Going Beyond Crypto: Exploring the Digital Asset Ecosystem
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Going Beyond Crypto: Exploring the Digital Asset Ecosystem

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The following content is sponsored by Arca.


digital assets infographic

Exploring the Digital Asset Ecosystem

The digital asset sector has undergone a rapid expansion over the past couple of years, growing in value and functionality.

Beyond the price growth of popular cryptocurrencies, digital assets are powering innovative applications that enable value transfer beyond just payments. From tokens that grant dividend-like revenue to holders, to tokens backed by other digital and physical assets, the digital asset ecosystem is redefining asset and financial structures before our very eyes.

This framework created by Arca explores and defines the state of the digital asset ecosystem, looking at how traditional assets might one day be integrated into this new taxonomy.

The Functions and Types of Digital Assets

Digital assets can be broken down into three different types of assets that fulfill three primary functions. The first two functions of digital assets, store of value and medium of exchange, are well established functions of digital and traditional assets.

However, a third functionality of being able to pass through values to holders has emerged, with benefits like discounted application fees, governance voting rights, and monetary rewards passed onto token holders.

These functions are fulfilled by three main types of digital assets:

  • Currency: tokens that are a unit of account and medium of exchange
  • Asset-backed tokens: tokens backed by hard assets like equity, debt, or physical assets
  • Pass through tokens: tokens that grant revenues, rewards, and network benefits to holders

Many know of Bitcoin, the founding cryptocurrency that functions as a digital currency today. Along with this, tokens whose value is backed by other assets like Arca Lab’s ArCoin (Ticker: RCOIN) are also straightforward in nature and functionality.

Pass through tokens are where digital assets explore innovative concepts and structures unique to the blockchain networks that underpin the assets.

For example, cryptocurrency exchange FTX issued an exchange token (FTT) at launch, which provides holders with reduced trading fees on the platform. FTT holders can also stake, or lock up, their tokens to receive increased referral rebates, more votes in FTX polls, and more airdrop rewards (tokens exclusively given out to holders or stakers of another token).

Classifying Governance and Decentralization

Along with token types and their functionality, it’s important to understand the governing bodies and governance structures behind digital assets.

The governing body is the entity that issues and controls the function of a digital asset, ultimately defining the purpose and proposed value of a digital asset. These range from centralized governments and organizations, like the government of the Bahamas (issuer of the CBDC, the Bahamian Sand Dollar) to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations and blockchain protocols like Ethereum (ETH) and Solana (SOL).

Governing BodyGovernance Structure
GovernmentCentralized
OrganizationsCentralized
IndividualsCentralized
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)Decentralized
Protocols, Platforms, and DappsTypically decentralized

Governance structures define the framework and procedures which decide and implement changes for a digital asset. These changes can be about anything, like the digital asset’s tokenomics, pass through values, or future development goals.

While some governing bodies like governments and organizations have centralized governance structures, centralization and decentralization isn’t all or nothing and can be seen as more of a spectrum.

Certain DAOs or protocols might have a core team of developers that propose certain features, which are then voted on and ultimately decided by the holders of the digital asset.

The Future of Traditional Assets in a Digital Framework

With an established taxonomy of digital assets, we can start to map out how traditional assets fit into this framework.

From tokenizing real estate and commodities for easier digital exchange and settlement to equity-like tokens issued by companies that provide holders with voting rights or non-financial rewards, digital assets will reshape the traditional asset structures of today.

By providing unbound and transparent asset structures, digital assets are providing people around the world with more freedom in storing, transferring, and accruing value.

Go to Ar.ca to learn more about digital assets today.

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Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

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Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta25.816.3
Vistra22.497.0
OGE Energy21.518.2
AES Corporation19.849.9
Southern Company18.077.8
Evergy14.623.6
Alliant Energy14.414.1
DTE Energy14.229.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
Entergy13.840.5
WEC Energy13.522.2
Ameren12.831.6
Duke Energy12.096.6
Xcel Energy11.943.3
Dominion Energy11.037.8
Emera11.016.6
PNM Resources10.55.6
PPL Corporation10.428.7
American Electric Power9.250.9
Consumers Energy8.716.1
NRG Energy8.229.8
Florida Power and Light8.041.0
Portland General Electric7.66.9
Fortis Inc.6.112.6
Avangrid5.111.6
PSEG3.99.0
Exelon3.834.0
Consolidated Edison1.66.3
Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
Next Era Energy Resources01.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
Gas63%52%
Coal29%15%
Nuclear6%9%
Renewables1%24%
Oil1%0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who collectively serve 60 million Americans, or one-fifth of the U.S. population.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

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The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

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Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

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 (%)
Asphalt 28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant 10%
Galvanized Steel 6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping 2%
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 installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

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