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EU foreign ministers could next week back Denmark’s call for the creation of a global alliance to phase out coal-fired power and fossil fuel subsidies, diplomats told Carbon Pulse on Friday, while the US gets set to announce a climate leaders’ summit in April.
The Energy Community (EnC) has released a roadmap for how the EU’s Western Balkans and Eastern neighbours can implement carbon pricing schemes, with the intergovernmental organisation flagging the potential for market integration and an eventual link with the EU ETS.
EUAs inched higher above €34 on Friday as gas prices again provided a boost, with traders questioning whether more gains are possible ahead of next week’s resumption of daily auctions.
The coronavirus pandemic will continue to limit WCI cap-and-trade emissions throughout 2021, while the Northeast US RGGI scheme could see prior GHG trends return by mid-year, analysts said Friday.
Speculators increased their California Carbon Allowance (CCA) holdings as compliance entities cut their position for the sixth consecutive week, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data published Friday.
A summary of legislative and regulatory action on carbon pricing, clean fuel standards, and clean energy at the US subnational and federal level this week, including developments in New Mexico, Washington, and Montana.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has issued almost 1.2 million new carbon credits, it said in a new year update Friday that showed four more non-performing projects have been revoked.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Gas plea snub – A bid by legal campaigners ClientEarth challenging the UK government’s approval of Drax’s plans to build the biggest gas-fired power plant in Europe has failed in nation’s court of appeal, The Guardian reports. The challenge was brought after ministers in 2019 overruled climate change objections from the planning authority. A Drax spokesperson said that the 3.6 GW conversion of its two remaining coal units was not certain to go ahead because it depended on Drax’s investment decisions and on securing a capacity market contract. Read Carbon Pulse’s report on Drax’s December deal to sell four other gas power plants to energy trader Vitol as the British company focuses on a wood-burning route to negative emissions.
Coal to clean – Vattenfall, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Hamburg’s municipal heat supplier Hamburg Waerme are planning to install 100 MW of green hydrogen electrolyser capacity on the site of Vattenfall’s former coal-fired plant in Moorburg, which was taken off grid in Dec. 2020 despite beginning operations just five years earlier. The four companies on Friday signed an MoU committing to convert the plant into “one of the most powerful electrolysers in the world” starting from 2025, and intend to apply for funding under the EU’s Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).
Pilot progress – The Mexican environment ministry (SEMARNAT) has begun the process of allocating free carbon allowances to emitters under the country’s pilot emissions trading scheme. A notice dated Dec. 16 but only published recently confirms the government’s plan to distribute emissions rights to large stationary sources releasing over 100,0000 tonnes of CO2 in any year from 2016-19. The pilot ETS, which will run through next year, featured an emissions cap of 271.3 Mt in 2020, which increases slightly to 273.1 Mt in 2021. Alongside the allocation, SEMARNAT launched the carbon market’s national emissions registry.
New faces – US President Joe Biden (D) continued to name environment-related political appointees on Thursday, tapping Dan Utech, a former climate advisor to President to Barack Obama (D), to serve as EPA’s chief of staff. Among the other names was Vicki Arroyo, who will return to EPA as associate administrator for policy, after serving as executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center for 12 years. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Tomas Carbonell will be deputy assistant administrator for stationary sources in EPA’s air office, and Joe Goffman, who played a major role in crafting the Clean Power Plan as a top advisor during the Obama administration, will leave the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School to be principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s air office. Separately, Rostin Behnam, a Democratic commissioner who spearheaded efforts to study climate risks for financial markets, ascended to the role of acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) by a unanimous vote of commissioners Jan. 21. Republican Heath Tarbert stepped down from his role as chairman earlier in the day but remains a commissioner at the CFTC, which oversees commodity derivatives markets. (Politico, S&P Global)
Panel pennies – Solar costs will fall another 15-25% over the next decade, based on developing technology already in the pipeline, potentially making solar the lowest-cost power resource in all US states by 2030. That’s according to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which found that the rapid adoption of solar energy allowed the industry to scale and cut costs much faster than analysts in the early 2010s expected would be possible. Demand for solar continues to exceed installation capacity, and could continue to do so for some time, according to the consultancy. But without affordable storage options, solar installations could end up essentially giving power away. (Utility Dive)
Elon’s prize capture – Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is to offer $100 mln towards a prize for development of the “best carbon capture technology”, he said on Twitter on Thursday, adding that he would give more details next week. The move follows tenders by companies such as technology firm Microsoft and payments company Stripe to source carbon removal units as well as government initiatives to develop the technology.
And finally… Texas-sized 10-4 – The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbour to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust – this one brought on by the coronavirus pandemic – the Houston Chronicle reports. With the fracking sector in turmoil, many workers are looking to apply their skills – from construction to negotiating land use agreements – to the solar industry. Renewables are the fastest-growing energy sector in the country and Texas’ topography, climate, and grid make it an attractive market for solar energy. “Clean energy is growing and growing fast in Texas. … This is where the jobs are going to be and where the economy is heading,” Raj Prahbu, CEO of the Austin-based research firm Mercom Capital Group, told the Chronicle. “If you’re not going to make the shift, you’re going to be left behind.” (Climate Nexus)
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