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With the Climate Crisis, a Thanksgiving Vegan Dinner Is on the Horizon

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You may not notice the difference immediately when you sat down to your Thanksgiving dinner, but the climate crisis is affecting the foods we purchase and eat on holidays and everyday. Partially, that’s because more and more people are becoming aware of the consequences their eating habits have on the environment. But there’s more to it. The past year has been filled with challenges to farmers and food systems, from drought to wildfires to warmer weather patterns and intensified hurricanes. As the effects of the climate crisis become more profound, so, too, will the likelihood of a Thanksgiving vegan dinner on the family holiday table of the future.

What is a national day of mourning for many Native people may also become a gathering occasion that reflects all our times and transitions. Similar to the false narrative of Pilgrims holding a harvest celebration 400 years ago, the food on our Thanksgiving table is the story of a people who’ve become removed from the natural world that inherently sustains us. Perhaps we can learn to respect and emulate the incredibly sophisticated Native farmers who cultivated the corn once at the center of diets and cultural and spiritual lives.

The Wrong Road Taken — Industrial Agriculture & the Climate Crisis

Wet ground, rising temperatures, and lower grain feed yields make it difficult for traditional farm sites to raise turkeys and for consumers to rationalize higher price per pound. Wheat, which accounts for 20% of all calories consumed by humans, is vulnerable to drought and pounding rains and is forecast to produce lower yields as early as 2022. It’s also losing its nutritional value as a result of climate variability. Cranberries, which respond to temperature variations, bud earlier than ever but are really susceptible to frost damage. Pumpkins are also targets of cold and frost, which can cause them to soften and rot before harvest. Potatoes, green beans, and Brussels sprouts will show reduce yields and quality due to drought. Delicate greens thrive in the cool months prior to Thanksgiving, but what happens if those temps don’t drop?

Moreover, industrial agriculture feeds (pun intended) the climate crisis. Food production is the largest cause of global environmental change, responsible for up to 30% of global greenhouse-gas emissions and 70% of freshwater use. The meat and dairy industry produces a heavy carbon footprint: 14.5% of the planet’s GHG emissions.

Investors Bill Gates and Richard Branson have been eyeing cell-based alternatives to turkey, as have Tyson and Cargill, which are supporting upstarts such as Upside Foods, Future Meat Technologies, and Aleph Farms. Could lab-grown meat and seafood convert farm-to-table into a cell-to-harvest feast?

Or is cellular food production another manner of subterfuge, of denying the truth of our western food faulty diets? Isn’t it time to shift to primarily plant based menus to move us toward more sustainable, ethical, and climate adaptive diets?

What Foods Could Appear as Part of a Thanksgiving Vegan Spread?

The climate crisis is revising the way we think about eating. As the planet warms and Thanksgiving favorites get more expensive or harder to come by, exchanging longtime menu items for sustainable alternatives may work to satisfy our nostalgia and keep traditions alive while meeting planetary needs. New foods we might not have considered before are becoming intriguing, especially when talented chefs and connoisseurs embrace and celebrate them.

Expansion under low-emission scenarios will stimulate Burgundy truffles to benefit from future warming, according to recent research. Valued for their earthy scent and intense flavor, truffles are a delicacy and feature in the world’s finest dishes. Truffles are beginning to be cultivated in the US.

The way crops are grown may add an entirely new dimension to improving soil. Take, for example, Kernza®, which is the trademark name for the grain of an intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) being developed at The Land Institute. Today, this ecologically beneficial perennial grain has already made its way into the commercial supply chain in small niche markets. If you want to see what it’s like to bake with this perennial grain, check out this Washington Post article.

Kelp, more common to diets from Southeast Asia than to the US, is easing its way onto restaurant menus and grocery store shelves. This salty superfood, which NOAA says can offers an opportunity to diversify a farming operation, helps the climate by gobbling up nitrogen and phosphorus that are the result of stormwater runoff and point-sources behind the dead zones that form in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay. Kelp has lots of culinary possibilities — it can be used like a garnish, rehydrated and added to foods like soup and stews, or ground up with doughs for crackers and other snack foods.

And all hope is not gone for your favorites. Vertical farming systems may be a method to grow existing Thanksgiving vegetables under controlled environments measuring for nutrient delivery, pH, temperature, and oxygen content, and they can often do all of this without pesticides. Vertical farms are able to grow food year-round because they maintain consistent growing conditions regardless of the weather outside and are much less vulnerable to climate changes. This promises a steady flow of products for the consumers and a consistent income for growers. Various advantages of vertical farming over traditional farming, such as reduced farm inputs and crop failures and restored farmland, have enabled scientists to implement vertical farming on a large scale.

Ideas for a Vibrant Thanksgiving Vegan Spread

Need some help working your imagination to create a Thanksgiving vegan or vegetarian spread? Here are some delicious ideas for you.

Mushroom bread pudding
Vegetable pot pie
Pumpkin risotto
Caramelized leeks
Vegan jeweled rice with roasted vegetables
Stuffed butternut squash
Artichoke Parmesan stuffing
Cornbread stuffing with apples
Plantains with beans, scallions, and lemon
Yuca coated in a warm, garlicky mojo

Ensuring the future of global food security will require changes in the way we produce our food as well as in what we eat. Increased consumption of protein-rich plants, such as soy and legumes, can be part of the solution, and plant-based meat substitutes can fill in the desire for meat without the impact on mammals, land, and atmosphere. It goes without saying that all food production should seek to use the earth’s natural resources as sustainably as possible.

From all of us at CleanTechnica, we hope you and your family enjoyed a healthy, happy, and hope-filled Thanksgiving holiday.

Image courtesy of NOAA/ open source


 

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Tesla’s Policy Lead Testifies at PUCT Open Meeting As Tesla Focuses on Supporting the Texas Grid

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Tesla’s US Energy Markets Policy Lead, Arushi Sharma Frank, was recently asked to testify at a Public Utility Commission of Texas Open Meeting. A photo of Frank wearing an LFDECARB tee shirt popped up on Twitter. The tee shirt itself is a message focused on decarbonization by the group Bros for Decarbonization. You can learn more about the group here.

Frank confirmed that it was an impromptu request to testify. She also shared exactly what she talked about.

The document Frank shared was a filing receipt for supplemental comments from Tesla signed by Frank. There’s also a video of her testimony which you can watch here. In the document, Tesla said that it appreciated the opportunity to share its comments regarding PUCT’s discussions that were held on June 16, 2022 — the open meeting regarding Tesla’s proposal OBDRR041 as well as its prior work demonstrating how virtual power plants (VPPs) work.

I recently published an article about Tesla’s VPP workshop, which was related to OBDRR041. Tesla also said that it appreciated the Commission’s comments related to its Distributed Energy Resource (DER) pilot projects. Tesla especially supported the conversation between Commission representatives and the staff at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as well as with the market participants. The conversation covered the real implementation of the system through a pilot as opposed to a task force approach. The latter, Frank noted, could unnecessarily create delays in implementing a grid service solution for DERs.

Looking At The Document & Tesla’s Statements

The Commission’s decision to encourage ERCOT to get stakeholders together and develop a pilot project allowing the market solution of exports from VPPs to be tested is also something Tesla expressed its appreciation for. This allowed for addressing issues raised by utilities and other market participants that have concerns about the potential impacts of site-exporting DERs on distribution facilities. It also allowed for a discussion of the net impact and benefits to the transmission grid.

Tesla also clarified and provided information as a response to a few discussion topics and questions that were raised at the open meeting. These topics included the OBDRR041 status, the ERCOT Pilot Proposal, and a question posed to Tesla by Chairman Lake at the open meeting.

OBDRR041 status

Tesla noted that since the OBDRR041 is currently tabled at the ERCOT Technical Advisory Committee, it would not seek a vote until there was further development of issues and positions from ERCOT and the potential members of the committee.

“At this time, Tesla believes that OBDRR041 may remain tabled at the Technical Advisory Committee pending consideration of the feasibility of a Virtual Power Plant pilot as the Commission proposed at the Open Meeting.”

ERCOT Pilot Proposal

Tesla expressed its views on the formal ERCOT Pilot Proposal that was introduced at the Open Meeting. Tesla noted that for a formal ERCOT pilot approach to be a feasible alternative to OBDRR041, a pilot should :

Have ERCOT’s support and the market’s acceptance and approval from ERCOT’s governing board.
Be amenable to commercialization in that sufficient participants could be aggregated across sufficient distribution service areas (more than one, but in capped quantities, in each service area as described in a proposed pilot framework).
Adequately capture data addressing clearly identified distribution utility concerns, in parallel to or as part of the pilot’s scope.
Have provisions to ensure market services compensation commensurate with grid services provided by pilot participants
Have an identified “start date” and “end date” which are technically feasible for involved parties.

In addition to that last point, Tesla added that the following are requirements in Section 25.361 (k) regarding pilot development and approval:

“ERCOT may conduct a pilot project upon approval of the scope and purposes of the pilot project by the governing board of ERCOT. Proposals for approval of pilot projects shall be made to the governing board only by ERCOT staff, after consultation with affected market participants and commission staff designated by the executive director.

“The ERCOT governing board shall ensure that there is an opportunity for adequate stakeholder review and comment on any proposed pilot project.”

Tesla noted that pilot  project proposals approved by the ERCOT governing board should include the following:

The scope and purposes of the pilot project;
The designation of temporary exceptions from ERCOT rules that ERCOT expects to authorize as part of the pilot project;
Criteria and reporting mechanisms to determine whether and when ERCOT should propose changes to ERCOT rules based on the results of a pilot project.
An estimate of costs ERCOT will incur attributable to the pilot project.
An estimated date of completion of the pilot project.

Tesla’s Response To Chairman Lake

Tesla expressed its appreciation for Chairman Lake, who stated that “nothing teaches like experience, so the sooner you get something in the field, the more you learn faster.”

Tesla also responded to a question posed by the chairman and said that it’s concerned that it will not be able to scope a pilot program in a Non-Opt-in-Entity (NOIE) area. Currently, Texas homeowners are unable to participate in VPPs due to the law. Tesla said:

“Primarily, this approach may not be economically rational as it could mean a substantial resource investment in a pilot that is not scalable to a commercial retail offer where Tesla could continue to directly serve those customers and grow the program’s strength and viability.

“The customers in a pilot should be able to continue to benefit from the value for their systems beyond the end-date of the pilot, in a commercially viable solution – but with a NOIE-only pilot, Tesla would have no control, legally or otherwise, over the continued participation of such customers once the pilot closes, even if a viable market participation framework is implemented following that pilot’ s conclusion.

“Any formal program participation of those customers would be solely at the option of the NOIE serving those customers. More simply, the purpose of a pilot is to study a solution that can be scaled following adoption of market rules based on pilot learnings. To build a program off the learnings of a pilot, the customer base involved in the pilot should be able to continue service under that formalized program, so that parties involved are not running the risk of raising a wholly new set of unstudied issues in a new distribution system type that was not part of the pilot.”

Frank also shared a link to over 60 pages of data from Tesla. Deep dive coming soon.

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Coalition Calls for EU Hydrogen Quota for Shipping

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Energy providers, shipping companies and NGOs call on the EU to introduce a minimum quota of 6% sustainable and scalable hydrogen fuels by 2030

A broad coalition of energy providers, shipping companies and NGOs — including Siemens Energy, Viking Cruises, Green Power Denmark and Brussels-based organisations Hydrogen Europe and Transport & Environment (T&E) — has called on the EU to introduce a minimum quota of 6% sustainable and scalable hydrogen fuels by 2030.

Last year the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, proposed a shipping fuel law (FuelEU Maritime Regulation) aimed at increasing the uptake of alternative marine fuels. Unfortunately, the law fails to guarantee the competitiveness of sustainable and scalable e-fuels, and risks promoting cheaper, unsustainable fuels. The coalition therefore calls on the European Parliament and EU Council to improve the proposal by including a dedicated e-fuels sub quota in the proposed regulation.

Delphine Gozillon, sustainable shipping officer at T&E, said:

“An ambitious shipping fuels law will be key to set the shipping sector on course for full decarbonisation. Sustainable e-fuels are currently too expensive compared to other alternatives such as fossil LNG and biofuels, holding back investments in production facilities, refuelling infrastructure in ports and zero-emission ships. However, with a bit of a push e-fuels produced from renewable hydrogen can be scalable. That’s why we need a quota to get the ball rolling and encourage companies to start investing in clean shipping fuels. Shipping does not need to be a dirty industry forever.”

A list of all the coalition’s demands can be found here.

Download the letter.

Courtesy of Transport & Environment.

Featured image courtesy of Maersk.

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Diving Into Tesla’s 60+ Pages of PUCT Filings (Mostly Data)

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Tesla has over 60 pages of Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) filings that have recently been shared publicly, and we’re about to dive into them. Grab some water and a coffee and let’s go.

Tesla and its team, including its US Energy Markets Policy Lead, Arushi Sharma Frank, have been working hard to help Texan Powerwall customers be able to take part in virtual power plant (VPP) pilot programs. In May, Tesla held a VPP workshop for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Frank was one of the key leaders hosting the meeting.

Recently, Frank was asked to testify at an open meeting of the PUCT, and there she shared Tesla’s comments and statements addressing questions and other concerns relating to VPPs.

Frank tweeted a thank you to the PUCT for the opportunity of allowing Tesla to provide comments. In addition, she followed up with two more tweets, with one mentioning her favorite part of the filings — Tesla describing a phenomenon called “clumping.” Clumping is a reference to capturing the full value of distributed energy renewables capacity in an aggregate load resource (ALR).

63 Pages Of Data For PUCT

In total, there were 63 pages. I’m only going to go over some of the data briefly. I think it’s important to highlight Tesla’s hard work because if Texas allows its residents who own Powerwall batteries systems to participate in VPPs, this opens the door for other states in the Deep South to at least consider clean energy solutions for various problems, especially grid-related. Texas is well known for its grid instability, and if it allows Tesla Powerwall customers to take part in VPPs, this could mean saving lives during disasters.

Included in the filings were comments from Tesla, a request from Tesla that the Commission direct ERCOT to prioritize several actions such as allowing ALRs (Aggregated Load Resources) to provide injection capacity from individual sites in a framework by December 2022, an informal narrative of Tesla’s VPP demonstration in ERCOT, and 47 slide pages detailing the ERCOT/Tesla ancillary service demonstration.

I think the most important part for us outsiders observing here is the 47 slides, because they highlighted a lot of data that shows just how the Texas grid will benefit from VPPs. The 47 slides showed several key meetings between Tesla and ERCOT about the demo program.

Key Meeting Between Tesla & ERCOT Shows Tesla Has Been Working Hard Trying To Convince Texas To Allow VPPs

In March, there were four meetings in which Tesla defined clumping, Frank’s favorite part, as well as two telemetry signal approaches. Following that were weekly meetings around the demo results with the last demo result being April 15, 2022. On April 9, Tesla and ERCOT revisited clumping and the two telemetry signals approach.

This tells me and anyone paying close attention that Tesla has been quietly working with ERCOT to help the Texas grid for quite some time. This, I think, is a good thing, especially for Texas.

Tesla Seeks To Register The First ALR In ERCOT

According to the documents, Tesla wants to register the first ALR in ERCOT and participate in services that are currently unavailable. These services include non-spin and sCED load reduction dispatch. Tesla wants to do this with the full value of grid services that injecting devices can provide in an ALR.

Tesla said that it will lead efforts to modify the utility’s ALR Policy Other Binding Document to make it fit with practical operational, registration, and qualification issues. It clarified that ERCOT can exchange two telemetry points with an aggregation-qualified scheduling entity (QSE).

Tesla ERCOT Demo Tests

Tesla’s first demo looked at the comparison of battery and premise-level telemetry. Below is a chart showing the initial conditions, test steps, data collected, and pass criteria.

Table courtesy of Tesla

This first test results show that VPPs work beautifully in Texas. According to the results, the load decreased during the evening while in the morning it decreased while exporting to the grid. And during the daytime, the exporting of energy to the grid only increased. Tesla explained further:

“Discharging from the customer’s battery using a step function can clearly be identified in the premise-level data.

“At different times of day, premise-level data will look differently, depending on the current load:

1. Evening time: during the evening peak, user load is typically high, and discharging the battery will show up as a decrease in premise-level load.

2. Morning time: during the night/morning time, user load is typically lower, and discharging the battery will both decrease load, and export energy to the grid.

3. Daytime: during the daytime, solar is exporting to the grid, and discharging the battery will increase the export.”

You can view the full demo, test results, and all of Tesla’s comments here.

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