At a time when the conversation in the UK is al about shortages of salad ingredients, it is pleasing to see that Grow Up Farms, a pioneer of vertical farming, has landed a contract to sell red and green salad mix bags in selected Iceland stores. I worked with this company in their early days, and applaud Kate Hofmann and her team’s perseverance and determination to lead in this fledgeling industry. Not only do Grow Up make a delicious product that is long lasting and made without any pesticides, but the “farm” in Kent is run entirely on renewable energy.

photo: Grow Up


Gore Street NAV per share increase is good news for storage sector
Gore Street Energy Storage Fund has declared its estimated unaudited net asset value (NAV) per share increased to 113.5 pence as of 31 December 2022.
The increase in the NAV per share comes despite macroeconomic challenges the fund had witnessed in its September 2022 results. At the time, the fund confirmed its asset value surged 45% over the six months from 31 March 2022, as ancillary service revenues stayed strong.
Following this strong performance, Gore Street continued its upward trajectory and finished the year with a NAV share of 113.5 pence per share – a 2.16% increase on the previous NAV as of 30 September when it stood at 111.1 pence per share. (solarpowerportal)

photo: Gore Street


UK emissions fall 3.4% in 2022 as coal use drops to lowest level since 1757
Emissions from coal and gas fell in 2022, due to strong growth in clean energy, above-average temperatures and record-high fossil fuel prices suppressing demand.
The 15% reduction in coal use means UK demand for the fuel is now the lowest it has been for 266 years. The last time coal demand was this low was in 1757, when George II was king.
Emissions from oil increased, as road traffic returned to pre-Covid levels and air traffic doubled from a year earlier. However, this was outweighed by the reductions from coal and gas.
UK emissions have now fallen in 9 of the past 10 years, even as the economy has grown. The drop in 2022 puts UK emissions 49% below 1990 levels, while the economy has grown 75% over the same period. (carbonbrief)

Aggreko releases new line of modular, mobile battery energy storage solutions
Aggreko has unveiled the latest additions to its battery energy storage offering – modular and mobile 30 kVA (65 kWh) and 60 kVA (120 kWh) solutions. It says charging can be completed in as little as three hours, and the containerized nature of the batteries means they are delivered as fully integrated systems with inverters, HVAC, fire protection, and auxiliary components, all in one unit.
The systems can be scaled up as required, which makes them suitable for a range of applications, including events, data centers, refineries, and renewable energy projects. Regardless of the project type, Aggreko works with customers to build contracts with rental periods as short as six months or extend to several years, with a simple monthly or annual fee.
The freshly released 2023 battery lineup forms part of Aggreko’s Greener Upgrades program (pv-magazine)

Jardine Motors Group adopts Veolia’s circular waste oil solution
Veolia says Jardine Motors Group is the “first of the UK’s leading automotive dealer groups” to contribute 100% of their used oil to the circular economy.
Jardine Motors Group represents 14 premium and luxury brands including Audi, Mercedes, Ferrari and Porsche.
Through servicing customers’ vehicles at their sites nationwide, Jardine generates significant volumes of used lubricating oil which is now sent through a re-refinery process supported by oil recovery specialists, Slicker Recycling.
This process transforms the oil back into a “high-quality base oil product” which is used as a key component for new lubricating products, Veolia says. (circularonline)

Photo: Avista Green

CCC report shows the way to reliable zero-carbon electricity by 2035
The CCC’s new report is based on new hour-by-hour modelling of the country’s electricity system out to 2035, which includes stress-tests of how it could ride out extended “wind droughts”.
In effect, the report is a 131-page answer to the question often posed by those sceptical of climate action: “But what about when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine?”
The CCC sees cheap – but variable – wind and solar meeting 70% of demand. While nuclear and biomass might meet another 20%, they are “relatively inflexible”. Therefore, the final 10% is key.
This 10% will largely come from “flexible low-carbon” solutions, such as batteries, compressed air storage and responsive demand. Crucially, however, gaps lasting days to weeks at a time will be filled by gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and/or hydrogen power.
As an additional source of security, the committee endorses a small remaining role for unabated gas power in 2035. This would meet “up to around 2%” of annual demand, down from 40% today. (carbonbrief)
Download the report HERE


Double dose of Mercedes news this week, reinforcing the view, as stated here a few weeks ago, that the incumbent luxury carmakers are starting to take electric cars seriously.

Mercedes’ Alabama built EQE SUV will qualify for US tax credits
Mercedes continue quickly to roll out their EV variants across the range. This time it is the SUV version of the recently launched EQE. This one will be built in Alabama and will start at $77,900 which will allow US buyers to claim the EV tax credit.
This SUV slots into the electric range below the super-luxury EQS SUV, despite looking very similar. It runs on a more compact wheel base than the saloon, but is spacious nonetheless and aerodynamics are excellent. It has a heat pump and electronic powertrain management which should ensure that it delivers excellent range. The European version claims 341 miles from the 90kWh battery, but the American version has a slightly bigger 105kWh battery.  

photo: Mercedes

New baby Mercedes electric car to rival Tesla Model 3
Mercedes will redefine the entry point to its line-up from 2024 with the arrival of an all-new compact luxury car. It will also mark the debut of a new platform and infotainment system for the brand.
Based on the firm’s forthcoming MMA underpinnings, the new all-electric compact saloon will rival Tesla’s Model 3 as the most affordable model in the Mercedes range.
In line with the EQXX project, Mercedes is explicitly focusing on “greater range from smaller batteries”, with a future target energy density of more than 800Wh/l (for reference, a Tesla Model 3 battery offers around 680Wh/l), with a slim battery in the car’s floor helping to free up space. Expect the new car to eclipse the longest range currently on offer in the EQA SUV, at 324 miles. Whatever it’s called, this new car represents the start of a renewed focus on profit per car and sales margins, rather than volume. The company is pushing its most affordable models further upmarket, with a greater focus on higher-margin, luxury cars. (autoexpress)

photo: Mercedes


Hitachi Energy Faroe Islands BESS project doubles wind farm’s utilisation
Hitachi Energy has installed a 6.25MW/7.5MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) in the Faroe Islands for utility SEV, with substantial benefits to a connected wind farm.
The energy solutions arm of the large Japanese conglomerate announced the completion of the 1.2-hour project, the largest in the North Atlantic archipelago, last week.
The project is mainly to provide what Hitachi described as ‘backup power’ to the 6.3MW Porkeri Wind Farm on the archipelago’s southernmost island, Suðuroy, with SEV noting several benefits.
Frequency variations have ‘significantly improved’, the utility said, and the BESS increased the utilisation of the wind farm from 38% to 77% within the first three months of operation.
SEV also noted that since the BESS went online, the utility has had several days with 100% renewable energy on the island of Suðuroy, and that it has been able to take its thermal plant there temporarily offline.
The utility has plans to integrate more BESS projects in the island archipelago. (energy-storagenews)

photo: Hitachi Energy

FOCUS ON: Power Grids & the Energy Transition

A Power Grid Long Enough to Reach the Sun Is Key to the Climate Fight
A 152-million-kilometer supersized grid is what’s needed to power a greener future and avert climate disaster, according to BloombergNEF. That’s more than double the length of the grid today.
The pivotal role of the grid is evident in the bottlenecks getting new clean energy capacity connected. There’s almost 1,000 gigawatts of solar projects stuck in the interconnection queue across the US and Europe, close to four times the amount of new solar capacity installed around the world last year. Over 500 gigawatts of wind is also waiting to be plugged into the grid, five times as much as was built in 2022.
The problem is particularly acute in the US where the patchwork of now-antiquated grids was designed around a system reliant on fossil-fuel-powered electricity generation and planning for a renewables-led future doesn’t take a holistic view. Building long-distance transmission in the US is challenging in the absence of a federal authority empowered to approve such infrastructure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has proposed two major reforms to streamline interconnection queues and encourage grid operators to do more long-term planning.
It’s not just about more cables and wires, they need to be located in the right place, and this is changing as solar and wind farms crop up in different areas of the country to traditional coal and gas plants. Rather than taking a proactive approach to preparing the grid, it is currently being fixed bit by bit as new projects come along.
Scaling up the world’s grids won’t come cheap. Huge amounts of capital are needed to not only expand and upgrade networks to accommodate new generation assets and higher electricity demand, but also to replace aging assets. BNEF’s Net Zero Scenario envisages more than $21 trillion being spent by 2050, with the US and China alone accounting for over a third of this investment.
Building networks of transmission and distribution lines that can power a net-zero future will require an extraordinary amount of metals. BNEF expects the electricity grid to be the top consumer of copper among energy transition sectors in a net-zero world, needing around 427 million metric tons of the red metal between now and 2050. That’s almost eight times as much as wind turbines, solar panels and energy storage combined, and 1.5 times the amount of copper that will go into electric vehicles. By mid-century, the grid could account for more than a third of global copper demand. (bloombernef)

photo: Thomas Despeyroux/Unsplash

Atomic energy body proposes fusion framework to manage British energy grids
Energy grid operators could increase the reliability of their networks by adopting software designed to manage nuclear fusion experiments, claims the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
The UKAEA conducted a six month study with British energy storage startup Sygensys into how fusion control software, known as MARTe, might be used to help grid operators cope with more dynamic supply and demand scenarios.
The study examined the “tech transfer potential” of the fusion control software to help resolve grid stability issues and prevent blackouts, he added.
MARTe, or Multi-threaded Application Real-Time executor, was created by UKAEA in 1995 and has been developed since then for the plasma control and protection systems at the Joint European Torus (JET) project.
Released as open source in 2010, the software has since been adopted by various fusion research programs, including the mammoth International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
It is described as a real-time framework built over a multi-platform library which allows the execution of the same code in different operating systems, and is designed for hard real-time performance. (msn)


Growing crops at solar farms can boost panel performance and longevity
Growing commercial crops on solar farms can both increase commercial food production and improve solar panel performance and longevity, according to new Cornell University research published in the journal Applied Energy.
In New York, for example, about 40 percent of utility-scale solar farm capacity has been developed on agricultural lands, while about 84 percent of land deemed suitable for utility-scale solar development is agricultural, according to a previous research study from Zhang’s group.
The engineers showed that solar panels mounted over vegetation have lower surface temperatures compared to those arrays built over bare ground. Solar panels were mounted 4 metres above a soybean crop and the solar modules showed temperature reductions by up to 10 degrees Celsius, compared with solar panels mounted a half-metre above bare soil.
Senior author Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, added that there is potential for agrivoltaic systems – where agriculture and solar panels coexist – to provide increased passive cooling through taller panel heights, more reflective ground cover and higher evapotranspiration rates compared to traditional solar farms.The cooling effect is more significant than that induced by greater panel height; and the passive cooling adds to solar panel efficiency, according to the paper. Better yet, the temperature drops lead to an improved solar panel lifespan – and improved, long-term economic potential. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Tobi Kellner/Wikimedia Commons

How Washington State raised $300 million for climate action from polluters
A new effort to tackle climate change in Washington state just got a boost of cash. On Tuesday, the state announced the results of its first “cap-and-invest” auction. It raised an estimated $300 million from polluting companies to fund projects such as building clean energy, reducing emissions from buildings and transportation, and adapting to the effects of rising global temperatures.
In Washington’s first auction, held last week, the permits sold out, averaging about $49 per ton of carbon dioxide. The price was nearly double that of the most recent cap-and-trade auction held by California and Quebec, where the average was $28 per ton.
Washington’s auctions, which will take place four times a year, are projected to raise nearly $1 billion annually. At least 35 percent of the revenue is slated to go toward projects that benefit communities historically and disproportionately impacted by pollution. (grist)

EVs won’t lose range towing Lightship L1 electric RV
A U.S. startup called Lightship aims to become the Tesla of RV makers with a battery-powered travel trailer.
Founded in 2020, Lightship on Wednesday unveiled the L1, a trailer with an 80-kwh battery pack, which can not only power appliances, but also help propel the trailer. This propulsion system means EVs towing it won’t lose range, and internal-combustion vehicle fuel economy won’t suffer, according to Lightship, which claims in a press release that a 300-mile EV “will remain a 300-mile EV” while towing the L1.
Measuring 27 feet long, 8-feet-6 wide, and 10 feet tall in its maximum-space camping mode, the L1 is also more aerodynamic than a traditional trailer, and can run on battery power for up to a week without charging, according to Lightship. Solar panels can also generate up to 3 kw of power, eliminating the need for propane or gasoline generators, the company claims. (greencarreports)

photo: Lightship

Actually, Lightship aren’t the only ones to have thought of this work around for electric vehicles. Last year the venerable Airstream showcased the eStream electric travel trailer, which had its own battery propulsion. When towed behind an Audi e-Tron it actually increased the car’s range.

photo: Airstream

Nuveen Holds 80% of Rare Blue Bond Linked to Debt-Swap Deal 
Nuveen LLC has bought 80% of a rare blue bond designed to help finance debt relief for Barbados and protect its marine environment.
The investment firm, which is a unit of TIAA, has taken on an anchor role in the transaction, investing almost $60 million in the bond, it said on Tuesday.
It’s the first time Nuveen has allocated capital to a bond that’s tied to a so-called debt-for-nature swap. The announcement comes as investors try to get a sense of how safe the market is, amid worries its complexity isn’t matched by adequate transparency or regulatory oversight.
Analysts at Barclays Plc are among those to have raised concerns that the blue bonds being generated in connection with debt-relief arrangements aren’t always following the strict use-of-proceeds standards associated with the much larger market for green bonds. (bloomberg)


New thermal battery offers fast, efficient performance at low cost
Thermal energy storage systems use temperature shifts to store energy for later use, or for use at other locations. The most commonly used ways to capture energy are based on latent and sensible heat transfers.
The former heat method uses the amount of thermal energy needed for a phase change – which is a change in physical state, such as from solid to liquid, or liquid to gas – without altering the temperature of a material. This technique is associated with large energy densities. The latter is the thermal energy required to raise the temperature of a material without causing any phase transitions. A major advantage of this heat transfer method is its low cost.
Now, engineers at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, with support from the US Department of Energy, have developed a new thermal energy system that combines the best of both techniques. The Lehigh Thermal Battery consists of engineered cementitious materials and thermosiphons in a combination that enables fast, efficient thermal performance at low cost. The technology can operate with heat or electricity as the charging energy input.
The team has announced that, after three years of research and development, the Lehigh Thermal Battery is now market-ready. The process involved integrated system testing at 3, 10 and 150 kilowatt-hours thermal (kWhth) in a relevant environment.
The Lehigh Thermal Battery is suitable for decarbonization opportunities in energy-intense industry sectors, the flexibilization of conventional power plants, and advancements and penetration of concentrated solar power. (pv-magazine)

Photo: Lehigh University