Two stories today about drilling holes in the ground: This is just my view, but I suggest that the Government would be better advised to support Enhanced Geothermal that CCS. If CCS was really the answer it would have been built years ago. I shall watch with interest to see how enthusiastically the Harbour/BP venture build out the Viking project. If previous attempts are anything to go by, don’t expect completion any time soon.
Thurso battery firm secures £580k loan to support work
A pioneering battery manufacturer has secured a £580,000 loan to support its operations in Thurso.
The company is stepping up its production of lithium-ion and sodium-ion battery cells as it looks to take advantage of specialist markets for its products.
AMTE Power is the leading UK developer and manufacturer of the cells, which will be used for a number of purposes including in electric vehicles.
The unsecured loan, from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will be used for general working capital purposes to support the group’s operations in Thurso, the company said.
It remains in discussions with HIE regarding the possibility of future loans to be used for similar purposes. (johnogroatsjournal)
photo: Atme Power
New advisory group launched to assist Government with nature goals
The Land, Nature, and Adapted Systems Advisory Group (LNAS Advisory Group) launched this week and will work with Defra to help improve investment into sustainable agriculture and fisheries and deliver on key green policies such as halting the decline in species populations by 2030, and then increase populations by at least 10% greater than 2030, by 2042.
The LNAS Group will be hosted by the Green Finance Institute (GFI) and funded and backed by Defra, as set out in the Green Finance Strategy. It will also expand the existing work of the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG), which is currently designing a new UK Green Taxonomy.
Last year, the GTAG advised that the Government should implement the majority of the EU’s taxonomy for green sectors, tweaking only where definitions were deemed unsuitable for the UK. These tweaks, GTAG proposed, should be delivered through the creation of the LNAS Advisory Board.
The LNAS will now work with Defra on definitions of economic activities that can be classed as environmentally sustainable. Definitions will take into account sustainable use and protection of marine resources, transitions to closed-loop models, pollution prevention and protection and restoration of biodiversity. (edie)
UK’s biggest li-ion recycling plant set to open
Britain’s biggest facility for recycling lithium from batteries along with associated cobalt, manganese and & nickel, moved closer to reality today, as the Environment Agency granted its backers draft approval for operation.
Recycling joint venture Recyclus Group say their Wolverhampton plant is Britain’s first with the capability to recycle li-ion batteries at industrial scale. Final approval expected within weeks from the EA will see it swing into action straightaway.
48% owned by LSE-quoted Technology Minerals, the Midlands facility is being designed to recycle up to 8,300 tonnes of Li-ion batteries in its first year. Building five more recycling plants in coming years should increase that capacity to approximately 41,500 tonnes annually. (theenergyst)
Boiler Upgrade Scheme left in the cold with £89m unspent budget
The UK Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) has experienced a low uptake, resulting in £89 million remaining unspent from the first year of the scheme’s budget.
The initiative, aimed at promoting the installation of energy-efficient boilers in homes, saw only 15,768 applications in the past year.
Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem reported that the scheme’s budget for the first year was £150 million, of which only £60 million has been claimed.
The government hopes to incentivise more homeowners to upgrade their boilers to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, as the UK aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. (energylivenews)
North Sea majors strengthen bond in quest of Viking carbon mega-sink
Two of the North Sea’s most experienced hydrocarbon companies committed this week to co-develop Viking CCS, the Viking former gas field’s dedicated carbon capture & storage system in the North Sea.
As minority partner, BP joins independent oil and gas multinational Harbour Energy in a 40:60 venture to bring forward the planned subsea storage & pumping facility, with associated job-creation on Humberside.
Today’s announcement follows energy ministry D-ESNZ’s decision to launch Track 2 of its CCS cluster sequencing process. Whitehall looks on Viking CCS as one of the two leading contenders for approval as transport and storage systems for carbon dioxide. (theenergyst)
How Boaty McBoatface is becoming instrumental for ocean science
A quick reminder: Boaty McBoatface was the people’s choice as a name for the new National Environmental Research Council’s arctic vessel. The NERC couldn’t bring itself to give the name to the boat, but it was given to three autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV’s) owned by the National Oceanography Centre.
These robot submarines – around 3.5 metres long and 80cm in diameter – are being used to explore the world’s oceans without the need of a human pilot, gathering data in remote areas that would be otherwise inaccessible.
The last five years have seen Boaty deployed around the world to support climate research. The expeditions include travelling 40km under Antarctic ice shelves to investigate the impacts of climate change on the Thwaites glacier.
Boaty McBoatface travelled more than 40km under the ice shelf, measuring ocean currents, turbulence and other properties of the seawater, such as temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen. This information – which is still being processed – will help us understand the properties of the deep water far under ice shelves and investigate how they are driving the melting processes. (from a post by Dr Alexander Phillips head of marine autonomous and robotic systems (MARS) development group at the National Oceanography Centre on carbonbrief) /
photo: National Oceanographic Centre
EV OF THE WEEK
Kia EV9 – Kia goes big
There are now plenty of electric SUV’s, but not many, in fact none, that can seat 7. It is a sign of Kia’s burgeoning confidence that they are launching a car bigger and more upmarket than anything they have done before. This takes them into territory inhabited by Range Rover and in terms of EV’s the Volvo EX90, BMW iX and Audi Q8 e-tron. Kia are also going to build the EV9 in America where there is a ready market for big SUV’s. The car has 800-volt charging, up to 336miles of range and some versions will be very rapid. Kia have already proven with the Niro and EV6 that they can sell EV’s. The EV9 will likely show that they can compete right up to the top end. They have come a long way.
photo: Kia Motors
How Sweden’s latest battery unicorn hopes to revolutionise energy storage
Polarium is often described as the twin of Swedish battery manufacturer giant Northvolt. Instead of making batteries, it purchases lithium-ion battery cells and develops commercial solutions for storing renewable energy.
The cells that battery manufacturers deliver to Polarium look similar to the normal, large cylindrical batteries you would buy in a shop.
They are put into battery modules with electronics and software attached, checked to see if they work and later added to wardrobe-like boxes. These are then used by the grid or commercial actors for short-term energy storage, or used for longer-term energy reserves. Polarium’s USP is that it has managed to design an inverter that switches between DC and AC with only 1% energy loss.
Polarium was initially founded with a mission to make industries like telecoms move away from using lead batteries and instead use lithium storage for their energy reserves. Polarium created a system based on lithium-ion batteries that could beat lead batteries on performance, function and lifespan — and at the same time make telecom towers more sustainable. The company hopes to have 13% share of the telecoms towers market by the end of 2023 and is now looking at wider storage applications.
Based on the same technology and product, Polarium now has a three-fold offering of battery modules, battery energy storage systems and energy optimisation systems. (sifted)
Swiss develop hypersonic hydrogen-powered jet
Flying across the world from Europe to a destination such as Australia currently takes around 20 hours in a regular passenger jet.
But a Swiss start-up is looking to cut that journey time down to just over four hours – with a hypersonic, hydrogen-powered passenger jet.
Destinus has been testing its prototype aircraft for the past couple of years, announcing successful test flights of its second prototype – Eiger – at the end of 2022.
Now the company has announced participation in a programme run by Spain’s Ministry of Science, as part of the Spanish government’s plans to develop hydrogen-powered supersonic flights. (euronews)
FOCUS ON: GEOTHERMAL ENERY STORAGE
Using enhanced geothermal systems to store renewable energy
Storage technology such as batteries is often used to store excess energy when demand is low and to release it when demand is high, ensuring a steady supply to the grid. However, new research has found that advanced geothermal systems are well suited to the storage of renewable power, and that they could do so at minimal cost compared with other technologies.
This is because advanced geothermal reservoirs can store surplus power generated by wind or solar in the form of hot water or steam, a team from Princeton University and advanced geothermal developer Fervo Energy found. This heat can then be used to turn electricity turbines when renewable power isn’t available.
The researchers’ results show that electricity could be stored for many days, and as efficiently as with lithium-ion batteries. “The storage capacity effectively comes free of charge with construction of a geothermal reservoir,” Princeton researcher Wilson Ricks told the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). “It would allow next-generation geothermal plants to break from the traditional baseload operating paradigm and earn much greater value as suppliers of wind and solar” – thereby boosting all three renewable technologies.
The IEEE says EGS systems could then be an ideal solution to store energy as well as produce electricity. “Excess wind or solar energy could be used to inject water into the artificial reservoirs, where it would accumulate and build up pressure. The production wells could then be opened up when electricity is needed.”
The US Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that there are more than five terawatts of heat resources in the US – that’s enough to meet the entire world’s energy needs. It says that capturing even a small fraction of this could power 40 million American homes.
The DOE has launched an initiative known as the Enhanced Geothermal Shot that aims to cut the cost of EGS by 90% by 2035. (worldeconomicforum)
Startup May Have Invented the Most Efficient Energy-Storage Battery
Fervo Energy, a startup involved in geothermal power generation, has discovered a new energy storage method. The company operates several geothermal power plants in Nevada, using underground heat to generate electricity. This setup circulates water between two wells through hot rocks deep beneath the surface. The water emerges from underground hot enough to convert refrigerants or other fluids into vapors that propel a turbine. This is the traditional way, but the startup thinks its wells could also be used for energy storage.
Creating fractures in rocks with low permeability can work as underground reservoirs where natural conditions don’t allow the establishment of geothermal plants. This is no different than what natural gas fracking works, only it’s not used to release the gas. The low permeability rocks ensure water doesn’t leak into other areas, so the pressure builds within as the fractured rock sections push against the earth.
If the water they pump into the ground has nowhere to go, the pressure builds up and gets high enough to flex the rocks, which act like a balloon. The water can be released hours or even days later, and the pressure is sufficient to keep it flowing for long periods. Their first experiments indicate that Fervo can create flexible geothermal power plants capable of ramping electricity output up or down as needed. (autoevolution)
BP has backed “fold out” solar innovation
The oil company has been investing in renewable energy technology to build out flexible grid tech that can deploy a megawatt-scale plant in a day at low cost. This type of technology could help create flexible expansion for a U.S. utility grid under pressure, as well as offer unique additional value in situations that demand rapid power supply such as natural disaster relief.
Australian company 5B uses a new technology called 5B Maverick, which is comprised of up to 90 PV modules on custom frames. They can be rapidly unfolded to install new solar arrays for utility-scale power generation. The company has 60 MW in place already around the world and was used by a team of 10 recently to deploy 1.1 MW in Chile in one day.
5B CEO Chris McGrath said that collaborating with BP Ventures and the broader BP businesses offers a wealth of global commercial and operational expertise. It is a chance to deploy 5B tech across the globe. The technology essentially focuses on making it easier to deploy solar quickly, rather than on making the solar cells more efficient. (inhabitat)
Wallmart to install fast chargers
In the latest sign that corporate behemoths are getting behind the shift to electric vehicles, Walmart announced on Thursday that it would install fast-charging stations at thousands of locations around the country. The rollout would quadruple the company’s network of charging stations, currently available at more than 280 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.
New laws and recent business pivots are nudging electric vehicles further into the mainstream. President Joe Biden plans to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030, with the government recently allocating $7.5 billion to that effort. California has banned the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, with at least a half-dozen other states following along. On the business side, automakers are going all in on the trend — albeit in the American tradition of oversized trucks and SUVs. With Walmart adding chargers nationwide, the country’s largest retailer is now on board, too. After a century, the internal combustion engine’s century-long grip on the country is beginning to look shaky. (grist)
A Polluting Coal Miner Cuts Emissions by Using Methane for Power
Anglo American Plc’s Moranbah North coal mine is among the biggest polluters in Australia. It’s also being hailed as a potential climate role model for the fossil fuel sector. That’s because London-based Anglo is curbing some of the most problematic emissions from this mine and two others by capturing methane—a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide—from their underground coal seams through a series of shafts and networks of pipes. It’s supplying that fuel to nearby homes and businesses and using it to produce electricity for the grid.
This is a rare example of a coal miner successfully deploying technology that advocates of faster climate action. (bloomberg)
The Algae Phoenix Rises
To the surprise of no-one, ExxonMobil finally cancelled its long-running algae biofuel research program earlier this year. That’s not the end of the road for algae, though. It is popping up again in the field of bio-based, zero-emission concrete, and it could be coming soon to a building near you.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has emerged as a hotspot for zero emission concrete research based on algae.
Dr Wil Srubar 111 is the Chief Technology and co-founder of the green concrete startup Prometheus Materials, which spun out of the CU-Boulder research in 2021. He is credited with co-inventing the company’s core technology.
The Prometheus website is holding the details close to the vest, but Srubar told Rocky Mountain Institute that his team was researching an organism called the coccolithophore.
“They’re tiny little microalgae that form calcium carbonate shells. And they grow really rapidly. They grow in seawater. What’s really exciting is that growing calcium carbonate is a form of carbon capture and storage,” Surbar explained.
“My lab is particularly interested in taking the coccolith’s shells and using that as an input for making portland cement, rather than mining or quarrying limestone and burning off the CO2 that has been stored for millennia,” he added. “We kind of had this epiphany a few years ago — why not grow the limestone in real time and make a carbon-neutral portland cement?” (cleantechnica)
Researchers devise new system for turning seawater into hydrogen fuel
Seawater’s mix of hydrogen, oxygen, sodium, and other elements makes it vital to life on Earth. But that same complex chemistry has made it difficult to extract hydrogen gas for clean energy uses.
Now, researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University with collaborators at the University of Oregon and Manchester Metropolitan University have found a way to tease hydrogen out of the ocean by funneling seawater through a double-membrane system and electricity. Their innovative design proved successful in generating hydrogen gas without producing large amounts of harmful byproducts. The results of their study, published today in Joule, could help advance efforts to produce low-carbon fuels.
To work with seawater, the team implemented a bipolar, or two-layer, membrane system and tested it using electrolysis, a method that uses electricity to drive ions, or charged elements, to run a desired reaction. They started their design by controlling the most harmful element to the seawater system – chloride, said Joseph Perryman, a SLAC and Stanford postdoctoral researcher.The bipolar membrane in the experiment allows access to the conditions needed to make hydrogen gas and mitigates chloride from getting to the reaction center. (newswise)