Category: decarbonization

Disruptive Materials: Visualizing America’s Import Dependency


This post is by Aran Ali from Visual Capitalist


The following content is sponsored by Global X ETFs

The Briefing

  • The U.S. is 100% import dependent on manganese and graphite
  • China and Canada are the two nations the U.S. is most import reliant on

America’s Import Dependency for Disruptive Materials

The U.S. is expected to see surging demand for disruptive materials, which are those deemed to have high level importance for their role in next generation technologies. But many of these disruptive materials like manganese, cobalt, and lithium are primarily imported from foreign countries.

This graphic from Global X ETFs takes a closer look at Americas reliance on net imports for these disruptive materials. Countries are ranked by how many commodities of which the U.S. is a net importer. And net importer is defined as over 50% of domestic use or consumption comes from foreign sources rather than domestic production.

Ranking Country Reliance

The U.S. imports commodities from a lot of countries, including from economic rivals. And these commodities include well known ones like nickel, zinc, and lithium, which are critical to climate-friendly technologies. However, the data reveals that there are a select number of countries where dependency is highest. Here’s a look at the top eight countries.

CountryNumber of Commodities Net Import Reliant
🇨🇳 China 19-23
🇨🇦 Canada13-18
🇷🇺 Russia 7-12
🇮🇳 India7-12
🇧🇷 Brazil7-12
🇿🇦 South Africa 7-12
🇩🇪 Germany7-12
🇲🇽 Mexico7-12

The U.S. is most dependent on China where they are net import reliant on 19-23 different commodities, followed by Canada with 13-18. In addition, the U.S. (Read more...)

Visualizing the World’s Largest Hydroelectric Dams


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist


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largest hydroelectric dams

Visualizing the World’s Largest Hydroelectric Dams

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Did you know that hydroelectricity is the world’s biggest source of renewable energy? According to recent figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it represents 40% of total capacity, ahead of solar (28%) and wind (27%).

This type of energy is generated by hydroelectric power stations, which are essentially large dams that use the water flow to spin a turbine. They can also serve secondary functions such as flow monitoring and flood control.

To help you learn more about hydropower, we’ve visualized the five largest hydroelectric dams in the world, ranked by their maximum output.

Overview of the Data

The following table lists key information about the five dams shown in this graphic, as of 2021. Installed capacity is the maximum amount of power that a plant can generate under full load.

CountryDamRiverInstalled Capacity
(gigawatts)
Dimensions
(meters)
🇨🇳 ChinaThree Gorges DamYangtze River22.5181 x 2,335
🇧🇷 Brazil / 🇵🇾 ParaguayItaipu DamParana River14.0196 x 7,919
🇨🇳 ChinaXiluodu DamJinsha River13.9286 x 700
🇧🇷 BrazilBelo Monte DamXingu River11.290 X 3,545
🇻🇪 VenezuelaGuri DamCaroni River10.2162 x 7,426

At the top of the list is China’s Three Gorges Dam, which opened in 2003. (Read more...)

Can Electric Vehicle Targets Be Met?


This post is by Tessa Di Grandi from Visual Capitalist


The following content is sponsored by KGP Auto

Can Electric Vehicle Targets Be Met?

By 2040, just 38% of the automotive market will be made up of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The problem is, this number needs to hit at least 65% in order to reach net-zero targets.

The above infographic sponsored by KGP Auto explores this theory further, and breaks down some of the key reasons why the EV market needs to urgently shift gears in order to make mass adoption a reality. First, let’s take a bird’s eye view of the market for context.

The EV Market So Far 

In 2021, global electric vehicle sales doubled—however some regions contributed a lot more than others.

China, Europe, and the U.S. made up nearly two-thirds of the EV market and 95% of total electric car sales in 2021. In fact, China sold more electric cars in 2021 than the rest of the world combined in 2020.

Global forecasts for EV rollouts vary, with countries around the world pledging targets for 2035 and 2040. At The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), more than 100 stakeholders signed a declaration to speed up the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans by 2035-2040. 

Why Is It Unlikely We Will Meet Targets?

Even as pledges vow to increase the forecast share of EV adoption, we still need to (Read more...)

The U.S. Utilities Decarbonization Index


This post is by Govind Bhutada from Visual Capitalist


The NPUC Annual Utility Decarbonization Report

Introducing the NPUC Annual Utility Decarbonization Report 2022
Created in partnership by Visual Capitalist and Motive Power.

Download the Free Report
decarbonization index

The U.S. Utilities Decarbonization Index

With the Biden administration targeting a zero-emissions power sector for the U.S. by 2035, how are the nation’s largest electric power providers faring in terms of decarbonization? 

Together, Visual Capitalist and our sponsor National Public Utilities Council have developed the Annual Utility Decarbonization Index. The index quantifies and compares the status of decarbonization among the 30 largest investor-owned utilities in the United States.

Decarbonization is quantified by scoring companies on six emissions-related metrics based on publicly available data from 2020 (the latest available).

Why the 30 Largest IOUs?

Why does the Decarbonization Index specifically look at the 30 largest IOUs by electricity generation? 

Well, these 30 utilities collectively generated around 2.3 billion megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity (including purchased power), making up over half of U.S. net electricity generation in 2020. Moreover, they also served over 90 million customers, accounting for roughly 56% of all electric customers in the country.

30 largest utilities in the U.S.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that the 30 largest IOUs have an important role in decarbonizing both the power sector and the U.S. economy. Since the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors all use electricity, the decarbonization of utilities—the providers of electric power—can enable emissions reduction throughout the economy.

Decarbonization (Read more...)

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet



The following content is sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source)CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant10%
Galvanized Steel6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and (Read more...)

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming



The following content is sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation.

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

The world is advancing towards a net-zero carbon future, but achieving it will require a larger role for carbon credits.

A carbon credit is a tradeable certificate that represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) or the CO2 equivalent (CO2e) of another greenhouse gas (GHG) that is prevented from entering the atmosphere or is removed from the atmosphere. Organizations purchase and use these certificates to offset their emissions that are difficult to reduce or control.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation explains how the company is funding the fight against climate change by bringing the streaming model—traditionally used in mining and energy—to the growing market for carbon credits.

The Rising Need for Climate Action

Global GHG emissions have risen alongside the expansion of industries and economies.

Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased at a rate at least 10 times faster than at any other time during the last 800,000 years. Consequently, global surface temperatures have risen, bringing the world closer to the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the latest United Nations Emissions Gap Report, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C requires a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 relative to current levels. While attaining this goal seems difficult, carbon credits can help get us closer to it.

What are Carbon Credits, and How Can They Help?

Carbon (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix

The U.S. response to climate change and decarbonization is ramping up, and putting a focus on the country’s electricity mix.

As pressure has increased for near-term and immediate action after the UN’s latest IPCC report on climate change, major economies are starting to make bolder pledges. For the United States, that includes a carbon pollution-free utilities sector by 2035.

But with 50 states and even more territories—each with different energy sources readily available and utilized—some parts of the U.S. are a lot closer to carbon-free electricity than others.

How does each state’s electricity mix compare? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council highlights the energy sources used for electricity in U.S. states during 2020, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. Electricity Generation Mix By State

How does the United States generate electricity currently?

Over the course of 2020, the U.S. generated 4,009 TWh of electricity, with the majority coming from fossil fuels. Natural gas (40.3%) was the biggest source of electricity for the country, accounting for more than nuclear (19.7%) and coal (17.3%) combined.

Including nuclear energy, non-fossil fuels made up 41.9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2020. The biggest sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. were wind (8.4%) and hydro (7.3%).

But on a state-by-state breakdown, we can see just how different the electricity mix is across the country (rounded to (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures

As the push to decarbonize starts to kick into gear in the U.S., how do coal plant closures factor into the equation?

With a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the U.S. is examining all aspects of its economy to see where action is needed. In the automotive industry, for example, the Biden administration is aiming for half of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, following in the footsteps of automakers that have made similar commitments.

But in the power sector that supplies electricity for much of the country, fossil fuels continue to be large emission sources. Coal, which accounted for just 19% of electricity generated in the U.S. in 2020, created 54% of the power sector’s emissions.

That’s leading to U.S. utilities feeling the pressure to retire coal plants and look for alternatives. This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council visualizes the coal plant closures that have been announced, and how much power will be affected as a result.

Where Are U.S. Coal Plant Closures Happening?

Accurately tracking coal plant closures currently means turning to non-profits and parsing through company reports. To assemble this list, we leveraged the Global Energy Monitor and Carbon Brief and cross-referenced against company sustainability reports and news releases.

The result? 80 coal plants with a total capacity of 98.3 GW publicly scheduled for full retirement over the next three decades.

Plant (Read more...)

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

Another commonly reported (Read more...)

Race to Net Zero: Carbon Neutral Goals by Country



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utility Council

Race to Net Zero: Carbon Neutral Goals by Country

The time to talk about net zero goals is running out, and the time to put them into action is well underway.

At the U.S. Climate Summit in April 2021, U.S. President Biden pressured countries to either speed up carbon neutral pledges, or commit to them in the first place.

It’s a follow-up to the Paris Agreement, which keeps signatories committed to reaching carbon neutrality in emissions in the second half of the 21st century. But 2050–2100 is a wide timeframe, and climate change is becoming both increasingly present and more dire.

So when are countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, and how serious is their pledge? This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the world’s carbon neutral pledges.

The Timeline of Carbon Neutral Targets by Country

The first question is how quickly countries are trying to get to net zero.

137 countries have committed to carbon neutrality, as tracked by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and confirmed by pledges to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and recent policy statements by governments.

But the earlier the pledge, the better, and most of the commitments are centered around 2050.

CountryTarget Year
BhutanAchieved
SurinameAchieved
Uruguay2030
Finland2035
Austria2040
Iceland2040
Germany2045
Sweden2045
Afghanistan2050
Andorra2050
Angola2050
Antigua and Barbuda2050
Argentina2050
Armenia2050
Bahamas2050
Bangladesh (Read more...)