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Weekly Highlights | From the Carbon market takeoff to the Big Oil companies green transition

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By illuminem

· 5 min read

1. Despite The Pandemic, Renewables Soared Again In 2020

By Forbes

  • Despite the 4.5% decline of primary global energy consumption, global renewable energy consumption grew by 9.7% in 2020
  • Hydroelectricity  represents a separate and more mature category, growing globally at a much slower rate than modern renewables like solar power
  • China overtook the U.S. as the world’s top consumer of renewable energy in 2018, with the former representing 22.9% of the global share and the latter 20.1% in 2020

2. Millions of Electric Car Batteries Will Retire in the Next Decade. What Happens to Them?

By The Guardian

  • While electric vehicles (145m on the roads by 2030) can play an important role in reducing emissions, they also contain a potential environmental timebomb: their batteries
  • Not only do these batteries require large amounts of raw materials, including lithium, nickel and cobalt – mining for which has climate, environmental and human rights impacts – they also threaten to leave a mountain of electronic waste as they reach the end of their lives
  • Recycling shouldn’t be the first solution but a second step. Firstly, we need to find ways to keep batteries in use for longer (e.g. Enel Group is using 90 batteries retired from Nissan Leaf cars in an energy storage facility)

3. Is Europe’s Carbon Market Finally Taking off?

By GreenBiz

  • Under the green deal unveiled in July, Europe would dramatically overhaul and expand its carbon market to include shipping, housing and transport
  • As a result of recent pledges to increase climate goals and the proposal of a new carbon-adjustment tax, carbon prices have already soared from about $10.53 in 2018 to the more recent $64.33 per metric ton
  • Skepticists fear that the plan to expand carbon pricing to the biggest polluting sectors would mainly hit the poorest (e.g. retrofitting homes in places such as Rome or Paris is no small endeavour). Governments are wary of a new surge in populism

4. Data Reveals Where Big Oil Is Building Renewables Businesses

By Energy Monitor

  • Between 2017 and 2021, the six largest public European oil companies by revenue carried out around 33% more deals involving renewables in Europe vs other parts of the world
  • Clean energy investments in emerging and developing economies declined by 8% (less than $150bln in 2020) in the same time frame
  • All oil companies but one, Eni, have established more clean energy subsidiaries (i.e. whose businesses focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, EV infrastructure, batteries and smart grids) in Western countries (Europe and USA) vs the rest of the world

5. Scientists Say the World Urgently Needs to Cut Methane Emissions. The Politics Aren't as Simple

By Politico

  • The Biden administration’s emerging efforts to slash emissions of methane is setting the stage for a new clash among lawmakers, agricultural interests and the energy industry
  • Wrestling methane presents a new round of political and practical complications: Agriculture, including livestock and land-based systems, accounts for 40% of global methane emissions. This creates concern among Republicans and farm-state Democrats about regulatory efforts to tackle the problem
  • On the energy side, The Biden administration is calculating just how much damage methane causes. White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy's office is working on a social cost of methane, which would assign a monetary value to the benefits of reducing methane that the administration could use to justify regulations

6. What Role Will Nuclear Power Play in the Energy Transition?

By Wood Mackenzie

  • Nuclear build has slowed down in the last 40 years, for several reasons: the Fukushima disaster, stricter policies, financial overruns and delays and competition from renewables’ cheap price
  • While the global policy picture is currently mixed, as only few countries are still building new plants, nuclear power will be needed to fill solar and wind power gaps
  • Small modular reactors could play a key role in the future, as it provides a quicker and more flexible alternative. However, they still face many hurdles before being rolled out on a large scale, such as cost, regulations and nuclear waste

7. Saudi Arabia's June Oil Exports Rise 123% to over $16 bln

By Reuters

  • Overall exports increased by nearly 92% in June compared to a year earlier, with oil exports accounting for 72% of the total
  • Saudi Arabia GDP in the second quarter grew for the first time since the coronavirus crisis
  • China remained Saudi Arabia’s main trading partner in June, with exports there amounting to nearly 20% of the total

8. Oil firms Made ‘False Claims’ on Blue Hydrogen Costs, Says Ex-lobby Boss

By The Guardian

  • Oil companies have used false claims over the cost of producing blue hydrogen to win over the Treasury and access billions in taxpayer subsidies, according to Chris Jackson (former chair of UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association)
  • If the false claims made by oil companies about the cost of blue hydrogen were true, their projects would make a profit by 2030 (after starting up in 2027 or 2028). However, they’re asking taxpayers for billions in subsidies for the next 25 years, implicating that they are hiding something
  • The UK’s future blue hydrogen projects include plans for BP to develop a hydrogen plant in Teesside, and for the Norwegian state oil company, Equinor to build the world’s biggest hydrogen production plant with carbon capture and storage technology near Hull

9. Hydrogen Can Play a Major Role in a Variety of Energy Applications, Contributing to Global Decarbonisation

By Kearney

  • Blue hydrogen is the combination of brown hydrogen sources (produced from hydrocarbons) with capture, transportation, storage, or use of CO2 (CCS). Green hydrogen mostly relies on carbon-free electrolysis technologies
  • Today, hydrogen produced from brown sources ($0.9 to $2.10 per kg) is 2 to 10 times less expensive than green hydrogen ($2.50 to $9.50 per kg) or blue hydrogen ($1.50 to $2.50 per kg)
  • By 2050, pure hydrogen consumption could grow eightfold to 540 Mt per year, mainly driven by transportation and industrial processes

10. Federal Judge Rejects Trump-era Permits for Major Alaska Oil Project

By The Washington Post

  • U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason threw out permits for ConocoPhilips’s Willow project in Alaska, which had been backed by both the Trump and Biden administration
  • The project could produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day and has been touted by Alaska’s congressional delegation as an important source of jobs for the state
  • Jeremy Lieb of Earthjustice, the lead attorney for the plaintiff group that included the Center for Biological Diversity, called the judge’s decision a “big win for our clients and for the climate”
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