Looking at the selections this week, two kinds of innovation are featured: First are the “out of the box thinking” type such as the burying of biomass and the fracking energy storage. The second is the Government sponsoring the long term ambitions of the fusion industry, and trying to pick winners.


AstraZeneca Partners With Future Biogas To Deliver Net Zero Target
Powering AstraZeneca ‘s transition to net zero, the Company has agreed a 15-year partnership with Future Biogas to establish the UK’s first unsubsidized industrial-scale supply of biomethane gas, and is investing in major energy efficiencies in its operations, totaling a commitment of £100m. 
Energy from the biomethane facility will supply AstraZeneca’s sites in Macclesfield, Cambridge, Luton and Speke with 100GWh per year, equivalent to the heat demands of over 8,000 homes. Once operational in early 2025, the partnership will reduce emissions by an estimated 20,000 tons CO2 equivalent, adding renewable energy capacity to the national gas grid. 
The anaerobic digestion facility and long-term partnership with Future Biogas provide a blueprint for wider commercial adoption of renewable gas in the UK. A dynamic biomethane market is seen as crucial to the UK achieving net zero. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Future Biogas


BMW invests $1.2 billion to electrify Cowley plant
Mini Plant Oxford will reach a production of around 200,000 cars per year in the medium term, though until 2030 this will consist of a mixture of electric and ICE vehicles. From 2030, however, the Oxford production plant will produce all-electric Mini models exclusively.
When the plant goes fully electric in 2030, BMW will have invested more than £3 billion on electrifying production at its Swindon, Hams Hall, and Oxford plants since 2000.
Before production of the Mini Cooper 3-door and Mini Aceman get underway in Oxford they will be produced in China at BMW’s new manufacturing plant in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, a joint venture with Chinese automotive giant Great Wall Motor. (thedriven)

photo: Wikimedia Commons

A quick solution to the shortage of heat pump engineers in the UK
To decarbonise the UK’s housing stock, the government has committed to 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028.
But only about ten per cent of this target is being achieved, with just 60,000 heat pumps being installed annually.
However, as Green Alliance’s recent research with ODI outlines, there is another much more significant challenge. There aren’t nearly enough skilled heat pump installers which is contributing to the high installation costs and long wait times. This can be addressed in the long term with carefully targeted skills policy but, in the meantime, our report shows that the solution in the short term could be found in immigration policy.
The EU heat pump market is more mature than the UK’s and is the obvious place to source the talent to train and supervise new UK heat pump installers.
The report proposes several answers to the problem. These include creating an umbrella sponsorship model for the construction sector, to support small and medium sized construction firms in international recruitment. A new net zero workforce visa could be introduced or the skilled worker route to employment in the UK could be made less costly for green jobs. Skills mobility partnerships could be developed to create a ‘pipeline’ of construction sector workers from overseas. More refugees could be upskilled through schemes such as the Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot. (greenalliance)
Read the ODI report HERE

UK Government Invests £650 million in Fusion Projects
The UK government announced last week that it plans to put in place an ambitious suite of new R&D programs to support the UK’s fusion sector and strengthen international collaboration.
This is following the decision to not further  associate with the Euratom Research and Training program (Euratom R&T) and by extension, the Fusion for Energy Program. Delays in the progress of the ITER are one of the motivations for the change.
To deliver this package the government plans to invest up to £650 million through 2027, subject to business case approvals. This is in addition to the £126 million announced in November 2022 to support UK fusion R&D programs. Further details on the alternative programs will be set out later this year. (energycentral)

Octopus Energy unveils new smart heat system ‘Cosy Octopus’
Octopus Energy CEO Greg Jackson launched the smart heating system at the WIRED & Octopus Energy Tech Summit in London. It consists of the ‘Cosy 6’, Octopus’ new heat pump; ‘Cosy Hub’, a home controls system; ‘Cosy Pods’, room sensors; a bespoke smart tariff; and the award-winning Octopus 5-star service.
‘Cosy Octopus’ is free for homes that don’t need any work to fit the system after the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). Homes that need adjustments – such as new radiators, piping or a hot water tank – will get the system from around £3,000 after the grant.
The system will enter the market with a 6kW heat pump – aimed at a typical three-bed UK home – with more and larger models following over the next six months.
‘Cosy 6’ is Octopus Energy’s first heat pump built entirely in-house. It was designed by Dr Jason Cassells, CEO of Octopus-acquired Renewable Energy Devices (now known as Octopus Heating), and manufactured in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, and has six patent applications pending.
The home controls system, ‘Cosy Hub’ and ‘Cosy Pods’, were developed by a team in London led by electrical engineer Derya Robinson.
‘Cosy 6’ isn’t just as warm as a boiler, but its radical new design ends the world of “ugly heat pumps” and the ‘Cosy Pods’ ensure comfort across the house, efficiently. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Octopus Energy

UK launches £1bn insulation scheme
The government has launched the £1 billion Great British Insulation scheme.
The initiative aims to help more than 300,000 households across England, Scotland and Wales cut their energy bills by an average of £300 to £400 annually.
The scheme is primarily targeted at families in lower council tax bands with less energy efficient homes, offering crucial upgrades such as roof, loft, or cavity wall insulation.
Eligible participants include families in council tax bands A-D in England, and A-E in Scotland and Wales, with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D or below. (futurenetzero)


Stellantis stepping up with the Peugeot revamped E-3008
The French American manufacturer has been working hard at it’s EV portfolio with a decent number of successes so far. Three “winners” have been the Fiat 500 electric, the small electric Jeep that won awards and the mid-size SUV the Peugeot e-3008, which now gets a major facelift and is called the E-3008.
This is the first car launched on the new mid-scale Stellantis platform called STLA which, as is their strategy, works for both electric and hybrid vehicles. Notable for this launch is a new “SUV fastback” look, a cockpit that mixes screen and buttons in a very configurable way and a long range version boasting a range of fully 435 miles, which is greater than all bar the top end Mercedes. It also runs heat pumps as standard (all EV’s should) which helps winter range. For those who have a fear of being stranded on the hard shoulder with no juice, look no further.

photo: Stellantis


OCI Global to double its green methanol capacity in US
Dutch company OCI Global is to double its green methanol production capacity in the US to 400,000 tonnes per year ahead of 2025. According to the company, demand for green methanol from high-emissions industries will grow by more than six million tonnes by 2028.
The green methanol will come from a mix of renewable feedstocks including renewable natural gas (RNG, or biogas), green hydrogen and other over-the-fence feedstock partnerships, according to OCI. The product will principally be used as a fuel blend in place of petrol, used for shipping and heavy industry.
The scale-up at OCI’s facility in Beaumont, Texas, US, will include entering into new supply agreements for RNG exceeding 15,000 MMBtu per day. OCI plans to produce the biogas from a decomposing landfill, but the company is yet to secure waste and development rights from the City of Beaumont offices. (powertechnology)

Plan to store carbon at the bottom of the Black Sea
Whenever Ram Amar explains his idea for mitigating climate change, people usually look at him strangely and ask if he’s crazy. It’s easy to see why.
His startup, Rewind, wants to sequester a gigaton of carbon each year — about 10 percent of what climate scientists deem necessary each year to reach net zero by 2050 — in a remarkably simple way. The elevator pitch goes like this: Gather millions of tons of agricultural waste and send it to the bottom of the Black Sea, where it won’t decay. An ancient Greek ship that sank 2,400 years ago helped inspire the idea.
At first glance, the proposal might seem counterintuitive. The carbon that plants absorb from the atmosphere through photosynthesis is released when they decompose (or, are compressed over eons to make fossil fuels). This is where the Black Sea comes in. Unlike most other large bodies of water, it is mostly anoxic, meaning there is precious little oxygen — and almost none at all at depths beyond 300 feet or so. It takes a long time for anything to biodegrade down there, which explains why dozens of intact shipwrecks litter its floor. (grist)

photo: Unsplash

Volvo Announces First Ever 24-Hour Electric Truck Fleet
This week, Volvo delivered the first of its new, heavy duty line haul electric trucks to the Danish energy and engineering company Danfoss. These electric semi trucks will operate in fixed routes between Danfoss sites in Denmark, operating 24 hours a day, five days per week, without significant charging downtime.
The delivery of the first three of the Volvo heavy duty electric trucks is part of a larger partnership between Volvo Trucks and Danfoss that focuses on pioneering applications of sustainable electric transport operations. To that end, fully nine electric Volvo HD trucks are set to be in operation before 2024, transforming Danfoss’ fleet and reducing the company’s scope 1 and 2 emissions in Denmark by 10-15%, with the added benefit of minimal zero noise and air pollution, ensuring a drastically improved working climate for the trucks’ drivers and dock workers. (cleantechnica)

photo: Danfoss

FOCUS ON: Merging the UK ETS and the EU ETS

There has been much talk this week about how a future Labour Government might drive a closer relationship with the EU. A good starting point would be to merge the UK ETS with the EU ETS, such that the price of carbon be unified. The EU-UK Trading and Cooperation Agreement signed at Brexit time states that “The parties shall co-operate on carbon pricing….” This is clearly not happening or the EU Carbon price would not be trading at €81 and the UK equivalent at £39. Making it easier for companies to pollute may seem clever to the free market fanatics, but there will be a price to pay as the transitional phase of the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) starts as of 1st October. This is well described by Sam Lowe and James Low in an article for UK in a Changing Europe, an excerpt is here:

Linking the EU and UK ETSs would have two major advantages:
First, the joint, larger, ETS market would allow for more efficient price discovery and make trading easier by increasing the pool of buyers and sellers of CO2 permits. This should lower the cost of decarbonising both economies.
Second, ETS linkage could ensure that UK exports of high-carbon products to the EU are fully exempt from the EU’s carbon-border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). The CBAM’s transitional phase enters into application on 1 October 2023 – EU importers of cement, iron and steel, aluminium, fertilisers, electricity and hydrogen will be required to report on the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions embodied in their imports.
From 1 January 2026, importers must purchase and surrender so-called CBAM certificates in sufficient quantities to ‘pay’ for the embodied CO2 imported into the EU. Foreign carbon pricing mechanisms – such as the UK’s – can be accounted for by EU importers, with the foreign price ultimately deducted from the import price. However, even if the price is equivalent, importers will still need to comply with the new reporting requirements, which are administratively burdensome and come with an associated cost.
The only route towards a full exemption from CBAM obligations is via the full participation of the EU ETS (as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have done) or full linkage to the EU ETS (as Switzerland did). (UKinachangingeurope)


EPA says that IRA could cut US carbon emissions by up to 43% by 2030
The Inflation Reduction Act could cut economy-wide carbon dioxide emissions by 35% to 43% below 2005 levels by 2030, the Environmental Protection Agency said in analysis released Tuesday.
In the electric power sector, EPA said that emissions could be reduced by from 49% to 83% below 2005 levels by 2030. The agency said it estimates the IRA will reduce emissions in “all end-use sectors,” most significantly in residential and commercial buildings.
The report was produced by EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Protection, which said that its methodology for making these estimates relied on “modelling results from recent peer-reviewed literature, government reports, and EPA-funded modelling and analysis.” (utilitydive)

Japan green ammonia heavyweight joins giga-scale renewable hydrogen project
The consortium behind giga-scale plans to develop a renewable hydrogen and ammonia production and export hub in Queensland’s north has added another big name to its ranks, with a subsidiary of Japan’s IHI Corporation signing on to the project.
IHI Engineering Australia was revealed on Thursday as the newest member of the team behind the huge project known as HyNQ, which already includes Idemitsu Australia, Queensland utility CS Energy and local developer Energy Estate.
HyNQ, which sits in Queensland’s Colinsville Renewable Energy Zone – traditionally a regional coal power hub – proposes to use wind and solar to power more than 1GW of electrolyser capacity at Abbot Point.
The newly boosted consortium says the renewable hydrogen will be used to produce green ammonia, primarily for export markets, and liquid hydrogen for domestic customers in North Queensland.
The Queensland government, represented in the consortium by the state-owned CS Energy, has committed to spend $8.5 million to accelerate the transition of Abbot Point – with its existing deep water port – into a green export hub. (reneweconomy)

photo: Wikimedia Commons


Sage Geosystems demonstrates cost competitive geothermal storage
Sage Geosystems is a Texas based company that harnesses skills and equipment from the oil and fracking industries to create underground energy storage.
Sage’s energy storage technology is like an upside down pumped hydro in that it moves fluid through different levels, however, it does this deep inside the Earth. The company’s model is based on drilling a well and creating a fracture in a specific kind of rock formation. This fracture is then used as an artificial reservoir of sorts.
The system can take in electricity from a solar array, wind farm, or off the grid, and use it to pump water into that fracture. The pressure causes the reservoir to balloon open and hold the water under pressure. When electricity demand peaks, the system’s valves can be opened and the water is jettisoned back to the surface, where it passes through a turbine to generate electricity.
Sage’s recent pilot involved re-entering a gas exploration well in Texas, drilled by Shell in 2008, which was later plugged and abandoned. The company pumped water from a storage facility into the well over a five-week period, measuring the pressure and flow rate, which in turn determines the power output of the system.
The company estimates that the levelized cost of storage for its technology is between two and four cents per kilowatt hour, depending on duration, compared to pumped hydro’s six to 15 cents per kWh range, and lithium-ion batteries’ 25 to 30 cents per kWh according to CEO Cindy Taff. (utilitydive)