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In an age where environmental sustainability is not just a preference but a necessity, companies across the globe are stepping up to integrate eco-friendly practices into their core operations. A pioneer in this green revolution is DGB Group NV, a trailblazer in carbon project development and ecosystem restoration. Today, we are thrilled to share a monumental leap in our journey toward a more sustainable and inclusive future—our expansion into the French market.

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A Tantalizing New Front in Externality Pricing: Taxing Helicopter Noise

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The New York City Council today held a hearing on a suite of bills to limit noise from helicopter flights over New York City. The bill most pertinent to carbon taxing is a resolution supporting a proposed NY State $400 “noise tax” on flights taking off or landing at the city’s heliports.

My testimony, presented below, situates the proposed noise tax in the context of social damage costing, also known as externality pricing. Previous CTC posts in this vein have covered NYC’s forthcoming congestion pricing plan, a California growers’ program that taxes excess withdrawals of groundwater for farming, and Berkeley, CA’s soda tax.

Educator from the NYC harbor ecology group Billion Oyster Project, at the April 16 City Hall Park rally organized by Stop The Chop NY/NJ. To speaker’s left are Councilmembers Lincoln Restler and Amanda Farias, lead sponsors of Intro 70 and 26.

As can be seen from photographs of the rally prior to the council hearing, the anti-heli-noise outfit Stop The Chop NY/NJ takes a reformist position on helicopter flights. I’m more militant in both deed, having helped organize a human blockade of the West 30th Street (Hudson River) heliport last September; and in language, preferring the term “luxury fights” to Stop The Chop’s “nonessential flights.” 

That said, I tip my hat to Stop The Chop for their scrappy advocacy raising the profile of helicopters’ aural and other assaults on New Yorkers’ quality of life. The bills in question would almost certainly not have been written without their years of organizing.

Testimony of Charles Komanoff[1] supporting Council Bills banning nonessential helicopter flights using municipal properties, and Council Resolution 0085-2024 endorsing state legislation imposing a noise-annoyance surcharge on nonessential helicopter flights in New York City[2]. Submitted on April 16, 2024. (My statement has been lightly edited for clarity. Bracketed numbers denote endnotes.)

I emphatically support Council bills Intro 26 and Intro 70 banning nonessential helicopter flights from the two City-run heliports. In addition, as an economist specializing in environmental costing,[3] I’d like to single out for praise Council Resolution 0085-2024 endorsing state legislators Kirsten Gonzalez’s and Bobby Carroll’s bills S7216B and A7638B imposing a noise fee on nonessential helicopter flights.[4]

The Gonzalez-Carroll noise fee is $100 per occupied seat or $400 per flight, whichever amount is larger. Although these levies appear to fall short of the average helicopter flight’s full societal cost, they are a commendable starting point. The levies can be raised later on, as methodologies for quantifying helicopter noise costs mature — a process that will be aided by passing a related bill, Intro 27. The fees can also be lowered if quieter helicopters emerge — which the Gonzalez-Carroll bills will incentivize.

“Cost internalization,” as this kind of social-damage pricing is termed, is long overdue for helicopter noise. “Luxury” helicopter flights — a more apt term, perhaps, than “nonessential” — impose other costs like carbon pollution and particulate-exhaust pollution. Moreover, these flights are purely discretionary. Anyone taking a luxury helicopter flight — whether to the Hamptons or JFK or for sightseeing — has money to spare, as revealed by their pricey transportation choice. Taxing helicopter noise is entirely consistent with economic justice.

Consider Blade’s JFK helicopter service from its Manhattan West 30th Street heliport — a flight covering about 15 miles. I’ve made a preliminary but serviceable calculation suggesting that one such flight steals around $2,500 worth of peace and quiet from city residents.[5]

A more militant protest: Extinction Rebellion’s Sept 2023 human heliport blockade. See our post from that month, “Grounding Helicopter Luxury.” Photo: Christopher Ketcham.

The Gonzalez-Carroll noise fee offsets only a fraction of that damage. But it amounts to a roughly 40 percent surcharge to Blade’s $250 standard ticket price to JFK, making it a worthy start. Assemblymember Carroll has been a legislative leader on externalities taxing, and it’s great to see Sen. Gonzalez also taking up the cause.

A noise fee raising the price of a commuter helicopter trip by 40 percent will cut usage, hence, the number of flights, by 30 to 50 perceny,[6] as some would-be passengers opt out. (Yes, just like congestion pricing, except more draconian, and deservedly so). That will not only bring peace and quiet, it will generate $10 to $15 million per year[7] — revenue that New York City can use to expand and enforce noise-abatement rules citywide.

Noise isn’t the sole harm that commuter and tourist helicopters inflict on the millions of residents below. But it is the most egregious and insulting. Every member should vote Yes on the bills to ban nonessential helicopter flights from the two City-owned heliports. And please also vote for Council Resolution 0085-2024 to make clear to your Albany counterparts that New York City’s local elected officials support the Gonzalez-Carroll helicopter noise fee.

Endnotes.[8]

[1] Policy analyst and consulting economist at KEA, 11 Hanover Square, 21st floor, New York, NY 10005. Website www.komanoff.net.

[2] This document is available on line as https://www.komanoff.net/jet_skis/Komanoff_Testimony_City_Council_Helicopter_Noise_Costs.pdf.

[3] My work quantifying and supporting NYC congestion pricing is widely known; much of it is collected here. My body of research also includes Drowning in Noise: Noise Costs of Jet Skis in the United States, a monograph co-authored with Dr. Howard Shaw and published in 2000 by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse.

[4] Assemblymember Bobby Carroll represents part of Brooklyn. State Senator Kristen Gonzalez represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.

[5] Key assumptions in my calculation of a $2,500 collective noise cost per flight from W 30 St to JFK Blade include: 625,000 households in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens households lie within the helicopter noise field; excess noise of 20 dBA during the average 44 seconds of noise exposure for each flight; a “Noise Depreciation Index” — reduced property value per additional decibel during exposure — of 1%. Some parameters in the calculation are placeholder values, making the resulting $2,500 estimated per-flight collective noise cost preliminary and subject to change. See Excel spreadsheet referenced in final endnote.

[6] The 30 percent reduction is associated with a price-elasticity of helicopter flights of negative 1, while the 50 percent reduction comes from a price-elasticity of negative 2. The respective calculations are: 1.4^(-1) ~ 0.7, and 1.4^(-2) ~ 0.5. (My high price-elasticity figures reflect the discretionary and luxury nature of helicopter travel.) See Excel spreadsheet referenced in final endnote.

[7] The number of helicopter flights per year that would be subject to the Gonzalez-Carroll noise tax appears to be between 50,000 and 60,000 per year. I have used the lower figure (50,000) in my calculations. Taking into account that the incorporation of the proposed tax into the price of helicopter flights would be expected to reduce the number of flights by 30 to 50 percent, and applying a per-flight noise fee of $400, the annual tax revenues, rounded, calculate to between $10 and $15 million per year (50k x $400 x 50% or 70%).

[8] An Excel spreadsheet (NYC_Helicopter_Flights_Externality_Costs.xls) with assumptions, calculations and citations supporting my preliminary $2,500 per-flight noise cost estimate, my tax revenue estimate of $10 to $15 million, and other figures in my testimony may be downloaded via this link: https://www.komanoff.net/jet_skis/NYC_Helicopter_Flights_Externality_Costs.xlsx.

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America to See a Surge in Renewable Capacity in 2024

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The United States is poised for a significant boost in renewable energy capacity by over 67 gigawatts (GW) in 2024, driven by policy shifts and economic factors, per S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis. Solar energy, in particular, is set to lead the charge, with over 56 GW of capacity expected to come online. 

This surge reflects a broader trend toward cleaner energy sources and marks a pivotal moment in America’s energy transition. Additionally, around 11 GW of wind generation and 21 GW of energy storage are projected to come online.

Solar Dominance in America’s Energy Landscape

While natural gas has been considered a transitional fuel, the analysis indicates a net gain of only 394 megawatts (MW) of natural gas capacity in 2024. This is overshadowed by planned retirements, with 4,028 MW of natural gas expected to be retired. 

US 2024 solar capacity additions, retirements

The only new nuclear capacity addition is the 1,114-MW unit 4 at the Vogtle Nuclear Plant in Georgia. 

But the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasted that nuclear power will reach an all-time high in 2025. Industry experts also believe that nuclear will start to soar this year.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently stated that wind and solar energy could surpass coal generation for the first time in US history. The trend towards cleaner energy sources will continue, to achieve 80% clean energy on the path to 100% clean electricity by 2035.

In 2024, around 5 GW of fossil-fired capacity will retire, which is less than half of the previous year’s total. Of this, around 3,634 MW of gas-fired capacity and 1,035 MW of coal-fired resources will shut down.

2024 US capacity additions, retirements by fuel type

However, the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition are evident, particularly in grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC. 

PJM has seen a surge in renewables, prompting concerns about reliability risks. Solar energy has surpassed natural gas in new service requests, indicating a shift in the energy landscape.

Cargill’s Sustainable Power Partnership

Solar energy is taking the lead in the energy landscape, with 56 GW of solar capacity this year. Within the PJM Interconnection region alone, around 9 GW of solar capacity is anticipated.

PJM plans for about 10 GW of new capacity additions in 2024, with minimal retirements of just 80 MW from wind generation.

Cargill Inc., a major player in the food industry, has expanded its renewable energy portfolio by contracting an additional 300 MW of wind and solar capacity. With this addition, Cargill’s offsite renewable energy portfolio now stands at 716 MW.

The largest private company in the US has embarked on its first journey using specialized sails partially powered by the wind in 2023. Their goal is to examine how wind energy can contribute to reducing energy and carbon emissions in the shipping industry.

The company has entered into five power purchase agreements (PPAs) to bring online the new wind and solar capacity. However, the specific locations of these new generating resources were not disclose. 

Still, once operational later this year, they can help Cargill reduce its carbon emissions by nearly 820,000 metric tons/year.

Cargill’s global renewable energy portfolio comprises 15 projects across 12 countries. These include virtual PPAs with: 

  • Ocean Breeze Energy GmbH & Co. KG for 35 MW from the Bard offshore wind farm in Germany, 
  • Galileo Green Energy GmbH for 55 MW from a solar project in Italy, 
  • Vattenfall AB for 78 MW from the Hanze Windpark project in the Netherlands, 
  • TC Energy Corp. subsidiary Blue Cloud Wind Energy LLC for 130 MW from a Texas wind farm, and
  • A self-production contract for generation from a wind farm in Bahia, Brazil.

Regional Insights into Renewable Energy Expansion

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. (ERCOT) will also see over 27 GW of new resources added in 2024, including over 16 GW of solar capacity, according to S&P Global. Additionally, nearly 8 GW of energy storage, over 2 GW of wind resources, and 790 MW of natural gas generation are part of the planned capacity additions.

California ISO will also add over 12 GW of capacity, with 5 GW and 7 GW, from solar and energy storage, respectively. ISOs refer to independent system operators.

In the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) region, over 12 GW of capacity additions are projected. Meanwhile, the retirement in this region will be at 1,368 MW of fossil fuel generation.

ISO New England is forecast to add over 2 GW of capacity, offset by 1,692 MW of natural gas retirements. Meanwhile, the New York ISO region will add 2,044 MW of capacity in 2024.

Within the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) region, about 2 GW of renewable capacity additions are anticipated, along with 788 MW of natural gas additions.

Outside of formal ISO or RTO regions, approximately 25 GW of capacity additions and 2 GW of retirements are forecasted. This includes over 14 GW of solar projects, followed by over 4 GW of energy storage, 2 GW of wind, and 2 GW of gas.

As the US continues its transition towards a more sustainable energy future, the surge in renewable energy capacity in 2024 underscores the nation’s commitment to combating climate change and embracing clean energy solutions. 

The post America to See a Surge in Renewable Capacity in 2024 appeared first on Carbon Credits.

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Sublime Systems Lands $87 Million Funding from DOE for Low-Carbon Cement

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Sublime Systems Lands $87 Million Funding from DOE for Low-Carbon Cement

Sublime Systems, a startup pioneering a revolutionary method of producing fossil-fuel-free cement, has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) to start negotiations for up to $87 million in funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 

The funding, part of the Industrial Demonstrations Program, aims to support projects like Sublime’s First Commercial Electrochemical Cement Manufacturing initiative. Selected among 33 projects spanning over 20 states, these initiatives collectively receive up to $6 billion to showcase their commercial-scale decarbonization solutions. 

These efforts are crucial for transitioning energy-intensive industries towards net zero emissions. They can also help bolster local economies, generate high-quality jobs, and mitigate harmful emissions detrimental to public health. 

Cement’s Carbon Challenge

To understand the innovative strides of Sublime Systems, it’s crucial to grasp the conventional cement-making process and its environmental hurdles.

Cement, when mixed with water, sand, and gravel, constitutes concrete, the second most consumed substance globally after water. This process has remained largely unaltered for centuries. 

Unfortunately, producing traditional cement contributes significantly to carbon emissions, accounting for about 8% of the world’s total emissions. That’s because using ordinary Portland cement (OPC) process to manufacture traditional cement relies on fossil-fueled kilns operating at extreme temperatures. 

This is what Sublime Systems will try to address. Founded in 2020, the Massachusetts-based company works with a clear mission – to revolutionize cement production and mitigate its environmental impact. Here’s the Sublime process of cement manufacturing:

Sublime Systems green cement production

Through innovative electrochemical processes, Sublime has scaled up its cement manufacturing to a pilot capacity of 250 metric tons per year (TPY). The forthcoming commercial facility in Holyoke will be capable of producing up to 30,000 TPY of Sublime Cement™. It’s slated to open as early as 2026, boasting significant reductions in fossil fuel pollution typically associated with industrial growth.

Sublime Systems’ approach hinges on two primary innovations: electrochemical reactions and renewable energy integration. 

Instead of traditional methods that rely on high temperatures, Sublime employs electrochemical reactions to produce cement. This revolutionary approach eliminates the need for burning fossil fuels, thereby significantly reducing carbon emissions.

Then by using electricity to power these reactions, Sublime’s plants have the potential to integrate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. This strategic shift reduces emissions and aligns with renewable energy goals, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Other companies are creating innovative ways to capture carbon dioxide to make it as an ingredient in its cement-free, carbon-negative concrete.

Sublime Systems’ Path to Sustainable Cement Production

Dr. Leah Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder of Sublime Systems highlighted the biggest hurdle hindering this kind of breakthrough innovation in fighting climate change, saying:

“Access to sufficient capital for industrial-scale demonstrations is the single biggest obstacle preventing breakthrough innovations from reaching the scale humanity needs to combat the climate crisis.”

Ellis praised the Department of Energy for addressing this obstacle through funding from OCED’s Industrial Demonstrations Program (IDP). She expressed excitement about collaborating with the department on funding their first commercial manufacturing scale-up. It would be able to produce clean cement while fostering economic opportunities for the surrounding community.

Furthermore, OCED applicants, including Sublime Systems, were mandated by the DOE to submit Community Benefits Plans (CBPs). These plans outline strategies to engage communities, create high-quality jobs, and prioritize economic and environmental justice for disadvantaged groups. 

In Sublime’s case, their decision to establish their first commercial manufacturing facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts was guided by screening tools developed by Justice 40. The startup anticipates the creation of hundreds of jobs during the construction phase of the project. 

The company has forged a strategic partnership agreement with the United Steelworkers (USW), representing approximately half of unionized cement workers in the U.S., focusing on operational roles in the Holyoke plant. Additionally, Sublime has entered into a Memoranda of Understanding to negotiate project labor agreements with building trade unions in the region for the construction phase.

Sublime Systems’ Holistic Approach

Augmenting Sublime’s Community Benefits Plan is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). The OCED selection includes funding to leverage SSEC’s educational programming resources to support this objective.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm emphasized the critical role of advancing decarbonization technologies in pivotal industries such as steel, paper, concrete, and glass. She underscored the significance of President Biden’s industrial strategy, facilitating the Department of Energy’s (DOE) historic investment in industrial decarbonization. 

Granholm highlighted the aim to substantially reduce emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors, ensuring that American businesses and workers remain competitive on the global stage.

Sublime has already secured reservations for over 45,000 tons of Sublime Cement™, demonstrating strong demand for their sustainable cement.

Sublime Systems’ selection for funding under the U.S. Department of Energy’s IDP marks a significant step towards revolutionizing cement production. With innovative electrochemical processes and a commitment to community engagement, Sublime is poised to lead the way in decarbonizing the cement industry, fostering economic growth, and advancing environmental sustainability.

The post Sublime Systems Lands $87 Million Funding from DOE for Low-Carbon Cement appeared first on Carbon Credits.

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