This week Tesla announced price cuts of about 20% on most of its vehicles in the US and European markets. As usual with anything to do with this company views on the ramifications of this move are highly polarised. The Tesla bears proclaim that this is a sign of fundmental weakness at the company and even desperation. The bulls, by contrast suggest that this a powerful confirmation of the superior costs and margins at the company and will serve notice to competitors that Tesla is still a few years ahead of any other EV maker in terms of business efficiency. One thing is for sure: a ratchet down in prices is exactly what the market needs to kick on adoption of EV’s.


Energy Vault says 2022 revenue will be 40-100% higher than guidance
Energy Vault is expecting full-year revenue for 2022 of US$142-152 million, ahead of previous guidance of US$75-100 million.
The company, which is known for its gravity-based energy storage solution but has spent the last year quickly diversifying into battery storage and now even green hydrogen, provided the trading update last week.
The better-than-expected results are down to project and supply chain execution being ahead of schedule for its battery energy storage system (BESS) businesses and its expansion into Europe and the Middle East for its gravity-based solution (gravity energy storage systems or GESS).
Most of the revenue came in quarter four, with an expected figure of US$96-$106 million. (energy-storagenews)

Photo: Energy Vault

Czech energy distributor acquires UK power producer
One of the UK’s largest independent power producers has been acquired by an investment group, and its energy division, the 4th largest energy distributor in the Czech Republic.
InterGen’s parent company has today concluded the sale of InterGen and its UK operations to CREDITAS Group.
InterGen has operated flexible gas assets in the UK for more than 25 years and its projects produce enough power to supply nearly three million homes, the equivalent of 5% of the UK’s electricity supply.
The power producer has around 2,800MW in operation between three combined-cycle gas turbine plants and one open-cycle gas turbine plant.
The company’s UK portfolio also includes the 450MW ‘Gateway Energy Centre’ battery energy storage system development project, expected to become Europe’s largest. (energylivenews)


Finally Elms is published – a new dawn for UK farming?
Long-awaited details of England’s post-Brexit farm payments scheme have been published by the government.
The environmental land management schemes (Elms) will pay farmers public money for actions like managing crop pests without chemicals and working towards net zero.
The measures have been broadly welcomed by farming and environmental groups.
According to the government, the money will enable farmers to produce food sustainably while protecting nature and enhancing the environment.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said farmers were at the heart of the economy, producing food but also being the custodians of the land it comes from.  
Elms payments are designed to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidies now that the UK is no longer part of the EU. They represent the biggest shake-up of farm policy in England for 40 years.
Agricultural policy in the UK is a devolved responsibility and each nation is implementing its own schemes.
In England, the Elms will now comprise three payment schemes:

  • The Sustainable Farming Incentive focuses on soil health and reducing the use of “inputs” such as fertilisers and insecticides
  • The Landscape Recovery Scheme will pay landowners for ambitious large-scale “rewilding” projects
  • The Countryside Stewardship Plus scheme will reward farmers for action to support climate change adaptation and help nature

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is being expanded to include payments for looking after hedgerows, grasslands and soils.
The Countryside Stewardship Plus will reward farmers for “taking coordinated action, working with neighbouring farms and landowners to support climate and nature aims”. (bbc)

Railpen acquires Cambridgeshire solar project
The investment manager for the Railways Pension Scheme, which has assets under management of £37bn, has continued its investments in the UK renewable energy sector with the purchase of the 30 Meagwatt peak solar farm.
The acquisition marks the second collaboration between Railpen and BayWa r.e. following the purchase of the Tralog Wind Farm in 2019. This latest acquisition follows the pension manager’s investments in the Margam and Sleaford renewable energy plants. (businessgreen)

Centrica to turn a former gas-fired power plant into a green energy hub
A former gas generator in North Yorkshire will soon be transformed into a green energy hub.
Centrica has announced the acquisition of the four-acre former Knaption Generating Station and unveiled plans to develop a 28MW battery on the site.
The energy company will also explore how the site of the 42MW power plant could be used for off-grid hydrogen production.
The multimillion-pound deal is part of Centrica Business Solutions’ ambition to create a 900MW portfolio of solar and battery assets by 2026. (energylivenews)

Report suggests extending carbon tax to clothing and electricals to reach net zero
Behavioural Insights Team’s (BIT) new report calls on the government to extend the UK carbon tax to incorporate consumables, such as clothing, electricals and household goods, to achieve net zero.
The report, “How to build a Net Zero society”, presents over 20 policy recommendations.
A survey by BIT included in the report found that 73% of people backed extending carbon levies to consumables so that prices “reflect environmental impacts”.
The section of the report titled “Greening consumption: waste and circular economy”, recommends that the government must greatly simplify recycling standards and labels, and explore “novel behavioural strategies”.
The report states that the “evidence” shows “significant confusion” around recyclability. As a solution, the BIT advises that prominent “recycle me” labels on the front of packaging are effective.
The organisation also calls for the government to explore the use of a lottery-based deposit return scheme, where consumers have the chance of winning a cash prize draw upon returning an item.
The BIT’s survey also found that 77% of people are willing to choose more sustainable products, 79% are willing to repair and reuse and 90% are willing to recycle. (circularonline)


A significant refresh for 2024 Polestar 2
When Chinese manufacturer, Geely bought Volvo people were fearful. They needn’t have worried. The brand has recovered well after the years of underinvestment when owned by Ford. One of the more surprising developments was the launch of Polestar, a dedicated EV brand that was pitched as a more sporty Volvo. The first significant launch was the Polestar 2 in 2019 which has been a big success despite being created from a Volvo S60 base. It carved out a niche as an alternative to the Tesla Model 3 that was great looking, beautifully made and ran a Google based infotech system that actually worked.
Now there is a refresh for the 2024 model, which is considerably more than purely cosmetic.  There are new in-house designed motors which are moved from powering the front wheels to the back delivering extra power and efficiency, therefore more range which is aided by bigger batteries on some models. Combined these changes will give the long range single motor version a range of up to 390 miles, and the standard range up to 320 miles. The improved batteries, from CATL, also allow for faster charging. A lesson in how to improve an already attractive package. OK, there is a cosmetic change: the front grill is replaced by a panel containing all the lazers, sensors & lidars that modern cars have.

photo: Polestar


BP Pulse powers up Rhine-Alpine electric truck charging corridor
The zero emission truck sector has passed another major milestone, with the launch of Europe’s first dedicated electric truck charging corridor in Germany.
BP’s electric vehicle charging arm, BP Pulse, announced the launch of six public charging locations along a 600km stretch of the Rhine-Alpine corridor, which have been fitted with ultra-fast 300kw charge points that are specifically designed for electric trucks.
The corridor is one of the busiest road freight routes in Europe connecting North Sea ports in Belgium and the Netherlands with the Mediterranean port of Genoa in Italy through a network of motorways that cover around 1,300km.
Six charge points along the route are already open and BP Pulse said that a further two are set to come online within the next six months to complete the initial 600km long charging corridor.
The company said the 300kw charging stations are each capable of charging more than 20 E-Trucks, per charger each day.
The chargers can deliver up to 200km of additional range in around 45-minutes and are located at BP’s existing Aral retail sites, which offer access to hot food, restrooms, and showers for drivers to use during their mandatory rest periods. (businessgreen)

photo: BP Pulse

Pyrrhic coal exit: Germany’s bad bargain with energy colossus RWE
Heralded as a “courageous step for climate protection,” Germany’s government has in 2022 reached a compromise with RWE, Europe’s most polluting energy firm, to stop mining and burning its filthy brown coal by 2030 – a full eight years ahead of previous plans. But the deal, negotiated by several Green-Party led ministries, also authorizes RWE to keep several units at one of the world’s most toxic power plants to stay longer on the grid, at least through 2025, instead of closing at year’s end. And despite cheers that the new agreement will keep 280 million tonnes of carbon in the ground, scientists fear the heaps of lignite now set to be burned will prevent Germany from meeting emissions limits set under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Under the terms of the deal, RWE will now continue to operate two lignite-fired units at its huge Neurath power plant west of Cologne that had previously been scheduled to come offline at the end of 2022 through March of 2024.
Blocks D and E, with a combined 1.2 GW capacity, will join Neurath’s 50-year old A block, that was also supposed to have its plug pulled back in April.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, three of Neurath’s units were supposed to retire in 2022, with a fourth scheduled for 2023.
Now none will be going offline. (theglobalenergiewende)

Photo: Pexels

Germany lifts rates for ground mounted solar systems to help meet new targets
Germany’s Federal Network Agency has increased maximum support rates for ground-mounted solar system tenders by 25 per cent to 7.37 euro cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The move is expected to make investment in photovoltaic (PV) projects more attractive.
With a maximum rate of 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, ground-mounted system tenders last year were undersubscribed.
The new rates are expected to change that. German lawmakers in December expanded the agency’s oversight with regard to renewable power rates.
It can now increase PV rates by up to 25 percent, 15 percentage points more than before. BNetzA has already increased auction rates for onshore wind energy and rooftop solar systems.
The new rates apply to tenders in 2023, including the next auction scheduled for March. (reneweconomy)

Photo: Google

K2 Management to support hybrid renewables
Renewable energy engineering and project management consultancy K2 Management (K2M) has announced that it will begin offering technical due diligence, energy yield analysis and lenders advisory services for hybrid wind and solar projects across Europe in 2023.
K2M is launching the service after identifying the important role project hybridisation could play in realising the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan.
At present, very few hybrid wind and solar projects exist in Europe, but K2M sees some of the challenges that prevent future hybrid project development as capable of being addressed through new ways of looking at site design, grid management, construction management and investment optimisation. 
Currently, many of the impediments to wider hybrid project development concern a lack of clear understanding as to local grid management, and restrictions on the proximity of solar panels to wind turbines.  Owner operators also need to be confident in calculating whether the interplay of resources on an existing site are complementary enough to provide a return on investment for installing additional clean power generation.
Despite these challenges, hybrid systems are expected to become increasingly cost competitive in the coming years, particularly owing to the opportunity for such systems to increase power system efficiency and ensure a greater balance of resources in the energy supply. (renewableenergymagazine)

Photo: NREL

FOCUS ON: The Voluntary Carbon Offset market

Carbon Offset Market Could Reach $1 Trillion With Right Rules
The total value of carbon credits produced and sold to help companies and individuals meet their de-carbonization goals could approach $1 trillion as soon as 2037, BloombergNEF finds in a new research report. However, the so-called voluntary carbon market – which allows for the trading of verified emission reduction credits equivalent to 1ton of carbon each – is not built for success as currently structured. More rigorous definitions of quality and greater emphasis on carbon removal could solidify market confidence, lift prices and drive demand.
BNEF Modelled three alternative market scenarios as follows:
1. In the first, voluntary market scenario, companies could purchase any type of carbon offset to achieve their net-zero goals and would need 5.4 billion offsets annually in 2050. The market would remain consistently oversupplied and 8 billion offsets would be created annually in 2050, primarily from avoided deforestation. Prices would rise to just $12/ton in 2030 and $35/ton in 2050, allowing companies to lean on cheap offsets with dubious environmental value to meet their decarbonization goals.
2. Under the removal scenario, the supply-demand balance would be much tighter as only offsets from projects that actually removed carbon from the atmosphere would be allowed to count. Credits from avoided deforestation or clean energy projects would be eliminated. In this scenario, the market would be briefly undersupplied starting in 2037 because the technology to remove carbon, direct air capture (DAC), remains costly to be built at major scale. Carbon offset prices would soar above $250/ton with the annual market reaching nearly $1 trillion. The drawback to this scenario could be that the high price and scarcity of credits acts as a disincentive to companies who might disengage from the market.
3. A third scenario in BNEF’s outlook, the bifurcation scenario, assumes that this debate effectively splits the market into two pieces. One is a smaller, less liquid market for high-quality offsets, including technology-based removal and nature-based solutions in Africa, North America and Oceania. Demand for high-quality offsets reaches just 433 million in 2030 and 1.3 billion in 2050, but buyers are faced with a smaller pool of supply relative to other scenarios in the report at 1.4 and 3.2 billion in the same years. Prices peak at $38/ton in 2039 before dropping to $32/ton in 2050.
Existing separately in this bifurcation scenario is a larger market for all remaining low-quality offsets, including energy generation and nature-based solutions in Asia and Latin America. Prices are higher earlier due to greater demand at $12/ton in 2025, but reach just $22/ton in 2050. Companies leveraging this low-quality market could rely more on offsets to achieve their net-zero goals, but would have to contend with reputational risk at a far greater scale than what they face today. (BNEF)


Regen Fiber launches innovative method to recycle wind turbine blades
New Iowa business Regen Fiber has launched an innovative way to recycle wind turbine blades that are no longer in use, so they don’t end up in landfills, converting them instead into reusuable materials for manufacturers in the concrete, mortar and other industries.
The primary end product is a top-performing reinforcement fiber that increases the strength and overall durability of concrete and mortar applications such as pavement, slabs-on-grade and precast products. The company also produces microfibers and additives from components of the wind blade for use in a range of composite, concrete and soil stabilisation applications.
By preventing decommissioned wind turbine blades from ending up in landfills or releasing combustion byproducts, such as carbon, into the atmosphere if burned, Regen Fiber’s new and sustainable solution is helping to solve the wind industry’s growing challenge of finding environmentally friendly ways to dispose of wind turbine components.
In 2021, Regen Fiber began piloting the process at a facility in Des Moines, Iowa. Working with customers in the concrete industry, Regen Fiber has been able to validate products’ performance and ensure the products meet customer requirements.
Large, commercial-scale operations for the recycling of decommissioned blades are expected to begin in the second half of 2023. A new manufacturing facility for Regen Fiber to recycle decommissioned blades is currently being constructed in Fairfax, Iowa, in a section of Alliant Energy’s Big Cedar Industrial Centre, next to Travero’s Logistics Park Cedar Rapids. (renewableenergymagazine)