As if the world wasn’t divided enough the arguments rage now between those who think fracking is the answer to the energy crisis and those who want more renewables to reduce dependency on unreliable sources. I don’t need to suggest which side of that chasm Titbits sits on but there is a good summary of the argument by environment stalwart Bill McKibbon HERE

Company news

InstaVolt to be acquired by EQT Infrastructure
The EQT Infrastructure V fund is to acquire rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging firm InstaVolt from Zouk Capital, marking the latest EV charging network to change hands.
The transaction sees founding investor Zouk Capital – which manages the £420 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund – exit in full after establishing the company with the InstaVolt management team in 2016.
EQT Infrastructure said it is committed to investing significantly to accelerate InstaVolt’s expansion of chargepoints in the UK in support of the company’s goal of rolling out 10,000 rapid EV chargers by 2032.
InstaVolt currently operates rapid charging infrastructure through its nationwide network of around 700 chargepoints.
Late last year it was ranked as the most popular public EV charging network in a survey of Zap-Map users, with MFG EV Power and Osprey taking second and third place respectively. (current-news)

photo: Instavolt

UK news

Capacity Market auctions secure 42GW for next four-year period
The UK’s latest Capacity Market auction secured more than 42GW for delivery up to 2026, coming in at a high price of £30.59 per kilowatt-hour, in a move to increase the security of UK power generation.
Information from auction organiser EMR Delivery Body has unveiled that the most recent four-year (T-4) Capacity Market auction secure 42.4GW of capacity that will be installed up to the year 2025/26.
The auctions were agreed at a price of £30.59 per Kwh, which is the highest clear price for a T-4 auction since 2016, when almost 52GW were awarded agreements at a price of £22 per Kwh, according to S&P Global.
Experts believe that, despite the high price, the auctions will help cut the cost of the UK’s energy system in the long run, provided the nation can combat the ongoing gas crisis. (edie)

Wales installs ‘world first’ hydrogen hybrid boiler
A commercial building at the Port of Milford Haven in Wales has become home to what is touted as the world’s first smart hydrogen hybrid heating system.
The project consists of a hydrogen-fuelled boiler and an electric air-source heat pump.
These two technologies are controlled through a smart control system.
The technology can be really smart as every two minutes the system assesses Britain’s energy generation mix and the availability of renewable electricity on the local grid.
It then requests the boiler to run on hydrogen when there is not enough renewable electricity. (futurenetzero)

photo: Pembroke Council

UK Government funds world-first pilot of safe and non-toxic hydrogen storage
BEIS has announced that the Hydrilyte Refueller Prototype project has been awarded funding through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration programme.
The prototype will demonstrate the ability to store hydrogen in Hydrilyte at a hydrogen hub, transport the Hydrilyte using standard fuel tankers and release the hydrogen into an Element2 hydrogen refuelling system.
There is a need for new technologies that can provide grid flexibility by utilising excess electricity generation. This otherwise curtailed electricity, can be cheaply converted into hydrogen, which is zero carbon fuel and better suited than batteries to the needs of heavier vehicles like buses and HGVs. While refuelling with hydrogen is simple, getting the hydrogen to the service stations is proving to be a problem and this project is addressing that.
Transporting hydrogen from hubs where it is produced, to service stations where it is used, involves movements through urban areas, so safety is very important. Consequently, the UK’s COMAH regulations for dangerous goods prohibit the storage of hydrogen gas in large volumes in non-industrial areas like truck stops.
The consortium includes: Corre Energy (Prime contractor and project administration); Carbon280 (Hydrilyte Technology developer); Worley (EPCM); Element 2 (Hydrogen Refueller); Menter Môn (Holyhead Hydrogen Hub proposed site for the refueller prototype); and Energy Reform (Energy systems modelling). (renewableenergymagazine)

EV of the week

Lotus to relaunch with Type 132 electric SUV
Geely bought a 51% stake in Lotus in 2017, so it was always likely that they were keen to leverage the brand beyond just using their much vaunted technical expertise. However, if rumours are to be believed the choice of direction is not quite what you might expect.
Spies have been spotting a prototype of a new SUV called the Type 132. Type 132 is a Cayenne-sized electric SUV with twin motors drawing power from underfloor lithium-ion batteries rated between 92kWh and a mighty 120kWh. An 800-volt architecture brings the promise of fast charging, while cutting-edge hardware and a standard-fit 5G router will work to futureproof the package via speedy over-the-air updates.
This will be the first car on the Lotus Premium architecture, a platform able to accommodate wheelbases between 2889mm and 3100mm initially. Type 132 will be offered with two power outputs from launch; neither will be slow. Mention numbers like a handy 700bhp and 0-62mph in under 3.0 seconds to those close to the project and you get encouraging answers, particularly on the straight-line performance. (car)


Airbus to use original A380 as test bed for hydrogen combustion engine
The A380 is an ideal testbed as there is plenty of room inside. The very first A380 called MSN1 has tested many innovations over the years and now it is going to be deployed to test a new liquid-hydrogen combustion technology
The ZEROe demonstrator will carry four liquid hydrogen tanks in a caudal position, as well as a hydrogen combustion engine mounted along the rear fuselage. The liquid hydrogen distribution system will feed into a conditioning system in which the liquid hydrogen will transform into its gaseous form before it is introduced into the engine where it is combusted for propulsion.
CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran, is set to develop the hydrogen combustion engine and prepare it for testing. Specifically, the company will modify the combustor, fuel system and control system of a GE PassportTM turbofan to run on hydrogen. The engine was selected due to its physical size, advanced turbo machinery, and fuel flow capability.
Each technology component – the hydrogen tanks, hydrogen combustion engine and liquid hydrogen distribution system – will be tested individually on the ground. Then, the complete system will be tested first on the ground and then subsequently in flight. The first flight is expected to take place in the next five years. (airbus)

photo: Airbus

Guinness launches major regenerative agriculture scheme in Ireland
The Diageo-owned brand this week confirmed that it will commence the first phase of the scheme at more than 40 farms this spring, during the barley sowing season. Suppliers signed up include Boortmalt, Comex McKinnon and Glanbia.
Throughout the scheme, farmers will be supported to adopt practices that improve soil health and the carbon sequestration potential of their soils and increase biodiversity. These include practices that reduce the use of synthetic fertiliser and improve water efficiency.
Guinness has received endorsement from the Irish Government for the scheme, which it claims is the largest in the country to date. It has enlisted the support of agronomists and other regenerative agriculture specialists to help deliver the pilot. (edie)

Focus on: Energy Storage

China to cut costs of energy storage systems to leapfrog the world
China’s government plans to cut the cost of energy storage systems by 2025 to help local industries leapfrog the world as the vanguard of novel energy storage technology five years later.
The production cost of large chemicals-based systems will be cut by 30 per cent by 2025, while compressed air energy-storage technology would realise “engineering applications” in units with 100 megawatts of capacity, according to a five-year plan drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the National Energy Administration (NEA).
High costs have been a barrier to the large-scale deployment of energy storage systems thus far. Those costs should fall drastically, starting in 2025.
Other emerging battery technologies that will be supported by the government include sodium-ion, novel lithium-ion, lead-carbon, redox flow and compressed air, said the plan.
Key demonstration projects will be rolled out in Hebei, Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Qinghai provinces, while spot and futures trading of the power stored will be launched to support the nascent industry’s growth.
The five-year plan has set the tone for the support of all types of battery energy storage systems, said Daiwa Capital Market’s analysts in a report on Tuesday.
More than 20 provinces have already announced plans to install energy storage systems over the past year, with the combined capacity of over 40 gigawatts, Daiwa said. Installed capacity may expand to 42.5GW in 2025, soaring to 128GW in 2030, they said. (southchinamorningpost)

Global Energy Storage Closes First Investment in the Port of Rotterdam
Following the signing of a binding agreement in November 2021, Global Energy Storage(GES) is has successfully closed the transaction to acquire part of the Stargate Terminal from Gunvor Group in Europoort, Port of Rotterdam.
Consequently, GES now owns four Class 1 product tanks totalling over 212 thousand cubic meters with long-term off-take from Gunvor. In addition, GES has acquired the rights to develop approximately 20 hectares of vacant land.
The site includes a significant waterfront with deep water access, brownfield development opportunities and potential greenfield development sites.
GES’ ambitious plans include the development of a new multi-purpose seagoing jetty, as well as developing infrastructure for:
    Consolidation of biofuel storage
    Storage for renewable fuels
    Gas storage
    Gas to chemicals production
    Green and blue hydrogen
    Hydrogen carriers such as ammonia
Vucins, GES CEO said, “The port is ideally placed for this development, which will bring low-carbon technology to one of the world’s great trading hubs that has taken a leading position in the energy transition with very significant and ambitious developments of its own.” (renewbleenergymagazine)

Report of the week

North Sea production ‘must decline’ at 7% per year to meet climate goals, UCL report says
A new report finds that new oil and gas licensing is not compatible with the UK’s climate commitments and targets set out by the Paris Agreement.
The report, commissioned by environmental campaign group Uplift and authored by research fellow Daniel Welsby and a team at University College London (UCL), says that approving new North Sea fields would push the UK past its commitments to align with a 1.5°C warming limit.
It recommends a moratorium be placed on all new oil and gas fields, and calls on the government to focus efforts on supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, both domestically and internationally.
The authors say that to be aligned with a 50% chance of limiting climate change to 1.5°C, UK oil and gas extraction must decline at rates of 6% and 7% on average per year, respectively.
Notably, this already aligns with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) assessment for the North Sea, which assumes the same decline rate over the medium term.
Moreover, UCL’s modelling includes a major roll out of technologies which can contribute to negative emissions, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The authors suggest that 38 million tonnes of CO2 must be captured and stored per year by 2030 in their central scenario, rising to 57 million tonnes in 2050 if warming limits are to be met. (energyoice)
You can download the Policy Brief HERE

Global stuff

Hemp remediation plan
Upland Grassroots is growing hemp to clean up contaminants on land that was once part of the Loring Air Force Base. The base is categorized as a superfund site due to the high level of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. Now, the Micmac Nation’s Aroostook Band is taking ownership of the site to help revive the land.
The Micmac Nation, Upland Grassroots and other research partners started experiments to test hemp’s ability to absorb contaminants from the land. In spring 2019, they collected data on three plots. Over time, they started seeing signs of success. The hemp plants were lowering the soil’s PFAS levels.
This process of using plants to remove environmental contaminants is called phytoremediation. Hemp is a great plant for phytoremediation for various reasons. To start, the plant grows quickly across most parts of the United States. Further, hemp’s roots penetrate deeply to remove pollutants from the soil. With hemp laws now relaxed in most states, experts at Upland Grassroots say that the plant holds promise for other farmers, too. (inhabitat)

Chevron USA new investment in UK-based carbon capture technology business Carbon Clean.
Its technology is designed to reduce the costs and physical footprint required for carbon capture compared with many existing approaches, in addition to its fully modular construction aiming to reduce site disruption and facilitate faster permitting.
Chevron and Carbon Clean are seeking to develop a carbon capture pilot for the latter company’s CycloneCC technology on a gas turbine in San Joaquin Valley, California.
Chevron is targeting 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in equity storage by 2030, with a focus on developing regional hubs. (futurenetzero)

Big coal states eye small nuclear reactors for grid, economy
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill last week eliminating a quarter-century ban on nuclear plant construction. And Indiana’s Senate passed a bill incentivizing the siting of next-generation nuclear plants at existing fossil plant sites.
Those bills follow nuclear-friendly legislation adopted the last two years in Wyoming and Montana, home to the nation’s largest coal-producing region, the Powder River Basin. And legislators in Missouri, another coal-dependent state, are also moving a bill to enable small modular reactors, or SMRs.
Nuclear energy’s push into coal country comes as aging fossil plants have closed or face economic pressure. That’s left states like West Virginia and Indiana looking at their future electricity needs and trying to help communities fill the economic void left when power plants shut down.
Proponents of a coal-to-nuclear transition see next-generation reactors as a solution to both needs, providing “baseload” power as well as jobs, taxes and other economic benefits to support host communities. (energywire)

ABB and Ballard mark hydrogen fuel cell milestone
A partnership between ABB and fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems, Burnaby, B.C., has marked a maritime milestone.
Their concept for a high-power hydrogen fuel cell capable of generating 3 megawatts (4,000 hp) of electrical power has gained Approval in Principle (AiP) from classification society DNV.
An AiP is an independent assessment of the concept, confirming that the design is feasible and no significant obstacles exist to prevent it from being realized. With the AiP in place, says ABB, the jointly developed solution can be completed “within the next couple of years” for application in a wide range of vessels. (marinelog)

photo: ABB/Ballard

Techie corner

New super-thin solar cell improves performance
A new kind of solar cell, that is so thin it can be stuck on walls and windows, with no discernible loss of light, looks set to give green energy a major boost within a decade after a Government-funded breakthrough in the technology.
A breakthrough in the efficiency of this solar cell – which involves tiny crystals containing silver and bismuth metal – means it is now on the brink of being commercially viable to manufacture.
The developers hope they can double the efficiency within five years, making it comparable with the most efficient solar panels currently available.
Using complex computer modelling, researchers were able to significantly increase the efficiency of these new kind of solar cells, finding that an even, 50/50 spread of silver and bismuth atoms across the material increased how much light the nanocrystals absorbed, allowing more energy to be generated.
The breakthrough brings the efficiency of the cell to 9 per cent compared to 1 to 2 per cent a decade ago
UCL, the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Yonosei University in Seoul and the ICREA in Spain have worked together on this technology.
The research was funded by the UK Government, the European Research Council and the European Union’s Horizon 202 programme and is detailed in the journal Nature Photonics. (i-news)