The Green Issue 2022: Carbon offset companies take off in Nashville | Cover story

Photo: Eric England

In the first eight months of 2021, according to The Wall Street Journal, “global companies spent $107.2 million on carbon offsets, compared to $72.1 million for all of 2020.” Experts expect the international carbon offset market to reach $700.5 million by 2027.

Offset credits, also known as carbon credits, are essentially the currency of climate change. Credits are earned through efforts that remove, reduce or sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One carbon credit is equivalent to 1 ton of carbon dioxide. Companies, investment companies, governments and other entities buy large numbers of carbon credits in order to balance carbon emissions that they cannot remove or offset themselves.

Demand for carbon credits has exploded over the past decade – many companies are looking for ways to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint, enhance their appeal to socially responsible investors and customers, and pursue their own carbon missions. business. The price of carbon credits varies widely depending on several factors, such as the impact of the credit and where the company purchases the credit.

Here’s a look at two Nashville companies producing carbon credits.

Enexor Bioenergy

Humans produce around 300 million tons of plastic waste per year. About a third – 1.3 billion tonnes – of all the food produced in the world is wasted. These startling statistics gave former Enron executive Lee Jestings food for thought: What if we could turn waste into green energy?

Turning organic and plastic waste into energy solves two pressing problems: it reduces waste and tackles energy poverty, the term that applies to the nearly one billion people in the world who do not have access to electricity. In 2014, Jestings and a team of engineers began developing technology to do just that. The Enexor Bio-CHP is an on-site renewable energy solution contained in a 20ft shipping container and powered by a microturbine.

Due to the technology’s rugged design, it can be deployed virtually anywhere, from a suburban shopping mall to a hurricane-prone island or even a remote village. Jestings says this eliminates the high landfill and transportation costs associated with traditional waste management practices. “The regions of the world where there is the most waste are often those without access to electricity and drinking water,” he says. “Think of Africa and Central America.”

One pound of organic waste can be converted into 3 kilowatts of energy. Each Bio-CHP — which treats waste through thermal oxidation and particle filtration — produces 75 kilowatts of electricity and 200 kilowatts of thermal energy per hour, Jestings says. To put that into perspective, the average household in the United States uses 1.25 kilowatts of electricity per hour, or 30 kilowatts per day.

Jestings says a single machine can offset up to 2,000 tonnes of carbon per year. Enexor tokenizes carbon credits, which are then sold to companies seeking to offset their emissions and meet sustainability goals.




Another Nashville startup is helping farmers get paid to put carbon back into their fields. Based in downtown Nashville, AgriCapture works with farmers and landowners to adopt climate-smart practices that aim to improve soil health by increasing carbon yields and developing an agriculture-driven carbon market. .

“These efforts allow companies to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by paying farmers for the ability of their fields to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and trap it in the ground,” says Tyler Hull, director of the AgriCapture strategy.

The green startup has partnered with landowners and farmers with farms in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi for a carbon capture project. The initial project will quantify, monitor, report and verify climate-smart regenerative land practices on 888 parcels of farmland totaling 51,691 acres of row crops, according to Hull.

Hull says regenerative land management practices, such as no-till agriculture and cover crops, can increase and accelerate the amount of carbon stored in the soil. These practices can simultaneously reduce emissions from farms, which together with forestry and other forms of land use, account for 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

After half a decade of lean crop prices, many farmers might be intrigued by the idea of ​​a new source of income that is less dependent on weather conditions and agricultural produce markets. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, farmers who participate in carbon credit programs typically receive between $7 and $40 per acre, depending on practices and yields.

The Green Question 2022

Take a look at cohabitation agrihoods, disaster preparedness and recovery, local eco-friendly businesses and services, and more.