Let’s start the year by looking back at the best EV’s of 2020. If you haven’t had any experience of electric motoring, you should, so as to understand the demonstrable benefits. Recent research stated that only 1% of EV buyers would look to revert to petrol/diesel for their next car. I suspect that this is the year that electric motoring will go mainstream so we shall try to keep you in touch with new developments starting with next year’s cars to watch in ’21.

Company news

Carlyle Makes $374 Million Commitment to Renewable Developer Amp
Carlyle Group Inc. has committed $374 million in equity capital to Amp Solar Group Inc., a Canada-based global renewables developer.
The investment is intended to spur growth in North America, Japan, Australia, Iberia and the U.K., according to a statement. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Amp’s focus on OECD countries enables the firm to pivot quickly when one market gets crowded and they have developed more than 1.8 gigawatts of renewables projects. Carlyle expects the company to complete another 2 gigawatts of solar and more than a gigawatt-hour of battery storage by the end of 2023. (Bloomberg)

UK news

Net-zero impact on UK economy to be ‘relatively small’, Treasury finds
The report contains analysis, rather than recommendations, as to how a policy will shape economic efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, both nationally and globally. The analysis will assist the creation of an official Net-Zero Spending Review, which will be published next year.
The interim report has been created following recommendations from the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC), which warned that the economic costs to reaching net-zero needed to be analysed to uncover the fiscal risks and opportunities across the whole UK economy.
The report found that global efforts to reach net-zero emissions are likely to deliver “slightly positive or slightly negative” levels of growth for the UK, depending on how policy is introduced to drive internal collaboration while positioning the UK as a global leader and exporter of low-carbon goods and services. However, the Treasury reiterates that net-zero is “essential” in delivering long-term prosperity and that the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan can form the basis of an enabling policy environment. (edie)
You can download the report HERE

Consortium secures €5m grant for offshore hydrogen production project
A consortium of energy leaders, including Ørsted, ITM Power, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy has secured €5 million (£4.5m) grant for an offshore hydrogen production project.
The OYSTER project, which is planned to start in 2021 and run until the end of 2024, aims to explore the potential of hydrogen production from offshore wind at a cost that is competitive with natural gas.
The consortium will develop and test an MW-scale electrolyser, which will be connected to an offshore wind turbine.
ITM Power will be responsible for the development of the electrolyser system and the electrolyser trials, while Ørsted will lead the offshore deployment analysis. (energylivenews)

Redevelopment of former shipyard to support offshore energy
Shepherd Offshore have announced a partnership with North Tyneside Council for the redevelopment of the historic Swan Hunter Shipyard.
Shepherd Offshore has become owners of the former Swan Hunter shipyard site located in Wallsend, North Tyneside. Working in partnership with North Tyneside Council and stakeholders for the redevelopment of the former shipyard, Swans Energy Park will aid job creation in the North East.
With access from the Tyne to key oil and gas fields and wind farm development sites such as Dogger Bank, Horsea and Firth of Forth, the Swan Hunter site is favourably located to support the North East offshore energy and subsea cluster. (theenergyst)

UK’s beef herds could be key to sustainable farming
The UK’s beef herd could be at the heart of a sustainable farming system that tackles both the climate and wildlife crises while producing sufficient healthy food, according to a report.
However, production and consumption of other meat, milk and eggs would have to fall by half, and large forests of new trees would have to be planted, an analysis from the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission charity (FFCC) found.
The analysis assessed agroecology, a type of agriculture that includes organic farming and aims to work with nature and ensure fairness to farmers, citizens and future generations. The scenario the analysis produced would see no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers in use in 2050 and almost 10% of today’s farmland freed-up for nature. Net greenhouse gas emissions would fall by about 75%, meaning the remainder would have to be removed by other means to reach the UK’s net zero target. (guardian)
Download the report “Farming for Change: mapping a route to 2030” HERE

EV of the year

This week I am looking back at the EV’s of last year. I sadly don’t get to road test many, so this is mores a review of the reviews. Next week I shall pick out some prospects for 2021

ID.3 is Titbits’ clear winner
There have been plenty of contenders this year in all shapes and sizes, with some especially exciting launches in China. For this I have stuck to cars we can buy here in the UK.
I don’t think any of the cars on the market are perfect, but most are pretty good and some very good. This is some achievement considering the headwinds that the industry has to contend with; charging infrastructure, heavy batteries, cold weather sensitivity to name a few. Some manufacturers are still struggling to combine decent range with affordable price. New offerings from Volvo, Honda and Peugeot/Citroen are all good efforts but can’t quite match the best on range vs price.
VW are the one major car company that are clearly prepared to go all the way in this market, which is why the launch of the ID.3 was so eagerly anticipated. I have to say that many reviews seemed to damn it with faint praise. I think this is unfair, I think that the car looks good and benefits from being an EV from the ground up in the clever use of space, rear wheel drive, tight turning circle (great in town) matched to GTI acceleration. You know it is an EV without having to look weird for the cause. Much has been made of the tacky interior materials, software glitches and lack of physical switchgear. If the first of these is an issue, wait for the Audi next year and the I am sure the software will improve with updates.
VW have also produced some technology that really works such as the brilliant, intelligent “matrix lights”. All in a great package for urban runabout or family transport, with decent range*, fast charging and all for a reasonable lease price.    

photo: VW

* Time to get over the “range anxiety” thing. There are plenty of chargers around in the UK and most of northern Europe


Danes deploy wind for balancing first
Wind energy has been used for the first time in Denmark to provide balancing services for the grid run by transmission system operator Energinet.
The TSO said the pilot project in partnership with trading group Energi Danmark shows that wind turbines, despite wind and weather, are reliable and can deliver exactly when needed.
The pilot has initially been based on turbines connected to the East Danish electricity price area, known as DK2, Energinet said.
The turbines have so far participated in the period in which Kundbyvaerket has been out of operation, and will continue to run for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, the company said. (renews)

Norway becomes first country to sell more electric cars than petrol vehicles
The Norwegian government plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025, and is using tax breaks and financial incentives to encourage the purchasing of more sustainable vehicles. 
Battery electric vehicles made up 54.3% of new car sales in 2020, up from 42% in 2019, according to figures published by the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) on Tuesday.
The most popular model in the country was the Audi e-tron sports utility and sportsback vehicles, with the Tesla mid-size Model 3 taking second place and the VW ID.3 third. (independent)

Poland Uses Clams To Control Its Water Supply
While most people probably think of clams and mussels as a part of some fancy dinner, it appears they have a much higher significance in some places. For example, the water quality in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, is monitored by clams.
After completing their acclimatization process, clams are placed in a specially designed flow tank. They are connected to the system controller that sends data to a computer which records the degree that the clams’ shells are open all the time. If the water quality deteriorates, the clams close their shells to isolate themselves from the contaminated environment. That automatically triggers an alarm and shuts down water supply while scientists perform laboratory tests.
Clams are very sensitive to water pollution and live only in completely clean waters and shut their shells immediately if they sense any impurity. (boredpanda)

Focus on:

Grid-Scale Battery Storage Is on the Rise
The twin smokestacks of the Moss Landing Power Plant tower over Monterey Bay. Visible for miles along this picturesque stretch of the Northern California coast, the 500-foot-tall pillars crown what was once California’s largest electric power station — a behemoth natural gas-fired generator. Today, as California steadily moves to decarbonize its economy, those stacks are idle and the plant is largely mothballed. Instead, the site is about to begin a new life as the world’s largest battery, storing excess energy when solar panels and wind farms are producing electricity and feeding it back into the grid when they’re not.
Inside a cavernous turbine building, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is currently being readied for operation, with another 100-megawatt battery to come online in 2021. Together, they will be able to discharge enough electricity to power roughly 300,000 California homes for four hours during evenings, heatwaves, and other times when energy demand outstrips supply, according to project developer Vistra Energy.
These aren’t the only super-sized batteries that will soon be operating at the Moss Landing plant. An additional 182.5 megawatts produced by 256 Tesla megapack batteries are scheduled to begin feeding into California’s electric grid in mid-2021, with plans to eventually add enough capacity at the site to power every home in nearby San Francisco for six hours, according to the Bay Area utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, which will own and operate the system. Elsewhere in California, a 250-megawatt storage project went online this year in San Diego, construction has begun on a 150-megawatt system near San Francisco, a 100-megawatt battery project is nearing completion in Long Beach, and a number of others are in various stages of development around the state. (yale360)

photo: Moss Landing

Eco Architecture Museum

Winning design for Korean Museum of Architecture and Urbanism announced
A recent competition sponsored by the National Agency for Administrative City Construction aimed to find a comprehensive design for the new Korean Museum of Architecture and Urbanism (KMUA) in Sejong, South Korea. The winning team was recently announced, along with plans for the project.
The winning green design focuses squarely on illuminating architecture as a science and art, while respecting Korean history and the environment.
the museum will feature examples of architecture in both the displays and the building itself. To achieve energy efficiency, the building will use glass and natural ventilation. Additionally, the building enclosure is designed as a high-performance floor-to-ceiling glazed membrane, with embedded heat recovery vents.
Demonstrating a dedication to sustainable building, the entire structure will abide by the Design for Disassembly doctrine. This means the materials used in construction can be disassembled and reused at the end of their usable life as part of KMUA. (inhabitat)

Global stuff

Funding to accelerate hydrogen-electric solutions for zero-emission airplanes
ZeroAvia’s mission to transition the world to zero-emission, hydrogen-fueled flight picked up a significant tailwind today as the startup announced $21.4 million in new funding in a Series A round. Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund led the raise, with follow-on investors Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures, Shell Ventures, and Summa Equity. In addition, the company established a partnership with British Airways and received approval for new UK government funding through the ATI Programme to deliver an additional $16.3 million of non-dilutive funding breakthrough 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft that is market-ready by 2023. Today’s announcement brings the total new funding to $37.7 million and the total funding since inception to $49.7 million. (theenergyst)

photo: ZeroAvia

IBM to launch new data platform to map plastics waste
IBM has partnered with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) on a new data platform to help track plastic waste and recovery globally.
The AEPW launched in January 2019 and was backed by 50 companies representing chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods firms, retailers and manufacturers across the plastics value chain. These included Procter & Gamble (P&G), Veolia and ExxonMobil that jointly committed more than $1bn to fund solutions that minimise the amount of plastic in the environment by utilising closed-loop solutions.
Technology and consulting giant IBM has this week joined the AEPW as a supporting member and will aim to develop a new data platform hosted on IBM Cloud to help track plastic waste and recovery globally.
The Plastics Recovery Insight and Steering Model (PRISM) will act as a single data collection point for corporates and NGOs to access data that will inform waste management decisions. (edie)

Techie corner

BladeBUG Repairs Wind Turbine Blades Remotely
Wind turbines have blades that can be hundreds of feet long and weigh thousands of tons. Not only do they operate high up in the air, many are located miles offshore where accessing them is both difficult and hazardous.
Turbine blades need to be inspected regularly to spot potential structural weaknesses or damage that may affect their efficiency. Traditionally, the only way to inspect turbine blades was to conduct a visual inspection by people hanging from ropes attached to the top of a turbine pylon. Chris Cieslak, a blade designer, had a better idea, a six legged robot he calls BladeBUG which “walks” along a turbine blade from one end to the other, using suction cups to keep it from falling off.
BladeBUG passed its first big test recently, walking up and down a 50 meter long turbine blade on a 7 MW demonstration turbine operated by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. The robot is operated remotely by a technician as it conducts visual inspections and nondestructive testing. It is also capable of making some repairs during its journey.
ORE Catapult says BladeBUG may be able to lower maintenance and repair cost by between 30 and 50 percent because it can operate in weather conditions that are impossible for the people who have to rappel down the blades to carry out inspections. (cleantechnica)

photo: BladeBug