Welcome to 2019, for us in the UK a year of extraordinary uncertainty.

A couple of things to celebrate nonetheless: British power stations generated less energy last year than any year since 1994, when there were 8 million less people living here. That is a great validation of the energy transition.

Secondly, this is, according to my unreliable stats, Titbits number 500!

Company news

E.ON invests in Finnish EV platform provider

The energy firm now owns a joint majority stake in Virta, a supplier of IT systems for charging electric cars.
Finnish energy company Helen holds an equal share of the business.
Virta aims to provide an EV-enabled answer to fluctuations in the energy system caused by the increasing share of intermittent renewable energies, such as through the load management of vehicle-to-grid technologies.
Its software platform optimises the energy flow behind the charging stations, avoids energy peaks, reduces costs and enables additional profit to be made through auxiliary grid services. (energylivenews)

Abundance closes record £7m investment for Marine Power project

Green crowd-funding platform Abundance has this week celebrated its largest fund-raise to date, closing a record £7m investment round for Orbital Marine Power.
Orbital Marine Power, which was formerly known as Scotrenewables Tidal Power, will use the funds to build its first production model 2MW turbine – Orbital O2 – a floating tidal turbine platform designed to be towed, installed, and easily maintained
Abundance said around 2,300 individuals invested an average of around £3,000 in the company, with over half investing via their ISAs for a tax-free return. (businessgreen)

UK news  

Government consults on small-scale export

The UK Government is seeking views on the introduction of a mandatory supplier-led route to market for small-scale low-carbon generation: the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), in a consultation
The consultation, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) considers future arrangements that would facilitate:
A route to market which supports small-scale low carbon generation of electricity
Market innovation
Lowering of costs for consumers
The promotion of the efficient use of electricity through price signals, for instance promoting export when the grid is experiencing high demand
Under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), government would legislate for suppliers to remunerate small-scale low-carbon generators for the electricity they export to the grid. The evidence gathered from this consultation will allow government to decide on whether, and how, to proceed with the SEG. (renewableenergymagazine)

Hydrogen fuel cell trains to run on British railways from 2022

French rail multinational Alstom and UK rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) Eversholt Rail Group have today unveiled the design for a new hydrogen fuel cell train for the UK market. Based on the tried-and-tested British Rail Class 321, the fuel cell trains – nicknamed ‘Breeze’ – will bring zero-emission hydrogen tech to parts of the UK that still run on diesel.
By converting the electrical multiple units (EMUs) to what Alstom describes as a hydrogen multiple unit (HMU), the Paris based firm will combine the efficiency and practicality of the existing rolling stock with the versatility and environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cells. 
The conversion work is expected to take place over the next three years at Alstom’s Widnes facility, with the first trains projected to run as early as 2022. (telegraph)

1GW of flex sought in London

A plan to unlock a gigawatt of peak flexible power resource in London by 2050 is underway.
The GLA-backed Flex London project forms part of the Mayor’s plan to make the capital a zero carbon city.
The authority, plus project partners, is bringing together public and private sector organisations that have the potential to provide flexible power with solutions providers that can help them unlock it.
A number of projects are in line to be taken forward via an initial ‘sprint challenge’ next year – but Flex London is calling for more people to come forward before the end of 2018.
The project is aligned with UK Power Networks’ plans to procure flexibility to help balance its network, so businesses that come forward may find themselves with a contracted source of revenue sooner rather than later. (theenergyst)

Orkney’s ageing ferries look to ditch diesel for hydrogen

On the Orkney island of Eday, an electrolyser — which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen — tucked inside a green shipping container last year became the first in the world to use tidal power to make hydrogen.
A fuel cell installed on a pier on the Orkney mainland already uses some of the hydrogen produced by the electrolyser to generate electricity for berthed vessels. But Neil Kermode, head of the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec), which has helped lead the hydrogen project, said the gas could be more cost effective — and reduce emissions — when directly used in transportation.
The nine ageing ferries that connect Orkney’s islands used “massive” amounts of diesel fuel, Mr Kermode said. “We realised that if we could use the hydrogen to power our ferries, we would put another dent in our carbon addiction.”
In June a European consortium led by Scottish shipbuilder Ferguson Marine Engineering won more than €12m in EU funding to develop and build the power system for what it expects to be the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled, seagoing car and passenger ferry, due to launch in 2021. (blogpvan)

Large-scale water source heat pump project on Clyde approved

Scotland is set to welcome its first large-scale water source heat pump scheme, that will take heat from the river Clyde to provide heat and hot water for a nearby district heating network.
The heat generated at a nearby energy centre will be pumped through 2.5km of district heating pipes to the homes and some public buildings, including West College Scotland, Clydebank Leisure Centre, the Town Hall and Clydebank Library.
The £15m energy project is being financed by West Dunbartonshire Council, which is covering 60% of the cost, while the Scottish Government has provided £6m in funding through the European Regional Development Fund via the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Program (LCITP). (edie)

EV of the week 

The CES show in Las Vegas never disappoints for wacky new tech:

Hyundai Elevate. The EV that walks

It may look a bit scary and ready to take over the world following an invasion, but rest assured the Elevate concept has nothing but good intentions. Debuting today in Las Vegas at CES, the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) as described by Hyundai is a futuristic concept with wheels attached to robotic legs to give it go-anywhere capabilities unmatched by any other rescue vehicle.Part car, part robot, the Elevate was developed to tackle the most difficult surfaces on Earth and reach remote areas quicker than conventional vehicles created for search-and-rescue and humanitarian aid missions. Hyundai believes the concept could serve a wider variety of purposes as it could be a viable solution for disabled people in areas where there aren’t ramps. That’s because the Elevate can effectively walk thanks to its robotic legs, which come with built-in propulsion motors and have five degrees of freedom. (insuideevs)


Volkswagen is to launch an energy company.

The firm, which recently committed to invest €30bn in electric vehicles over the next five years, will supply clean power as well as smart chargers and plans to provide grid balancing services.
The new company will be called Elli, which stands for Electric Life. The world’s largest carmaker said energy supply was “strategically relevant”. It wants to make clean, smart energy and transport a way of life.
Elli’s chief executive, Thorsten Nicklaß, said the company would offer renewable power to customers outside the group – i.e. not just VW car owners, but everyone.
The firm will initially target business to business markets as well as domestic sectors, offering bi-directional chargers that enable vehicle to grid services.
The company plans to offer other energy services, and adjacent infrastructure, such as battery storage solutions.
It also aims to boost open access public charging infrastructure and ease payment. (theenergyst)

Daimler subsidiary NuCellSys becomes Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell

With the conclusion of the development of the holistic fuel cell system for the new Mercedes-Benz GLC F‑CELLNuCellSys is the new star in the firmament for the coming development projects: as of January 2019 the company is operating under the name Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH.
The overall drivetrain and the hydrogen storage system of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL, which celebrated its market launch just at the end of October, also comes from the fuel cell development centre in Nabern. There is already a new project on the agenda following development completion of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL: in the coming years fuel cell technology is also set to electrify the Mercedes-Benz Citaro city bus. It is a sign that Fuel cell technology I now being taken seriously within major automotive groups. (automotivenews)

Planned wild boar cull in Poland angers conservationists

Conservationists have branded plans by the Polish government to cull almost the entire wild boar population of the country as “pointless, counterproductive and evil”.
In a move to tackle an epidemic of African swine fever, the Polish government has ordered a series of hunts, beginning this weekend, with the aim of killing the vast majority of the country’s population of around 200,000 wild boar.
Opponents of the cull said it is not only cruel but pointless, or possibly even counterproductive.On Wednesday evening, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Warsaw, some dressed as wild boar, holding signs that included “wild boar massacre” and “long live wild boars”. (guardian)

Solar, thermal… Spain’s historic hotels go green

Spain’s state-owned chain of paradores, the grand hotels often housed in ancient castles and monasteries, has announced that all 97 of its establishments will use only electricity from renewable sources from the start of the new year.
The 90-year-old chain said the decision to switch to green electricity had been made for both environmental and symbolic reasons. “
biomass technology was already being used in two hotels, while solar panels had been installed in other paradores, such as the one in Cádiz, Andalucía. The hotel chain is also looking into harnessing geothermal energy for its hotel on the volcanic island of Tenerife. (businessgreen)

Focus on: Solar plus storage

Limejump agrees 120MW PPA plus storage with Next Energy Solar Fund

Limejump has agreed terms on a Power Purchase Agreement with Next Energy Solar Fund, potentially bringing 120MW of solar PV into its virtual power plant (VPP).
The aggregator said it is also working with Next Energy on its battery storage projects, which were connected at two of its solar farms in May. The fund is mulling further investment in co-located storage.
Limejump said the PPA deal enables Next Energy to try to take advantage of price volatility while reducing risk and imbalance costs.
The solar fund has almost 700MW of operational PV and is evaluating some 600MW with a view to acquisition or development.
The company said recently that it hopes to announce construction of subsidy-free solar plants in April. (theenergyst)

Hawaiian Electric Announces ‘Mind-Blowing’ Solar-Plus-Storage Contracts

This week Hawaiian Electric Company sent seven new solar-plus-storage contracts to state regulators. Six come in at record-low prices for the state, under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, 40% lower than prices quoted in 2016.
The projects, which now await regulatory approval, would add 262 megawatts of solar and 1,048 megawatt-hours of storage distributed over three islands. The company said the projects will provide power “in place of volatile prices of fossil fuels,” which it quotes at about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.
AES, Innergex, Clearway and 174 Power Global are developing the projects.
If the state’s public utility commission approves the power-purchase agreement contracts, it would mean a big boost for the U.S. storage market. Taken together, the projects would also rank as the second-largest storage announcement ever, just behind the recently approved Moss Landing project in California. (gtm)

Eco-pop-up art pavilion

Kolkata’s pop-up art pavilion

West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata, India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio, the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes. (inhabitat)


Carbon emissions rose sharply in the US in 2018

Carbon emissions increased 3.4% in 2018, marking the second-largest annual gain in more than two decades, according to preliminary power generation data analyzed by the Rhodium Group, an independent economic policy research provider.
This follows a Global Carbon Project report in December that said global carbon emissions were estimated to rise by 2.7% for all of 2018.
The new research indicated that US power sector emissions as a whole rose by 1.9% and that the transportation sector “held its title as the largest source of US emissions for the third year running,” due to a growth in demand for diesel and jet fuel offsetting a modest decline in gasoline use.
The construction and industry sectors also saw sizable emission increases. (cnn)

Techie corner

Drones, Automation, & Reforestation

DroneSeed, Seattle-based startup, uses drones in post-fire environments to combat the spread of wildfires and keep affected areas healthy. Using automation, founder and CEO Grant Canary has figured out a way to make the revitalization of our forests faster, cheaper, and more efficient.
Using drones, the company is able to spray, protect, and plant with precision, in addition to surveying, monitoring, and collecting data. Investors were excited by the concept which involved automation, machine learning, drones and government contracts, and the team was able to secure funding from Techstars, Social Capital, and Spero Ventures, putting them at $4.8 million. (cleantechnica)

Have a good weekend.