Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet
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The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

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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 (%)
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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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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A Visual Guide to the Science Behind Cultured Meat

Cultured meat could become a $25 billion market by 2030, but investment into the technologies that underpin the industry is required.

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A Visual Guide to the Science Behind Cultured Meat

Cultured foods—also known as cell-based foods—are expected to turn our global food system as we know it on its head.

In fact, the cultured meat market is estimated to reach an eye-watering $25 billion by 2030 according to McKinsey, but only if it can overcome hurdles such as price parity and consumer acceptance. To do so, significant innovation in the science behind these products will be crucial for the industry’s growth.

In the graphic above from our sponsor CULT Food Science, we provide a visual overview of some of the technologies behind the creation of cultured meat products.

What is Cultured Meat?

To start, cultured meat is defined as a genuine animal meat product that is created by cultivating animal cells in a controlled lab environment—eliminating the need to farm animals for food almost entirely.

“Cultured meat has all the same fat, muscles, and tendons as any animal…All this can be done with little or no greenhouse gas emissions, aside from the electricity you need to power the land where the process is done.”
—Bill Gates

Because cultured meat is made of the same cell types and structure found in animal tissue, the sensory and nutritional profiles are like-for-like. Let’s dive into how these products are made.

The Science and Technology Behind Cultured Meat

The main challenge facing the cultured meat market is producing products at scale. But thanks to the vast amount of research in the stem cell biology space, the science behind cultured foods is not entirely new.

Given that we are in the very early days of applying these learnings to producing food products, those looking to invest in companies contributing to the industry’s growth stand to benefit. Here is an overview of some of the technologies that underpin the industry that you should know:

1. Bioprocess Design

This is the process of using living cells and their components to create new products. According to experts like the Good Food Institute, bioprocess design holds the key to unlocking cultured meat production at scale.

Specifically, innovation in bioreactor (where the cells grow) design represents a massive opportunity for companies and investors alike.

2. Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering techniques are used to produce cultured meat that resembles real meat textures and flavors. The first step is taking tissue from the animal for the purpose of extracting stem cells and creating cell lines.

The extracted stem cell lines are then cultivated in a nutrient rich environment, mimicking in-animal tissue growth and producing muscle fibers inside a bioreactor. The muscle fibers are processed and mixed with additional fats and ingredients to assemble the finished meat product.

3. Cell Lines

Cell lines refer to the different types of cells that can be propagated repeatedly and sometimes indefinitely.

Access to cell lines is a major challenge facing the industry today and is an area that requires significantly more research. This is because there is not just one cell type that can be used in cellular agriculture to produce cultured food products.

4. Cell Culture Media

Cells (or cell cultures) require very specific environmental conditions. Cell culture media is a gel or liquid that contains the nutrients needed to support growth outside of the body.

More research in this space is needed to determine optimized formulations and make these products more affordable.

5. Scaffolding

Scaffolds are 3D cell culture platforms that mimic the structure of complex biological tissues, such as skeletal muscle. This platforms can be created through the use of 3D Bioprinting.

Scaffolds are predominantly made up of collagen and gelatin. The problem is these are both animal-derived ingredients which defeats the purpose of cell-based products. Therefore, more sustainable plant-derived options are also being explored.

Investing in the Future of Cultured Meat

CULT Food Science is an innovative investment platform advancing the technology behind the future of food with an exclusive focus on cultured meat, cultured dairy, and cell-based foods.

The company’s global portfolio spans four continents and includes exposure to a diverse pipeline:

  • Cell lines
  • End products
  • Scaffolding technology
  • Growth medium
  • Intellectual property

>>>Want to stay updated? Click here to subscribe to the CULT Food Science mailing list.

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