Titbits Budget thoughts: The reaction from the clean energy industry was mixed. There was clearly attempts to boost the green economy with money for new technology solutions (cheap way for governments to help), for CCS clusters (especially where it interacts with hydrogen creation), for EV charging networks, heat pumps, biomass boilers and biomethane. However the missing bit is the most important, which is that there was no mention at all of renewables, solar, wind and especially storage. Any government that is serious in its support for the energy transition surely should be looking to give assistance to the two biggest and most cost effective energy solutions.

Company news

Foresight’s portfolio outperforms budget as company focuses on asset optimisation
Despite challenges to net asset value (NAV), Foresight Solar Fund’s portfolio continued to outperform budget as the company turned its focus to asset optimisation.
Its portfolio performed 3.9% above budget due to strong irradiation as well as record asset availability, the company stated in its full year results released today (9 March). Whilst lower than 2018’s soaring 5% above budget, it still shows welcome growth for the company as its UK portfolio contributed 5.3% of the UK’s total solar generation.
Last year saw the company focused on asset optimisation, acquiring no new assets after its spending spree in 2018 (solarpowerportal)

UK news

Gridserve start work on first renewables integrated EV charging forecourt
The forecourt is the first of more than 100 planned sites by green technology firm Gridserve and, once complete, will be capable of charging up to 24 EVs simultaneously.
Each of the charging points at the forecourt will be able to deliver up to 350kW of charge, which users can adjust in line with their vehicle’s technology. Gridserve claims this means many models will be able to charge within 20 or 30 minutes. Energy to power the chargers is generated using onsite solar panels, which are connected to battery storage arrays to balance out variable outputs. Any additional electricity required will be procured through a 100% renewable energy tariff. (edie)

Regen report calls carbon tax to decarbonise domestic heat
In a report published this week, the advisory group Regen identifies heat decarbonisation as the biggest challenge to the UK’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. As much as 38 per cent of Britain’s total greenhouse emissions result from keeping homes and offices warm and factories running, states the report.
Domestic environmental levies now account for 21 per cent of home electricity bills. Key to heat decarbonisation, says Regen, is Whitehall consolidating these into a single levy, fairly applied to heat sources according to their emissions. Low-carbon gases like hydrogen must be encouraged to replace conventional gas, but not at cost to electrified heat, where power generation has already significantly decarbonised.
Zero emissions building regulations must now replace Britain’s lax standards, said Regen, with UK stock ranking as Europe’s leakiest buildings. (theenergyst)
Download the paper HERE

UK’s lost sea meadows to be resurrected in climate fight
Seagrass meadows were once common around the UK coast, but more than 90% have been lost as a result of algae-boosting pollution, anchor damage and port and marina building. The meadows, however, store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and harbour up to 40 times more marine life than seabeds without grass, facts that are driving the effort to bring them back.
The Seagrass Ocean Rescue project is looking to place 20km of rope and a million seeds in hessian bags on the shallow seafloor in Dale Bay, Pembrokeshire, where they will sprout through the bags and restore the habitat. They have planted 800,000 so far. (guardian)

EV of the week

Next generation Fiat 500 goes all-electric
The third generation Fiat 500 is instantly recognisable as a 500 but beneath the gently revised exterior is a completely new battery electric platform.
When it goes on sale the new 500 will be the first all-electric model from the FCA group and go up against the likes of the Honda e and Mini Electric in the urban EV market.
Whilst the new model’s looks have merely evolved from the current version, the EV’s stats stack up well against the competition: A single 87kW electric motor drives the front wheels. Top speed is 93mph, 0-62mph takes nine seconds but more importantly for city-dwellers 0-31mph takes just 3.1 seconds. A 42kWh battery sandwiched in the floor offers a WLTP range of 199 miles, substantially more than either the Honda e (136) or Mini Electric (144) and closer to the Peugeot e-208 (211). All electric Fiat 500s come with an 85kW charger as standard, allowing owners to add 30 miles of range in just five minutes, and 80 per cent of capacity in 35 minutes. (inews)


Norwegian company joins fast growing floating solar panel market
Solar energy appears to be heading toward a global growth spurt, due to a combination of new technology and expanding reach to consumers as it becomes more competitive with the cost of traditional energy sources.
One sign of the potential of new technology came from a Norwegian company, Ocean Sun, that announced this week that its floating solar panels—sized to fit in reservoirs for hydroelectric dams or on shallow offshore water near cities—have met Norway’s safety and environmental requirements.
Plants to make the panels and their carriers, called “floaters,” are also being built in China, India and Southeast Asia. According to an earlier World Bank report, the global potential for them could be as high as 400 gigawatts, or roughly the total capacity of existing photovoltaic panels installed on land. (scientificamerican)

Volvo Cars inaugurates new battery assembly line at Ghent manufacturing plant
Volvo Cars formally inaugurated a brand new battery assembly line at its Belgian manufacturing plant in Ghent, where it will start building its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge P8, later this year.
The inauguration is the latest proof point for Volvo Cars’ ambitious electrification strategy and its climate action plan. It aims to reduce its lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40 per cent between 2018 and 2025, as a first step towards its goal of becoming a climate-neutral company by 2040.
Over the next five years, Volvo Cars will launch a fully electric car every year, as it seeks to make all-electric cars 50 per cent of global sales by 2025, with the rest hybrids. (electriccarsreport)

Focus on: US Gas industry in a time of Corona Virus

Plumeting oil prices hasten day of reckoning for US fracking industry
Oil prices plunged by as much as 30% on Sunday, which is the steepest tailspin since the United States began bombing Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.
Fracking, a ballyhooed but financially fragile sector, struggled to stay afloat with crude selling at $50 per barrel. If prices stay around $30, or even fall as low as $20, U.S. frackers simply might be unable to keep up, although many are protected for a few months through hedging.
Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s stock price nearly halved as trading closed on Monday. Debt-burdened firms such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Whiting Petroleum Corp. finished the day with stock prices down between 30% and 41%. Even behemoths big enough to weather almost any shock took big hits as Exxon Mobil Corp. fell nearly 12% and Chevron Corp. dropped 15%.
The fracking sector expanded rapidly over the past decade as Wall Street investors bet big on a growing demand for oil and gas.
But market dominance came at a high cost. Despite lax regulations and low-interest loans, the high cost of fracking wells, coupled with oil prices hovering around $50 per barrel, made it impossible for drillers to turn a profit. Between 2012 and 2017, the 30 largest shale producers lost more than $50 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal estimate. From 2015 to 2016, a whopping 91% of all corporate debt defaults in the United States were in the oil and gas sector, the financial research firm Moody’s calculated last year.
The gushing fount of Wall Street money slowed. In 2018, the consultancy Dealogic pegged the total the fracking sector raised in equity and debt financing at $22 billion, less than half of what it raised in 2016 and nearly one-third of the 2012 sum. (huffpost)

Eco Airstream conversion

1971 Airstream gets glossy modern makeover & off-grid power
This beautiful retrofit of a 1971 Airstream by Idaho-based Traverse Design + Build is simply incredible. Once covered with a rusted out exterior and filled with a dingy avocado-green interior, the 27-foot trailer is now a gleaming contemporary home-on-wheels that can run completely off-grid.
The entire aluminum hull was almost entirely oxidized, and the outdated interior (comprised of avocado-green appliances, rotten flooring and yellow walls) was screaming to be put out of its misery.
To begin the arduous renovation process, the team went to work on the exterior. According to Rathburn, just polishing the exterior to bring out its signature silver shine took more than 160 hours. Once the exterior was set and the hull’s trim repaired, it was time to tackle the interior space.
The dilapidated, nearly 50-year-old trailer had little inside to reuse, but the team managed to retain some of the original elements whenever possible. For example, they were able to reconfigure some of the existing storage cabinetry and some of the electrical and plumbing systems were able to be repaired.
Not only did the designers manage to breathe new life into the 1971 Airstream, but they also enabled the trailer to run off-grid. A 510-watt solar system generates enough power to run off-grid for extended periods. Additionally, there is an on-demand water heater, and LED lighting was installed throughout. The bathroom even features a Nature’s Head composting toilet, again enabling the trailer to be self-sustaining. (inhabitat)

Global stuff

Energy storage deployments to increase 7x between 2019 and 2020
The amount of energy storage capacity deployed in the U.S. annually is set to more than double next year, rising from 523 MW deployed in 2019 to 1,452 MW in 2020, before tripling to 3,646 MW in 2021, according to the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from Wood Mackenzie and the Energy Storage Association.
The exponential growth projection is driven in part by several in-development battery storage projects that are some of the largest ever proposed in the United States, such as PG&E’s 182 MW, 730 MWh Elkhorn Battery Storage project in northern California, which recently received local regulatory received local regulatory approval.
The 186.4 MW of energy storage deployed in the fourth quarter of 2019 made it the biggest quarter for storage capacity ever, breaking the previous record by 17%, according to the WoodMac report. (utilitydive)

Toshiba unveils ‘world’s largest hydrogen plant’ in Fukushima
Toshiba Corp has launched the ‘world’s largest hydrogen plant’, Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), which can produce, store and supply as much as 1,200 cubic metres of hydrogen per hour using renewable energy.
The new plant, which is powered by the local grid and 20MW of solar power generation facilities, will help stabilise the electricity grid and allow for increased use of renewables.
The hydrogen will be used to power stationary fuel cell systems and to power fuel cell cars and buses, among other applications. (energylivenews)

Amazon places 300MW clean power order
Amazon is backing clean power projects in Europe and the US, as well as Australia, as part of its goal to reach 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030, towards net zero carbon by 2040.
In addition to sourcing electricity from 60MW of solar capacity in New South Wales, Australia, Amazon will also be supplied with clean power from 122W of onshore wind in Vasternorrland, Sweden, expected online in 2022, and a new 50MW solar farm in Zaragoza, Spain, slated to begin operations in 2021.
Amazon’s newest solar project in the US will be a 65MW PV plant in Halifax County, Virginia.
Separately, Amazon also recently announced a new solar project in Pittsylvania County that will power Amazon’s new headquarters along with other Amazon-owned operations across the Commonwealth, including Whole Foods Markets and fulfilment centres.
Once complete, the four new Amazon renewable energy wind and solar projects will provide almost 300MW of capacity and approximately 840,000MWh of additional renewable capacity to the grids that supply energy to the company’s data centres. (renews)

Why China’s CO2 emissions grew less than feared in 2019
On 28 February the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released its annual “statistical communique” of preliminary data on the Chinese economy in 2019. This gives us a first picture, using full-year data, of how much Chinese CO2 emissions changed from 2018 to 2019, based on high-level energy consumption estimates, key industrial production data and several other data points.
The communique suggests Chinese CO2 emissions grew by less than 2% last year, depending on which numbers are used. This is much slower than the 4-5% suggested by monthly data as of mid-2019, and even as of December.
According to Carbon Brief the undershoot of their expected CO2 emissions is almost entirely down to slower than expected growth in coal related emissions. These were driven by slumping economic growth aided by the ongoing shift towards non-fossil fuel sources of energy.
The communique suggests Chinese CO2 emissions grew by less than 2% last year, depending on which numbers are used. This is much slower than the 4-5% suggested by monthly data as of mid-2019, and even as of December.
According to Carbon Brief the undershoot of their expected CO2 emissions is almost entirely down to slower than expected growth in coal related emissions. These were driven by slumping economic growth aided by the ongoing shift towards non-fossil fuel sources of energy.
Along with extra data from other countries, the full-year figures for China suggest global emissions grew by 0.1% in 2019, lower than the 0.6% estimate Carbon Brief published in December. (carbonbrief)

The world’s smelliest fruit ‘could become a super power bank’
Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a method that uses durian and jackfruit waste to create energy stores for rapid electricity charging.
The scientific team claims to have used durian and jackfruit purchased from a market and managed to convert the fruits’ waste portions into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently.
It said using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruits’ biomass, the durian and jackfruit were transformed into stable aerogels – extremely light and porous synthetic materials used for a number of applications. (energylivenews)

Techie corner

Samsung researchers develop solid-state Li metal battery with Ag-C composite anode
Researchers from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Samsung R&D Institute Japan (SRJ) have developed a new high-performance all-solid-state lithium metal battery that uses, for the first time, a silver-carbon (Ag-C) composite layer as the anode with no excess Li.
The team found that incorporating an Ag-C layer into a prototype pouch cell enabled the battery to support a larger capacity, a longer cycle life, and enhanced its overall safety. The paper appears in Nature Energy.
Compared to widely used lithium-ion batteries, which utilize liquid electrolytes, all-solid-state batteries support greater energy density, which opens the door for larger capacities, and utilize solid electrolytes, which are demonstrably safer. However, the lithium metal anodes that are frequently used in all-solid-state batteries are prone to dendrification, which can produce undesirable side effects that reduce a battery’s lifespan and safety.
The prototype pouch cell that the team developed would enable an EV to travel up to 800 km on a single charge, and features a cycle life of more than 1,000 charges. (greencarcongress)

Goodyear develops self-regenerating ‘spider-silk’ tyres for electric cars
Goodyear has unveiled designs for new ultra-durable tyres made from biodegradable materials, which it claims can both “self-regenerate” and adapt to changing road conditions, in a move aimed at helping electric car drivers cut down on maintenance costs and waste.
The ‘reCharge’ tyre concept utilises sustainable, biological material and enables drivers to “recharge” the tread using customisable liquid capsules, which the US firm said would enable the tyres to regenerate and adapt over time to different climatic or road conditions.
The low maintenance design would “radically simplify” the process of fixing punctures and replacing tires, while the compound material in the liquid capsules can be customised to a particular car or driver’s needs based on driving data captured via artificial intelligence technology, it explained.
Moreover, the tyre treads would be made from “extremely durable and 100 per cent biodegradable material,” according to Goodyear. (businessgreen)