Commentary Series

Ambitious EPA Rules to Face Stark Permitting Reality 5/17/2023

Ambitious EPA Rules to Face Stark Permitting Reality

Payne Institute Program Manager’s Anna Littlefield and Brad Handler, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how in early May EPA proposed major new carbon emissions standards for coal and many gas-fired electric power plants. Prominent among the options is carbon capture and storage (CCS)—this represents a unique and significant possibility for the technology. The proposal highlights the pressing need to accelerate permitting of CO2 pipelines and injection wells.  May 17, 2023.

The Mining Boom is Coming, but Where Can Their Workers Live? 4/28/2023

The Mining Boom is Coming, but Where Can Their Workers Live?

Payne Institute Research Associate Caitlin McKennie writes about how building out a robust talent pipeline for the mining sector through providing quality jobs to workers and advancement opportunities (i.e., training, upskilling, and next skilling efforts) will be a central factor for ramping up domestic critical mineral production and strengthening U.S. energy security. Yet, the labor force associated with nonfuel mineral mining in the U.S. has remained roughly stagnate over the last five years, and aligns with new statistics coming from employers.  April 28, 2023.

The Regulation of CO2 Pipelines and Ensuring Public Safety 3/15/2023

The Regulation of CO2 Pipelines and Ensuring Public Safety

Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield and student researcher Dwi Nuraini Siregar write that the 45Q tax credit is anticipated to play an important role in accelerating the expansion of the CO2 pipeline network in the United States by providing a financial incentive for businesses to invest in carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies and supporting infrastructure.The Inflation Reduction Act’s amplification of this credit has already increased the number of CCUS projects. March 15, 2023.

VIIRS Day/Night Band Power Outage Analysis for the February 6, 2023 Earthquake in Turkey and Syria 2/16/2023

VIIRS Day/Night Band Power Outage Analysis for the February 6, 2023 Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associates Tilottama Ghosh and Mikhail Zhizhin, and Director Christopher D. Elvidge use satellite imagery to look at the power outage in Turkey and Syria caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck in the Gaziantep province in Turkey.  February 16, 2023.  

Policy Guidelines for Accelerating the Energy Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from the Mobile Telecoms Sector 1-26-2023

Policy Guidelines for Accelerating the Energy Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from the Mobile Telecoms Sector

Payne Institute ESG Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how Sub-Saharan Africa faces immense challenges in its bid to attract capital to develop its energy resources and grow its economy. Relative to the pace of market penetration of cell phone services in the recent past, the growth in the share of the population with access to electricity has been rather dismal. The comparisons between both sectors are not new and have been made repeatedly over the years. This commentary recognizes that there are substantial differences between both sectors that make direct comparisons and a transfer of policy lessons difficult.  January 26, 2023.

Ukraine Power Outages Viewed From the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite at Night 1/10/2023

Ukraine Power Outages Viewed From the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite at Night

Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Director Christopher Elvidge, Research Associate Tilottama Ghosh and Mikhail Zhizhin, and student researcher Elijah Mt.Castle write about how as the Russia-Ukraine war approaches the 1 year mark the electrical grid in Ukraine has taken devastating damage. Russia has hit more than 200 targets in the electrical infrastructure. This has left millions of Ukrainian citizens without power in the cold winter months. In the early days of the war Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Russia has now militarized the facility installing several Grad rocket launchers around the dry storage for spent nuclear fuel. Protective structures were erected to defend the launchers, but these structures violate international nuclear and radiation safety regulations.   January 10, 2023.  

DEVELOPING HYDROGEN AND CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE PROJECTS IN THE STATE OF COLORADO 12/9/2022

Developing Hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage Projects in the State of Colorado

Payne Institute CCUS Program Manager Anna Littlefield and student researcher Chiang Cheng Siew write about how over the past two years, both the hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) industries have gained momentum in the US. Project development in these industries has been rapidly accelerating with the growing financial incentives from policymakers for the commercial deployment of these projects. The signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in November of 2021 marked the US Department of Energy’s largest single investment in carbon management, along with significant investments funding clean hydrogen development.  December 9, 2022.

Climate Change: Toward a More Resilient Africa 11/29/2022

Climate Change: Toward a More Resilient Africa

Payne Institute Fellow Jamal Saghir and Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez write about how the impacts of the climate emergency continue to intensify in Africa, compounding and amplifying other crises. Africa can still prosper and thrive in a world of climate change. This development is dependent on understanding, preparing, and adapting to oncoming climate impacts.  November 29, 2022.

A New Paradigm for Managing Mineral Trade Routes in Africa 11/16/2022

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.

Africa’s Energy Transition & Critical Minerals 11/3/2022

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.  

On Equal Footing: The Impact of FERC Order 841 on Grid Battery Installations 10/26/2022

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 10/26/2022

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 10/25/2022

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 10/24/2022

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 10/20/2022

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. 

Monitoring of Portovaya Gas Flares 9/12/2022

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.

Closing the Energy Poverty Gap in Africa Using Landfill Gas 9/8/2022

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.

Shifts in the Energy Workforce 9/6/2022

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.

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage in the New Inflation Reduction Act 8/5/2022

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.

Interest Group Power and the Passage of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act (PIA): A Multiple Streams Approach 8/4/2022

Interest Group Power and the Passage of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act (PIA): A Multiple Streams Approach

Payne Institute Research Associate Baba Freeman writes about how after about 20 years of slow and staggered progress, Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was ratified into law in 2021 and became the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA). This paper examines the dynamic political context in which the bill finally came into being through the lens of the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF). It identifies the key interest groups in the context of the bill’s passage and describes the changes in the preference enforcement power of these groups that opened the way for the passage of the bill. Finally, it sheds light on the PIA’s survival prospects after the 2023 presidential elections based on the backgrounds of the top candidates and their likely policy inclinations.  August 4, 2022.

A View from the Ground Along the Proposed Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) Route 7/15/2022

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 7/15/2022

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.

Less is More: The Impact of Auto Lender Risk on Household Auto Purchases

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.

 

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DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints, or official policies of the Payne Institute or Colorado School of Mines.