase cleaner energy production, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.” August 5, 2022.
NEW WINNERS, NEW LOSERS: TOWARD A NEW ENERGY SECURITY
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian and Fellow Cullen Hendrix write about how we are in the midst of the biggest global energy crisis in history. Old playbooks are not up to the task. This new paradigm will require making the new geopolitical risks and tradeoffs of sustainable energy systems explicit. It will also require figuring out how to ensure energy security for some — major powers and developed economies — does not create massive insecurity for the rest: the many developing countries that have huge unmet energy needs and significant natural resources. August 4, 2022.
Manchin deal could raise new hurdles for electric vehicle incentives
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how Democrats’ push to boost electric vehicles could be hobbled by some of the protectionist supply chain provisions they included as requirements to get electric vehicle tax credits. Part of the credit is also tied to a percentage of battery components being manufactured in North America. Experts and industry players have indicated that these provisions — particularly the critical minerals piece — represents a high bar, and may hamper electric vehicle adoption in the short term. August 4, 2022.
Proposed Tax Break for Buying Electric Vehicles Is Too Hard to Get, Auto Makers Say
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how the draft rules in Senate climate package mean few current vehicles would be eligible. Major automakers are pressing lawmakers to ease a proposed battery-sourcing requirement for electric-vehicle tax breaks, saying that few, if any, plug-in models on sale today would qualify. But the proposal would stiffen the requirements for an electric vehicle to qualify. Only U.S.-built vehicles would be eligible. August 4, 2022.
Carmakers say the climate bill sets impossible targets
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how auto companies would qualify for electric vehicle tax credits only if they move supply chains out of China. The industry warns that could be too ambitious. The dispute underscores the immense challenge the United States faces in its effort to retake control of production lines at a critical moment in the energy transition. August 3, 2022.
Deep in the Democrats’ Climate Bill, Analysts See More Wins for Clean Energy Than Gifts for Fossil Fuel Business 8/3/2022
Deep in the Democrats’ Climate Bill, Analysts See More Wins for Clean Energy Than Gifts for Fossil Fuel Business
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributed to this article about how the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions on electric vehicles, methane, industrial and agriculture policy add up to big greenhouse gas emissions cuts—if the bill can make it through Congress. At least three separate analyses by think tanks and academic institutions agree that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions some 40 percent by 2030—within striking distance of President Joe Biden’s pledge to cut emissions in half. More evidence of the legislation’s potential to ignite a clean energy transition can be seen in the reaction it has spurred among the most ardent keepers of the fossil fuel status quo. August 3, 2022.
Scrap, sell, auction or repurpose? What’s the best business model for coal plant closure?
Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler and Deb Chattopadhyay write about how various business models and financial mechanisms are available to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants across the globe. But, which one is best depends on a multitude of factors such as the plant’s ownership, utilization prospects and the host government’s commitment. Examples are provided to illustrate the decision-making process of how to most quickly retire coal-fired power plants. July 29, 2022.
Climate bill would create roadblock for full EV tax credit
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the climate deal struck yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin would significantly expand consumer tax credits for electric vehicles by offering a $7,500 tax credit to people buying an EV made with a certain percentage of minerals mined or processed in nations with U.S. free trade agreements, or recycled in North America. But there’s a catch: The EV supply chain required for the tax credit doesn’t exist. July 28, 2022.
The Net-Zero Industry Tracker
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian is an advisory board member for the new World Economic Forum Net-Zero Industry Tracker report that sets the their ambition to establish a robust tracking platform that supports the emergence of low-carbon industries by the decade’s end. Industrial sectors account for nearly 40% of global energy consumption and more than 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The transformation of these sectors is pivotal to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It is time to close the gaps with timely and consistent monitoring of industrial decarbonization. July 28, 2022.
Gov. Polis, as Chair of the Bipartisan Western Governors Association, Outlines Geothermal Opportunities for Colorado & West 7/26/2022
Gov. Polis, as Chair of the Bipartisan Western Governors Association, Outlines Geothermal Opportunities for Colorado & West
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian is featured on this announcement by Colorado Governor Jared Polis on his “Heat Beneath our Feet” initiative with the 2023 Western Governors’ Association (WGA). HBOF is a bold initiative that will jump-start the development of geothermal energy generation. HBOF and the exploration of geothermal energy generation is an innovative approach to expanding clean energy resources, saving people money, and promoting bipartisan partnership with other Western States. July 26, 2022.
How Manchin wobble may hit Biden’s public land oil strategy
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how after Sen. Joe Manchin sent climate negotiations into chaos on Capitol Hill last week, the pressure is on President Joe Biden to take his own concrete steps to halt global warming, like toughening his stance on drilling for oil on public lands. The West Virginia Democrat waffled ahead of the weekend on whether he will support climate spending in ongoing negotiations over the reconciliation package that Democrats are trying to get passed ahead of the midterm elections — when the GOP is predicted to gain spots in Congress. He blamed inflation for his position. July 18, 2022.
A View from the Ground Along the Proposed Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) Route
Payne Institute ESG Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how the proposed Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) has been conceived to transport gas from the Niger delta in Nigeria, across Niger and Algeria to supply Europe as it reduces its dependence on Russian gas while transitioning to lower carbon energy. Technical risks to the pipeline’s success can also be substantially mitigated through engineering studies before the final investment decision is made. A case can be made that beyond these latter risk categories, that there would be residual risks to the TSGP’s success that are non-market and non-technical in nature. July 15, 2022.
Clearing the Non-Technical Hurdles for CCS
Payne Institute Communications Associate Brooke Bowser, Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler, CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the oil and gas industry began injecting carbon dioxide into the ground in the 1970s as a technique to produce more oil (now called enhanced oil recovery), but today there is a renewed interest in CO2 injection for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects — this time as a way to address climate change. Despite CCS technology itself being decades-old, persistent regulatory and liability questions paired with limited economic viability threaten development, even as the industry appears to be gathering momentum for large-scale growth. July 15, 2022.
After years of contamination at Pittsburgh airport, nearby drinking water still hasn’t been tested 7/15/2022
After years of contamination at Pittsburgh airport, nearby drinking water still hasn’t been tested
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Chris Higgins contributed to this article about how the airport has known about the potential contamination on its property for years but hasn’t tested for it or taken steps to protect nearby residents. There are no laws requiring it to take action. Scientists say the airport’s $1.4 billion construction project could make the contamination problem worse. July 15, 2022.
Payne Institute for Public Policy tackling ripple effects of renewable energy on mineral supply chain 7/14/2022
Payne Institute for Public Policy tackling ripple effects of renewable energy on mineral supply chain
The Payne Institute Supply Chain Transparency Initiative is studying, documenting journey for materials that are critical to clean energy transition. Though increased clean energy should ultimately help slow the progression of climate change, it may also cause wide-ranging ripple effects around the world. The new Supply Chain Transparency Initiative at the Payne Institute for Public Policy aims to better understand these issues and, using Mines’ technical expertise, offer solutions for addressing them. July 14, 2022.
More than 8 million Illinoisans get drinking water from a utility where forever chemicals have been detected, Tribune investigation finds 7/12/2022
More than 8 million Illinoisans get drinking water from a utility where forever chemicals have been detected, Tribune investigation finds
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Chris Higgins contributed to this article about how something as simple as drinking tap water is exposing millions of Illinoisans to toxic chemicals that build up in human blood, cause cancer and other diseases and take years to leave the body. Scientists call the chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. They are commonly known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment. July 12, 2022.
Why tellurium mining is the key to a low-carbon economy
Payne Institute Communications Associate Simon Lomax writes about how Utah’s Kennecott copper mine produces one of Earth’s rarest metals — tellurium. Vital to low-carbon technologies, this mining project can help us reduce our carbon emissions. But the next phase of the energy transition will be more challenging. July 7, 2022.
US College Students Are Shunning Oil-Industry Degrees for ESG Future
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jennifer Miskimins contributed to this article about how college students see energy transition marginalizing industry and the number of new oil grads seen plunging 83% from 5 years ago. Students feel that fossil fuels may not have much of a future given increasing pressure from politicians, activists and investors to pivot toward more climate-friendly energy sources. July 6, 2022.
Colorado oil and gas companies said a 2019 state law would destroy them. That didn’t happen. But here’s what did. 7/6/2022
Colorado oil and gas companies said a 2019 state law would destroy them. That didn’t happen. But here’s what did.
Colorado oil and gas regulators applying the new rules set by Senate Bill 181 have plans for 1,900 wells to consider so far this year, some are already approved. The demise of the oil and gas industry in Colorado — predicted after the passage of legislation and regulations focused on protecting public health, safety and the environment — does not appear to be imminent. Plans for nearly 1,900 new oil and gas wells are before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2022 — some already approved and others in various states of review. July 6, 2022.
Less is More: The Impact of Auto Lender Risk on Household Auto Purchases
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange, Payne Institute Researcher Caitlin McKennie, and Mirko Moro write about how credit risk can be an impediment to new auto purchases, especially for electric vehicles. This paper looks at the elimination of auto loan cramdowns for Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, where the loan value is made equal to the auto value, on three outcomes: auto value, likelihood of new auto, and loan-to-value ratio of new autos. Using a difference-in-difference approach based on a state’s historical use of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we show that household’s secure better loan-to-value ratios and acquire higher valued autos due to lower credit risk following the reform. July 5, 2022.
Colorado has been spreading biosolids with “forever chemicals” on farms, records show. How dangerous is it? 6/30/2022
Colorado has been spreading biosolids with “forever chemicals” on farms, records show. How dangerous is it?
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Chris Higgins contributes to this article about how environmental groups say there is no safe level for toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water or on farm land. State regulators say they are studying it. June 20, 2022.
Decarbonizing the pulp and paper industry: A critical and systematic review of sociotechnical developments and policy options 6/30/2022
Decarbonizing the pulp and paper industry: A critical and systematic review of sociotechnical developments and policy options
Dylan Furszyfer Del Rio, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Payne Institute Fellow Steve Griffiths, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, Jinsoo Kim, Aoife M. Foley, and David Rooney write about how paper has shaped society for centuries and is considered one of humanity’s most important inventions. However, pulp and paper products can be damaging to social and natural systems along their lifecycle of material extraction, processing, transportation, and waste handling. The pulp and paper industry is among the top five most energy-intensive industries globally and is the fourth largest industrial energy user. June 30, 2022.
Can African countries benefit from the coming boom in battery minerals demand?
Payne Institute Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how many African nations are falling further behind developed countries in providing economic opportunities for their citizens despite having substantial mineral and energy endowments. Accepting the view that increasing commodity exports can help close the gap, this commentary examines the availability of cobalt, lithium, and nickel resources, reserves and production in African countries and their potential for meeting the future demand for electric vehicle batteries. June 27, 2022.
Wildfire In Cyprus
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student Elijah Mt.Castle writes about the large wildfire in northern Cyprus and how it was started by a vehicle fire and quickly spread to over 10,000 acres. Fire crews have been sent by Israel, Turkey, the UN, the UK, and the Republic of Cyprus to help fight the blaze. June 27, 2022.
The Dimming of Lights in Afghanistan 2022 versus 2021
Payne Institute’s Earth Observation Group Senior Research Associate Christopher Elvidge and Research Associates Tilottama Ghosh and Mikhail Zhizhin write a Commentary “The Dimming Lights in Afghanistan 2022 versus 2021”. Included is a color composite image to identify Afghanistan cities or towns where the lighting has dimmed during the first part of 2022 relative to a year ago using VIIRS day / night band cloud-free average radiances. June 24, 2022.
The Energy Crisis Is a National-Security Opportunity
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian and Emily Holland write about how President Joe Biden took office in 2020 with climate action as a top priority, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other events have thrown his energy policy into chaos. Yet this crisis also an opportunity: Biden can, and should, reframe the clean-energy transition as an urgent national security priority. June 23, 2022.
A federal gas tax holiday might be popular. But it might not be useful.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian is featured on this podcast about how hoping to curb the pain consumers are feeling at the pump right now, President Biden has called for a suspension of the federal gasoline tax. Biden asked Congress on Wednesday for a three-month suspension of the tax, a lot of which helps pay for roads and bridges, to provide some relief. June 23, 2022.
Nuclear Renaissance: Technologies and Policies for the Future of Nuclear Power
Payne Institute Fellow William Nuttall has published his second edition of his book that discusses nuclear power is low carbon and reliable, but in recent years it has struggled to play a strong role in global plans for electricity generation in the 21st century. Many of those involved with nuclear power and environmental agencies see controlled expansion of nuclear plants as the most environmentally friendly way of meeting growing energy demands. In the UK policy makers must recognise concerns around severe accidents and radioactive wastes and balance these against the risks arising from other energy technologies. In addition, energy policy-makers must ensure that energy supplies remain affordable for all in society. How might new nuclear power stations help meet emerging policy needs? June 16, 2022.
Analysis of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Peru under Climate Impacts Using System Dynamics Modeling 6/16/2022
Analysis of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Peru under Climate Impacts Using System Dynamics Modeling
Fatih Aranoglu, Tulay Flamand, and Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Sebnem Duzgun write about how they propose a system dynamics (SD) model to examine the dynamics of an informal artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) supply chain that has interactions with the illegal gold supply chain in the Amazon rainforest region, Madre de Dios (MdD), Peru. June 16, 2022.
WILDFIRES IN ARIZONA
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student worker Elijah Mt.Castle writes about how there are multiple fires burning north of Flagstaff Arizona. The fires are burning in Coconino National Forest. They threaten multiple communities, schools, and cultural landmarks. June 15, 2022.
US increases production to catch China in global battery race
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how as battery-powered electric vehicles become a mainstay on the nation’s highways — and a key piece of President Biden’s environmental policy — the U.S. is facing a formidable challenge in its efforts to compete in the global battery race. June 9, 2022.
Challenges in Accurately Tracking Copper Trade Flows
Payne Institute Mineral Supply Chain Researcher Zach Krause writes about how copper is among the most heavily traded commodities world-wide. The trade volume of copper in combination with the environmental impact of the mining industry has drawn increased attention to the processing and trade of copper and other primary metals. Moreover, copper is a metal that is essential to the energy transition as a component of renewable technologies. June 9, 2022.
CHINESE FISHING FLEET RETURNS YEARLY TO ARGENTINA
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student worker Elijah Mt. Castle writes about a Chinese fishing fleet has returned to the waters around Argentina. This fleet has returned year after year to fish outside of Argentina’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ). The coastal waters inside of the EEZ are biodiverse and home to the second largest squid fishery in the world. Around half of the world’s shortfin squid is caught within Argentina’s waters. The shortfin squid market can generate upwards of $2.4 billion dollars a year. While legal to fish outside of the 200-mile EEZ, portions of the fishing fleet will fish illegally within Argentina’s EEZ. June 7, 2022.
Synergies Between Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration and Geothermal Power in Sedimentary Basins 6/7/2022
Synergies Between Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration and Geothermal Power in Sedimentary Basins
Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield and Eric Stautberg write about how to achieve a rapid and effective energy transition, society will need to widely deploy both existing and emerging technologies and tools. Mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases while maintaining the world’s growing demands for energy will require these to deployed at great pace and scale. Natural synergies exist between two such technologies: carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) projects and geothermal power generation from hot sedimentary aquifers. The overlapping technical and operational components of these projects underline an opportunity for cost savings and accelerated deployment. June 7, 2022.
Conditions prime for energy boom in Colorado, so what’s the holdup?
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler contributes to this article about how experts, industry looks to supply-chain issues, labor shortages and regulations; state, environmentalists say system is working. Other factors affecting how quickly the oil and gas industry can turn up the taps are ongoing kinks in the supply chain and tariffs that have constrained the availability of steel for tubing and sand used to frack wells. June 7, 2022.
Four Mines faculty members named Fulbright Scholars
Payne Institute Faculty Fellows Neal Sullivan and Marte Gutierrez were named Fulbright Scholars for the coming year. Dr. Gutierrez’s award will take him to the University of Chile, where he will conduct research with faculty there on the impacts of climate change on landslides, rockfalls and mudflows in Chile. The research will identify localities in Chile and provide mitigation solutions for amplified geological hazard potential from climate change. Dr. Sullivan will be spending seven months at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. The work he plans to conduct there will be similar to what he and his team work on at the Colorado Fuel Cell Center: developing next-generation materials for “green” hydrogen production. WASM’s work is supported by Western Australian companies, including Fortescue Metals Group, which has pledged to become Asia’s supplier of carbon-free green hydrogen over the coming decades. June 6, 2022.
Little growth likely in Colorado, U.S. oil production in 2022, report finds
Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler contributes to this article about how supply issues, and Wall Street demands limit drilling activity despite 1,400 active permits in Colorado. Oil and gas drilling activity has inched upwards in Colorado since the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent prices soaring earlier this year, but investor demands and supply constraints — not state or federal policy — will likely limit production growth through at least the end of the year, a new Colorado School of Mines analysis concludes. June 2, 2022.
Coal prices are way up and long-term commitments from customers are hard to find
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange is featured on this podcast about how Saudi Arabia is ready to start pumping more oil onto the market, which could bring oil prices down a bit. But oil and gas aren’t the only fossil fuels in tight supply. A lot of miners are having to tell customers that even if they wanted to sell them coal at these high prices, they just don’t have any ready and they have to fulfill their prior commitments. June 2, 2022.
School of Mines report: Stockholder pressure will limit Oil&Gas production increases
Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler contributes to this article about how as gas prices move well past the $4 per gallon mark in Colorado and around the country, motorists can expect no help for the remainder of this year from increased oil and gas production. June 2, 2022.
Sweltering India turns to superheating coal for cooling
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how India has experienced a series of unusually early and prolonged heat waves this year. To cool off, the country has leaned on the fuel most responsible for the blazing temperatures. Coal generation is surging to meet the demands of cooling systems like fans and some air conditioning, prompting a scramble by the Indian government to reopen mines and secure tons of coal imports to produce electricity. Scientists say that as the planet warms, heat waves are becoming more frequent and severe. June 2, 2022.
LARGEST WILDFIRES IN NEW MEXICO’S HISTORY
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student worker Elijah Mt. Castle writes about how multiple wildfires have been burning in the state since April. These fires have surpassed the largest fires in New Mexico’s history. Dry conditions, high winds, and the number of fires have hindered fire suppression. Fortunately, most of the wildfires are either contained or approaching containment. June 1, 2022.
In a Bid to Save Its Coal Industry, Wyoming Has Become a Test Case for Carbon Capture, but Utilities are Balking at the Pricetag 5/29/2022
In a Bid to Save Its Coal Industry, Wyoming Has Become a Test Case for Carbon Capture, but Utilities are Balking at the Pricetag
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about how under a 2020 law, utilities must generate some of their power from coal plants fitted with technology that captures carbon, but in recent filings to regulators, two companies are warning about the cost and environmental impacts. May 29, 2022.
The US role in securing the European Union’s near-term natural gas supply
Payne Institute Fellow Arvind Ravikumar, Director Morgan Bazilian, and Michael Webber write about how the European Union’s plan to phase out Russian natural gas imports by 2027 rests partly on increasing near-term imports of US liquefied natural gas. This will require a coordinated policy response that includes securing supplies from major exporters, global diplomacy, expanding import capacity, and alignment with Europe’s climate goals. May 26, 2022.
Lithium Is Key to the Electric Vehicle Transition. It’s Also in Short Supply
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the element lithium, a lightweight substance, is a critical component in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are used in most personal electronics and electric vehicles. And in the last year, it’s gotten expensive. Lithium has shot up 432% year over year, hitting nearly $62,000 per metric ton in April. The price spike is due to the booming electric vehicle market, which is putting demand pressure on battery producers, which in turn puts demand pressure on the minerals suppliers. May 26, 2022.
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler has prepared a quarterly report on how the top priority for the U.S. public oil and gas (O&G) companies remains to deliver higher financial returns to shareholders. Public commentary as the companies reported their 1Q22 earnings included widespread commitments to pay higher dividends and to buy back shares of their own stock. Yet, only a couple of months after laying out their spending expectations for 2022, the companies have also begun to raise their spending budgets for the year. These increases are largely in response to rising prices for goods and services, a function of supply constraints. May 24, 2022.
Mines launches new research center with Peruvian partner university
The Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Paul Santi, Director of the Mines Institute for Initiatives in Latin America, is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (UNT), located in Trujillo on the Pacific coast of northwest Peru. This new collaboration agreement on May 9 to establish the Center for Research in Sustainable Resources (Centro para Investigación en Recursos Sostenibles) and to begin the first phase of collaborative research projects involving research teams and students based in the U.S. and in Peru. May 24, 2022.
Industrial decarbonization via natural gas: A critical and systematic review of developments, socio-technical systems and policy options 5/23/2022
Industrial decarbonization via natural gas: A critical and systematic review of developments, socio-technical systems and policy options
Colorado School of Mines student researcher Shivani Mathur, Payne Institute Fellow Greer Gosnell, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Dylan D. Furszyfer Del Rio, Payne Institute Fellow Steve Griffiths, Director Morgan Bazilian, and Jinsoo Kim write about how natural gas is an important and highly flexible fuel across the industry sector globally. However, the future of natural gas remains uncertain, especially for industry planning to be net-zero or carbon neutral by mid-century. This review addresses the role that natural gas might play in global industrial decarbonization, and how it can help decarbonize industrial processes. May 23, 2022.
Residential gas bills to jump 26% next month in Southwest Colorado
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about how the volatility in energy markets created by pandemic and war in Ukraine are behind the rise in natural gas bills. The gas cost adjustment is a periodic rate adjustment natural gas utilities use to adapt to changing wholesale gas prices. A pass-through cost is the direct cost consumers pay for changes in natural gas prices. May 21, 2022.
The West, reliant on hydro, may miss it during heat waves
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Adrienne Marshall contributes to this article about how when California suffers a heat wave, it leans heavily on hydropower from the Pacific Northwest to keep the lights on. The report highlights a paradox of running the region’s electric grid in a warming world: As energy demand rises with temperatures, there may be less hydro available to supply power, increasing the need for fossil fuels. May 20, 2022.
Salty, subterranean water could relieve world’s lithium shortage
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how the next bottleneck in lithium-ion battery supplies isn’t cobalt, even though China has a stranglehold on the market, and it’s not nickel, either, despite nickel prices nearly doubling in the past five months. There’s no substitute for one crucial component of these batteries: Lithium. Today’s lithium mines can’t hope to meet the skyrocketing demand for the next decade and beyond. May 20, 2022.
In coal country, a new chance to clean up a toxic legacy
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Rod Eggert contributes to this article about how waste from abandoned and bankrupt mines has contaminated more than 12,000 miles of waterways. Now states are looking at how to extract critical elements from those waters to try to offset the high cost of cleanup. May 19, 2022.
Whose data is this anyway? Striving for higher standards of emissions reporting
The Payne Institute is proud of our research with Baker Hughes on creating higher standards for emissions reporting. The new research partnership aims to clarify best practices and help industry come to grips with disclosing Scope 3 GHG emissions. May 17, 2022.
Water Security Issues for Lithium Mining in Chile
Payne Institute Communications Associate Eleanor Igwe writes about how due to lithium’s central role in electric vehicle batteries, its demand is predicted to continue a steep rise and likely reach the level of two to four million metric tons by 2030. In addition to the stresses this will put on mining production and the environment – issues of water security are likely to become a key challenge. May 17, 2022.
A solar-energy trade dispute erupts at exactly the wrong time
Payne Institute Communications Associate Simon Lomax and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how a complaint by a California company is tanking production just when we need it most — and could delay Xcel’s exit from coal. Colorado’s coal phase out hasn’t happened yet – and it won’t happen without the continued construction of new power sources to take the place of old power sources when they are due to shut down. Actions that slow down or stop these construction projects, however well intentioned, only increase the risk of failure. May 17, 2022.
The electricity scene from above: Exploring power grid inconsistencies using satellite data in Accra, Ghana 5/17/2022
The electricity scene from above: Exploring power grid inconsistencies using satellite data in Accra, Ghana
Zeal Shah, Noah Klugman, Gabriel Cadamuro, Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Feng-Chi Hsu, Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Director and Senior Research Associate Christopher D. Elvidge, and Jay Taneja write about how complicated systems are complicated to monitor. The electric grid is one of the most complicated systems, and subsequently goes under-monitored in many regions around the world that cannot easily afford expensive meters. Past work has shown that images taken by satellites during the night, capturing nighttime illumination (“nightlights”), could provide a proxy measurement of grid performance for minimal cost. May 17, 2022.
Hydropower is 53% of the renewable energy supply in the West. Drought is slowing down production 5/17/2022
Hydropower is 53% of the renewable energy supply in the West. Drought is slowing down production
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Adrienne Marshall contributes to this article about how Tri-State Generation, the largest hydropower customer on the Colorado River system, says it has enough other sources of energy to make up for less hydro production. Sagging hydropower production on the Colorado River system, which has raised concern over the long-term reliability of the power source in the West, has not had a significant impact here. May 17, 2022.
2021 FLARING NUMBERS PUBLISHED
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Tamara Sparks writes about how the EOG has posted our annual 2021 flaring numbers on our VNF website. Global flaring increased slightly in 2021 to 156.2 BCM from 152.6 BCM in 2020, including upstream and downstream flaring. Both upstream and downstream flaring saw a slight increase. May 16, 2022.
Mines researchers aim to bring more science into decision-making through AGU Local Science Partners 5/16/2022
Mines researchers aim to bring more science into decision-making through AGU Local Science Partners
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Kamini Singha and Joel Singley were selected as members of the inaugural cohort of a new American Geophysics Union program to empower scientists to build sustainable partnerships with policymakers. Through the program, the science ambassadors receive resources and training on the legislative process, science policy and communication skills, as well as regular legislative and policy updates and opportunities to participate in Congressional visit days in Washington D.C. May 16, 2022.
First-of-its kind project in Colorado will bury 350,000 tons of planet-warming carbon that would have been released into the air 5/12/2022
First-of-its kind project in Colorado will bury 350,000 tons of planet-warming carbon that would have been released into the air
Payne Institute Program Manager Anna Littlefield contributed to this article about how the Colorado company Carbon America announced what it says will be the state’s first commercial-scale projects to capture and store carbon dioxide — the harmful and long-lasting greenhouse gas — before it’s released into the air. Carbon America will build and operate a new system that siphons off carbon dioxide produced at the Sterling and Yuma ethanol plants in northeastern Colorado. The gas will then be pumped through pipelines and stored in a saline aquifer almost a mile underground. May 13, 2022.
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how we’re going to need a lot of minerals for the clean energy transition — think copper, nickel and lithium, among others. We’ll need those minerals for solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicle batteries and battery storage for renewable energy. Lithium in particular is a key component for batteries – but China controls most battery processing, and current trade tensions and national security concerns are raising concerns about the reliability of that source. May 12, 2022.
Satellite Data Offers a Broad Array of Policy Insights
Payne Institute Communications Associate Chris Dunn and Director Morgan Bazilian summarize how satellite data is rapidly growing in importance for informing crucial policy decisions. Insights offered fall into one of three main categories: energy security and assessment, emissions and environment, and human and national security. May 12, 2022.
The Biden Administration Has Taken Some Bold Steps on Energy, But More Remains to be Done
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian and Duncan Wood write about how President Biden’s recent invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to include five critical minerals is an important symbolic step toward moving to a low-carbon energy and transport system. The minerals mentioned in Biden’s announcement are those that are especially fundamental to modern batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage for power systems that are increasingly reliant on wind and solar power. May 12, 2022.
Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2022
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this World Economic Forum report on how the global energy transition builds on the trends from the Energy Transition Index to provide perspective on the current challenges and recommendations on how to navigate the transition through a turbulent macroeconomic and geopolitical environment. A series of compounded shocks pose short-term risks to energy affordability, sustainability, and energy security. However, the window to prevent the worst consequences of climate change is closing fast. May 11, 2022.
Air-Conditioning Should Be a Human Right in the Climate Crisis
Rose M. Mutiso, Morgan D. Bazilian, Jacob Kincer, and Brooke Bowser write about how we need to protect vulnerable people from killer heat without destroying the environment. As the world heats up, billions of people need air-conditioning. This 120-year-old technology used to be considered a luxury, but in the age of climate change, it is a necessity for human survival. Understandably, this has created anxiety over the climate threat of a world overrun with ACs. But the coming boom in air-conditioning is an essential shift toward reducing the enormous gap in cooling availability that exists between rich and poor people and nations—and toward producing a more equitable world. May 10, 2022.
Corporate ESG Commitments are Gaining Popularity. Can They be Trusted?
Payne Institute Communications Associate Elsa Barron, Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee, and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about the growing concerns about the long-term sustainability of many industries have led to big changes in approaches to corporate strategies and management. Pressure from financiers is adding to the momentum. Concerns about climate related financial risks and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data, have helped create demand from bankers for companies to show that they are actively working towards global climate goals. May 9, 2022.
Location, Location, Low-Carbon: How Climate is Changing the Holy Trinity of Real Estate
Payne Institute Communications Associate Simon Lomax writes about how the cardinal rule for real estate used to be location, location, location, but now he is confident the new trinity that drives value in the real estate sector: location, location, low-carbon. Location remains critically important, but for a growing number of real estate firms, so is climate change and speeding up the world’s transition to a zero-carbon energy system. May 6, 2022.
Estimating global economic well-being with unlit settlements
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group writes about how it is well established that nighttime radiance, measured from satellites, correlates with economic prosperity across the globe. For 49 countries spread across Africa, Asia and the Americas we are able to predict and map the wealth class obtained from ~2,400,000 geo-located households based upon the percent of unlit settlements, with an overall accuracy of 87%. May 5, 2022.
GTI Energy’s President and CEO David Carroll Announces Retirement, Dr. Paula Gant to Assume Leadership Role 5/2/2022
GTI Energy’s President and CEO David Carroll Announces Retirement, Dr. Paula Gant to Assume Leadership Role
Payne Institute Advisory Board member Dr. Paula Gant will assume GTI Energy’s leadership as President and CEO effective July 5, 2022. Since joining GTI Energy in 2019, Dr. Gant has led efforts to enhance the creation and market impact of technology-based energy and environmental solutions. May 2, 2022.
(Colorado) Executive Order D 2018-12: Orphan Well Program
Executive Order D 2018-12 formed the Orphaned Well Program (OWP) under the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). OWP’s mandate is to identify, prioritize, and address orphaned oil and gas wells, locations, and production facilities across Colorado. The order directs the OWP team to create a list of orphaned wells and sites – updated annually into low, medium, and high priority categories – and plug, remediate, and reclaim them. April 30, 2022.
How Artificial Intelligence Can Accelerate Geothermal Investment
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Sebnem Düzgün, Payne Institute Communications Associate Elsa Barron, and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about how in the midst of the global energy transition, geothermal operations promise to provide stable, renewable energy, so why aren’t more investors taking the bait? One of the major roadblocks for geothermal investment is the high level of uncertainty that accompanies the subsurface resource. April 29, 2022.
NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce gets new director
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group provided the satellite images for this NOAA announcement on their new Space Commerce director Richard DalBello, a venerable figure in government and the private-sector satellite industry, has been appointed to be the new director of NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce (OSC), the coordinator of space commerce policy activities within the U.S. Department of Commerce. DalBello officially will begin his duties on May 9. April 27, 2022.
Multiple streams framework and mineral royalties: The 2005 mining tax reform in Chile
Emilio Castillo and Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Kathleen Hancock write about how in economic theories, institutional change usually occurs in response to changes in relative prices. Mineral policies in mining countries frequently follow this behavior, modifying their tax systems as metal prices change. Nonetheless, Chile presents a deviation from common behavior with a mining tax reform that took place before a major increase in mineral commodity prices and when market analysts and political leaders expected prices to remain relatively constant. April 23, 2022.
HOW RUSSIA MADE THE WORLD MORE FOOD INSECURE
Payne Institute Communications Associate Brooke Bowser and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not only created global food insecurity but is also damaging the environment. As markets swing with volatility, the reactions of some countries will have significant ramifications for global food security and resilience to climate change. April 22, 2022.
How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Will Impact Africa’s Energy Transition
Katie Auth and Payne Institute Fellow Todd Moss write about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine will shift the geopolitics of decarbonization, with particularly stark implications for energy politics in Africa. The energy sector impacts of this war will reverberate across every corner of the globe. April 22, 2022.
Here’s how Colorado oil and gas companies say they are getting to net-zero emissions
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how companies are going public with their climate goals using ESG (the E stands for Environment), as mindful investors push for change. But as sustainability funds thrive, what does “E” really mean? April 20, 2022.
Power Outage in Afghanistan as Seen by DNB
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Tilottama Ghosh writes about how the economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the US Armed forces, which was completed on August 31st, 2021, can be viewed from ‘space.’ Areas which were lit before become dimmer or become completely dark because of the loss of electricity. April 20, 2022.
RUSSIA’S WAR HINDERS SUSTAINABLE STEEL EFFORTS
Payne Institute Communications Associate Brooke Bowser and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how climate action and sustainable practices are not a priority for the Kremlin. Unfortunately, as the metal’s global market is rattled by war and rising prices, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine removes the focus on decarbonization to more immediately pressing issues of security. April 20, 2022.
Ukraine War Gives U.S. LNG Chance to Shed Fracked-Gas Stigma
The Payne Institute Earth Observation Group provided the satellite data science the experts and employees of Cheniere Energy Inc., the largest U.S. exporter of natural gas, used for their high-stakes campaign to show Europe that as it abandons Russian gas, it can substitute the American variety without fear. Their job is to find the most efficient leak detecting system. April 19, 2022.
A Critical Minerals Policy Option for the U.S.
Payne Institute Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how the U.S.’s current policies may be insufficient to meet its strategic goal of supply chain resilience and unfettered access to critical minerals needed for its economic growth and military deterrence purposes. He proposes an additional policy approach to further enrich ongoing discussions about this very important and strategic sector. April 19, 2022.
Can oil companies use their extra money to ease pain at the pump? It’s complicated.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian is featured on this podcast about how the cost of gasoline continues to rise across the globe and in the United States due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and continued inflation associated with the global pandemic. However, lowering the price at the pump isn’t just about big oil making a small amount less. April 12, 2022.
BLACKOUT IN PUERTO RICO SEEN BY VIIRS SATELLITE
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Tamara Sparks looks at the power outages in Puerto Rico. The island-wide power outage caused by a fire at a power plant in Puerto Rico is visible in satellite imagery from the VIIRS day night band. April 11, 2022.
LIGHTS OF A COUNTRY UNDER TALIBAN CONTROL
Payne Institute Research Associate Fen-Chi Hsu, Director Morgan Bazilian, and Communications Associate Brooke Bowser write about what the satellite views of Afghan city lights tell us about the economic and political state of the country. Changing light patterns are not new for Afghanistan, which has dealt with rolling power outages for decades due to issues with supply and conflict, but the departure of US troops, the Taliban’s dominance, and the country’s plunge into an economic crisis create new concerns about electricity blackouts. April 11, 2022.
Current status of university-based energy institutes in the United States and a pathway to forming a national organization 4/11/2022
Current status of university-based energy institutes in the United States and a pathway to forming a national organization
Jay F. Whitacre, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, Anna J. Siefken, and Michael M. Whiston write about how over the past twenty years, the number of university-based energy institutes (UBEI) that focus on supporting energy-related research has increased substantially. While most of these institutes have formal or informal collaborative interactions with other institutes, there is no existing nation-wide network or organization that all institutes can interact with. As such, we have endeavored to investigate and classify the current landscape of UBEIs, with the intent of enabling the formation of a centralized organization to further support the evolution of the academic energy research movement in the U.S. April 11, 2022.
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how mining mogul Robert M. Friedland’s, the eccentric founder of Ivanhoe Mines, decision to partner with some of China’s biggest players represents a conundrum for the West. The renewable energy transition won’t be achieved, he said, without the critical metals needed “to electrify the world economy,” representing a kind of “revenge of the miners” — a vindication that, after decades of investor preoccupation with technology stocks, the world needs people like him to dig stuff out of the ground. April 10, 2022.
EV AND BATTERY BIG TALK MUST NOW SWITCH TO MINING AS SUPPLY CHAIN BITES
Simon Moores and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the lithium ion battery is in the midst of its transition from niche industry to mainstream platform technology for the 21st century. This sheer scale of battery output has been made possible through the rise of so called gigafactories, battery plants an order of magnitude bigger than their predecessors. April 8, 2022.
CAN WE GET CLEAN ENERGY WITHOUT DIRTY MINES?
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this podcast about how in 2021, global sales of electric vehicles more than doubled. This year, automakers are projected to make another huge gain, driven by soaring gas prices and new models with increased range. Getting away from gas-powered vehicles is essential to transition to a clean energy economy. But it’s not all good news on the clean energy front. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global supply chains, and roiled markets for nickel and other commodities used for renewables and batteries. April 8, 2022.
For Europe, quitting Russian coal will be easier than quitting Russian natural gas
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this podcast discussing the future of fossil fuels and the ease of how Russia supplies coal to much of Europe compared to natural gas. The EU depends on Russia for around 40% of its oil and natural gas needs. That figure is more like 20% for coal. April 5, 2022.
Baltics cut off Russian gas, but Germany, EU face struggle
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how pressure is mounting on the European Union to abandon Russian gas supplies as individual countries begin turning off the tap. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia became Europe’s first region to abandon Russian gas supplies entirely this weekend, and they urged other nations on the continent to do the same. April 4, 2022.
Precious Metal Values are Raising Battery Prices and Slowing EV Uptake
James McCandless and Payne Institute Fellow Rod Eggert write about how electric vehicles (EV) are still too expensive for a lot of people. As automakers work to bring EV production to scale, they’re running into a problem: ongoing constraints in the supply chain are keeping prices on battery components high. Specifically, there’s been a sharp increase in the cost of lithium and nickel, both key components to building EV battery cells. April 4, 2022.
Fireside Chats with Gaia
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow James Crompton wrote this book about how public health pandemics and Climate Change cannot be ignored. Economic recessions of very large magnitude can’t be ignored either. But the one I want to focus on in this article is the so-called Energy Transition. Environmentalist are talking about an energy transition to a new Green Energy world, net-neutral-carbon-zero world to mitigate against the impacts of Climate Change and predict that we don’t have much time to get there. April 4, 2022.
Biden invokes Defense Production Act to shore up raw materials for clean energy
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act on March 31 to stimulate U.S. production of critical minerals. The directive, issued alongside policy actions aimed at reducing gasoline prices in the U.S., authorizes the use of the Defense Production Act to encourage domestic production of materials critical to transitioning to cleaner energy technologies through purchases, purchase commitments or other action. March 31, 2022.
Biden to unleash oil reserves, use wartime power to boost mining
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how President Biden today will announce the largest release of oil reserves in U.S. history and a government-backed effort to boost U.S. mining of critical minerals used in electric vehicles, according to White House officials. March 31, 2022.
Oil Companies and Wall Street Gain Confidence
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler has prepared a quarterly report on how stronger oil and natural gas prices have infused oil companies and Wall Street with confidence about future prospects, although remaining in shareholders’ good graces by not “over-spending” continues to dominate U.S. public oil and natural gas (O&G) industry mindset. March 31, 2022.
Biden poised to invoke Cold War-era law to encourage domestic mining
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this podcast about Russia’s presence worldwide in uranium enrichment and how developing countries have traditionally turned to Russia to help develop nuclear power plants. Up until 2 months ago this was a viable option, now there are other challenges (sound clip starts at 13:00 minutes into the podcast). March 31, 2022.
Biden eyes using wartime powers for minerals needed in clean energy push
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how President Joe Biden could use the Defense Production Act to help secure U.S. sources of critical minerals that are deemed key components of clean energy technology. While the U.S. possesses many of those minerals, industry and some lawmakers of both parties contend regulations have deterred development and forced the U.S. to rely on supplies from nations like China, Russia, South Africa and Australia. March 30, 2022.
Russia’s role in world’s nuclear energy industry prompts calls to up U.S. uranium production 3/30/2022
Russia’s role in world’s nuclear energy industry prompts calls to up U.S. uranium production
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this podcast about the global uranium market, nuclear power, and how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has complicated their nuclear presence worldwide. March 30, 2022.
Record-high steel prices could hamper renewable rollout in near-term
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled the oil and gas markets, and it could soon impact the renewable energy world, too. Along with the historic surge in the cost of other key climate-tech materials, like nickel, steel prices have hit record highs. The cause? Supply constraints and soaring energy costs resulting from the war in Ukraine. March 28, 2022.
Biden sends mixed signals to oil industry
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the Biden administration is sending mixed messaging to the oil and gas industry as it seeks to boost oil output while also keeping the industry at arm’s length. The administration has asked U.S. oil and gas producers to drill more as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed gasoline prices higher. But it has also taken a somewhat hostile tone, blaming the industry for not bringing prices down quickly enough. March 24, 2022.
Project Canary Adds to Independent Stature with 3rd Party Assessment of ESG Data by Big Four Accounting & Payne Institute 3/23/2022
Project Canary Adds to Independent Stature with 3rd Party Assessment of ESG Data by Big Four Accounting & Payne Institute
The Payne Institute is happy to partner with Project Canary on methane and emissions monitoring and data science to ensure independent verification and assessment of data and operating standards. The Payne Institute will also perform a third-party assessment of all Project Canary internal controls and data analysis. March 23, 2022.
Gas Flaring In Mexico Hits Record High
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Tamara Sparks contributed to this article on how gas flaring in Mexico reached all-time high levels in 2021, beating the previous record from a year earlier, despite pledges from Mexican authorities to reduce the flaring activity, which is a major source of greenhouse gas pollution. March 22, 2022.
Mexico flared record levels of gas in 2021, study says
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Tamara Sparks contributed to this article flaring by the energy sector in Mexico hit record levels last year while the number of sites where gas is burnt off also rose despite government pledges to reduce such activity, research by a leading team of scientists showed. The practice releases carbon dioxide, black carbon and other pollutants as well as methane, a potent greenhouse gas scientists have linked to global warming. March 22, 2022.
The EU has sworn off Russian steel. That could be bad news for the environment.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian is featured on this podcast about how Russia is one of the biggest steel exporters in the world. This week, the European Union landed another blow on the Russian economy by banning imports of Russian steel, and the reverberations will be felt across a host of industries. March 21, 2022.
Russia’s energy clout doesn’t just come from oil and gas – it’s also a key nuclear supplier 3/18/2022
Russia’s energy clout doesn’t just come from oil and gas – it’s also a key nuclear supplier
Payne Institute Fellow Alex Gilbert and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how as Western nations look for ways to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas, another aspect of the Ukraine crisis has received less attention: Most of the 32 countries that use nuclear power rely on Russia for some part of their nuclear fuel supply chain. Economic fallout from the war in Ukraine could disrupt access to fuel for the nuclear power industry. We believe that countering Russia’s influence will require concerted efforts that balance energy security, climate mitigation and a commitment to international law. March 18, 2022.
Barrasso, Lummis sponsor bill that would ban Russian uranium
Payne Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributed to this article about how Wyoming’s Sen. John Barrasso has called repeatedly for uranium to be included in the federal ban on Russian energy imports. He introduced a bill in the Senate on Wednesday intended to keep Russian uranium out of U.S. reactors. However, figuring out where uranium came from quickly gets complicated. Converting uranium ore into the fuel rods used in nuclear reactors is a multi-step process that often takes place across multiple countries. March 18, 2022.
A breakdown of how much capital is actually going to fight climate change
Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the recent UN COP26 climate negotiations once again revealed how the richest nations in the world are not meeting their commitments to the developing world. A vastly more important shortcoming of public climate finance is its continued failure to attract the private capital that increasingly appreciates the long-term imperative of climate action and that will be essential if the world is to spend the trillions necessary to fight climate change. March 16, 2022.
New integrative scholars program offers customizable learning experiences in sustainable energy 3/15/2022
New integrative scholars program offers customizable learning experiences in sustainable energy
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Paulo Cesar Tabares-Velasco created a new program at Mines, Sustainable Energy@Mines, that will prepare students to hit ground running as energy professionals. The new signature student experience at Colorado School of Mines will allow undergraduates from all majors to build their own hands-on learning experience in the field of sustainable energy. March 15, 2022.
Drill, baby, drill? Not so fast, say crash-wary energy investors
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how Republican lawmakers say Biden administration policies hinder production, but market experts point instead to a number of non-regulatory factors. High oil prices are hammering American consumers at the pump, but don’t assume they will prompt a boom in U.S. oil production this year. While Republican lawmakers and some industry advocates have argued that Biden administration policies are hindering production, market experts point instead to a number of nonregulatory factors preventing the industry from rushing into drill-baby-drill mode. March 15, 2022.
How to Wean Europe Off Russian Gas as Swiftly as Possible
Simone Tagliapietra, Georg Zachmann and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about how Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has pressed Europe to fundamentally rethink how it keeps its lights on and its industries powered. Steps that would have sounded crazy only a few weeks ago — burning more coal or scaling up government intervention in energy markets — are now urgently needed to stop financing Vladimir Putin’s war. March 12, 2022.
Colorado clean energy policy landscape: A case study
Eliza Hotchkiss, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, William Toor, and Keith Hay write about how for decades, countries, states, and municipalities have established energy policies to address local air pollution and global climate change goals. The thousands of policies and measures enacted globally take various forms but are aimed at different sectors of the economy. These policies are the result of a complicated process of analysis, budgeting, management, and politics. This paper provides an overview of the recent legislative sessions, and how the policies enacted support the Colorado Climate Change Roadmap. March 11, 2022.
Russian oil ban unites Colorado’s Congress members, while high gas prices divide them
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how while members of Colorado’s congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle have been quick to rally around the idea of banning Russian energy imports after the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the challenge of making up the difference remains a bone of contention. March 11, 2022.
The U.S. Can Help Heat Europe
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to calls for the U.S. to make a war time expansion of its hydrocarbon production. The idea is to help ease prices and to support energy security and energy diversification for Europe. Certainly, some of these calls belie a narrow commercial self-interest, while others are directed at supporting our allies. Importantly, and despite some of the rhetoric, the U.S. government isn’t standing in the way of industry growth. Still, the government can and should help ease the industry’s path to higher LNG production to help support European energy—and in particular, heating. March 10, 2022.
This crisis will accelerate the energy transition. But surging energy prices could highlight industry weakness.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article written by Ben Lefebvre about how the U.S. oil industry is on an upswing, buoyed by the surge in gasoline prices to a record $4.25 a gallon Wednesday, sky-high crude oil prices and even some begrudging praise from President Joe Biden as he announced a ban on Russian energy imports. March 9, 2022.
The VIIRS Day/Night Band: A Flicker Meter in Space?
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Director Christopher Elvidge, Researcher Mikhail Zhizhin, David Keith, Steven D. Miller, Researcher Feng Chi Hsu, Researcher Tilottama Ghosh, Sharolyn J. Anderson,Christian K. Monrad, Director Morgan Bazilian, Jay Taneja, Paul C. Sutton, John Barentine, William S. Kowalik, Christopher C. M. Kyba, Dee W. Pack, and Faculty Fellow Dorit Hammerling write about how the VIIRS day/night band (DNB) high gain stage (HGS) pixel effective dwell time is in the range of 2–3 milliseconds (ms), which is about one third of the flicker cycle present in lighting powered by alternating current. Thus, if flicker is present, it induces random fluctuations in nightly DNB radiances. This results in increased variance in DNB temporal profiles. Over time, there is a trend towards the reduction of flicker in outdoor lighting through the replacement of HID with low-flicker LED sources. This study indicates that the effects of LED conversions on the brightness and steadiness of outdoor lighting can be analyzed with VIIRS DNB temporal profiles. March 9, 2022.
The U.S. Bans Russian Oil. Big Energy Shrugs.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how at a major annual fossil fuel conference in Houston, the price spike caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has buoyed an industry facing an existential crisis. If news of the oil ban landed lightly at the fortieth annual CERAWeek (both the U.S. and the U.K. get relatively little oil from Russia), it’s only because of how much has recently changed for the industry. March 9, 2022.
Biden Just Banned Russian Oil. Yawn.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how in February, when the United States and Europe first slammed down economic sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, they carved out a huge exception for the country’s energy sales. Vladimir Putin’s nation is one of the world’s most important exporters of oil and natural gas, and Western leaders worried that twisting the spigot shut would cause fuel prices to soar, risking political and economic trouble in their own countries. Now, however, the White House has decided to turn off the tap—at least here in the U.S. March 8, 2022.
Biden bans imports of all Russian fossil fuels amid broad bipartisan support. Vast majority of Americans support the move, while the UK will follow suit.
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article written by Tim De Chant about how President Joe Biden announced today that the US will ban imports of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal. The UK will follow suit, according to a Politico report, phasing out Russian oil and gas purchases over the next several months. March 8, 2022.
The impact of global conflict and economic instability on gas prices
Jim Krane, Varun Rai, and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian discuss how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing price increases and volatility for the two most widely traded global commodities: oil and gas. Crude oil prices have spiked in response to provocation by Russia — the second-largest oil and gas exporter in the world — in Ukraine, which is a major transit route for Russian gas. March 8, 2022.
What does a US ban on Russian oil accomplish?
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how with Russia intensifying its war on Ukraine, killing civilians and triggering a mass refugee crisis, President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a U.S. ban on imported Russian oil. Critics of Russia have said that sanctioning its energy exports would be the best — perhaps only — way to force Moscow to pull back. March 8, 2022.
Mines to support new U.S. Department of Energy entrepreneurship program
Payne Institute Fellow Werner Kuhr, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation(E&I) at Mines, will support West Gate, the Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office new lab-embedded entrepreneurship program, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. West Gate will provide mentorship and technical resources for promising cleantech innovators, and Mines will be supporting the effort with office space at the Beck Venture Center. Additionally, West Gate innovators will have the opportunity to participate in E&I programs like Innov8x, where they can pose problems that Mines students from all departments can brainstorm and help define, as well as come up with new potential solutions. March 8, 2022.
Decarbonizing the iron and steel industry: A systematic review of sociotechnical systems, technological innovations, and policy options
Decarbonizing the iron and steel industry: A systematic review of sociotechnical systems, technological innovations, and policy options
Jinsoo Kim, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, Payne Institute Fellow Steve Griffiths, Junghwan Lee, Minyoung Yang, and Payne Institute Program Director Jordy Lee write about how the iron and steel industry is the largest coal consumer and the most greenhouse gas intensive industry. It consumes about 7% of global energy supply, and conservative estimates report that it is responsible for 7–9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonization of the iron and steel industry is thus vital to meet climate change mitigation targets and achieve a sustainable future for the industry. March 8, 2022.
Banning Russia oil would hit US prices hard
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the U.S. could survive cutting off Russian oil and gas imports over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but it would almost certainly strike a massive financial toll. Political support for banning Russian energy imports is growing in both parties, and the White House said the topic is under discussion — though it said President Biden had not made a decision. March 7, 2022.
Lebanon Energy Crisis: Time to Reform
Payne Institute Fellow Jamal Saghir, Communications Specialist Brooke Bowser, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the attention of the world’s energy sector is clearly focused on Russia and Ukraine, but the ongoing crisis in Lebanon warrants our collective attention. The situation is horrifying. Lebanon is being battered by a confluence of crises engulfing national security, politics and government, integrity in public office, the economy and banking sector, social unrest, energy instability and environmental degradation. Each is feeding off the others to create a storm rooted in Lebanon’s failed economic, social, environmental policies. March 7, 2022.
Most Downloaded Paper Award 2021
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Director Christopher Elvidge received the 2021 Most Downloaded Paper Award from the Journal of Environmental Management (JEM) for the co-authored article titled Light Pollution in USA and Europe: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Award recognizes papers published in JEM in a given year (2019 in this case) that received the highest numbers of downloads (Web of Science) in the following three years including the year of publication (2019-2021 in this case). Dr. Elvidge’s contribution to the scientific advancement of resources, conservation and recycling fields has been highly recognized. March 6, 2022.
MULTIPLE WILDFIRES AROUND BAY COUNTY FLORIDA
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student worker Elijah Mt. Castle writes about how multiple fires have been burning in Bay County Florida over the weekend. The Adkins Avenue fire started Friday in Bay County and is 35% contained having burned 841 acres. The Bertha Swamp Fire started on Friday in the neighboring Gulf County and crossed into Bay County Saturday, it is only 10% contained with a burn area of 9,000 acres. March 6, 2022.
Op-Ed: As climate change wrecks our health, we’ll need climate doctors
Payne Institute Fellow Jay Lemery writes about how on Monday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dropped its latest assessment report — an exhaustive and far-reaching inventory of human vulnerabilities to an increasingly inhospitable planet and our strategies to adapt. March 6, 2022.
Satellite imagery shows Ukraine going dark
The Payne Institute Earth Observation Group provided the satellite images for this article about how as Ukraine defends against a Russian invasion, lights across the country have dimmed. Before Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, nighttime satellite imagery captured the bright lights of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Rivne and other urban areas. Now that same imagery shows a country that has gone dark, steeling itself against a brutal and unprovoked military attack. We compared the average nightly lightscape of Ukraine in January to February 25, the night after the invasion began, and found a dramatic reduction in lights across the country. March 3, 2022.
Oil Industry Exits Point to Medium Term Supply Challenges and Incremental Renewable Investment 3/3/2022
Oil Industry Exits Point to Medium Term Supply Challenges and Incremental Renewable Investment
Payne Institute Program Manager, Sustainable Finance Lab, and Researcher Brad Handler looks at the energy majors’ exit from Russian relationships seems likely to put pressure on peers and the major Western service companies to follow suit. Such a broad exit points to eventual, and enduring declines in Russian oil production as well as lower Russian gas exports. Higher resulting oil and gas prices should further incentivize clean energy investments in the OECD and beyond. March 3, 2022.
Satellite Data Provides Insights about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The Payne Institute’s Earth Observation Group (EOG) can capture a unique view of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine using satellite data provided by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard a Joint Polar Satellite System co-operated by NOAA and NASA. The EOG’s VIIRS Nighttime Lights (VNL) product can display nighttime lights while the group’s VIIRS Nightfire (VNF) product can detect thermal anomalies on the Earth’s surface. March 2, 2022.
GOP sees an opening in attacking Dems on critical minerals
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how Republican lawmakers are increasingly focusing on mineral security, confident the issue will become a winning political issue for them. While President Biden has prioritized rebuilding the U.S. mineral supply chain as a way to tackle climate change and curb the country’s reliance on foreign sources for materials essential to the economy, he hasn’t greenlighted any large new mines. March 1, 2022.
Coloradans seeing their heating bills go up and up, keeping agencies busy
Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler contributes to this article about how higher natural gas prices, colder weather and lingering economic woes caused by the pandemic are squeezing energy customers in Colorado and keeping the agencies that provide help busy. February 26, 2022.
Managing upstream oil and gas emissions: A public health oriented approach
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee, C. Sorenson, Payne Institute Fellow Jay Lemery, Payne Institute Student Scholar C.F. Workman, H. Lindstadt, and Payne Institute Director Morgan D. Bazilian discuss how oil and natural gas are the largest primary global energy sources, and upstream gas emissions from these fuels can impact global climate change and local public health. This paper employs a public health-oriented perspective that reviews grey and academic literature, industry data, technical reports, and policy trends to highlight issues of emissions monitoring. February 26, 2022.
Mike McGuirk wins NSF CAREER Award to explore chalcogen bonding for next-gen materials
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Mike McGuirk has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for research that could contribute to the discovery of new materials for solar energy production, low density conductors and more. McGuirk will receive $756,000 over five years for the project, which will focus on chalcogen bonding, a recently discovered interaction between molecules that scientists believe could lead to the realization of a new class of crystalline framework materials: Chalcogen-Bonded Organic Frameworks. February 25, 2022.
The new energy shock: Putin, Ukraine and the global economy
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how even before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine on Thursday, western governments were struggling with rising energy prices that threatened to derail economies emerging from two years of pandemic. Vladimir Putin’s aggression could now turn that threat into a reality. From crude oil to diesel to natural gas, the fossil fuels that power the global economy are trading at or towards record levels, threatening to redraw geopolitical relations
between producers and consumers, drive up inflation and potentially even disrupt the fight against climate change. February 25, 2022.
Experts discuss how Russian invasion of Ukraine may or may not impact the U.S. economy
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Elizabeth Van Wie Davis contributes to this news piece about how as the invasion of Ukraine continues, several local experts say the length of Russia’s invasion may determine how big the impacts will be to the global economy. Russia is one of the three top oil and natural gas producers in the world, along with the United States and Saudi Arabia. And so if there are fears or actualities of disruptions in global energy supplies, then that drives the price of oil up, February 24, 2022.
Coloradans hit the gas pumps in anticipation of higher prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 2/24/2022
Coloradans hit the gas pumps in anticipation of higher prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about how gas prices have increased by nearly 90 cents a gallon in the United States within the last year, and they are expected to climb following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has created uncertainty in the global market. An anticipated rise at the pump prompted many to fill up their vehicles, empty tank or not. February 24, 2022.
Could Russian sanctions hobble U.S. clean energy push?
Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how Russia’s oil and gas industries have gotten a lot of attention in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, but some experts say Russia’s mining interests could also complicate the U.S. response to the nation’s invasion of its neighbor. Russia is a leading producer of copper, nickel, platinum group metals and other minerals considered crucial for building a lower-carbon future. February 24, 2022.
Up in Flames
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group researchers Chris Elvidge and Tamara Sparks analyzed the flaring sites across Mexico, using satellite imagery, for this article about how gas flaring soars in Mexico, derailing its climate change pledges as it seeks to boost oil output. The new data suggests that in spite of signing an international pledge to reduce methane emissions, Mexico is moving in the opposite direction from a global push to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas production. February 23, 2022.
Resource Conflict in the Energy Transition
Payne Institute Communications Associate Elsa Barron, Deputy Director Gregory Clough, Alicia Polo y La Borda Cavero, Director Morgan Bazilian, Henry Gustavo Polanco Cornejo, and Eliseo Zeballos Zeballos write about how energy transitions occurring globally—towards low-carbon technologies, increased electrification, and electric vehicles and battery storage capacity—will also produce significant challenges in resource-rich areas. The demand for a varied set of mineral resources and metals that are required for renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and batteries is set to grow at an unprecedented scale. Many of the countries with the largest potentials for these minerals are in emerging and developing economies that face capacity and governance challenges. February 21, 2022.
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SPE Gaia and DSEA Measuring What Matters Study Group
Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jim Crompton writes about how it seems obvious that to manage the reduction of methane emissions, an operator needs to measure their current emissions, report them accurately to regulators and then take action to mitigate the emissions, starting with the biggest sources. That simple observation frames one of the themes being progressed by the Measuring What Matters pathway in the SPE Gaia Sustainability Program framework. But what might seem obvious gets tricky: just what matters and how can an operator efficiently and accurately measure those factors? February 21, 2022.
Tension and trade-offs between protecting biodiversity and avoiding climate change
Payne Institute Communications Associate Chris Dunn and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how land just upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota was leased for copper mining — until the plan was recently scrapped. This mine would have provided a domestic source of minerals crucial for decarbonizing the economy and mitigating climate change, but at great expense — offering a preview of the difficult decisions that lie ahead. The development of these leases would likely have been a disaster for the wilderness: the odds are high that the sulfide-ore mining would eventually result in acid mine drainage and the leaching of toxic metals into protected waterways on which a diversity of life depends, in an area with a substantial and established recreation economy. February 20, 2022.
Decarbonizing the oil refining industry: A systematic review of sociotechnical systems, technological innovations, and policy options 2/17/2022
Decarbonizing the oil refining industry: A systematic review of sociotechnical systems, technological innovations, and policy options
Payne Institute Fellow Steve Griffiths, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Jinsoo Kim, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, and Joao M. Uratani write about how the oil refining industry, which was established in the mid-19th century, has become a foundation of modern society. While the refining of crude oil to produce transportation fuels, petrochemical feedstocks and a variety of other products has brought manifold benefits, it has also led to the global proliferation of greenhouse gas emissions as well as local air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels. February 17, 2022.
A New Era of Climate Action Calls for Climate Doctors
Stefan Wheat and Payne Institute Fellow Jay Lemery write about how educating this generation of physicians in climate resilience is critical. Despite years of sobering warnings of this existential threat and the clear human health implications posed by climate change, the medical community has been slow to respond, offering little training in medical schools or early medical career programs on climate-linked illnesses. February 15, 2022.
Nuclear thermal propulsion is key to keeping peace in space
Payne Institute Fellow Alex Gilbert writes about how the strategic mandate for nuclear propulsion of US satellites and space-based assets to evade the growing threat from Russia and China’s anti-satellite weapons. The report’s analysis and conclusions are sound and timely, but nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) has broader applicability in space, including commercial and “soft power” uses. The US should pursue a concerted, sustained whole-of-government approach to it. Beyond achieving a first-mover advantage, this will allow the US to develop norms and solidify rules of the road espoused by the UN last fall, rules aimed at preventing war in the heavens. February 14, 2022.
Earth Observation Group is the Pioneer in Global Nighttime Lights Product Generation
The Payne Institute Earth Observation Group (EOG) pioneered the development of monthly and annual global nighttime light products from low light imaging data collected by meteorological satellite sensors. Initially with data from the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS) and later with day / night band (DNB) data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). EOG’s approach features a cascading series of filtration steps to exclude sunlit, moonlit, stray light and cloudy pixels. The annual sets are then filtered to remove outliers (biomass burning, High Energy Particle (HEP) detections, some aurora) and finally the background is zeroed out. What remains are primarily surface lighting features. February 10, 2022.
How private capital can be leveraged to fight climate change
Payne Institute Research Associate Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the recent UN COP26 climate negotiations once again revealed how the richest nations in the world are not meeting their commitments to the developing world. This was perhaps most powerfully symbolized by OECD countries failing to provide $100 billion a year in capital as promised. Yet, a vastly more important shortcoming of public climate finance is its continued failure to attract the private capital that increasingly appreciates the long-term imperative of climate action and that will be essential if the world is to spend the trillions necessary to fight climate change. February 8, 2022.
Designing the mid-transition: A review of medium-term challenges for coordinated decarbonization in the United States 02/08/2022
Designing the mid-transition: A review of medium-term challenges for coordinated decarbonization in the United States
Payne Institute Fellow Sarah Hastings-Simon, writes about how decarbonizing the energy system is critical for addressing climate change. Given the dominance of fossil fuels in the energy system, decarbonization requires rapid and significant industrial transition of the energy supply at scale. This includes explicit and coordinated plans not only for zero carbon phase-in, but for fossil carbon phase-out. Even very rapid decarbonization will likely take decades, leading to a medium-term future where the conventional, fossil-based energy system coexists with a new, zero-carbon energy system. February 8, 2022.
Projects to Capture Carbon Emissions Get New Boost Despite Dismal Record
Payne Institute Global Energy Future Initiative Director John Bradford contributes to this article about how carbon-capture projects are attracting renewed attention from investors and governments world-wide as concerns mount about the greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change. But the initiatives have a dismal record. February 7, 2022.
How important is a Twin Metals mine to supply critical minerals?
Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee contributes to this article about how on the one hand the fight over the proposed Twin Metals mine outside Ely, Minn., is a classic “Not in My Back Yard” fight. Opponents condemn the severe environmental risks posed to the federally protected Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; supporters tout the hundreds of high-paying jobs the mine would create, and billions of dollars in investment it would bring to the region. But more recently, backers of the proposed project have pushed a more global argument — that the minerals the mine would extract are essential to confront climate change. February 4, 2022.
VNF DETECTS OIL CONTAINER EXPLOSION
Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Tamara Sparks detected the explosion of the Trinity Spirit, a floating oil production, storage, and offloading vessel, which exploded and caught fire off the coast of Nigeria early on Feb 2, 2022. February 4, 2022.
What happens in Ireland if Russia turns off the gas supply?
Payne Institute Fellow Paul Deane writes about how Ireland may not see gas shortages, but we would feel the impact of any interruption in supply via higher energy costs. As the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifies, it has brought into stark focus how much the EU and indeed Ireland relies on other countries to meet our energy needs. Ireland is one of the most fossil fuel dependant countries in Europe and is particularly exposed to geopolitical events which determine how much we pay to heat our homes and generate our electricity. February 4, 2022.
Decarbonizing the ceramics industry: A systematic and critical review of policy options, developments and sociotechnical systems 2/2/2022
Decarbonizing the ceramics industry: A systematic and critical review of policy options, developments and sociotechnical systems
Dylan D. Furszyfer Del Rio, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Aoife M.Foley, Payne Fellow Steve Griffiths, Payne Director Morgan Bazilian, Jinsoo Kim, and David Rooney write about how ceramics are considered one of the greatest and earliest most useful successes of humankind. However, ceramics can be highly damaging to natural and social systems during their lifecycle, from material extraction to waste handling. This critical and systematic review seeks to identify alternatives to mitigate the climate effects of ceramics products and processes to make their lifecycle more sustainable. February 2, 2022.
Shift to renewable energy could be a mixed blessing for mineral exporters
Payne Institute Fellow Cullen Hendrix writes about how the world’s transition to sustainable energy systems has suddenly become a boon to countries rich in critical minerals used in clean energy technologies like rechargeable batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles. Among these critical minerals are aluminum, coltan, copper, aluminum, zinc, tin, rare earths, lithium, tantalum, and cobalt. Given that these minerals are key to building sustainable energy systems, vital for ensuring military might, and often extremely valuable, will countries with large, exportable endowments of these minerals fall prey to the resource curse? These countries may find their newfound wealth to be a mixed blessing. February 1, 2022.