Some of these oil companies and hydrogen stories leave me wondering whether there isn’t another distraction strategy at work, rather like companies promising to invest into CCS over the years

Company news

ENGIE and INEOS team up for hydrogen pilot project
ENGIE and INEOS are teaming up for a pilot project to replace natural gas with hydrogen at the latter company’s industrial plant in Antwerp.
For the first time in Belgium, hydrogen will be used in a commercial-scale co-generation plant designed to generate electricity and heat from natural gas.
Initially, 10% of the gas feed will be replaced with hydrogen, increasing to 20% if the process works.
ENGIE will be responsible for the design, installation and operation of the technology at the INEOS Phenol site in Doel, which has experience in handling hydrogen as a raw material for its production processes.
The project will provide both companies with valuable insights and data in the use of hydrogen in industrial facilities, such as monitoring efficiency and measuring emissions during combustion, which is essential in the development of next-generation burners. (futurenetzero)

photo: Ineos

UK news

UK introduces new mandate on sustainable petrol blends
The Government has run a consultation on how to make E10 – a lower-carbon fuel mixed with 10% ethanol – to become the standard grade of petrol at UK stations from 2021. Ministers believe that E10 can cut emissions from transport by 750,000 tonnes annually – the equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from UK roads.
From September 2021, E10 will be mandated across the UK, in a bid to reduce emissions from transport. (edie)

Thames Water and Kingston Council plot pioneering domestic heating scheme
Thames Water and Kingston Council announced this morning they have applied for capital funding from the government for the ‘poo power’ scheme, which they said would be able to supply up to 7GWh of low carbon heat annually to 2,000 homes.
The partners touted the pioneering scheme as a model for low-carbon heating systems that could be replicated elsewhere in the UK, confirming they planned to ultimately extend the project’s reach within Kingston to deliver greater carbon savings across the borough.
Under the plans, heat is to be captured from the final effluent of the sewage treatment process at the Hogsmill sewage plant in Surrey and diverted to a dedicated waste-to-energy centre that will be built on site. The heat will then be concentrated and supplied to homes on the Cambridge Road Estate through a sealed network of pipes, they said. (businessgreen)

photo: Thames Water

Nuclear power could produce one-third of the UK’s clean hydrogen needs by 2050
Nuclear power could produce one-third of the UK’s clean hydrogen needs by 2050, according to the Hydrogen Roadmap agreed by the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) last week. The NIC, co-chaired by the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth and the Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, sets strategic priorities for government-industry collaboration to promote nuclear power in the UK.
The NIC roadmap outlines how large-scale and small modular reactors (SMRs) can produce both the power and the heat necessary to produce emissions-free hydrogen, or “green hydrogen”. Nuclear stations also provide a constant, reliable supply of power that allows electrolysers to operate more efficiently, cutting production costs. Existing large-scale reactors could produce green hydrogen today at scale through electrolysis, as could the next generation of gigawatt-scale reactors. SMRs, the first unit of which could be deployed within the next ten years, would unlock further possibilities for green hydrogen production near industrial clusters.
Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) under development offer one of the most promising innovations for green hydrogen production, since they will create temperatures high enough to split water without diverting electricity. The ability to generate both power and hydrogen would cut costs further, add flexibility, and allow co-location of reactors with industry to aid further decarbonisation. The UK Government has targeted an AMR demonstrator by the early 2030s. (theenergyst)

EV of the week

Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 is a big deal
Launches of EV’s are coming thick and fast now, but this in Titbits’ view, is a biggie. This is a second generation EV as is the VWID.3 & 4 in that the manufacturer’s have already done one. In Hyundai’s case the Ioniq and Kona both of which were met with high praise and showed that Hyundai knew what it was doing in EV’s. The company’s proximity to the major battery manufacturers like LG probably helps. Hyundai’s cars’ are better than any others at delivering the promised range and their efficiency is second only to Tesla.
Last year Hyundai announced that they would create a whole new EV platform around the Ioniq name starting with the Ioniq 5, what they call a mid size SUV, but which to me looks more like a raised hatchback. They have not disappointed: The car has striking looks encapsulating both a retro stick and super modern design. It is clearly an EV because the wheels are pushed right to the corners allowing a huge passenger space and it powered from the rear as is becoming popular. It should boast up to 300 mile range and is the first mid-priced EV to have 800v charging capability allowing it to charge at up to 200kW, which should recharge the battery from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. Only the Porsche has that level of sophistication.
Hyundai will be launching a whole range of cars under the Ioniq brand using this new GMP battery platform. This is a strong statement of intent and well timed. Now Hyundai have to back it up by manufacturing in sufficient numbers.

photo: Hyundai


Work begins on underground hydrogen storage project in Germany
German energy provider EWE has started the construction of a cavern for hydrogen storage in Rüdersdorf, near Berlin.
The cavern storage facility will have a capacity of 500 cubic meters, which corresponds to the volume of a single-family house. The company is working with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on this project.
The DLR Institute for Networked Energy Systems will examine, among other things, the quality of the hydrogen during storage and after it has been extracted from the cavern.
In the first stage of the project, EWE will build a derrick on an existing borehole and this work is expected to take a week. The utility will then install and cement a steel pipe from the surface to a depth of 1,000 meters by the beginning of April. This will connect the pilot cavern with the earth’s surface.  (pv-magazine)

Northvolt to establish Europe’s largest factory for energy storage solutions in Poland
Northvolt’s vision of enabling the future of energy takes a new step forward through a $200 million expansion of its battery systems capabilities in Gdańsk, Poland. Entering into production in 2022, a new factory will have an initial annual output of 5 GWh, and potential future capacity of 12 GWh.
The investment will facilitate a ramp-up in the manufacturing capacity of battery modules and systems in order to fulfill contracts that Northvolt has secured with customers seeking long-term, high-volume supply agreements for complete battery system solutions across grid and industrial markets.
The factory will receive its supply of lithium-ion battery cells from Northvolt Ett gigafactory, located in Skellefteå, Sweden.
As Northvolt’s ambition is to continue to build on the low emission production platform established in Sweden within its operations in Poland, the new factory will be powered with renewable energy, including on-site renewable energy generation. (electriccarsreport)

Focus on: Brexit and the ETS

Moving from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to the UK-only ETS
Out of the 11,000 installations that take part in the EU ETS, roughly 1,000 energy intensive industries and power stations are found in the UK. Additionally, 150 UK-administered aircraft operators take part in the EU ETS.
In Summer 2020, the UK Government set out its response to a consultation on the future of UK carbon pricing after the UK formally left the EU. The response committed to slightly lower allowance caps, 5% below the UK’s expected share of the EU-wide system over the period 2021 and 2030. The number of allowances that will be issued in the UK ETS in 2021 will therefore by 156 million, reducing by 4.2 million each year after.
The auction reserve price (ARP) for allowances in the UK ETS will be £22 per tonne of carbon for the first actions to be held in mid-2021.
However, this may be subject to change following the Climate Change Committee’s 6th Carbon Budget, which suggests a higher rate of decarbonisation.
The Government has committed to consulting on how to best align the UK ETS with the net zero goal within nine months of the CCC’s advice and may choose to decrease the number of allowances further to drive rapid emissions reductions. It has said that the changes following this consultation will be implemented no later than 2024, an indication of how seriously setting a trajectory for reaching the net zero goal is being taken.
There is scope to link up the EU and UK ETS in the Agreement made between the UK and the EU. There is a precedent for this as Switzerland linked their own ETS with the EU scheme on the January 1st 2020.
Linked systems would improve liquidity in both markets, as well as providing an example on how multiple cap-and-trade systems around the world can be brought into sync. Ultimately, the decision to link systems is a political one, and will be dominated by demands made by both sides if a discussion to do so begins. (eciu)

Eco: Corporate HQ

Amazon’s Helix
When Amazon announced that they were looking to build another HQ it encouraged an unseemly stampede from US cities trying to lure them.
There will be three new 22-storey buildings on the site, built to the highest sustainability certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, running entirely on outsourced solar and offering 2.8 million square feet of office space between them. And nobody’s going to notice them at all because of the giant, swirly, green-and-glass soft serve ice cream dollop in the middle.
It’s called the Helix, and while it will have some offices and “alternative work environments” built into it, the two walking paths spiralling up the outside will be the structure’s calling card. Landscaped with “lush gardens and flourishing trees native to the region,” it’ll offer a neat little urban hiking experience, as well as spaces for artists to sit and be inspired by their green, spirally surroundings and make stuff. The overall vibe could end up being reminiscent of the spectacular Cloud Forest biodome and its skywalks in Singapore, but with an American twist instead of a tropical one. (newatlas)

photo: Amazon

Global stuff

Deforestation for palm oil reduced ten-fold in Southeast Asia
New deforestation data has revealed impressive progress in combating forest clearances across Southeast Asia throughout 2020, with just 93,800 acres of deforestation associated with palm oil plantations recorded over the course of the year.
The level of deforestation stands at just a tenth of historically high levels seen in the region, according to the figures from Chain Reaction Research, while Indonesia experienced the lowest overall deforestation rates in two decades. The progress also appears to be part of a trend with 2020 marking the fourth year that deforestation for palm oil in Southeast Asia was less than 250,0000 acres.
If sustained over the next decade, the palm oil industry will have avoided 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution over 10 years compared to business as usual, the data reveals. It will also have helped save a raft of threatened species whose habitats have been devastated by tropical deforestation in Southeast Asia, including orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and tree kangaroos. (businessgreen)

Old EV batteries secure energy storage second life
The Australian Government has announced AUD$1.49 million (£840,000) in funding to a project that gives old electric vehicles (EVs) batteries a second life as energy storage assets.
The funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will see the AUD$3.3 million (£1.8m) project of the Melbourne-based battery technology company Relectrify use retired batteries to electrify commercial and industrial applications.
The venture aims to show the capability of this technology to extend the lifetime of batteries and reduce battery cost further.
The commercial-scale battery is believed to be roughly ten times the size of a Tesla Powerwall 2.
Relectrify’s battery technology could be rolled out in a range of applications such as solar integration, providing backup power on farms and to microgrids, deferring the need for network upgrade and replacing diesel generators. (energylivrenews)

Who will clean up the ‘billion-dollar mess’ of abandoned US oilwells?
Abandoned oil wells are becoming a major environmental problem in the US. As the oil and gas industry contracts owing to the pandemic, low prices and the rise of renewables, more than 50 major companies have gone bankrupt in the last year. Joe Biden’s recent order to pause drilling on federal land could drive that number higher.
Unplugged wells, either orphaned wells, which have no liable party, usually due to bankruptcy, or idle, abandoned ones, where the company has walked away, but could still be liable, cause rampant methane emissions – up to 8% of US total according to a 2014 analysis. They also leak brine, oil and fracking fluid into the groundwater, and carcinogenic gases, like benzine, into the air, and as their numbers increase the impacts grow.
There could be as many as 3.2m abandoned wells in the US, according to a 2018 EPA report, but this is probably an undercount because both federal and state programs for regulating and monitoring non-producing wells are incomplete. There are an estimated 2,500 of them in the Powder River Basin, in Wyoming alone.
The thinktank Carbon Tracker, reports it could cost $280bn to reclaim wells, and public bonding data indicates that states have less than 1% of that money in secure bonds. (guardian)

Techie corner

Google spin-off Malta raises $50m for long duration energy storage system
Malta, the thermal energy storage company spun off from Google’s parent company Alphabet in 2018, has raised $50 million in the latest round of funding to commercialise its technology.
The Malta Pumped Heat Energy Storage (PHES) system converts electricity from any source, either directly from a generation facility or from the grid, to be stored as thermal energy.
It can provide a daily or weekly load cycle by efficiently storing up to 200 hours of energy storage, though early systems will focus on current market applications in need of 10 to 12-hour durations.
In addition to dispatchable renewable energy, Malta’s PHES system technology generates heat for industrial and district heat applications.
The financing was led by integrated energy group Promon, with participation from new investor Dustin Moskovitz and existing investors Alfa Laval and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. (energylivenews)

photo: Malta