News

Gas Flaring Declined in 2020, Study Finds 5/10/2021

The Payne Institute Earth Observation Group provided the satellite data research analysis for the recently released World Bank Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report in April 2021.  According to the GGFR, gas flaring worldwide decreased by 5 percent in the pandemic year, mostly because of lower demand for oil. May 10, 2021.

Colonial Pipeline hack reveals critical infrastructure risks 5/10/2021

Colonial Pipeline hack reveals critical infrastructure risks

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian discusses big industrial networks, including the Colonial Pipeline, which has been down for three days following a cyberbreach, that fill vital everyday needs such as gasoline, clean water and electricity on a podcast with Scott Tong. The Joe Biden administration plans new cyber rules for agencies and contractors involved in critical infrastructure.  May 10, 2021.

Of actors, cities and energy systems: advancing the transformative potential of urban electrification 5/6/2021

Of actors, cities and energy systems advancing the transformative potential of urban electrification

Patricia Romero-Lankao, Alana Wilson, Joshua Sperling, Clark Miller, Daniel Zimny-Schmitt, Benjamin Sovacool, Chris Gearhart, Matteo Muratori, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, and Daniel Zünd write about how the electrification of transportation and the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) with buildings connected to clean grids has been touted as one of the key solutions to the global decarbonization challenge. Cities are on the frontlines of current and future electrification, as they depend on and drive electricity generation, distribution, and use.  May 6, 2021.

AERE Scholars Program Mentors Announced 5/5/2021

AERE Scholars Program Mentors Announced

Payne Institute Fellow Ian Lange has been named to the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists Scholars program as a mentor.  The AERE Scholars program is an ambitious effort to increase diversity in environmental and natural resource economics, help the newest members of our community succeed, and create an inclusive culture that encourages members to give back to the organization and field.  May 5, 2021.

The U.S. Government Can Accelerate Investment Managers’ Contribution to Global Carbon Emissions Reduction 5/4/2021

The U.S. Government Can Accelerate Investment Managers’ Contribution to Global Carbon Emissions Reduction

Payne Institute Researcher Brad Handler and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how climate change has emerged as arguably the single most important driver for long-term investment performance. Broad swaths of the economy are currently impacted by the physical risks of climate change (e.g. from extreme weather), and transitional risks to lower-carbon sources of energy. May 4, 2021.

Biden’s conundrum: Expand EVs without harming the Earth 4/30/2021

Biden’s conundrum: Expand EVs without harming the Earth

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about President Biden’s plan to rapidly shift to electric vehicles and renewable energy could find itself in conflict with another, less prominent commitment: improving the sustainability of the mineral and metals sector.  April 30, 2021.

Colorado School of Mines, Payne Institute for Public Policy launch Responsible Gas Initiative

Colorado School of Mines, Payne Institute for Public Policy launch Responsible Gas Initiative

The interdisciplinary effort aims to improve understanding of challenges, opportunities related to the future of natural gas in a low-carbon economy.  To confront this challenge, Colorado School of Mines and the Payne Institute for Public Policy have launched the Mines Responsible Gas Initiative.  April 29, 2021.

Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) 4/28/2021

Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR)

The World Bank with research support from the Payne Institute Earth Observation Group released their world gas flaring overview. GGFR has now published estimates from satellite data, which show that global gas flaring declined by 5% in 2020. Oil production dropped from 82 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2019 to 76 million b/d in 2020, as global gas flaring reduced from 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2019 to 142 bcm.  April 28, 2021.

Mining in Space Is Coming 4/26/2021

Mining in Space is Coming

Payne Institute Fellow Alex Gilbert writes about how space exploration is back after decades of disappointment, a combination of better technology, falling costs and a rush of competitive energy from the private sector that has put space travel front and center. Indeed, many analysts (even some with their feet on the ground) believe that commercial developments in the space industry may be on the cusp of starting the largest resource rush in history: mining on the Moon, Mars and asteroids.  April 26, 2021.

Geopolitics of the Energy Transition 4/22/2021

Geopolitics of the Energy Transition

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian was interviewed on the Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Affairs discussing how the global transition toward a less carbon intensive energy system is affecting global geopolitics as we know it. Over the past century, energy geopolitics have centered on struggles to secure oil and gas, but if oil and gas become less important, will energy geopolitics eventually go away?  April 22, 2021.

New US climate pledge: Cut emissions 50% this decade, but can Biden make it happen? 4/22/2021

New US climate pledge: Cut emissions 50% this decade, but can Biden make it happen?

Payne Institute Advisory Board Member David Victor and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how President Joe Biden announced an ambitious new national climate target at a livestreamed summit of world leaders on April 22, 2021: He pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by the end of this decade and aim for net zero emissions by 2050. The new goal is a big deal because it formally brings together the many different ideas on infrastructure, the budget, federal regulatory policy, and disparate actions in the states and industry for transforming the U.S. economy into a highly competitive, yet very green giant. April 22, 2021.

The quest to put carbon to rest at sea 4/22/2021

The quest to put carbon to rest at sea

Payne Institute Program Manager Laura Singer contributed to this article about how the Earth’s ocean acts as a global climate regulator, and scientists are increasingly studying its chemistry and geology to find potential ways to store carbon dioxide captured from emissions or removed from the air.  Oceans are bearing some of the brunt of the climate change.  April 22, 2021.

He pioneered research into how fossil fuels are shocking our oceans. Now he has Bill Gates’ ear 4/22/2021

He pioneered research into how fossil fuels are shocking our oceans. Now he has Bill Gates’ ear.

Payne Institute Advisory Board member Ken Caldeira is featured in the Reuters Hot Lister on his long career as a groundbreaking researcher on global warming.  But Caldeira’s most profound influence in science may be as an adviser, be it to students or to one of the world’s richest men, as billionaires fund climate research.  April 22, 2021.

Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition 4/20/2021

Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to the World Economic Forum‘s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report on how as countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible. The Energy Transition Index, which benchmarks 115 countries on the performance of their energy systems, finds that while 92 of the countries increased their score over the past 10 years, only 10% of countries were able to make consistent gains, showing the need for renewed focus and resilience to meet the climate goals of the next decade. April 20, 2021.

The Climate Debates: Can America Break Its Natural Gas Addiction? 4/16/2021

The Climate Debates: Can America Break Its Natural Gas Addiction?

Payne Institute Fellow Arvind Ravikumar participates in this discussion about how to wean the U.S. off of natural gas.  As more and more people have come to understand the urgency of the climate crisis in recent years, and Americans have elected a president in Joe Biden who has pledged to make addressing climate the centerpiece of his administration, but there is much debate about exactly how we should go about confronting our collective climate challenge.  April 16, 2021.

Biden can decarbonize electricity with these quick wins 4/15/2021

Biden can decarbonize electricity with these quick wins

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Greer Gosnell, Director Morgan Bazilian, and Clark Miller write about how bold goals to address climate change are emerging globally, and the U.S. will undoubtedly announce its own shortly. The technical pathways to meet net-zero emissions goals demonstrate an accelerating role for renewable energy, thanks to tremendous recent cost declines. April 15, 2021.

Frozen Out in Texas: Blackouts and Inequity 4/14/2021

Frozen Out in Texas: Blackouts and Inequity

JP Carvallo, Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Researcher Feng Chi Hsu,  Zeal Shah, and Jay Taneja write about how in February, blackouts in the Texas power grid left over 4.5 million customers in the dark, many of them for several days. A substantial amount of these blackouts were transmission disconnections and emergency load shedding events triggered by ERCOT, the entity in charge of ensuring a reliable supply of electricity in Texas. In this analysis, we use satellite data on nighttime lights to track blackouts at the census block group (CBG) level and correlate it with demographic data to understand how equitable these blackouts were.  April 14, 2021.

Optimality versus reality: Closing the gap between renewable energy decision models and government deployment in the United States 4/12/2021

Optimality versus reality: Closing the gap between renewable energy decision models and government deployment in the United States

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Kate Anderson, Maggie Nevrly, Emma Elgqvist, and Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian write about the energy decision models that are widely used to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of renewable energy, as well as to help inform the deployment of these technologies. However, a gap exists between the optimal model solutions and what is deployed. April 12, 2021.

Jared Carbone gives testimony to Colorado State House Energy and Environment Committee 4/8/2021

Jared Carbone gives testimony to Colorado State House Energy and Environment Committee

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Jared Carbone gave testimony to the Colorado State House Energy and Environment Committee on House bill HB21-1238. If passed, the bill would direct the PUC to take the social cost of carbon and methane emissions into account in developing demand-side management programs to reduce the use of natural gas in residential and commercial spaces. Dr. Carbone explained what the social cost of carbon is and why it’s appropriate to take into account in the bill.  Testimony starts at 2:54.  April 8, 2021.

How the US can stimulate private investment in cutting carbon 4/7/2021

How the US can stimulate private investment in cutting carbon

Payne Institute Fellow Brad Handler, with Fellow Ben Caldecott and Director Morgan Bazilian, writes about how conventional wisdom has it that US president Joe Biden can effect only modest progress on climate change legislation because of the Democrats’ razor-thin Senate margin. But this undervalues the levers the administration can pull, including motivating the private sector.  April 7, 2021.  

Project Canary Receives Series A Funding from Leading Venture Capital Firms 4/6/2021

Project Canary Receives Series A Funding from Leading Venture Capital Firms

Payne Institute is a proud partner on gas flaring emissions monitoring with Project Canary, who received investments from Quantum Energy Partners, Global Reserve Group and Energy Impact Partners to fund the Denver-based emissions monitoring and data startup, as the ESG-driven market for Responsibly Sourced Gas grows.  April 6, 2021.

The US is worried about its critical minerals supply chains – essential for electric vehicles, wind power and the nation’s defense 4/6/2021

The US is worried about its critical minerals supply chains – essential for electric vehicles, wind power and the nation’s defense

Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how when U.S. companies build military weapons systems, electric vehicle batteries, satellites and wind turbines, they rely heavily on a few dozen “critical minerals” – many of which are mined and refined almost entirely by other countries. The level of dependence on imports worries the U.S. government.  April 6, 2021.

Comparative Analysis of Selected African Natural Gas Markets and Related Policies

Comparative Analysis of Selected African Natural Gas Markets and Related Policies

John Ayaburi, Shashwat Sharma, Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Dr. Greer Gosnell, and Director Morgan D. Bazilian write about the discovery of natural gas resources across the African continent that have inspired debate on how such resources should be developed and best utilized. In several African countries, the discovery of commercial quantities of natural gas reserves has led governments to explore a number of strategies, investments, and policy directions. Two contrasting cases are that of Nigeria, which has pursued policies promoting domestic natural gas consumption and export, and Ghana, which has focused on encouraging sectoral-level domestic consumption.  April 5, 2021.

Black carbon emissions from flaring in Russia in the period 2012–2017 4/2/2021

Black carbon emissions from flaring in Russia in the period 2012–2017

Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Dr. Mikhail Zhizhin’s (and others) research shows how gas flaring in the oil and gas industry has been identified as an important source of anthropogenic black carbon (BC) affecting the climate, particularly in the Arctic. Our study provides spatially-explicit estimates of BC emissions from flaring in Russia utilising state-of-the-art methodology for determining the emission factors. We utilised satellite time series of the flared gas volume from Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) for the period 2012 to 2017, supplemented with information on the gas and oil field type.  April 2, 2021.

Mobilizing Investment for Clean Energy in Emerging Economies 4/1/2021

Mobilizing Investment for Clean Energy in Emerging Economies

The Payne Institute is proud to be a partner organization with the World Economic Forum on their new initiative Mobilizing Investment for Clean Energy in Emerging Economies. Accelerating clean energy transitions is a global imperative for the world to address the climate emergency. The decarbonization of energy production and use will require trillions of dollars to be invested in the deployment of new clean energy capacity and energy efficiency, as well as to retire existing carbon-intensive energy infrastructure that would otherwise lock-in emissions for decades. April 1, 2021.

Governments have identified commodities essential to economic and military security 3/31/2021

Governments have identified commodities essential to economic and military security

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Rod Eggert and Director Morgan Bazilian contribute to this article about obtaining critical minerals necessary to break the U.S. dependence on foreign production. The U.S. Defense department will help facilitate the building of facilities to process rare earths, part of an effort to secure supply independent from China.  March 31, 2021.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Energy Market Disruptions and Resilience 3/30/2021

The Covid-19 Pandemic: Energy Market Disruptions and Resilience

Payne Institute Fellow Alex Gilbert and Director Morgan Bazilian write about the direct risks and indirect effects from the COVID-19 pandemic that have impacted the operations and resilience of global energy markets.  This article considers several aspects of the impacts and responses of these markets as well as energy sector resilience.  March 30, 2021.

CARGO VESSELS WAITING TO PASS THE SUEZ CANAL DOUBLED IN 24 HOURS 3/26/2021

CARGO VESSELS WAITING TO PASS THE SUEZ CANAL DOUBLED IN 24 HOURS

Payne Institute Earth Observation Group Research Associate Feng Chi Hsu looks at the Ever Given, one of the largest cargo vessels in operation, that has been stuck in the Suez Canal for days, via satellite.  The vessel blocks the two-way traffic of the canal, which has caused the number of cargo vessels waiting to pass through the canal to double in 24 hours from March 25th to 26th, 2021.  March 26, 2021.

The rise of electric vehicles—2020 status and future expectations 3/25/2021

The rise of electric vehicles—2020 status and future expectations

Matteo Muratori, Marcus Alexander, Doug Arent, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, Ercan M. Dede, John Farrell, Chis Gearhart, David Greene, Alan Jenn, Matthew Keyser, Timothy Lipman, Sreekant Narumanchi, Ahmad Pesaran, Ramteen Sioshansi, Emilia Suomalainen, Gil Tal, Kevin Walkowicz, and Jacob Ward wrote this article about how electric vehicles (EVs) are experiencing a rise in popularity over the past few years as the technology has matured and costs have declined, and support for clean transportation has promoted awareness, increased charging opportunities, and facilitated EV adoption.  This detailed review paints a positive picture for the future of EVs for on-road transportation, and the authors remain hopeful that remaining technology, regulatory, societal, behavioral, and business-model barriers can be addressed over time to support a transition toward cleaner, more efficient, and affordable transportation solutions for all.  March 25, 2021.

U.S. OIL & GAS companies settle in to more conservative approach 3/22/2021

U.S. OIL & GAS companies settle in to more conservative approach

Payne Institute Fellow Brad Handler has prepared a quarterly report on the upstream U.S. onshore oil & gas extraction activity and how the prevailing message from publicly-traded (i.e. generally larger) oil companies is that activity (and thus employment) recovery in the U.S. is to be subdued. Publicly-traded oil companies are setting up to be more conservative for multiple years with respect to spending as they seek to win back the confidence of investors and other capital providers.  March 22, 2021.   

The material foundations of a low-carbon economy 3/19/2021

The material foundations of a low-carbon economy

Payne Institute Program Manager Jordy Lee, Senior Research Associate Sara Hastings-Simon, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how the transition to a low-carbon environment is rapidly accelerating and with it the potential for severe environmental and social degradation. The extraction and processing of key materials have already begun to affect developing economies, and policy changes are essential to ensuring a just transition.  March 19, 2021.

CCUS: A Startup Perspective – Interview with Carbon America 3/19/2021

CCUS: A Startup Perspective – Interview with Carbon America

Mines Integrated CCUS Initiative and Payne Institute Podcast featuring Scott Frazier, Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder, Charlene Russell, Chief Commercial Officer, Kevin Pykkonen, VP, Business Development, and Miles Abarr, Chief Engineer discussing how their company, Carbon America, was created to transform the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) industry by lowering costs and rapidly increasing deployment with Laura Singer, Payne Institute Program Manager.  March 19, 2021.

VALUING ALBERTA’S RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY PROGRAM 3/18/2021

VALUING ALBERTA’S RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY PROGRAM

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon and Blake Shaffer write about how When Alberta’s government launched the Renewable Electricity Program (REP) in 2017, many feared it would result in yet another costly subsidy for renewable power. With a little over a year since first generation, we look back on how the REP contracts have fared so far. It may come as a surprise then that the government is actually making money on them.  March 18, 2021.  

Why don’t environmental bonds fully cover reclamation costs? 3/17/2021

Why don’t environmental bonds fully cover reclamation costs?

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Graham Davis and Peifang Yang write about how governments often require that extractive industry firms post environmental bonds as financial assurance to cover eventual reclamation liabilities. Such bond requirements frequently do not fully cover the reclamation cost. We show that a revenue-maximizing government may reasonably require a bond amount smaller than the full reclamation cost.  March 17, 2021.  

Rising oil prices a litmus test for Alberta’s commitment to addressing inactive wells 3/17/2021

Rising oil prices a litmus test for Alberta’s commitment to addressing inactive wells

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon writes an opinion piece on how recently, the Alberta Energy Regulator suspended Sanling Energy’s licences, announcing that the company has $67 million in unpaid security for end-of-life obligations (i.e. abandonment and reclamation of wells). This is but the latest in a long series of bad news regarding the oil and gas sector’s outstanding environmental liabilities in Alberta, which includes a staggering 97,000 inactive wells (wells that are neither producing nor properly abandoned and reclaimed) — up from approximately 84,000 in 2018.  March 17, 2021.

Integrating Technology and Incentives to Reduce Methane Emissions 3/16/2021

Integrating Technology and Incentives to Reduce Methane Emissions

Payne Institute Fellow Ben Gilbert and Mark Agerton discuss economic considerations with using remote sensing in methane emissions policy. A two-tiered monitoring system like the recently proposed Methane Emissions Reduction Act is a powerful tool to achieve emissions reductions. However, there are important considerations in how to design such a system. A two-tiered system could facilitate emissions pricing and responsible gas markets, reward innovative producers, and fund programs for further climate change mitigation while easing the impact of the energy transition on oil and gas communities.   March 16, 2021.  

From fracking to geothermal: Fort Nelson First Nation moves forward with clean electricity project 3/15/2021

From fracking to geothermal: Fort Nelson First Nation moves forward with clean electricity project

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon contributes to this article about how Ottawa invests $40.5 million in Clarke Lake Geothermal Project, which is expected to produce enough electricity to power 14,000 homes.  The project will transform a natural gas field nearing depletion in northeastern B.C. into a source of renewable energy for remote communities.  March 15, 2021.

WEEKS LONG FIRE CONTAINED IN SIMILIPAL NATIONAL PARK 3/14/2021

WEEKS LONG FIRE CONTAINED IN SIMILIPAL NATIONAL PARK

Payne Institute Earth Observation Group student worker Elijah Mt.Castle looks at the Similipal National Park that has been aflame since February 24th 2021, and is now contained according to government officials. The associated tiger sanctuary also caught fire. The park, located in Odisha India, is an important biosphere for the country. Roughly one third of the forest has been destroyed or gutted for fire breaks. Fires have also been raging in surrounding areas for weeks. March 12, 2021.

 

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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.