EBI News for June 11, 2020- Environmental Advancements and Acquisitions

EBI News for June 11, 2020- The following section highlights the latest stories in the Environmental Industry. Including information on acquisitions, environmental technology advancements, and PFAS movement at the governmental level.

U.S. renewables produced 18% more electricity than coal in Q1

Renewable energy sources produced significantly more electricity than coal during the first quarter of 2020 and topped nuclear power in both February and March, according to analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) by the SUN DAY Campaign. Using data through March 31, 2020, EIA’s Electric Power Monthly revealed that solar and wind both expanded faster than all other energy sources. During the first three months, solar-generated electricity expanded by 22.5% (compared to the prior-year period) and provided almost 2.6% of the nation’s total, while wind grew by 17% and accounted for 9%. Combined with hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, renewables provided 21% of total electrical output in Q1.

EFCG warns of over-optimistic industry projections

The Environmental Financial Consulting Group (EFCG, New York, N.Y.) has warned against over-optimism in consultancy business projections during the COVID crisis and recovery period. An EFCG survey of architecture, engineering-consulting, and construction business leaders indicated a drop-off in average net revenue growth from around the 8% level seen annually in both 2018 and 2019 to 3% growth in 2020 before bouncing back to 8% again in 2021. According to EFCG, while the industry is historically recession-resilient, it is also known for making over-optimistic projections and urges firms to remain conservative when setting budgets. Only 4 in 10 firms have a fully-fledged plan for recession, EFCG found.

Brown and Caldwell announces start of Everglades restoration project

Construction of vital restoration upgrades to the Everglades has officially begun, according to Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.), which is serving as the stormwater treatment area (STA) engineer of record for the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project. The Project, which is a component of the State of Florida and federal government’s Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, is expected to cost more than $1.8 billion and includes canals, STAs, and a storage reservoir. Situated in southwest Palm Beach County, it will provide ecological benefits, reduce harmful discharges to estuaries, and send clean water to the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay. Brown and Caldwell will provide geotechnical engineering, surveying, hydraulic and hydro-geologic modeling, and design a new STA west of the reservoir and its network of canals. The new STA is scheduled for completion in 2023 and the reservoir in 2028.

Dewberry selected for NOAA shoreline mapping contract

Dewberry (Fairfax, Va.) has been selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for its Shoreline Mapping Services contract. The five-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract has a ceiling of $40 million. Dewberry and partners will work with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey to develop new technologies and initiatives to protect the nation’s coasts. This is Dewberry’s second consecutive such contract for NOAA.

Jacobs picked for national flood risk computing system in UK

Jacobs (Dallas) has been selected by England’s Environment Agency to design and implement the National Flood Risk Assessment 2, a pioneering cloud computing system to manage England’s national flood risk information. Along with UK firm JBA Consulting and industry experts, Jacobs will combine its flood modeling experience with web technologies and cloud computing to develop a system that underpins national-scale flood analysis in England. The Environment Agency estimates the four-year contract value at $10 million. “We believe this will be the world’s first cloud-based, interactive national flood risk assessment system combining local and national flood modeling for rivers, sea and surface water,” said Jacobs Senior Vice President Donald Morrison.

Black & Veatch helps agency transition to green hydrogen technology

Black & Veatch (B&V, Overland Park, Texas) is helping the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) transition to green hydrogen as IPA works to minimize its carbon footprint across Utah, Nevada and California. B&V has been selected as Owner’s Engineer for the agency’s Intermountain power renewal project, marking one of the earliest installations of combustion turbine technology designed to use a high percentage of green hydrogen. B&V designed IPA’s original coal-fueled power project in the early 1980s. IPA plans to retire the coal-fueled facility and replace it with an 840MW natural gas-fueled combined cycle power plant in 2025. The two single-shaft advanced-class combustion turbine combined cycle units will be capable of blending 30% green hydrogen at start-up, with plans to increase to 100% hydrogen by 2045.

Green hydrogen project to launch in California

The energy company SGH2 Global LLC, part of the Solena Group (Washington, DC), is bringing the world’s biggest green hydrogen production facility to the City of Lancaster, Calif., according to a news release. Developed by a NASA scientist and SGH2 CEO Dr. Robert T. Do, the Solena Plasma Enhanced Gasification (SPEG) technology uses no externally sourced energy and gasifies any kind of waste, from plastic to paper, tires and textiles. According to SGH2, the technology reduces carbon emissions by up to three times more than green hydrogen that is produced using electrolysis and renewable energy, and is five to seven times cheaper. SGH2 green hydrogen is also described as cost-competitive with “gray” hydrogen produced from fossil fuels. The SGH2 Lancaster plant will process 42,000 tons of recycled waste annually and have the capacity to produce up to 3.8 million kilograms of green hydrogen per year. Fluor will provide front-end engineering and design.

Renewable hydrogen technology advances to manufacturing stage

HyperSolar Inc. (Santa Barbara, Calif.), developer of a technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, including seawater and wastewater water, is to start manufacturing the first of its GEN 1 hydrogen panels for demonstration. By optimizing the science of water electrolysis at the nano-level, HyperSolar says its low-cost nanoparticles mimic photosynthesis to efficiently use sunlight to separate hydrogen from water and produce environmentally friendly renewable hydrogen. HyperSolar’s vision is to be cost competitive with existing electrolyzer technology without depending on an outside source of energy or off-grid electricity.  

USDA invests $281 million in water and wastewater infrastructure

U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $281 million in 106 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities, funding projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Funded projects include one in the city of Auburn, Ky. which will use a $6.1 million loan and a $2.6 million grant to replace the wastewater treatment plant to handle increased discharge from a new industrial facility. A Pawnee County rural water district in Oklahoma will use a $1.7 million loan and a $597,000 grant to rehabilitate wells and bring its water treatment plant up to state environmental standards, enabling the district to reduce water purchase. 

Covid delays adoption of PFAS standards in New York State

New York’s plans to set maximum contaminant levels for “forever chemicals” in drinking water have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an article on Bloomberg Law. In early June, the state was expected to have set the most stringent levels in the nation at 10 parts per trillion for PFOA and 10 parts per trillion for PFOS, both chemicals in the PFAS family, Bloomberg Law reported. But the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council has been focused on Covid-19, which has caused budget uncertainty that could affect funding for water treatment. The rules will expire if no action is taken by August 7.

Water associations call for PFAS standards based on sound science

Nine water associations have urged the U.S. EPA to use “sound science and robust analyses” as it evaluates drinking water standards for two per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), according to the American Water Works Assn. In February, EPA announced its proposal to regulate PFOS and PFOA, two PFAS compounds, and requested comment on regulatory approaches for other PFAS. In the absence of a federal standard, several states have moved forward with setting their own regulations for various PFAS. In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the associations asked the EPA to “move expeditiously to prepare the requisite analyses critical to proposing sound drinking water standards. The implications of regulating these substances will be far-reaching.”

Vertical solar technology unveiled in New Mexico

The Village of Los Lunas in New Mexico has switched on its new Poly-gen Vertical Solar System powering the Village’s recycling center. The system uses a new technology, and the Village of Los Lunas is the first municipality in the nation to have it, according to a Village press release. Designed and installed by Wiltech Energy LLC (Freehold, N.J.), the system will provide six times the power of traditional solar systems and provide enough power to keep the recycling center operating. Encompassing only 49 square feet, the system also includes a 22KW battery storage unit and a wind turbine. Wiltech’s solar panels are vertically mounted on poles in polygonal configurations rather than on rooftops. 

Bright Blue and WSP publish “Delivering Net Zero” in UK

WSP (Montreal, Canada) and the London-based think tank Bright Blue have published an essay collection entitled “Delivering Net Zero,” outlining how the UK can deliver on its net zero commitment by 2050. Nearly 40 chief executives, politicians, and academics participated. The collection “rejects the argument that the transition to net zero requires vast amounts of government spending and intervention,” stated Bright Blue. Key policy ideas in the essays include the introduction of a virtual “carbon pound” reflecting the environmental impact of goods and services; introduction by the Treasury of a “carbon scorecard” for all new policies; an international, privately backed Green Investment Bank; and provisions to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers from low carbon sectors in free trade agreements.

University of Colorado researchers study persistence of coronavirus 

An environmental engineering research team at the University of Colorado Boulder has been chosen to study the fate of airborne novel coronavirus indoors. Collaborators include Denver Children’s Hospital, Clorox, and Carrier Corp. The research on COVID-19 persistence is in response to a need for modernizing indoor disinfection delivery and assessment frameworks, along with associated industrial hygiene practices, according to team leader Professor Mark Hernandez. The study aims to test airborne coronavirus disinfection responses using a large bio-aerosol chamber. Surface disinfection studies are also underway to test how well common air disinfectants — including the “foggers” that spray peroxides, chlorine derivatives and surfactants — work against model viruses. 

Perma-Fix reports 112% increase in Q1 revenue

Perma-Fix Environmental Services Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.), a provider of nuclear waste management services, announced that revenue for the first quarter of 2020 increased 112% to $24.9 million. President and CEO Mark Duff attributed the improvement to the company’s strategic plan resulting in Services Segment growth, which increased more than eight-fold versus the same period last year to $15.3 million. Treatment Segment revenue was $9.6 million compared to $9.9 million. “Despite some delays in shipments related to the impact of COVID-19 in mid-March, our Treatment Segment was able to work off backlog and continues to diversify waste streams and waste receipts within the commercial sector,” said Duff. 

More companies request supply chain transparency

Environmental non-profit CDP (London, UK) announced a 24% jump in the number of companies asking suppliers to report environmental data this year. Nike, Airbus, and the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority are among the 30 large organizations that have started working with CDP for the first time, bringing the total number of CDP supply chain members to over 150. They are asking key suppliers to report data through CDP’s environmental disclosure platform to inform procurement decisions and supplier engagement strategies. “With emissions in the supply chain being on average 5.5 times higher than a company’s direct emissions, the buyer-supplier dynamic will make or break whether our economy can reach net zero by 2050, as the science demands,” said Dexter Galvin, global director of corporations and supply chains at CDP. 

Enercon announces CEG acquisition

Engineering and environmental services firm Enercon Services Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.) has acquired Critical Engineering Group Inc. (CEG, Lafayette, Calif.) as part of its strategic growth and diversification. CEG provides project management and engineering services for data centers and mission critical communications centers, including architectural, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, structural and civil engineering and construction support. The CEG team will join Enercon’s Critical Infrastructure division out of Oakland, Calif.

LRE Water acquires Resource Engineering under targeted growth plan

LRE Water (Denver, Colo.) has acquired Resource Engineering Inc. (Glenwood, Colo.), an eight-person firm that provides water resources engineering and hydrologic consulting services to ski areas, municipalities, water districts, and private clients throughout the Intermountain West. The combined firm has nearly 60 employees and offices in six states, in addition to “some of the deepest water resource consulting capabilities of any private firm in the Western U.S.,” LRE stated.

The acquisition is described as a “key milestone in LRE’s growth plan,” which targets small water resource consulting firms to accelerate LRE’s growth.

HMT acquires Dunham Engineering in storage tank segment

HMT LLC (The Woodlands, Texas), a provider of aboveground storage tank services, has acquired Dunham Engineering (College Station, Texas), a structural and corrosion engineering firm specializing in tanks and towers. The acquisition will expand HMT’s capabilities into engineering consulting services. Dunham Engineering was founded in 1992 as a water tank consulting firm and today provides structural, storage tank, and corrosion engineering services throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding states. The acquisition solidifies HMT’s objective to provide customers with a full-service tank solution.


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