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EGEB: Delta Airlines spends $1 billion to purchase carbon offsets

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Delta Airlines spends $1 billion to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Egypt is building a factory that will turn rice straw into wood.
  • Japan’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm has successfully reached financial close.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Delta purchases carbon offsets

Delta Airlines is the world’s biggest airline by revenue. The airline announced today that it will be spending $1 billion to purchase carbon offsets over the next 10 years. Carbon offsetting is when a company pays to reduce global emissions instead of making reductions of its own.

As Axios explains:

Virtually all airlines rely on carbon offsets to cut their emissions. That’s because no commercially available technology exists to affordably make large quantities of low-carbon or zero-carbon jet fuel, whether battery-powered or another kind of liquid like biofuels.

The quality of offsets also faces scrutiny. Doubt persists about whether offsets purchased actually reduce emissions and don’t just throw money at projects, such as planting trees or building a wind farm, that would have happened regardless.

According to a September study from the International Council on Clean Transportation, Delta ranked eighth in energy efficiency out of 11 US domestic airlines. This is due to its older fleet, and the company is apparently in the process of replacing them. (JetBlue came in last in that study, but it announced on January 6 that it’s going to become carbon neutral by July with carbon offsetting.)

There is not yet an industry-wide standard for offsetting carbon emissions, but the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is working on one.

Electrek’s Take: Let’s hope the ICAO works quickly, as carbon offsetting is presently pretty vague. Aviation emissions are worsening and currently represent around 2.5% of global emissions.

Turning straw into wood

It may not be spinning straw into gold, but it’s still pretty darned good. Egypt is going to build a $230 million factory in Beheira Province in the Nile delta that will produce 205,000 square meters of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) a year out of rice straw. MDF is normally made out of waste wood fiber.

The plan was signed and announced yesterday by German engineering firm Siempelkamp, and Wotech, a new Egyptian government-owned wood technology company.

Rice-straw MDF uses a resin that contains no formaldehyde, a carcinogenic. Further, using rice straw to make MDF will reduce air pollution, as burning rice straw is a significant contributor to pollution in the north African country.

The factory’s MDF will be used for furniture, construction, and decoration.

The factory will be the second of its kind in the world. The first, CalPlant 1, is near Sacramento, California, and is expected to have MDF panels ready in first quarter of this year.

Photo: Burning rice straw in Egypt

Japan’s big offshore wind farm

Japan’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm project has reached financial close. The $904 million project is being developed by Akita Offshore Wind Corporation.

The approximately 140MW project will be constructed in Akita Prefecture in two phases. It will commence construction in February 2020 and is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2022.

According to Global Construction Review, it’s “the first commercial-scale Japanese offshore wind farm to secure non-recourse debt financing from a syndicate of Japanese lenders.”

The project’s technical adviser is Mott MacDonald, and Isao Terasawa, the company’s Japan business development manager, said:

This project is a great achievement and first for Japan — and with participation of local stakeholders, it paves the way for development of the Japanese offshore wind industry supply chain. We were able to transfer and apply best practice and knowledge from our European and global offshore wind projects into the procurement and due diligence process, which will serve as a benchmark for future in-country projects.

Photo: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.