Will this momentous week be remembered as the week that we waved goodbye to Trump, or the week that the USA waved goodbye to the Paris Agreement?
Downing to float £200m renewables investment trust
An investment trust set up to buy into renewable energy and other infrastructure assets will today announce plans to raise £200 million via a flotation in London.
Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust is targeting investments in wind, solar, hydro and geothermal energy in the UK, Ireland and northern Europe. It plans to capitalise on increasing investor interest in green energy, driven by the transition to “net zero” emissions by 2050.
The trust will be managed by Downing, a partnership that has a track record in renewables, having managed 116 such investments since 2010, generating average internal rates of return of 9 per cent. (times)
UK Government backs two green Scottish EV projects
The UK Government has announced £508,665 for two projects in Thurso, Scotland – Thurso+ and AcouBat, led by industry partner AMTE Power.
This UK Government funding is part of £49 million awarded to projects across the UK that will create thousands of jobs, save millions of tonnes of CO2 and lead the charge towards a low carbon automotive future.
Noting a surge of demand from customers for battery cells for electric vehicles, AMTE Power’s Thurso+ project is scaling up its battery cell production facility in Thurso. They are identifying opportunities to boost manufacturing productivity and supply battery cells to specialist vehicle manufacturers.
These learnings could be applied to future development and roll-out of a significant new UK facility. Thurso+ is being awarded £225,590. AcouBat, a testing feasibility for GigaFactory cell manufacturing, is being awarded £283,075.
The funding awarded will provide a real boost to scale electric vehicle battery production in Scotland and drive improvements in battery testing. (theenergyst)
Wind energy’s first attempt at Black-Start
ScottishPower Renewables says it has achieved a “pioneering world first” by using power from the Dersalloch wind farm to re-energise a blacked-out section of the country’s power grid.
A “black start” is the name given to the procedure used to restore power in the event of a total of partial shutdown or blackout of the electricity transmission system. Black-Start restoration has historically been reliant on traditional fossil fuel generation, such as coal-fired or natural gas.
However, by using “grid-forming” technology called virtual synchronous machines (VSM) to regulate the frequency and voltage of the power from the turbines – which essentially turned the Dersalloch wind farm into a stable network island – ScottishPower was able to keep the electricity system stable and balanced.
The project to provide Dersalloch with the necessary capabilities to act in a Black-Start situation saw ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) partner with Siemens Gamesa Renewables Energy (SGRE) to deploy the latest technology necessary to regulate the wind farm’s frequency and voltage. (reneweconomy)
UK’s largest battery ready to balance the grid
Gresham House Energy Storage Fund and flexible energy specialist Flexitricity have announced that the UK’s largest battery is now live.
Edinburgh based Flexitricity is optimising the Gresham House c.50MW / 75MWh battery, located in Thurcroft, South Yorkshire, generating revenue for the site while helping National Grid ESO balance supply and demand.
The asset went live in the Balancing Mechanism (BM) Reserve from Storage Trial and was then live in the BM immediately afterwards. The BM is a key tool National Grid ESO uses to balance supply and demand on the electricity system in real time. (theenergyst)
EV of the week
California welcomes the Kandi K27
Kandi, is a Chinese EV maker, who have tended to come up with creative solutions surrounding their tiny cars. They built “EV vending machines” to stock their carshare cars for example.
For reasons best known to themselves they chose this week to announce the successful certification of their K27 micro-EV for sale in California. The car will become the cheapest EV on the market by some margin with a sale price, post incentives of just $7,999.
For that you get a car that has Bluetooth, hi-tech touchscreen and seats four (just). It runs on a 17.69kWh battery which is said to be good for 160km around town.
Wind-dominated Denmark to host northern Europe’s largest solar farm
Danish renewable energy developer European Energy has granted the green light to build northern Europe’s largest solar farm, a 300MW project set for the municipality of Aabenraa, in wind-dominated Denmark.
The local council in the municipality of Aabenraa, Southern Jutland, Denmark, voted in “a massive majority” to approve European Energy’s plans to build the 300MW solar farm near Kassø, southwest of Rødekro.
The project is expected to begin construction in early 2021 and be connected to the grid before the end of the year. Denmark also produces more than 50 per cent of its demand from onshore and offshore wind, and has little large scale solar generation to date. (reneweconomy)
LafargeHolcim to develop large scale CCUS plant
Building materials giant LafargeHolcim has partnered with the carbon dioxide capture and separation technology firm Carbon Clean to develop a large-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) plant.
The project will be based in LafargeHolcim’s cement factory in Spain and will capture carbon dioxide emitted through cement production.
The carbon dioxide, which will be captured from the cement plant’s flue gas, will be recycled for agricultural use.
The partnership will also aim to work on accelerating technological advancements in CCUS in the cement sector. (futurenetzero)
Oatly slashes emissions with all-electric truck fleet
Vegan food brand Oatly has reduced transport-related emissions across key delivery routes in Sweden by almost 90%, after switching to an all-electric fleet of trucks provided by technology company Einride.
Oatly entered into a partnership with Einride earlier in the year, with the first electric trucks deployed from the food brand’s productions warehouses in the Swedish cities of Helsingborg, Landskrona, and Småland’s Tingsryd, last month.
The electric trucks have so far covered more than 8,600km in delivery routes, achieving CO2 savings of more than 10,500kg. Compared to traditional diesel trucks, the electric variants have reduced Oatly’s carbon footprint by 87% across those routes. (edie)
Focus on: The Paris Climate Agreement
U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord
The U.S.’s exit from the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement takes effect this week, capping four years of President Donald Trump aggressively rolling back the Obama administration’s climate-change-mitigation policies. The acceleration of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions on Trump’s watch has been blunted by state- and city-level efforts, a burgeoning renewable energy market and the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic downturn. But the Trump-era rollbacks could still ultimately lead to more heat-trapping carbon entering the atmosphere over the next decade or more.
The U.S.’s position contrasts starkly with that of much of the rest of the world. Just last week, for example, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to reduce his country’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050. And China and the European Union have made similar commitments.
Kate Larsen, a director at the Rhodium Group recently co-authored an analysis that found Trump’s climate policy rollbacks could add the equivalent of one third of the country’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere by 2035. “We estimate that had all of the Obama policies been put in place, the U.S. would have come close to meeting the Copenhagen commitment of a 17 percent reduction [in carbon emissions below 2005 levels] in 2020,” she says. Obama’s policies would not have brought about the Paris Agreement’s more rigorous goal of 26 to 28 percent reductions below 2005 levels by 2025, but they “would have been an important first start.”
Trump began attempting to unravel his predecessor’s legacy almost immediately after taking office. In March 2017 he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap the Clean Power Plan—an Obama-era policy that aimed to reduce U.S. emissions from power generation by 32 percent of 2005 levels by 2030—and under this directive, the agency replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy rule. According to the Rhodium Group analysis, that policy change alone could result in as much as an extra 624 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The Trump administration has also weakened fuel efficiency requirements and rolled back numerous regulations related to methane, a potent greenhouse gas, among other actions. Collectively, those rule changes will result in an excess 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2035, according to the Rhodium report. (scientificamerican)
A Paris Exit Creates Climate Liability for U.S. Businesses
If the U.S. stays out of the Paris agreement, there will be consequences for American businesses with a global footprint, and even for some without. These consequences all stem from a simple truth: The lack of a plan to substantially (or entirely) eliminate net carbon emissions creates an unfunded liability for companies. Whether that plan is international and set by treaties and agreements or voluntary and set by a board of directors, it prepares companies for a world in which more and more governments and corporations are drawing down emissions. Climate change isn’t coming; it’s here and will have more of an impact on businesses as time goes on. Planning to limit its causes is also a way to limit its consequences—and the liabilities those consequences create.
The unfunded liability of climate inaction could undermine American companies’ global market position in a couple of ways. The first is competitive—with the world moving on in an emissions-constrained fashion, products from unconstrained U.S. companies could become unattractive. There’s a hint of that already in a the liquefied natural gas market, where French utility Engie SA has scrapped plans to buy LNG from a U.S. exporter because of the company’s environmental impact, including flared gas at production wells in Texas’s Permian Basin.
The second is financial. Where capital markets are concerned about climate, they might find U.S. companies wanting. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a European membership body representing 33 trillion euros of assets, has already urged the U.S. to recommit to Paris. U.S.-based businesses would probably benefit from continued access to global capital, which might be choked off if investors go beyond merely encouraging companies to stick to environmental commitments and start demanding it. (bloomberg)
Tesla’s ‘Humongous’ 300-Megawatt Battery Coming to Australia in 2021
Called the Victorian Big Battery Megapack, Tesla will build the “humongous battery” near Geelong — roughly 43 miles (70 km) southwest of the city of Melbourne. It’s expected to provide surge capabilities up to 300 megawatts, with 450 megawatt-hours of energy storage, reports New Atlas.
The battery is thrice the size of the initial 100-MW Tesla system constructed at Hornsdale in South Australia — the biggest in the world when completed, and now upsized to 150 MW. But this year, Tesla won’t promise 100-day delivery — since the big battery won’t go active until Australian summertime, at the end of 2021.
As a well-connected area with wind farms along the south coast of Australia, Geelong is an ideal location — featuring large solar installations north of Victoria, along with transmission lines connecting a lot of the state to the national power grid. (interestingengineering)
Long Island Could Save Money Replacing Old Peakers With Batteries
The geography of the island constrains access to electricity; it relies on a fleet of aging oil- and gas-fired power plants to meet peak demand. That practice runs up against New York state’s crackdown on its dirtiest power plants and its concerted push toward a clean grid by 2040.
But Long Island could start shutting down fossil-fueled peakers and replacing them with batteries in the next few years and save customers money in the process, according to a new analysis from Strategen Consulting and the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST).
Specifically, the study found that Long Island could get rid of 334 megawatts’ worth of peakers today, swap in new battery plants instead, and save money for electricity customers while maintaining reliable power. Another 782 MW could retire by 2023 when new state nitrogen oxide (NOx) regulations kick in. Another tranche totaling more than 1 gigawatt could shut down in 2030, assuming New York fulfills its targets for solar and offshore wind construction by that time. (gtm)
Start-up bets on new model for putting electric school buses on the road
Some 9,000 school buses are on the road across Massachusetts. Many cities and towns have started looking for ways to cut emissions from their school bus fleets, both to lower greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce the exhaust fumes students are exposed to on a daily basis. In Beverly, more than 45% of the city’s emissions come from transportation, so the city’s fleet of 22 school buses is a logical place to look for carbon reductions, Cahill said.
The rollout of Beverly’s new bus is a collaboration between the city and Highland Electric Transportation, a local start-up founded in 2018 by renewable energy industry veteran Duncan McIntyre.
As electric vehicle technology evolved, McIntyre spotted an opportunity to apply the same concept to the school bus industry.
Though prices vary, electric school buses can cost more than $300,000, roughly three times the cost of a comparable diesel vehicle. Charging infrastructure can add another 15% to 30% to the final price tag. Highland, therefore, plans to partner with school districts that are interested in using electric school buses but unable to afford these high upfront costs. The company will buy and own the buses and charging infrastructure. Customer school districts will pay a monthly fee for the use of the buses and chargers, as well as ongoing maintenance. (energycentral)
Tree-planting drones aim to cool a hot planet
Flash Forest is one of several startups trying to restore forests with tree-planting drones. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, humans need to plant 1 billion hectares of trees to have any hope of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This equals a forest about the size of the U.S.
When beginning a new project, Flash Forest first uses mapping drones to determine the best places to plant trees based on soil type and existing plant life. Then the planting drones swoop in, precisely depositing special moisture-storing seed pods. The drones even have a pneumatic firing device they can deploy in difficult terrain like mangrove forests or steep hills. The startup, which launched in early 2019, can already plant 10,000 to 20,000 seed pods per day. (inhabitat)