Plenty of fun to be had this week: Friday is children marching for the climate, Sunday is world car-free day, which will no doubt upset Donald Trump as he tries to force California to abandon its car emisions targets.

Company news

RWE Approved for 17GW Pipeline Deal

Officials in Brussels have approved RWE’s deal for fellow German utility E.ON’s global renewable energy project pipeline. The €40 billion asset swap has been under scrutiny by the European Commission’s competition watchdog.
To simplify what is a very complex deal, RWE has passed the customer distribution business of its subsidiary Innogy to E.ON in exchange for the generation assets. The “new RWE” will focus on renewable power generation.
RWE has 9GW of operational assets, E.ON brings a 17GW pipeline.  Assuming a reasonable amount of the pipeline gets built out, it will take RWE to the top table of global renewables developers. Nextera, based in Florida claim to be the world leader with a 17GW operational portfolio. (gtm)

OVO seals £500 million swoop for SSE supply division

OVO Energy is to acquire SSE’s energy supply division in a £500 million deal.
The transaction, which comprises £400 million in cash and an additional £100 million in loan notes, is to complete either later this year or early next pending regulatory approvals.
If the deal completes as expected, OVO would become the second-largest energy supply company in the UK with in excess of 6.7 million customers, second only to Centrica’s British Gas unit. (current-news)

UK news   

UK Regulator rules that Gas is not a “low-carbon fuel”

The Advertising standards Authority have to deal with all sorts of complaints but their ruling this week a the Norwegian energy giant that their adverts in the London Underground gave the impression that gas was a low-carbon fuel. It is the first time that the ASA has made such a judgement. (ft)

Ofgem gives go-ahead to Orkney transmission link subject to conditions

Ofgem has given the go-ahead to SSEN’s plan for a 220MW transmission link from Orkney Islands following a consultation, subject to conditions which ensure value for money for all consumers.
The electricity link, estimated to cost around £260m, would be completed from 2023 and enable new wind farms and potentially new tidal power projects on Orkney to send electricity to the rest of Great Britain. (ofgem)

Open Energi partners Zenobe for AI-enabled battery optimisation

Open Energi is partnering UK battery storage firm Zenobe Energy for the automated trading and optimisation of the latter’s grid scale Hill Farm battery.
Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0 energy optimisation platform has been connected to Zenobe’s 12MWh battery at the Hill Farm site, enabling further optimisation of the battery across a wider range of ancillary services and trading markets.
The platform uses AI to increase responsiveness and track key indicators while reducing throughput and degradation, therefore extending battery lifetime, Open Energi said. (current-news)

Affordable housing and Passivhaus are not incompatible

Architype Architects has completed Callaughton Ash, an affordable housing project for the South Shropshire Housing Association, in the wonderfully named town of Much Wenlock. It has ten rental and two shared ownership units built to the Passivhaus standard, which is often thought to be too tough or expensive for social housing.
The size of the windows are designed to optimise “solar gain” without overheating in summer and without compromising cost (windows are expensive)
The cladding is poplar, which is not particularly popular, but it is thermally modified, using a controlled pyloysis technique which increases durability. Poplar is also cheap and local.
Passivhaus architect Bronwyn Barry gives a good description of the project on Twitter, it is #BBB –Boxy But Beautiful. (treehugger)

EV of the week 

Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser going all-electric—with a crate “V-8”

For many decades, so-called crate engines—most often V-8s—have been the basis for adding more excitement to old cars and trucks.
But what about an electric motor system that’s disguised as a V-8?
Electric GT, of Chatsworth, California, is in the process of doing a “TLC build” electric conversion of a 1970 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. This conversion, which is nearly complete, also happens to be a testbed for an all-in-one modular “crate” system. (greencarreports)


Unilever, interactive mapping and tea supply chain transparency

The company is notably the world’s largest buyer and seller of tea, purchasing 10% of the global supply each year for use in brands such as Lipton, Pukka and Brooke Bond Red Label.
This means that it, directly and indirectly, supports more than one million people across supply chains in 21 different countries, including India, Kenya and Argentina.
Unilever claims it is the first major corporate of its move to publicly publish a full supplier list. The document will be updated annually.
In order to make this information more accessible, the consumer goods giant has invested in an interactive online map, featuring information about the origins of its tea and how it journeys throughout the supply chain.
The map also features stories of individuals working in the supply chain, and further information around the ways in which Unilever is working with NGOs, suppliers and other tea buyers to improve social and environmental supply chain practices. (edie)

Focus on: Energy Transition

Goodbye to coal

The chief executive of Peabody, the world’s largest private coal company sat before a group of U.S. lawmakers who wanted to know whether the fuel had a future. He didn’t hesitate. “Coal,” he said, “is the future.”
It was 2010. Coal supplied nearly half of America’s power, the executive testified, and was growing more than 1.5 times faster than oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewables combined. Global demand was on pace to rise 53% within two decades. And renewable energy? Not an option. “Wind and solar comprise just 1% of today’s U.S. energy mix,” Gregory Boyce, then the chief executive of Peabody Energy Corp., told the members of Congress. “It is unrealistic to suggest that renewables could replace conventional baseload fuels.”
Not quite. This April, for the first time ever, renewable energy supplied more power to America’s grid than coal—the clearest sign yet that solar and wind can now go head-to-head with fossil fuels. In two-thirds of the world, they’ve become the cheapest forms of power.
Back when Peabody’s then-CEO showed up before U.S. lawmakers for that climate change hearing nine years ago, the replacement of all of America’s coal plants with zero-emission resources seemed close to an impossibility. Doing so would take “2,400 times today’s solar capacity, 40 times the current wind farms currently in place, 250 new nuclear plants or 500 Hoover Dams,” the coal executive said at the time. Peabody, in a statement this week, said its outlook from a decade ago reflected a mix of internal and external projections, “many of which came to pass and some which did not.”
What’s clear now is that the nation’s renewable energy capacity has surpassed that of coal. Peabody, meanwhile, went on to declare bankruptcy in 2016, along with most every other major coal producer in America. (bloombergnewenergyfinance)

Eco buildings up north

Snøhetta completes world’s northernmost energy-positive building

Snøhetta has once again raised the bar for sustainable architecture with its completion of Powerhouse Brattørkaia, the world’s northernmost energy-positive building located in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Designed with a sloped roof topped with photovoltaic panels, the eight-story, 18,000-square-meter office building produces, on average, more than twice as much electricity as it consumes daily. It feeds surplus renewable energy to neighboring buildings and the city transit system through a local micro-grid. The extremely energy-efficient structure has also received BREEAM Outstanding certification. (inhabitat)


China’s e-bus stock to surpass 1 million mark by 2023

Fuelled by public policy and declining battery costs, global electric bus adoption is set to triple by 2025. The Chinese market – the most promising in this sector – will surpass the 1 million e-bus mark by 2023 and reach 1.3 million by 2025, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie.
China dominates the heavy-duty electric vehicle (EV) segment, accounting for 98% of the global e-bus market through 2018. To support this high concentration of e-buses, a total of more than 50,000 e-bus charging points will be installed by the end of 2019. This figure is set to more than double by the end of 2025.
Europe and the USA are a long way behind and are still mostly running pilot projects. The report suggests that growth will pick up in these markets after 2025. (woodmac)

Bloomberg change their mind: Utility-scale batteries will drive storage growth

Bloomberg has published its latest Energy Storage Outlook report and says large scale deployment will provide the majority of the 1,095 GW/2,850 GWh of battery storage worldwide in 2040, with prices driven down further by grid services demand and EVs.
In a significant indicator of the rapid rate at which stationary storage is altering the energy market, the 2019 report now predicts utility scale batteries will make up the majority of storage deployment by 2040. Until now the analysts have expected behind-the-meter batteries – whether in homes or businesses – to take the lead.
BloombergNEF also revised up the amount of investment energy storage will attract over the next 21 years, adding $40 billion for a predicted $662 billion as providers work to meet anticipated stationary and passenger vehicle stored energy demand of 4,584 GWh by 2040. (pv-magazine)

And here is an example of exactly this:

Los Angeles approves ‘historically low cost’ solar+storage project

Los Angeles regulators on Tuesday approved a “historically low cost” solar + storage project, which includes 400 MW of solar generation and a 300 MW / 1,200 MWh battery.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commission says its approval of the power purchase agreements for the Eland Solar and Storage Center, will help the city reach 100% renewable power by 2045. City officials say the Eland project was selected from a pool of 130 proposals due to its scale and price, which includes a fixed cost of less than $0.02/kWh. The project will be developed in two phases by 8Minutenergy, and is expected online by the end of 2023. According to the city, it will be the largest similar project in the United States. (utilitydive)

This year’s ozone hole could be the smallest it has been in 30 years

This year, just in time for World Ozone Day, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) announced the state of the ozone hole — its size is the smallest it has been in the past 30 years.
in August 1987, the Montreal Protocol, a landmark international agreement, banned production and use of ozone-depleting substances. A few weeks afterward, the United Nations designated September 16 as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer — more commonly known as World Ozone Day — to spread awareness for stewardship of our planet’s fragile ozone layer.
The 2019 hole is appearing to be the smallest size it has been in the past three decades, and its behavior has been intriguing. A polar vortex in early September affected the hole’s opening, then displaced the hole so that it was off-center and “far from the pole.”
The deputy lead at CAMS, Richard Engelen, shared that the small size of this year’s ozone hole is encouraging, but there is still a need for further study. (inhabitat)

Techie Corner

Robotic fish offer a solution to controlling invasive species

Invasive species have become a growing environmental challenge, causing serious harm to ecosystems. An interdisciplinary team from New York University (NYU) and the University of Western Australia is utilizing robotic fish to curb the damaging effects of invasive species by scaring the invaders enough so that they reproduce less.
For the study, the invasive species in question are mosquitofish. The enormous environmental impact that mosquitofish have unleashed has led the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list them amongst the world’s 100 most-harmful invasive exotic species.
To address the challenge of invasive mosquitofish, lead researcher Maurizio Porfiri of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, together with a team of collaborators, has conducted biomimicry experiments in the laboratory using biologically inspired robotic fish. The robot fish act as predators, simulating largemouth bass, to provoke mosquitofish stress responses. Stressing the invasive mosquitofish depletes their energy reserves and, in turn, disrupts their reproduction rates. (inhabitat)