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Blackouts in Texas and California Teach a Hard Lesson: Climate Change Is Costly

By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

A record-setting polar vortex, which brought intense cold to a majority of Americans, has led to massive blackouts in Texas; significant amounts of energy generating capacity have been knocked offline. The Texas grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), announced early Monday morning the need for short-duration rolling blackouts across the Texas grid to balance demand with available supply. Within hours, those short duration blackouts had morphed into massive outages impacting more than four million residents for hours on end. As of last week, millions from Houston…


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By Matt Lucas, PhD; Managing Director, Business Development

I’m excited about carbon capture technology; it’s critical for decarbonizing hard-to-electrify industrial infrastructure and other facilities whose emissions are challenging to mitigate. So, like many others, I’ve been waiting for the IRS to release its final carbon capture regulations on 45Q, the federal tax credit.

After nearly three years of anticipation, we finally have both the regulations and the IRS’s commentary. As then-Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said, “These final regulations provide taxpayers and the American energy sector with needed clarity on utilizing the section 45Q credit.” Finally!

For carbon capture to continue to…


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We are inspired by people who are passionate about insurance and technology that solves pressing global challenges. In this interview series, our chief actuary, Sherry Huang, talks with friends of New Energy Risk whose work makes a difference, and whose journeys will inspire you, too.

A Conversation with Kara Owens, Global Executive Underwriting Officer — Cyber & ESG, Markel

By Sherry Huang, Chief Actuary
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity

“You should meet Kara Owens,” my reinsurance broker friend suggested to me last summer. “She is a cyber risk underwriting executive and is heavily involved with Markel’s ESG initiatives.” I had mentioned to him that NER is refocusing on our own ESG…


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$100 Million from Elon Musk Won’t Enable Carbon Capture

By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

Last Thursday, Elon Musk announced (in well under 140 characters) his intention to donate $100 million to the “best” carbon capture technology, chosen through a competition whose details and judging criteria are yet to be announced. Musk promised further details next week. The problems holding back the mass deployment of carbon capture technology are primarily economic. As such, funding for research and development of carbon capture technologies is most welcome, and Musk’s donation will surely lead to technological advances. …


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What to do with all these wood chips?

One Small Step for Torrefaction, One Giant Leap for the Bioeconomy

Commissioning of the US’s first commercial torrefaction facility is a milestone in its own right, and a potential game-changer for the bioeconomy’s inroads against fossil fuels

By Matt Lucas, PhD, Managing Director, Business Development

Moonshine: It might not sound synonymous with the bioeconomy, but at a massive scale, the fermentation of traditional sugar to create ethanol was where the bioeconomy got its start. Leaving behind tasty feedstocks and inebriating bioproducts until happy hour, today we see that the bioeconomy includes a growing and wide variety of feedstocks, processing technologies, and products. …


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By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

Reports surfaced recently that President Trump had directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject a series of applications for biofuel waivers submitted by U.S. oil refiners, and on Monday the EPA confirmed the action. The move is the latest, and likely last, development in a major drama that has pitted traditionally red constituencies against each other, with farm states battling against big oil. …


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By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

A much-hyped petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which sought to end net metering on customer-side rooftop solar energy in the United States, was put to an unceremonious end last week. FERC commissioners unanimously voted to dismiss the petition. Submitted in April by a secretive group calling themselves the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), the petition across the solar industry, with some actively questioning whether FERC’s response to the petition would be a fait accompli.


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A Renewable Future Is on the Horizon

By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

Dominion Energy, one of the largest utilities in the United States with over 7 million customers across 18 states, recently announced that it was shedding a large portion of its natural gas portfolio to Berkshire Hathaway, including the largest storage site in the United States, while cancelling plans for a controversial pipeline project in Appalachia. The sale, worth almost $10 billion, transfers vast gas storage and transport holdings and refocuses Dominion’s activities on the regulated electricity sector. …


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By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

Sunrun’s nearly $1.5 billion all-stock acquisition of Vivint Solar, announced today and expected to close later this year, creates an undisputed king in the residential solar space. The combined company, valued at over $9 billion, will control over 15% of the residential solar market. Its closest competitor, Tesla, claims just 6% of the market; its solar business entered free fall after it acquired the one-time leader SolarCity despite its troubling financial outlook (which led to shareholder lawsuits). Sunnova, another competitor that went public just over a year ago, is…


By Brentan Alexander, PhD; Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer, New Energy Risk

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For those fighting climate change, electric cars are often seen as an impactful (and conspicuous) choice to move away from fossil fuels. Tax credits at the federal level and further incentives in many states have helped make Tesla a household name. Competitors new and old, including Rivian and Ford, have announced new electric vehicles for the consumer market in an effort to keep up. Trucks, however, produce far higher levels of harmful pollutants and CO 2, and their impact is felt more acutely in minority communities…

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New Energy Risk helps insure technical risk for breakthrough tech to optimize cost of capital, accelerate time to market, and provide certainty of execution.

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