highway hiccup

Houston researchers: Texas to face gridlock challenges with reducing emissions in transportation

One of the biggest obstacles to Texas' net-zero goals is its transportation sector, according to Houston research. Photo via UH.edu

A new report found that one of Texas' biggest roadblocks with reducing emissions is its transportation sector.

In its white paper series, the University of Houston's energy researchers found that — unless something changes — the Lone Star State is not likely to hit its carbon neutrality goals by 2050 within the transportation sector.

“What would it take to make the Texas transportation sector net zero by 2050?” Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH vice president for energy and innovation, says in a news release. “The answer is a miracle, policy interventions that start as soon as possible, and somewhere between 30 to 50 billion dollars of public money between now and 2050 and at least an equal match from the private sector.”

According to the Net Zero in Texas: The Role of Transportation report, over 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide gas is released from Texas roads each year. By 2050, estimates show that the remaining gasoline and diesel vehicles on the road will still be contributing about 40 million metric tons of emissions. Krishnamoorti collaborated with UH Energy researcher Aparajita Datta on a white paper.

“The future is crucial not only for Texas, where carbon emissions hinge on transportation solutions but also for our nation. Emissions transcend state lines and considering the size of Texas, its growing population and strong industry, the impact is significant,” Krishnamoorti adds.

Some of the challenges the state faces, per the report, hinge on electric vehicle adoption, which has been slow for a variety of reasons. One is the lack of EV production materials, such as lithium, cobalt, copper, manganese and graphite, due to increased demand, which is slated to be increased by 140 to 500 percent.

The EV workforce development also poses a challenge. Right now, hourly wages in the traditional auto sector range from $26 to $60, but most jobs in the EV industry, which are not unionized, range from $17 to $21 per hour.

The call for EV infrastructure is also estimated to be high. Per a news release about the report, "the change will require an annual expenditure of $250 million to $640 million for Level-2 (L2) charging stations and between $500 million and $1.3 billion for DC Fast Charging (DCFC) stations in 2040."

The transition will include an addition of 40,000 and 180,000 jobs in Texas between now and 2050, as well as an estimated $104 billion addition in public health benefits for Texans – fewer deaths, fewer asthma attacks and fewer sick days, according to the study.

“It is evident that decarbonizing Texas’ transportation sector will be a significant challenge and relying solely on consumer behavior to change is unrealistic,” Krishnamoorti says in the release. “We need robust policies to drive the state’s transportation electrification. Let’s acknowledge the journey ahead; federal mandates alone will not guide us to net zero by 2050. Texas needs to act now.”

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

This new Texas wind farm is now partly powering Target Corp. Photo via swiftcurrentenergy.com

A Texas wind energy project has officially delivered and is actively providing power to its customer, Target Corp.

Boston-based Swift Current Energy, which has an office in Houston, announced this week that its 197 MW Castle Gap Wind project is operational. It has the capacity to create enough pollution-free energy to power more than 50,000 homes annually.

"Castle Gap Wind is a momentous project for Swift Current Energy as we grow our projects under asset management and operations," Eric Lammers, CEO and co-founder of Swift Current Energy, says in a news release. "Castle Gap Wind is one of the earliest projects supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, and we are thankful for our partners at Target, Goldman Sachs, MUFG, CaixaBank and of course the entire Swift Current Energy team who helped make the Project possible."

Goldman Sachs provided the tax equity for the project, and Target and Swift Current have established long-term virtual power purchase agreement. Additionally, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, or MUFG, and CaixaBank provided project financing.

"Goldman Sachs is pleased to partner with Swift Current Energy on their Castle Gap Wind project," Ryan Newman, head of Tax Equity at Goldman Sachs, says in the release. "Goldman Sachs is committed to financing the energy transition and supporting sponsors like Swift Current that are developing sustainable infrastructure in an effort to combat climate change."

The project is located in the Mills and Lampasas Counties, which are around 90 miles northwest of Austin.

"This Castle Gap Wind contract is a part of our commitment to renewable energy and is one example of how we are leveraging our size and scale to benefit people, the planet and drive our business forward," Erin Tyler, Target's vice president of property management, says in the release.

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