The UK game of musical chairs continues: Welcome, Alok Sharma to the role/hot seat of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as Minister for COP26 climate summit. He will have his work cut out. He comes from the Department of International Affairs, but has few obvious green credentials. According to The Guardian’s Polluters Project which counts how MP’s vote on green issues he scores a lowly 15%. The Prime Minister has said that COP26 needs to be cost effective which may complicate Alok’s task.

Company news

Centrica shares tank on heavy losses
Centrica lost almost a fifth of its value after posting an £849m pre-tax loss for 2019 vs a profit of £987m in 2018.
Spirit Energy, the group’s North Sea oil and gas business now up for sale, incurred an impairment of £476 million. Exposure to the Dungeness B and Hunterston D nuclear plants, both responsible for power outages during the year, brought a further hit while some £356 million of redundancy and restructuring costs weighed heavy.
While domestic energy supply customer losses slowed, the company claimed the price cap cost it £300m.
Outgoing CEO Iain Conn suggested that, stripping away external factors, the core businesses remained stable relative to 2018.
The UK business energy division posted growth in customer numbers (up 7 per cent to 342,000), revenue and adjusted operating profit. (theenergyst)

EDF takes over EV charging giant Pod Point
Under the deal EDF will supply energy to all of Pod Point’s EV charging infrastructure, and provide the firm with its smart charging tariffs and technologies. These assets enable EV drivers to charge when energy prices are lower, and when the grid mix is lower-carbon.
Pod Point owns and operates 62,000 EV charging points across the UK, located at businesses, public sector organisations and at homes. Notable business customers in the UK include Lidl GB, Tesco and Centre Parcs. Pod Point also has smaller operations in Norway, with 6,600 EV charging points.
EDF did not disclose what stake it has acquired in Pod Point, or how much it paid to do so. However, it confirmed it has been working with Legal & General, which will take a 23% stake in the joint venture, to seal the deal. (edie)

UK news    

RBS to phase out coal funding as it sets sites on becoming ‘climate positive’ bank
Partly UK state-owned banking group’s net zero strategy includes halving climate impact of its lending by 2030, as it unveils plans to rebrand as NatWest Group later this year
RBS is to place driving the low carbon transition at the forefront of its banking activity, today setting its sights on becoming ‘climate positive’ across its own operations by 2025 and to “at least halve” the climate impact of its financial activities by 2030.
In a sweeping set of green policy moves announced today by the banking group, the Royal Bank of Scotland pledged to become net zero across its own operations in 2020, before reaching ‘climate positive’ status by 2025, and to “drive material reduction in the climate impact of our financing activity”. (businessgreen)

Subsidy-free community solar farm completed in Devon
In yet another boost to the UK’s subsidy-free solar market, Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE) and Yealm Community Energy (YCE) have announced that a 7.3MW community solar farm has come online.
The 7.3MW Creacombe community solar farm began construction in September 2019, with 4.4MW of the project’s capacity pre-accredited to receive subsidies through Feed-in Tariff scheme (FiT). The remaining 2.9MW was commissioned at the end of January and is subsidy-free. (edie)

Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change
In response to recent misleading media reports on the topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed look at the climate impacts of EVs. In this analysis, Carbon Brief finds:
++EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.
++In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.
++However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.
++In the UK in 2019, the lifetime emissions per kilometre of driving a Nissan Leaf EV were about three times lower than for the average conventional car, even before accounting for the falling carbon intensity of electricity generation during the car’s lifetime.
++Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere. (carbonbrief)

DPD takes 100 more e-vans, urges manufacturers to get a move on
Parcel delivery firm DPD has agreed a deal with MAN Truck & Bus UK to buy 100 eTGE electric vans. DPD says the agreement means will have the largest 3.5t electric van fleet in the UK and takes its electric fleet to 600 vehicles in total.
DPD will start to take delivery of the vans in June, which are designed for inner city use, with a 36kW battery providing relatively short range (65-70 miles), but capable of 80 per cent rapid recharging in 45 minutes.
DPD opened the UK’s first all-electric parcel depot in Westminster and in November last year launched a purpose-built, e-cargo bike.
The firm will also take delivery of 300 Nissan e-NV200 vans by May 2020. DPD wants to make 10 per cent of its van fleet electric by the year end. (theenergyst)

BrewDog to upcycle and trade used cans for company equity
Craft beer firm BrewDog has unveiled a new sustainability action plan that will allow consumers to trade in beer cans for upcycling and recycling in exchange for an equity stake in the company.
The ‘BrewDog Tomorrow’ plan focuses on resource efficiency as the way for the brewer to manage its environmental impact and ensure “we have a planet to make beer for in the future”. (edie)

EV of the week

Nikola Badger electric pickup: 600-mile range from hydrogen fuel cell and battery
Nicola announced the Badger pickup this week. Whilst the number of pickups promising zero emissions is steadily growing this one will have a unique powertrain: it will run on batteries (300 mile range) topped up by a hydrogen fuel cell (a further 300 miles), performance looks OK too: 2.9 seconds to 60 mph, or capable of towing an 18,000-pound trailer from a standstill up a 30% gradient. (greencarreports)


EU Plans to Measure True Climate Impacts of LNG Imports From US Fracked Gas
With growing evidence that the climate impacts of natural gas are comparable to coal, the European Commission is planning to study ways to reduce methane emissions across the life cycle of natural gas production and consumption, with potential implications for fracked gas producers in the U.S.
The EU obtains natural gas from many sources, both in gas form via pipeline and as liquefied natural gas (LNG). One area of this EU study will be methane emissions over the life cycle of LNG imports from U.S. fracked natural gas.
The U.S. is awash in natural gas from fracked shale basins, which has caused prices to plummet — creating big losses for natural gas producers in America — and the nation has been rapidly ramping up exports of LNG to deal with this excess.
Europe is currently a top destination for U.S. LNG exports, with Spain and France receiving the most out of European countries in 2019. (desmoblog)

Under-construction coal plant in Poland has financing suspended
The last coal plant under construction in Poland could face cancellation after it has had financing suspended.
Polish energy companies Enea SA and Energa SA have announced they have halted financing for the 1GW Ostrołęka C facility due to shifting economic and political contexts.
A statement released by the firms referred to changes “in a number of circumstances” such as “planned changes in the EU’s policy with regard to the electricity sector” and the “so-called Green Deal, an action plan to ensure EU climate neutrality by 2050”. (energylivenews)

Focus on: Scope 3 Emissions

Big Oil is finally talking about scope 3 emissions. What the heck is scope 3?
Last month, when global elites gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, climate change took center stage. While it’s unclear whether attendees came away with any concrete plans to tackle the crisis (other than planting 1 trillion trees) rumours emerged that oil and gas executives discussed  an issue at the heart of the climate fight: scope 3 emissions.
So what’s the big deal with scope 3 and why have fossil fuel companies been so afraid to touch it?
The whole “scope” framework was introduced in 2001 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development as part of their Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. The goal was to create a universal method for companies to measure and report the emissions associated with their business. The three scopes allow companies to differentiate between the emissions they spew directly into the air, which they have the most control over, and the emissions they contribute to indirectly.
Scope 1 emissions are the most direct. If a company is in the business of extraction, like BP, scope 1 includes emissions from methane leaks and gas flaring that occur at the wellhead, as well as emissions from company vehicles.
Scope 2 emissions are one step beyond a company’s immediate control, like those related to the electricity or heat it buys from utilities. To reduce scope 2 emissions, a company might install solar panels to produce that electricity instead.
Scope 3 emissions are those from all of the oil and gas and coal they dig up and sell to people. This is the difficult one for extractive companies.
A few oil and gas companies have at the very least acknowledged Scope 3. Shell, Total, and Equinor for example, include scope 3 emissions in their greenhouse gas accounting disclosures, and have also set targets for reducing the carbon intensity of their energy products.
This strategy is a step above flat-out ignoring scope 3, but it’s also a game of smoke and mirrors. A company could reduce the intensity of emissions whilst still increasing absolute emissions.
To date, only one company has set absolute scope 3 targets: Repsol, Spain’s largest oil and gas company, announced late last year that it aims to become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050. But even its plan to get there is fuzzy. (grist)

BP join the party

BP pledges net zero by 2050
Oil and gas giant BP has committed to making its world-spanning operations net zero ‘on an absolute basis’ by 2050 (Scope 3).
New chief executive Bernard Looney also pledged to cut carbon intensity of its operations in half by 2050, with methane emissions halved across all its extraction and processing sites by 2023.
Also included in a ten-point plan is a 50 per cent cut in carbon intensity of BP’s products within 30 years.
A new low carbon power unit will be set up, and the entire business re-shaped into four divisions, in a bid to maximise returns from low carbon power systems and technologies, according to the plan. (theenergyst)

Eco Living Building

Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech
After a visit to the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Diana Blank was inspired to fund a similar project in Georgia. Taking action, she founded the Kendeda Fund and funded it with $30 million to donate toward the cause. Georgia Tech is the recipient of Blank’s vision with a project by Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership that resulted in a Living Building. The net-positive Kendeda Building opened for classes in January 2020 and provides a place for learning and a template for innovative, sustainable design.
The construction and design were influenced by the Living Building Challenge, “a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment.” Receiving this certification means meeting a host of requirements on everything from material selection to accessibility.
Every system in the building stands as an example of the focus on function, internal health, aesthetic beauty and energy savings. This is quickly apparent in the fact that the project is net-positive for energy and water, meaning that it gives back more than it takes. (inhabitat)

Global stuff

Air Pollution from Fossil Fuels Costs $8 Billion Per Day, New Research Finds
The economic and health costs of air pollution from burning fossil fuels totaled $2.9 trillion in 2018, calculated in the form of work absences, years of life lost, and premature deaths, according to a new report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). The cost represents 3.3 percent of global GDP, or about $8 billion per day.
The study, the first of its kind to quantify the global impacts of air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, focused on the health impacts of three specific types of pollutants: Nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and fine particulate matter, which has the greater impact, causing about 1.8 billion days of missed work due to disease and $2.2 trillion in air pollution costs every year. Nitrogen dioxide and ozone pollution cost $351 billion and $380 billion, respectively. Together, air pollution from these three pollutants is responsible for 4.5 million premature deaths around the world each year, the study said.
The analysis also included a regional breakdown of air pollution impacts. The researchers found that the most premature deaths from fossil fuel-related air pollution in 2018 were in mainland China (1.8 million), India (1 million), and the United States (230,000). As a result, those three countries also faced the highest annual costs: $900 billion in China, $600 billion in the U.S., and $150 billion in India. (360yale)

South Africa has ambitions in batteries
The Megamillion Energy Company wants to be Africa’s first large-scale manufacturer of Li-ion cells and battery packs, in the hope of bringing down prices and thereby catalysing mass adoption of energy storage systems.
Megamillion hopes to leverage abundant battery mineral resources in the Southern African region and believes that by localizing the supply chain, it can produce cheaper energy storage systems. The chosen form factor is the cylindrical 2680 cell (a diameter of 26 mm  and a length of 80 mm) using nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) chemistry for the cathode. According to Megamillion, its cells have a capacity of 6200mAh and an energy density of over 200Wh/kg. Nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and of course lithium can all be sourced in South Africa and several countries across Southern Africa.
The battery storage market in South Africa is expected to grow significantly going forward as companies and homes look to cushion themselves from ongoing electricity blackouts. Eskom, the stated-owned utility company, has been battling to keep the lights on during peak demand hours. (cleantechnica)

How climate change may ‘flood’ global equities according to MSCI research
Of all the threats to the environment from climate change, sea-level rise may be one of the most devastating and permanent. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in line with the 1.5 C temperature-rise goal of the Paris Agreement climate accord, the global mean sea level may rise 0.29-0.59 meters by the end of the century, and may continue to rise into the following century
MSCI ESG Research estimates that approximately 7% of all facilities owned by covered MSCI ACWI Index constituents are under threat from coastal flooding. Further, nearly 62% of all index constituents had at least one facility in a flood-prone area — underscoring the importance of accounting for these risks and integrating that information into investment decision-making. Rising sea levels would likely exacerbate these risks. (msciblogpost)

Techie corner

BASF partners with ‘metal-free’ flow battery startup JenaBatteries
Multinational chemicals company BASF has furthered its interest in the energy storage industry, partnering on the development of ‘metal-free’ flow battery electrolytes with German startup JenaBatteries.
BASF announced the partnership towards the end of last week. JenaBatteries’ website claims the startup has made available a scalable redox flow battery for energy storage which goes from 100kW to 2MW power and 400kWh to 10MWh capacity ratings based on a saline solution, in which different organic storage materials form the anode and cathode.
With the new partnership, BASF said it will make available its amine (ammonia-based compounds) for forming one of two electrolytes for a “battery technology that is particularly suitable for stationary storage of electricity from renewable energy sources and for stabilising conventional transmission grids”. BASF produces the amine chemical intermediate on an industrial scale. (energy-storagenews)