What a week! It starts with a new PM who has shown little sign of recognising the urgency of net-zero actions, and finishes with a new king who has always been a keen friend to environmentalists. Will they behave to stereotype? Liz Truss’s energy policy needs plenty of detail fleshed out, but does at least highlight the need to drive renewables deployment, so there is hope there. King Charles meanwhile moves into Buckingham Palace which was designated in 2009 as London’s most environmentally damaging building, although to be fair a major refit is being undertaken.
Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian partner on electric van production
Mercedes-Benz Vans, full range provider of electric private and commercial vans, and electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, have today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to initiate a strategic partnership. The partnership will enable the companies to cooperate on the production of electric vans.
Subject to the parties entering into final binding agreements and to obtaining the relevant regulatory clearances, the companies intend to establish a new joint venture manufacturing company with the purpose of investing in, and operating, a factory in Europe to produce large electric vans for both Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian, starting in a few years. The target is to build an all-new electric-only production facility leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central/Eastern Europe.
The companies envisage production-optimised vehicle designs for efficient manufacturing on common assembly lines. They will aim to produce two large vans, one based on VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture), the electric-only platform of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and the other based on the second generation electric-van, Rivian Light Van (RLV) platform. Further options for increased synergies from the joint venture will also be explored. (electriccarsreport)
UK Gov working to ‘break link’ between renewables and gas prices
Liz Truss says discussions are taking place between Westminster and renewables generators with a view to moving them on to Contracts for Difference (CfD).
Doing so would guarantee a fixed price for green energy, meaning it would no longer be set by the price of gas.
Projects that started up after 2015 are already on the “ultra-low cost contracts”, the UK Government’s main mechanism for bringing down the cost of renewables.
As it stands, older developments are free to sell their power on the open market, meaning they are tied to the price of gas.
Decoupling the two will make a tangible difference to the bills of UK households by reducing the cost of electricity, according to experts.
While delivering her energy strategy in parliament earlier, Ms Truss said: “We will speed up our deployments of all clean and renewable technologies, including hydrogen, solar, carbon capture and storage, and wind, where we are already a world leader in offshore generation. (energyvoice)
Battery and lithium mining projects share £25m funding boost
Advanced Propulsion Centre hands out grants to 22 projects aimed at developing a UK supply chain for batteries and other EV components
A raft of battery, electronics, mining, and recycling projects have scooped up a share of £25m in government funding this week designed to help scale up the supply chain for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing and recycling in the UK.
Twenty-two projects comprising 35 UK-based companies and research organisations have each secured grants worth up to £2m each through a programme aimed at supporting large-scale industrialisation led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).
Up to £1m of funding is being invested in developing a “high-value, end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain” in the UK, with winning projects focused on delivering supplies of critical materials such as lithium and other minerals through mining and recycling.
Grant winners include several pilot EV battery and fuel factory projects, such as those led by Amte Power, Reaction Engines and Bramble Energy, as well as Altilium Metals’ efforts to develop plans for a commercial battery waste recycling plant.
Battery-grade lithium mining start-ups British Lithium and Cornish Lithium have also both secured grants from APC to help scale-up their ambitious plans to access reserves of lithium in the South West of England. (businessgreen)
photo: Cornish Lithium
Octopus Energy launches street by street energy saving campaign
Octopus Energy has launched its ‘Energy Helpers’ scheme, a brand new in-home service providing households across the country with actionable, bespoke advice on how to save energy and reduce bills this winter.
Advice will be tailored to customers’ individual needs and provided by a team of trained energy saving experts. The new service has been trialled over summer and is now being rolled out country-wide. Through the new scheme Octopus hopes to make personal visits to at least 500,000 customer homes over the course of this winter.
This comes as energy prices are set to rise to £3,549 per year for an average UK home, further increasing the financial burden on households this winter.
There are several effective ways to lower energy consumption without compromising on comfort including turning down the water flow temperature of the gas boiler that is heating the home – a measure that can save people up to 8 percent off their gas bills.
Octopus’ ‘Energy Helpers’ will offer practical energy saving advice like the boiler flow tip as well as personalised measures to help lower energy usage and bring down bills. Most advice can be delivered at the doorstep, but Octopus’ DBS-checked ‘Energy Helpers’ will also be equipped with thermal imaging cameras in the colder months. If invited in, they will also be able to identify hidden draughts in customers’ homes and suggest low-cost ways to close them.
This builds on Octopus Energy’s ‘Winter Workout’ energy efficiency programme, which last winter knocked 12 percent off customers’ gas consumption on average, saving them almost £5 million on bills. Following findings that heating a person not the entire home can save people nearly a fifth on their gas bills, Octopus last winter also offered 8,000 electric blankets to customers that needed them most, saving them £300 on their energy bills. Both schemes will run again this winter. (renewableenergymagazine)
EV OF THE WEEK
Jeep repositions as an electric brand
The iconic American tonka tough brand is now owned by Stellantis (Peugeot to you and me). According to Autocar they are joining the parent’s efforts to offer full electric versions of their new cars, and this week announce three of five new electric offerings all of which will come to Europe.
First up is the “Avenger” which will utilise the existing small electric platform of the parent, as used by the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall e-Mokka. It is a small SUV of European dimensions which aims at a younger buyer. It will be good for 240 mile range and should launch in mid-2023.
By 2025 this should be joined by the “Wagoneer”, a large all singing SUV with high spec and range of as much as 400 miles and will sit on the upcoming large car architecture from Stellantis. Also coming is the Recon which is a stripped down off-road specialist with removable doors and roof, like the old Wrangler. It will also sit on the large car platform.
New Gas Terminals Arrive to Ease Putin’s Grip on Europe
Two floating liquefied natural gas terminals are setting up in a Dutch port, the first in a wave of the specialist tankers that Europe is banking on to ease the worst energy crunch in decades.
The Golar Igloo and the Eemshaven LNG are berthed together in the northern seaport of Eemshaven. Both are floating storage and regasification units, or FSRUs, designed to convert the super-chilled fuel transported on seagoing vessels into gas that can be pumped into onshore networks. The terminal officially opened on Thursday with the arrival of the first shipment from the US. (bloomberg)
France Restarting All 32 Nuclear Reactors by Winter
In May 2022 EDF reduced the estimated nuclear output from France’s reactor fleet for 2022 to 280-300 TWh, well below the ten-year average of 395 TWh. It estimates output for 2023 will be 300-330 TWh. As of the end of August 2022, 32 units were offline. Fourteen of those were either undergoing repair or investigation of corrosion problems that were first detected at Civaux 1 in December 2021 and 18 were offline for routine maintenance. Many planned outages were delayed or reduced in scope in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (nextbigfuture)
Germany’s Cheap Summer Train Fares Save 1.8 Million Tons of CO2
A German initiative slashing summer train fares drove widespread use of public transit, helping avoid 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to an estimate from the Association of German Transport Companies.
The scheme, which began June 1 and ends today, allowed travelers to use all buses, trams, subways, and regional trains for just 9 euros a month, effectively cutting fares by more than 90 percent in some major cities. By discouraging car travel, the measure aimed to curb imports of Russian oil, reduce emissions, and aid commuters grappling with rising fuel costs.
Over the last three months, transit authorities sold some 52 million subsidized tickets, with one in five travelers using public transit for the first time, according to a survey from Deutsche Bahn and the Association of German Transport Companies. An estimated 10 percent of summer train journeys replaced trips that would have been made by car, the survey found. The effect on emissions was roughly equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road for the summer or planting close to 30 million trees. (yale360)
Europe’s Newest Reactor Is Ramping Up Much-Needed Power Supply
Power output at Europe’s newest reactor is set to hit a landmark 1,000MW overnight as it ramps up toward full production, bringing some relief to the region’s strained market.
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 nuclear unit will provide much-needed supplies to the Nordic nation’s taut power system when it reaches full capacity later this autumn, after imports from Russia were cut completely in May. The Finnish grid has warned of rolling power cuts this winter as Europe faces its worst energy crisis in decades.
The reactor, which cost operator Teollisuuden Voima Oyj roughly $6.4 billion and was once set to be the world’s biggest, has been in test stage since starting in March.
Tests at the full 1,600MW level will take place in early October, TVO said in a statement. Regular production will be reached in December. (bloomberg)
photo: Wiki Commons
FOCUS ON: EMERGING BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
Zinc8 to manufacture its first zinc-air batteries in US market
Canadian battery developer Zinc8 Energy Solutions has announced plans to begin battery production in the United States, incentivized by manufacturing production credits in the US Inflation Reduction Act.
Zinc8 Energy Solutions has developed a proprietary flow battery technology that it claims is able to deliver power in the range from 20 kW to 50 MW that can store and discharge energy durations from 4 to 100 hours. Scalability and higher capacity is achieved with an increase in the size of storage tanks that hold zinc particles. The modular battery can be configured to support a wide array of long-duration applications for microgrids and utilities, as well as for commercial and industrial projects.
Unlike lithium-ion technology, which requires new stacks to scale, Zinc8 says it has completely decoupled the linkage between energy and power. This means that scaling Zinc8’s technology can be accomplished by simply increasing the size of the fuel tank and quantity of recharged zinc fuel. According to the manufacturer, the technology promises zero capacity fade over an extensive lifetime, and the batteries are non-flammable, non-toxic and sustainable with stable supply chains for mass production. (pv-magazine)
Sodium-ion batteries are a safe, cheap and abundant alternative to lithium
Next year electric bike giants Niu plan to launch a scooter powered by a sodium-ion battery rather than the lithium-ion cells which have become ubiquitous across the burgeoning electric bike market.
And despite suggestions that it’s a backward step in terms of performance, sodium-ion technology could become dominant in the future as a cheaper, safer and greener alternative to lithium.
UK-based Faradion are leading lights in the effort to take sodium-ion batteries to mass production, and this year were bought by Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd, themselves a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector company, for an astonishing £100 million.
As well as being deployed directly in electric vehicle batteries, the technology is intended to be used as storage for fast-chargers – essentially acting as the equivalent of storage tanks at petrol stations, but for electricity, recharging during quiet periods and helping to prevent the electricity grid from being overloaded when a glut of vehicles are charging simultaneously at peak times.
The idea behind sodium-ion batteries is to provide, in Faradion’s own words, ‘lithium-ion performance at lead-acid prices’ by using sodium – which is widely available across the globe and can be extracted from salt – instead of lithium, which is relatively scarce and expensive. (motorcyclenews)
Battery made of crab shell and zinc is rechargeable and biodegradable
A rechargeable battery made from crab shells and zinc could store wind and solar energy, and then its parts can either safely biodegrade within a matter of years or be recycled.
The key is chitosan, a compound derived from chitin, a substance found in crab and shrimp shells. The battery could provide impressive power storage and be recharged at least 1000 times, says Liangbing Hu at the University of Maryland.
Lithium-ion batteries are the current standard, but their production requires mining lithium, which can damage the environment, and there are limited supplies of the metal.
Batteries based on zinc ions are an interesting alternative because zinc is so abundant in nature, says Hu. However, zinc-ion batteries usually can’t be charged many times and perform poorly because the water inside the battery – which is necessary as a conductor for the ions – corrodes the zinc and forms deposits on the anode that interfere with the battery’s function.
Hu decided to investigate chitosan because its molecules bond well with water, which means fewer water molecules should be available to react with the zinc, which might help prevent zinc corrosion. (newscientist)
Quantum batteries: Strange technology that could provide instant power
The fundamentals of battery science the same as they were half a century ago, so the prospect of a drastic improvement looks slim.
Slim, but not impossible. Now, quantum physics could ride to our rescue. By leveraging the strange behaviour of subatomic particles, a quantum battery could charge itself much faster than any conventional device. As a handy bonus, the bigger a quantum battery, the better it performs. Although the concept is in its infancy, a recent experimental demonstration and some theoretical advances suggest that a world of uninterrupted portable power isn’t so far-fetched. One day, dead batteries could spring back to life in an instant. (newscientist)
ECO – SOLAR POWERED BUILDING
The new 550 Spencer building has a grand solar facade
At first glance, the 550 Spencer building might look like any other gleaming, modern building. Look closer and you’ll see something different. You’ll see an incredible design that is fully autonomous and sustainable. This building in Melbourne is setting an example for the world to follow.
The exterior of the building is reflective and gleaming, a mirror for the world. This look is achieved partially through the solar facade system made by Avancis, a German company. This system had never been used before in Australia. Furthermore, the north side of the building is covered in these panels, a highly visible example of what it looks like to capture the sun’s energy.
Therefore, the building will be sustainable, autonomous and produce more energy than it consumes. The building also has eight stories and a total of 1,182 solar panels. With solar panels on the building, the roof is free for all sorts of other ideas.
CUUB Studio created the renderings for the project in partnership with Kennon to show the true potential of this amazing building and the way the sun reflects off the facade. All the sunlight hitting the building is being used and stored to power the building, rather than going to waste by simply shining bright. (inhabitat)
photo: CUUB Studio
Tesla plans world’s biggest EV charging station
Tesla is rolling out another 420 electric vehicle Supercharger units across its home state of California as part of four new charging facilities, including what could be the world’s largest so far, with a total of 164 stalls.
According to a report by Drive Tesla Canada, the planned projects – all of which have won funding through a state government grant scheme – include two 100-stall sites: one in Barstow, in the Mojave Desert region of California’s south, and one in Willows, a town in the state’s north.
A further “smaller” project will install 56 Superchargers at the San Bernadino County town of Baker, which is often used as a pitstop for people traveling to Las Vegas – so as good a place as any for a bunch of new Tesla fast chargers.
But the headline news is the reported 164-stall site Tesla has secured funding to build in Coalinga, in central California, which appears set to take the mantle of the world’s biggest of its kind. (thedriven)
Snow Lake Lithium to produce enough lithium to power 5 million EV’s
Based in Manitoba, Canada, Snow Lake Lithium is developing the world’s first all-electric lithium mine to enable domestic supply of this critical resource to the North American electric vehicle industry.
Snow Lake Lithium is ideally located to serve the North American automotive industry with access to the US rail network via the Arctic Gateway railway, which reduces transportation from thousands of miles by road and boat to just several hundred by train.
To enable the seamless integration of the supply chain, Snow Lake Lithium plans to establish a joint venture to create a lithium hydroxide processing plant and is seeking a partnership with an automotive OEM or a battery manufacturer to deliver this. The proposed plant will be located in CentrePort Canada in Southern Manitoba and a scoping study is underway to identify the most effective approach to deliver a world-class lithium hydroxide plant within the Manitoba Province.
Snow Lake Lithium’s 55,000-acre site is expected to produce 160,000 tonnes of 6% lithium spodumene a year over a 10-year period. Currently, Snow Lake Lithium has explored approximately 1% of its site and is confident that further exploration will increase estimates over the course of the next year. Snow Lake Lithium’s planned mine will be operated by almost 100% renewable, hydroelectric power to ensure the most sustainable lithium manufacturing approach. (electriccarsreport)
photo: Snow Lake Lithium
Toyota ranks last in global green car report
A Greenpeace East Asia report ranking global car makers on their environmental credentials has placed Toyota at the bottom of the pile, while another damning Greenpeace report has exposed the carmaker’s anti-climate lobbying efforts.
The initial report – the Auto Environmental Guide 2022 – found that 499 out of every 500 Toyotas sold is powered by fossil fuels. The report found that while global sales of EVs doubled in 2021, Toyota’s zero-emissions vehicles made up just 0.2% of total sales in 2021, amounting to the lowest proportion of overall sales out of the top 10 largest car makers around the world.
In contrast, General Motors ranked number one for its decarbonisation efforts, with EVs making up 8% of total sales, while Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen ranked second and third, respectively. Nissan also came in low in the rankings, one of only two companies (alongside Toyota) whose annual growth in EV sales was well below the global average.
The ranking is based on the manufacturers progress towards decarbonisation, phasing out of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and resource reduction and efficiency. (thedriven)
Scientist can now create green hydrogen direct from the air
Scientists have found a way of generating green hydrogen from atmospheric moisture and electricity. In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists found that electrolyzing humidity in the air can produce viable hydrogen. The discovery means hydrogen can be generated even in regions that do not have natural water bodies.
“We have developed a so-called ‘direct air electrolyzer,’” in short, DAE,” said Gang Kevin Li, a senior lecturer at The University of Melbourne and co-author of the paper. “This module uses a hygroscopic electrolyte exposed to the atmosphere constantly. Such electrolyte has a high potential to extract moisture from air spontaneously (without external energy input), making it readily available for electrolysis and hydrogen production once coupled with a (renewable) power supply.”
Thereby, this new method can both run and produce renewable energy. These findings may open doors in the future of solar-to-fuel conversion devices that can be operated anywhere on Earth. And, in short, overcoming the water shortage problem with this way of hydrogen production. (inhabitat)