Re-reading this week’s ‘bits, it occurs to me that if the Government were to implement enough of the recommendations of Chris Skidmore’s review, we would be a lot less likely to suffer disasters such as British Volt.


Lightsource bp closes first tax equity deal with Wells Fargo for 481 megawatt solar portfolio
Lightsource bp has successfully closed on a $267 million tax equity investment from Fortune 500 Wells Fargo & Company, which will support the construction and operation of a two-project solar PV portfolio totaling 481 megawatt dc (MW) in Louisiana and Arkansas.
The two projects are among the largest in each state, consisting of the 346 MW Oxbow solar farm in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, which will supply energy to McDonald’s and eBay, and the 135 MW Conway solar farm near Happy, Arkansas, supplying energy to Conway Corp. (renewableenergymagazine)


Government confirms plans for new Deposit Return Scheme
The government has today confirmed long-awaited plans to introduce a new Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, unveiling plans to roll out the cash incentive scheme from 2025 – a year later than originally planned.
Defra today published a consultation response detailing how small cash deposits will be placed on single-use drinks containers, which will be returned to customers when they return their drinks bottles or cans for recycling. A network of reverse vending machines and designated recycling collection sites will be rolled out where people can return their bottles and receive their cash back.
The government said it would introduce new regulations governing the scheme through secondary legislation enabled by the passage of the Environment Act last year.
Defra added that based on the experience of existing DRSs across Europe the new incentives are expected to cut littering of drinks bottles and cans by around 85 per cent, while also boosting recycling rates that have flat-lined in recent years. (businessgreen)

‘World’s largest’ hydrogen-electric plane takes flight
UK’s jet zero took off yesterday with the first flight of what is described as the world’s largest plane powered by a hydrogen-electric engine.
The technology developed by ZeroAvia was demonstrated during a flight of its 19-seat Dornier 228 testbed aircraft that took place from the company’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire.
The ten-minute flight forms part of the HyFlyer II project, a major R&D programme backed by the government’s ATI programme, which aims to develop a 600kW powertrain to support 9-19 seat aircraft worldwide with zero-emission flight. (energylivenews)

photo: ZeroAvia

Majority of Britishvolt’s staff made redundant after company enters administration
Hundreds have lost their jobs after British electric car battery company Britishvolt fell into administration.
The majority of Britishvolt’s 232 staff have been made redundant, administrators said, after the group made an application for administration to the courts on Tuesday.
It followed talks with investors over a possible sale to keep the firm afloat. A remaining 26 staff are being kept on to assist with the sale of the company’s business and assets.
Britishvolt has been on the brink of collapse since £100m of promised government funding to build a planned battery gigafactory was delayed due to key targets for the investment being missed.
The move will have implications for Britain’s vehicle manufacturers, which experts say need battery factories to stop much of the country’s car production from shifting to mainland Europe. (sky)


2024 Hyundai Kona is a step up    
Hyundai have shared some pictures of this year’s revamp of its successful Kona model, the small SUV that comes in 3 drivetrain formats: Hybrid, PHEV and full EV. In terms of EV’s with over 250 mile range there are not many cars out there at a price point to match the Kona. Sister company Kia’s Niro and the MG4 basically. Aware that they need to defend this space with quite a few new entrants imminent, such as the similarly sized BYD Atto 3 which launches in the UK next month, Hyundai have gone about smartening up the Kona. The 2024 model which should be available this summer, is slightly bigger in all dimensions and certainly has a sleeker and more sophisticated look to it. If it also sports very rapid charging and has an interior and infotainment system to match the exterior it will be quite a compelling package from a company that is punching above its weight in the EV space

photo: Hyundai


Finland Nearly Doubled Its Wind Power Capacity Last Year
Finland saw its wind power capacity grow by 75 percent in 2022, according to the Finnish Wind Power Association, a wind energy trade group.
Last year Finland erected 427 new turbines with a combined power capacity of 2,430 megawatts. The country now boasts 1,393 turbines in total, which together have a capacity of 5,677 megawatts. New wind turbines have trended larger over time, with bigger turbines producing more electricity.
Finland is expected to add roughly 1,000 megawatts a year for the next three years. In 2025, wind will cover at least 28 percent of the country’s power consumption, the Finnish Wind Energy Association estimates. A 2018 study published in Nature Energy found that with larger, more efficient turbines, wind could conceivably supply all of Finland’s electricity. (yale360)

photo: Finnish Wind Power Association

Vanadium Flow batteries showing traction
The vanadium flow battery sector received a boost this week with news of a rental partnership between Invinity and Dawsongroup plc, a new electrolyte plant in Germany and a whitepaper around the technology’s environmental impact.
One way to lower upfront costs is to lease vanadium flow battery products rather than buy them outright, and a partnership between Invinity Energy Systems commercial asset and rental business Dawsongroup plc announced this week will seek to do just that.
AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group, a speciality metals and minerals producer, has announced it will build a vanadium electrolyte plant in Nuremberg, Germany.
The management board last week approved plans to build the plant, with a target capacity of 6,000m³ vanadium electrolyte, at its subsidiary AMG Titanium. Basic engineering for the plant was completed in November 2022 and production is expected to start at the end of 2023.
Austria-based VRFB company CellCube (official name Enerox) has released a whitepaper comparing the environmental impact of its technology of choice compared with today’s industry incumbent.
The whitepaper involved completing a ‘cradle-to-gate’ lifecycle assessment (LCA) analysing its VRFB’s environmental impact from raw material extraction through to customer deployment and the 20-year lifetime of a four-hour system with one cycle per day, with all power charged from renewables
CellCube’s VRFB had a global warming potential (GWP) of 32.6 kg CO2 per MWh, 15% lower than the 2018 study’s VRFB and 45% lower than the lithium-ion battery. This was in a scenario without reused materials going into the products.
With reused materials going into the product, its VRFB came out with a GWP 10% higher than the 2018 study’s VRFB, but some 75% lower than the lithium-ion battery. (energy-storagenews)

photo: Enerox

FOCUS ON: Long term energy storage

In 2021 the Biden administration looked to pump prime the long duration storage market through their Earthshot Initiative. Two years on and it would seem that this has been an effective initiative as these three projects, at differing stages of development show:

Compressed air in California’s San Joaquin Valley
Last week, a group of local governments in California signed a $775m, 25-year contract to purchase power from what will be the world’s largest compressed-air energy storage project, reports the Los Angeles Times. The project, set to be ready by 2028, will be in the San Joaquin Valley.
Here’s how it works: Developers will drill three shafts thousands of feet below ground, and send miners to dig out a series of caverns. These caverns are meant to have a collective volume equivalent to the area of two football fields by 100 yards of height. This project would be the first compressed air storage enterprise that doesn’t rely on naturally occuring underground salt domes.
When clean electricity is cheap (like sunny afternoons – think belly of the duck), the developer, Hydrostor, will use low-cost energy to push air down into the caverns. When Hydrostor’s customer, Central Coast Community Energy, needs to draw on the stored power, the company will open a valve and funnel the high-pressure air through a turbine, generating electricity.

Green hydrogen in Northern California’s wine country
Further north, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Energy Vault announced a partnership to build and operate the largest green hydrogen long-duration energy storage system in the US. The hybrid system will be capable of powering about 2,000 electric customers on a PG&E microgrid in Calistoga for up to 48 hours (293 MWh of carbon-free energy) during an outage.
Here’s how it works: The system will produce green hydrogen by using renewable energy to power electrolysis, a process that creates hydrogen from water. The clean hydrogen will then power a fuel cell to create on-demand energy. The system is outfitted with a short duration battery for grid forming and black start capabilities, meaning it is able to restart parts of the power system to recover from a blackout.
The project is being considered for approval from the California Public Utilities Commission. If authorised, it could provide some much-needed resilience to the Calistoga region (which is affected by utility shut-offs to reduce the risk of wildfires), and serve as a model for Energy Vault’s future utility-scale hybrid storage system deployments.

Taking the hard-to-mine metals out of energy storage
This week, Noon Energy announced it secured $28m in Series A financing to commercialize its carbon-oxygen battery technology for long-duration energy storage. While the company is at an earlier stage than the previously mentioned projects, the technology promises 100-plus hours of storage at a cost 10x lower and an energy density 3x higher than current lithium-ion batteries, according to a release.
Here’s how it works: Developed by a scientist on NASA’s Mars rover team, the technology uses electricity to split carbon dioxide into solid carbon and oxygen gas. To discharge, it reverses the operation, oxidizing the solid carbon, reports Canary Media. The result is a battery that uses “nature-based chemistry principles” and eliminates the need for mined lithium and cobalt. According to the company, the technology only requires one per cent of other critical metals compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries.
The funding will enable Noon Energy to accelerate the path to market through critical demonstrations and field deployments while growing its engineering, product and business development teams. (businessgreen)

UK Net Zero Report

The Conservative Party could do with more Chris Skidmore’s. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a passionate supporter of the Net-Zero agenda. He has just published his 130 page Net Zero Review which is pretty forthright in its views and does not shy away from criticising his own Government. The core message can be paraphrased as “For God’s sake lets get on with it” as it clearly lays out many of the benefits that would accrue from investment into Net Zero Britain.

Here is a bullet point list of the core messages for what needs to be done just in 2023:

  1. Publish an overarching green finance strategy to help the City become a leader in the space
  2. Work to stop carbon leakage (companies moving their emissions to locations with more relaxed rules)
  3. Strengthen the UK ETS
  4. Create a New Technologies Roadmap
  5. Reform the tax system to encourage low emissions behaviours
  6. Create a CCS roadmap
  7. Taskforce for new wind & solar
  8. Green jobs taskforce to expand the green jobs from 400,000 people to 2 million
  9. Publish 10 year programme for hydrogen
  10. Launch Net Zero engagement campaign to inform the people of the benefits
  11. Establish an Office for Net Zero Delivery
  12. Publish a Net Zero Spending Analysis (put numbers to the benefits)
  13. Set up Great British Nuclear to deliver on the nuclear programme, both large and small scale
  14. Set up a Business task force for the built environment
  15. Publish a low carbon fuels strategy
  16. Create a zero emissions vehicles mandate for manufacturers 

Lots of good and timely stuff in this but there are a few gaps. For example it should be more specific on the permitting of onshore wind and solar and hardly mentions how to roll out insulation across the business environment. Rural campaigners feel that the emphasis is too much on business.

Download the whole report HERE

ECO: Chinese restoration project

A restoration project in China uses a sponge system
This is the first cross-provincial ecological restoration project in China and it’s a design that is truly paving the way for the future. Green ecology and harmony is the theme and the end result is absolutely stunning.
Designed by the Tus-Design Group Co., Ltd, this shoreline linkage project uses the shoal wetlands as part of the design. The Yangtze River is integrated into the design as well. The project’s aim was both to restore and improve the shoreline, creating a home for native plants, wildlife and people who want to come here and enjoy the natural beauty. There’s a lot of natural beauty to enjoy.
Additionally, derived from the concept of natural fish migration and their relationship to the surface of the water, this design honours the water culture of the Yangtze River. The project was created so as not to disturb the natural patterns of the fish and provide a place for native plants to thrive.
Moreover, GIS technology was used to simulate the current terrain, information that was used to calculate ways to integrate a sponge system with the landscape design. There’s a hidden flood control walkway, which combines the shoreline with plants, terrain and the existing surroundings. The walkway is hidden within the environment, which creates a more dynamic experience while walking. (inhabitat)

photo: Tus-Design


Wood banks emerge as vital source of heat while US gas bills rise
Inflation may be going down in the US, dropping to 6.5% from last month’s 7.1%, but the cost of keeping a home warm this winter is still on the rise. The average gas bill will increase by 28% this winter compared to last, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration.
In some places across the country, people are returning to a surprising source of heat to keep costs down: wood. In areas where wood is more widely available and used for heating – such as forested parts of New England – wood banks are emerging as a vital way to stay warm this winter.
Roughly half of US homes rely on natural gas as their primary source of heating, followed by 41% that use electricity, 5% that use propane and 4% that use heating oil. Nationwide, only 1.3% use wood, but that number goes up to 22% in rural areas.
Wood banks function much like food banks, giving out firewood to people in need. To date, more than 100 firewood banks exist nationwide, and many charities and community groups also give out wood without calling themselves wood banks.
The wood is usually donated by forestry companies, as well as individuals. Banks also source wood from trees felled by storms and wood that can’t be turned into lumber. (guardian)

Lab-grown alternatives aim to cut palm oil dependence
It was landing at Singapore’s international airport a decade ago that sparked Shara Ticku’s idea to create a lab-grown alternative to palm oil.
Indonesian farmers, who were clearing land for palm oil and other crops, were blamed for the fires and the smoke that drifted across the sea to Singapore.
Fast forward to today, and her business has just commercially released an alternative to palm oil that is created from yeast cells.
To try to reduce the world’s reliance on palm oil, Ms Ticku, who was formerly an investment banker, and her co-founders set up C16 Biosciences in New York City in 2018. Backed by multi-million dollar funding from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the company has spent the past four years developing and finessing their product, which is called Palmless.
They grow a strain of yeast that naturally produces an oil with very similar properties to palm, which they harvest. The yeast is fed on sugars from sugar cane plants grown on land already used for arable farming. (bbc)

photo: Flikr


LG developing Li-S battery for twice the range instead of solid-state cells
LG Energy Solutions, the supplier of 2170 battery cells for Tesla’s long-range performance electric vehicles will be investing in lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries. Korean industry sources divulge that it is planning to start mass Li-S battery cells production by 2027.
LG may have given up on investing into solid-state batteries, it turns out, at least for the time being, as their mass production may still be some way off, unlike Li-S cells that can serve as a stopgap solution in the meantime.
Instead of the rare and expensive nickel, cobalt, manganese, or other metals for the cathode, the Li-S batteries use light and affordable sulfur-carbon composites which can react with more lithium ions from the anode at once, resulting in much higher energy density at the same footprint as current batteries. The typical electric car powered by a Li-S battery, for instance, which can now go 250 miles on a charge, will be able to cover almost 500 miles with the increased energy density. (notebookcheck)