It seems like only last week that we were celebrating the EU carbon price touching €80. This week it touched €90 briefly. This FT article highlights the cause and effect of gas crisis necessitating a shift back to coal, which leads to an increase in demand for credits, thus a price spike in carbon and rise in energy costs.

Company news

M&S links £850m loan to net-zero targets
In September, retailer M&S refreshed its iconic Plan A sustainability strategy to encompass a new commitment to reach net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain and product category by 2040.
According to the retailer, this will require all areas of the business to decarbonise, with emissions needing to fall by 33% by 2025 from a 5.7million tonne 2017 baseline.
Now M&S has confirmed that it has agreed on a new revolving credit facility (RCF) that is linked to the net-zero ambition. The RCF has been priced at £850m.
The new RCF, developed with BNP Paribas, will run until June 2025 and will see M&S benefit from lower interest rates if it is able to deliver on targets that form part of its net-zero strategy across the value chain. (edie)

UK news

UK Plans Giant Battery to Manage Offshore Wind Surge
Sembcorp Industries Ltd. plans to build the U.K.’s biggest battery on the northeast coast of England as the country seeks a more reliable stream of electricity from its growing fleet of wind farms.
The 360-megawatt project will be installed in Teesside, on land already owned by the Singapore-based company, it said Tuesday in a statement. The U.K. has a major cluster of offshore wind farms nearby.
Britain is stepping up large-scale battery installation in an effort to ensure steady supplies regardless of the weather. Record energy prices in recent months have been driven in part by a lack of wind to power the country’s huge fleet of turbines.
The first phase of the Teesside battery is due to be completed by 2023, a Sembcorp spokeswoman said by phone, adding that the investment required would be in the “hundreds of millions” of pounds. (gcaptain)

Cadent and Equinor plot hydrogen town in Lincolnshire
Gas grid operator Cadent and energy giant Equinor are exploring the feasibility of creating hydrogen towns within the Humber region, to assist with the UK’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution.
Cadent and Equinor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop the technical assessments and concepts for hydrogen production, storage, demand and distribution for heat. The two firms have outlined Lincolnshire as the area to develop hydrogen towns due to the number of hydrogen pilots being trialled in the Humber region. These include Equinor’s H2H Saltend for the wider Zero Carbon Humber scheme.
The companies will assess how the gas networks could be converted for towns to access low-carbon hydrogen and the impact that will have on reducing emissions from home heating. Equinor and Cadent believe the switch could reduce emissions from an average UK town by around a quarter. (edie)

photo: Equinor

How to optimise solar parks for bees
The way the UK solar parks are managed could play a significant role in the bumble bee numbers attracted by the projects and their neighbouring areas.
That’s one of the findings of a new report by Lancaster University which investigated various solar park management scenarios that offered different degrees of resources for bumble bees.
Researchers found four times as many bees in solar parks managed as wildflower meadows than in those based on turf grass.
The research also shows that rich in natural resources solar parks could boost bumble bee density up to one kilometre away from the park, bringing benefits to crops in surrounding arable land.
The research aims to provide solar park owners and managers with evidence that providing floral and nesting resources for bumble bees could be effective. (energylivenews)

Turn National Food Strategy ambitions into action
A coalition of 18 institutional investors representing more than £3.8trn in assets under management is calling on the UK Government to urgently introduce new regulations and incentive schemes for farmers, to help reduce the sector’s environmental impact.
The call to action, orchestrated by charity Food Foundation and spearheaded by Rathbone Greenbank Investments, comes five months after the initial publication of the National Food Strategy.
This independent review, commissioned by the Government and conducted by Henry Dimbleby (of Leon and the Sustainable Restaurant Association), sets out recommendations for systematic change in the food sector, to tackle pressing challenges such as emissions, nature degradation, waste, food poverty and poor diets.
Recommendations on environmental sustainability include the creation of a land-use map by the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), to inform the creation of nature and carbon sequestration plans; core minimum standards for future post-Brexit trade deals and ambition in implementing the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme detailed in the Agriculture Bill.
Under ELM, farmers will be paid for “public goods” including woodland, flood prevention, soil improvement, animal welfare and carbon sequestration. Payments for soil improvement will come into effect next year, Defra recently confirmed, but many green groups and trade bodies were hoping for higher payments and a broader remit for the scheme. (edie)

EV of the week

BMW iX on sale now
This is BMW’s second attempt at a ground up EV after the i3, which was first launched in 2013. All other EV offerings from the company are electric versions of existing models, i4 & iX3 for example. iX seems to revert to the no-compromise, clean slate thinking of the i3 and seems to showcase BMW’s cutting edge thinking.
The car has copper wound electro-magnet motors rather than rare earth, it has adaptive recuperation and a brake pedal that only uses the friction brakes in emergency. The new driver interface is highly intuitive and customisable, the grill is made of self-healing plastic and the aerodynamics amazing for such a huge car. As a showcase it seems to work.
However most reviews seem to obsess about three aspects: the “controversial” or “distinctive” or “plain ugly” looks, the eye watering price and the huge size. Personally, I saw one parked near us the other day and thought it did not look that weird and was no bigger than any other full sized SUV. The fact that the iX can boast a range of 380 miles from a 105kWh battery suggests that at the very least the company have created a very efficient EV.  

photo: BMW


Record EU carbon price continues to rise; sucks up fossil fuel profits
As the cost of EU carbon credits pushes past €90 per tonne for the first time, heavy polluters are looking to the difficult months ahead.
If current price trends continue, carbon prices may exceed €100 per tonne before the end of the year. Analysts have said that this remains possible, but unlikely.
Carbon costs on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have risen to more than 150% of their price at the start of November. Since the start of 2021, prices have risen to 250% of their starting price.
Current prices sit significantly above the International Monetary Fund’s recommended global carbon price of €66/tonne. However, economists polled by Reuters recently indicated that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 would require a €88/tonne carbon price in the immediate future. (powertechnology)

Denmark Invests in Carbon Capture
Having banned oil exploration in its territorial waters, Denmark is investing $2.4 billion into a plan to capture CO2 from the energy and industrial sectors and inject it into the seabed in geological formations that previously held oil and gas deposits.
Reuters reported that the subsidies for carbon capture and storage are part of an ambitious Danish climate pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, which would mean slashing annual CO2 emissions by 20 million metric tons. Denmark also has banned oil exploration in Danish waters, and has vowed to phase out offshore drilling in the North Sea by 2050.
Facilities will begin storing carbon dioxide under the North Sea in 2025, sequestering some 0.4 million metric tons of CO2 a year. Subsidies will initially fund carbon capture from facilities that are particularly hard to clean up, such as waste incinerators and cement factories. (yale360)

Focus on: Enzymes that eat plastic

Research finds 30,000 enzymes that can degrade plastic
Microbes across the world and in deep oceans are evolving to eat plastic, according to a new study. The report, published in the journal Microbial Ecology, found over 30,000 enzymes that can degrade over 10 different types of plastics. The large-scale study scanned over 200 million genes found in DNA samples to arrive at the findings.
The study established that one in every four of the organisms analyzed could degrade plastics. More interesting is the correlation between the number of plastic-degrading enzymes found in different locations and the amount of plastic waste in the same area. The researchers say they discovered that the number of plastic-degrading enzymes found correlated to an area’s level of pollution. Scientists concluded that the microbes were evolving based on the type of plastic pollution present in their region. (inhabitat)

This mutant enzyme eats old plastic and spits out the materials to make it new again
French startup Carbios has developed a mutated bacterial enzyme that can almost completely digest old plastic bottles in just a few hours—helping turn the material into the chemical building blocks to make new plastic. The company has been working with the enzyme in its factory, but now the idea of digesting plastic is getting a boost from the scientific community: A recent study published in Nature validates that the process works. (fastcompany)

photo: Carbios

Research Report of the week: Harvard report on vehicle emissions

Vehicle emission declines = decreased deaths
Researchers say that thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars have been saved in the United States by recent reductions in emissions from vehicles.
Harvard University researchers who study the environment and public health examined the impact of declines in emissions from vehicles over a decade. They found deaths dropped from 27,700 in 2008 to 19,800 in 2017 and that the economic benefits of the reduction in emissions totaled $270 billion.
In a study published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers also concluded that if vehicles continued to emit air pollution at 2008 levels throughout the time period, the death total in 2017 would have been 2.4 times higher.
Light-duty vehicles such as cars, pickup trucks and SUVs made up a major portion of the health burden reduced by tougher regulations on fossil fuel companies and vehicle manufacturers, according to the study. (independent)

Global stuff

Hive sets sights on green ammonia
Hive Hydrogen and Linde have set out plans to build a green ammonia plant in South Africa’s Coega special economic zone.
Hive Hydrogen, a combination of the UK’s Hive Energy and BuiltAfrica, are working with Linde’s Afrox unit. The plant has a projected cost of $4.6 billion. It would produce 780,000 tonnes per year.
The plant would use seawater as an input. It would desalinate the water, using renewable energy, and extract hydrogen through electrolysis. Combining this hydrogen with nitrogen, produced from an air separation unit, would provide ammonia for export.
Hive Energy said the project would be the world’s largest green ammonia project. The Nelson Mandela Bay plan is due to start in 2025. It will reach full operation by the end of 2026. (energyvoice)

New York passes law banning gas burning in new buildings
New York banned the use of natural gas in new buildings as part of new legislation passed yesterday.
The rules require new buildings less than seven stories tall to go electric by January 2024 and those greater than that after 1st July 2027.
They also direct building authorities to refuse construction documents and permits for new buildings that would require natural gas.
The New York Council has also voted in favour of a bill that would require the installation of occupancy sensors to limit unnecessary lighting in public buildings.
The measure would help prevent the death of migratory birds that are heavily affected by these lights according to recent research.
The legislation is part of the Green New Deal which was launched by the Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. (energylivenews)

Techie corner

Electrolyzer ramping from 0 to 50,000 amperes in less than 10 seconds
Toronto-based Hydrogen Optimized, a subsidiary of Key DH Technologies, said it has demonstrated the capability of its patent-pending RuggedCell high-current unipolar electrolysis system to ramp from 0 to 50,000 amperes in less than 10 seconds. “This breakthrough shows that RuggedCell technology can be used to stabilize electrical grids and optimize energy recovery from intermittent renewable power sources such as solar and wind,” the company wrote on Wednesday, referring to its alkaline water electrolyzers. “To this point, the consensus among Green Hydrogen experts worldwide has been that only PEM water electrolysers could rapidly absorb and shed electricity and thereby be used to stabilize variable electric power sources. We have now proven that RuggedCell alkaline technology, which is uniquely scalable to individual system deployments in the hundreds of megawatts, equals or betters PEM technology’s capability to handle variable power levels,” (pv-magazine)