Another exciting new mnemonic for the lexicon: NDC, or “nationally determined contribution”. All the signatories to the Paris Agreement are meant to announce their pledge by the year end. As host next year it was important that we lead from the front. Credit where it is due, we have with a commitment to reduce emissions 68% by 2030 based on 1990 levels. Commitment is one thing, delivery quite another obviously.
Downing raises £122m in first renewables trust IPO of 2020
The manager said it would apply for shares of the Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust (DORE) to be admitted to trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
The company aims to provide shareholders with sustainable income streams alongside “an element of capital growth”.
It will invest in a portfolio of renewable energy and infrastructure assets diversified by technology, geography, project stage and revenue type, it said. Its underlying assets will be based in the UK, Ireland and northern Europe.
DORE is targeting a net asset value total return of 6.5% to 7.5% a year over the medium to long term and expects to list in December. (investmentweek)
BlackRock debuts software that assesses climate risk for investors
BlackRock has unveiled new software to help investors quantify climate risk and low-carbon opportunities relating to their portfolios.
Called Aladdin Climate, the software has functions for measuring both physical and transition risks for whole portfolios. It is also able to measure the impact of likely and potential policy changes and technology advancements on specific investments.
BlackRock has worked with data providers Sustainalytics and Refinitiv to develop the software and claims it offers more than 1,200 key performance indicators relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics. (edie)
Competition watchdog launches market study into EV charging sector
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching a market study into electric vehicle (EV) charging in the UK to ensure the sector works well for drivers in the UK.
It is considering two broad themes, including how to develop a competitive sector while also attracting private investment and how to ensure people using EV charging points have confidence that they can get the best out of the service.
The announcement comes as the government has brought forward the ban of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030.
The sector is still in the early stages of development but is growing quickly, with almost 20,000 charge points currently in the UK – up from around 1,500 in 2011.
The CMA is therefore considering how to ensure the sector works well for consumers now and in the future, which will help to build trust in the service and address any competition issues.
It believes if people can see the service will work for them, they are more likely to make the switch to EVs, which is crucial to achieving the government’s ambition for a net zero economy by 2050.
It will look at charging in a range of different settings, including home and off-street parking, on-street parking, workplace, hub and destination and en-route charging. (energylivenews)
Scottish homes to be first in world to use 100% green hydrogen
Hundreds of homes in Scotland will soon become the first in the world to use 100% green hydrogen to heat their properties and cook their meals as part of a new trial which could help households across the country replace fossil fuel gas.
Some 300 homes in Fife will be fitted with free hydrogen boilers, heaters and cooking appliances to be used for more than four years in the largest test of whether zero carbon hydrogen, made using renewable energy and water, could help meet Britain’s climate goals.
They will begin to receive green gas from the end of 2022, at no charge, and up to 1,000 homes could be included if the first phase of the trial is completed successfully. (guardian)
UK One Step Closer to Building Nuclear Fusion Power Station
The UK has taken a large step towards building the world’s first nuclear fusion power station by announcing it is searching for a 100-plus hectare site that gives easy access to its electricity grid.
However, as New Scientist reports, there are still major hurdles to overcome before the plant could start generating power.
Essentially, fusion reactors are aimed at reproducing the way the sun makes energy, by fusing hydrogen together to make helium. This requires huge magnets that are powered by a significant amount of energy, meaning that no fusion reactor has yet produced more energy than it consumed.
As New Scientist points out, that might change in 2025, when the world’s biggest fusion project, ITER in France, is powered up. The team behind the French reactor hope it will turn 50 megawatts of power into 500MW and, in doing so, prove that a net gain is possible.
STEP’s power output goal is lower at a net gain of 100MW. However, unlike ITER, it will be connected to the electricity grid, allowing researchers to understand how a fusion plant can be connected to a country’s system. (interestingengineering)
Ofgem gives green light to £12.7m hydrogen trial project
Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition has approved a first of its kind offline hydrogen research facility to understand how transmission assets could be used to transport hydrogen in the future to heat homes and deliver green energy to industry.
The facility will be built from a range of decommissioned assets, to create a representative transmission network. Blends of hydrogen up to 100% will then be tested at transmission pressures, to assess how the assets perform.
The hydrogen research facility will remain separate from the main National Transmission System, allowing for testing to be undertaken in a controlled environment, with no risk to the safety and reliability of the existing gas transmission network.
Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition will provide £9.07m of funding with the remaining amount coming from the project partners. (theenergyst)
EV of the week
Aptera is back
Those who have been following EV of the Week since the beginning will remember us mentioning the Aptera, which looked like a trainer airplane with the wings and tail cut off. It died, either because it was a concept ahead of its time or because it was bonkers.
Those who went for the former explanation will pleased to hear that the Aptera is back and open for orders. The release boasts some startling claims: prices start from $25,000, there is an option of a solar skin that can recharge 46 miles per day, which means you could live with one and never need to plug it in, but maybe not in the UK. The top of the range model offers a 100kWh battery which can run for 1,000 miles on a charge they claim. This is achieved thanks to a super-slippery body, made of only four core components, which creates an energy efficiency of 10 miles per kWh, way better than any other EV. (insideEVs)
Nokia confirms 5G as 90% more energy efficient
A new study by Nokia and Telefónica has found that 5G networks are up to 90% more energy efficient per traffic unit than legacy 4G networks. The research, which was conducted over a three-month period, focused on the power consumption of the Radio Access Network (RAN) in Telefónica’s network. The rollout of 5G networks is set to increase traffic dramatically making it critical that the energy consumed does not rise at the same rate. The findings highlight both companies’ commitment to climate change.
Extensive testing examined eleven different pre-defined traffic load scenarios that measured the energy consumed per Mbps based on the traffic load distribution. The results highlighted that 5G RAN technology is significantly more efficient than legacy technologies when it comes to energy consumption per data traffic capacity with several hardware and software features that help to save energy. (theenergyst)
Eco Bangladeshi community centre
Anandaloy Building uplifts a Bangladeshi community
German architecture practice Studio Anna Heringer has received the international architecture prize OBEL AWARD 2020 for its work on the Anandaloy Building, an unconventional project combining sustainable construction and social development to catalyze local development in rural Bangladesh. Created to follow the practice’s motto that “architecture is a tool to improve lives,” the curved building was built by local villagers using locally sourced mud and bamboo and serves as both a community center for people with disabilities and a small workspace for producing fair textiles. The project’s name Anandaloy means ‘The Place of Deep Joy’ in the local Bengali dialect.
Located in the northern Bangladeshi village of Rudrapur, the multifunctional community center was designed to celebrate diversity and inclusion — concepts that are particularly important for those with disabilities in Bangladesh, where having a disability is sometimes regarded as karmic punishment. The building also helps empower local women and counteract urban-rural migration with the clothes-making project Dipdii Textiles located on the first floor. The project supports local textile traditions with work opportunities.
Local villagers of all ages and genders, including people with disabilities, built Anandaloy with a no-formwork mud construction technique called cob. Bamboo purchased from local farmers was also used for the structural components and the facade, which features a Vienna weaving pattern that the workers selected. The building completely runs on solar energy. (inhabitat)
Surge in China’s steel production helps to fuel record-high CO2 emissions
China’s CO2 emissions have rebounded from a steep, but short-lived, fall due to the Covid-19 lockdown to reach a new record high, analysis of the latest quarterly data reveals.
Government stimulus measures introduced earlier this year to fire up China’s post-covid economy have seen steel production, in particular, ramp up.
The three-month period from July-September saw steel output in China – which is a source of significant carbon emissions – rise by 10%.
The surge in steel output has also exposed that China is likely going to miss its own targets to cut steel capacity by the end of 2020, with many provinces reporting steel production that far exceeds their capacity control targets. (carbonbrief)
Amid Tensions in Myanmar, An Indigenous Park of Peace Is Born
Peace is a rare commodity in Myanmar, a country riven by ethnic disputes, ravaged by military overlords, and home to millions of people displaced by conflicts. But in the forested mountains of the country’s remote east, where it borders Thailand, the local Karen people have turned a war zone into a park of peace, centered on one of the last free-flowing international rivers in the world, the Salween.
The Salween Peace Park is being lauded as a model for conservation that draws less on Western science and more on ethnic cultural traditions of foraging for wild foods, taboos on hunting, and forest-friendly farming. In recognition, the Goldman Environmental Prize is being awarded this week to the park’s president and founder, Paul Sein Twa, who calls it “Indigenous self-determination and community protection of natural and cultural heritage.”
The peace park, established by the KNU two years ago, is the jewel in their crown of ecological self-determination. It is almost twice the size of Yosemite National Park, with control of the forests largely in the hands of villages operating according to traditional laws. (yale360)
Stanford scientists in perovskite solar breakthrough
For a greener alternative to silicon, researchers have focused on thin-film perovskites – low-cost, flexible solar cells that can be produced with minimal energy and virtually no CO2 emissions.
While perovskite solar cells are promising, significant challenges need to be addressed before they can become commonplace, not least of which is their inherent instability, which makes manufacturing them at scale difficult.
Scientists have developed perovskite cells that convert 25 percent of sunlight to electricity, a conversion efficiency comparable to silicon. But these experimental cells are unlikely to be installed on rooftops anytime soon.
All successful attempts to make cells have been at a tiny scale. Attempts to make bigger cells have produced defects and pinholes that significantly decrease cell efficiency. And unlike rigid silicon cells, which last 20 to 30 years, thin-film perovskite eventually degrades when exposed to heat and moisture.
To address the challenge of large-scale production, the Stanford team deployed a patented technology they recently invented called rapid-spray plasma processing.
This technology uses a robotic device with two nozzles to quickly produce thin films of perovskite. One nozzle spray-coats a liquid solution of perovskite chemical precursors onto a pane of glass, while the other releases a burst of highly reactive ionized gas known as plasma.
Using rapid-spray processing, the Stanford team was able to produce 40 feet (12 meters) of perovskite film per minute – about four times faster than it takes to manufacture a silicon cell.
In addition to a record production rate, the newly minted perovskite cells achieved a power conversion efficiency of 18 percent.
The Stanford team estimated that their perovskite modules can be manufactured for about 25 cents per square foot – far less than the $2.50 or so per square foot needed to produce a typical silicon module. (Stanford.edu)