100 days to COP26 and still no Roadmap from China or India and an underwhelming reaction to the recent one from Indonesia which pretty much sticks to existing targets

Company news

BP snaps up Open Energi
The oil and gas giant announced today that Open Energi will join its BP Launchpad portfolio of start-up and scale-up technology companies that can support its overarching net zero emission goals.
Open Energi is one of the leading players in the UK’s fast-expanding flexible grid market, which sees operators use a combination of artificial intelligence, digital technologies, energy storage capacity, and demand response systems to dynamically manage power supply and demand.
Open Energi’s technology allows a range of corporate and clean energy customers to access power markets and grid payments by dynamically adjusting demand to take advantage of high levels of renewables generation and provide power to the grid at times when generation is low and power prices peak.
The company’s products and services are currently used to optimise the performance of a network of energy assets with a total capacity of over 80MW. (businessgreen)

ChargePoint to buy European charging software startup for $295M
ChargePoint struck a deal to buy European charging software company has·to·be for €250 million ($295 million) in cash and stock, the electric vehicle charging network’s first acquisition since it became a publicly traded company.
Through the deal, ChargePoint gains more than just 125 employees and the company’s operating software, which manages more than 40,000 networked ports in Europe. The acquisition will give ChargePoint a boost in its pursuit to gain market share beyond North America, as well as VW Group as a strategic partner.
VW Group was an early investor in has·to·be, which was founded in 2013, and will continue a relationship with ChargePoint along with other customers of the software company, such as Ionity, Audi, Porsche, BP, Total, Lidl and GP Joule. ChargePopint will also add to its operations has·to·be offices in Munich, Salzburg and Vienna. (techcrunch)

UK news

Government confirms the introduction of a Green Gas Levy
Plans to fund the production of biomethane ‘green gas’ to provide low carbon heating for homes and businesses through a new carbon tax on UK fossil fuel gas suppliers have been confirmed this week, with the government signalling that it aims to launch the new tariff scheme in the autumn.
The Green Gas Levy and accompanying Green Gas Support Scheme, which were first announced as part of the Budget last year, are set to apply to gas suppliers in Scotland, Wales, and England and are designed to help reduce emissions by growing the proportion of low carbon biomethane used on the gas grid.
Heating is currently responsible for around a third of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, due to the overwhelming majority of homes and businesses being heated by fossil fuel gas. As such decarbonising the gas grid remains “one of the biggest challenges we face in meeting our climate targets”, according to the government.
Under plans confirmed by the government today, licensed fossil fuel gas suppliers in Britain will soon face a new levy – the precise rates of which are set to be announced later this year – with the proceeds used to support the growth of lower carbon biomethane production throughout the UK. (businessgreen)

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is a good start, but more is needed
Last week, the government published its strategy for a greener transport system, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which has been welcomed for new policies on electric vehicles and a significant positive shift in tone around cycling, walking and public transport.
The plan spells the end of an era for polluting vehicles in the UK. Subject to consultation later this year, all new vehicles sold after 2040 will have to be zero emission
Beyond cars, the plan has committed to “making public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice”. But many were disappointed not to see new policies or funding for active travel and public transport, although the plan promises announcements on cycling and walking later this summer.
The plan sets a new 2040 net zero target for domestic aviation and a 2050 target for all aviation emissions. The solutions put forward include increasing the use of fuels that are less polluting than kerosene and developing new fuel and aircraft technologies, which the experts say won’t exist at scale by 2050. That is why the plan’s own predictions show that aviation emissions could remain flat until 2050, even once the government’s policies are put in place.
The plan does not announce any new funding. Whether for rolling out active travel infrastructure, supporting a countrywide EV charging network, scaling up zero emission freight or reforming fares to make public transport and rail more attractive and affordable, new funding must be made available for greener transport and to stimulate private sector investment. We will be watching to see if the Treasury’s upcoming net zero review and the autumn spending review are used as opportunities to do so. (greenallianceblog)

EV of the week

Heatherwick Studio reveals Airo car that will clean pollution as it drives
London-based Heatherwick Studio has unveiled its concept for the Airo electric car for IM Motors that will “vacuum up pollutants from other cars”.
Revealed today at the Shanghai Motor Show, the vehicle for newly formed Chinese car brand IM Motors was designed by Heatherwick Studio as its first car.
Named Airo, the electric car will be fitted with a HEPA – high-efficiency particulate air – filtering system that will actively clean pollution. It will have both autonomous and driver-controlled modes. (dezeen)

photo: Hatherwick Studio


United Invests In Swedish Electric Airplane Startup
Swedish electric airplane startup Heart Aerospace says its ES-19 will be ready to begin commercial service on flights of 250 miles or less by 2026.
Unites Airlines, through its venture capital subsidiary, has agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 electric aircraft from Heart and anticipates having them transporting paying passengers before the end of the decade. Mesa Airlines, a subsidiary of United, has also signed up for 100 of the electric airplanes. Heart has also attracted investments from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
What’s the big deal about small, electric aircraft? First, their cost of operation is considerably lower than  a conventional airplane. Not only is the cost of electricity less than the cost of fuel, maintenance costs will be lower as well. Second, small airplanes can access smaller airports with lower landing fees to bring passengers to larger transportation hubs. In a sense, lower emissions are just part of the story. Expanding air travel to include customers who find flying too inconvenient today can be a major boost to revenue. (cleantechnica)

Photo: United Airlines

Total & Veolia in microalgae deal
TotalEnergies and Veolia have joined forces to accelerate the development of microalgae cultivation using CO2. The two partners will pool their know-how to develop a four-year research project at the La Mède biorefinery, operated by TotalEnergies, with the long-term goal of producing biofuel.
Through photosynthesis, microalgae use sunlight and CO2 from the atmosphere or from industrial processes to grow. When mature, they can be transformed into next-generation biofuels with low carbon intensity. As part of the project, a test platform will be set up to compare different innovative systems for growing microalgae and identify the most efficient ones.
Veolia will therefore bring its expertise in: the water sector to optimize management of the microalgae’s aquatic environment, and the development of algal biomass as an effective solution for CO2 capture.
TotalEnergies, in synergy with the business lines at the La Mède site, will bring its expertise in:  the cultivation and refining of biomass to produce advanced biofuels, and CO2 capture and utilization technologies. (futurenetzero)

Will Russia’s Forests Be an Asset or an Obstacle in Climate Fight?
Stretching across eleven time zones, Russia has the largest area of forest on the planet, with more than a fifth of the world’s trees. New research has found that, as those trees grow faster in a warmer world and edge northward into the Arctic tundra, they are grabbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster than any previous estimates would suggest.
It is, of course, good news for the global climate that nature is in overdrive in the great wilderness of Siberia. But climate scientists are increasingly concerned that there is a downside, too. For the government of Vladimir Putin has, in recent months, said that it plans to meet its climate commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement in large part by counting Siberia’s carbon uptake as an offset against the country’s industrial emissions, which would therefore be allowed to continue largely unchecked.
The problem with this is that the carbon dioxide absorbed by Russia’s forests is already accounted for in climate models. To claim credit for essentially natural processes will undermine the credibility of national targets for carbon emissions aimed at achieving “net zero” by 2050. Yet critics say that this accounting sleight of hand is allowed under rules established by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for measuring national contributions to cutting carbon emissions. Those rules, they say, have inadvertently written a blank check for any forested countries intent on preserving their right to continue burning fossil fuels. (yale360)

Focus on: EU Green Deal Announcement

The EU produced its highly significant Green Deal proposals this week. Bloomberg produced an excellent summary which I have summarised here. Already the individual governments are starting to moan, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.

The Seven Elements of the EU Green Deal You Should Care About
From the scores of new rules for cutting carbon across the economy, we summarize below the key elements of the so-called Fit for 55 package — the EU’s program to slash pollution by at least 55% from 1990 levels.
The EU’s compliance carbon market is the world’s gold standard. It will look to accelerate the pace at which emission caps shrink each year. This will force manufacturers, energy companies and airlines to improve the pace of their de-carbonisation efforts
2. Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
Essentially a import levy on steel, aluminium and cement that comes in from countries will less stringent carbon pricing regimes. Countries such as Turkey and Russia will not be happy with this.
3. Shipping and Aviation
Shipping will be brought into the EU ETS and Aviation will lose its exemptions. These sectors have flown under the radar for long enough
4. Car Emission Standards
55% emissions reduction from new cars by 2030 and zero emissions by 2035. A noticeable tightening of the rules
5. Renewable Energy Targets
The target for the percentage of energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade is raised from 32% to 40%
6. Energy Efficiency
The Commission wants to promote energy efficiency across multiple sectors, from construction and agriculture to transport and communications. It plans to mandate all public bodies to renovate their buildings so that they waste less energy.
Efficiency requirements will have to be considered in public tenders and governments will have to focus on increasing energy savings among vulnerable consumers, helping to alleviate energy poverty.
7. Land Use abnd Forestry
The EU wants to increase the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by “sinks” such as forests and grasslands — to 310 million tons a year by 2030 from around 270 million tons currently.
The bloc is also working on a system of carbon-removal certificates, which would help curb emissions in agriculture by allowing farmers to offset their pollution. (Bloomberg)

Eco off grid work pods

Minka Solar Pods provide versatile off-grid work or chat hubs
The worlds of business and leisure are changing at an exponential rate, and keeping up with the times means making space for slowing down. London-based design studio Duffy London understands the need for comfortable and functional gathering spots with off-grid functionality as an alternative to the local coffee shop or boardroom for small get-togethers.
Building on the prior success of its indoor Japanese-inspired Minka Pods and Retro Pods, the company has released the outdoor-only Minka Solar Pods, which are designed to break up open spaces with cozy seating for up to four people.
The finished look is modern and sleek, and it can function as a work hub, complete with four USB ports and acoustic panels that stifle distracting noises nearby. Minka Solar is 100% powered by the premium photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion battery integrated into the design, so it can be placed anywhere from the center of a city boardwalk to an off-the-beaten-path location. (inhabitat)

photo: Minka

Global stuff

New Model For Transmission Line Ownership
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians will own the portion of a $740 million Southern California Edison transmission project that will carry renewable energy across tribal lands, Indian Country Today reports. The innovative agreement will enable the tribe to earn revenue from the transmission lines well into the future while saving SoCal Edison as much as $500 million in upfront costs to acquire the right-of-way through the critical Banning Pass. “We’re willing to share the model with any tribe that has this issue across the country,” Former Morongo Band Chairman Robert Martin told ICT. “And there’s thousands and thousands of miles that go through reservations.” (cleantechnica)

Photo: Southern California Edison

Techie corner

Sub-zero water splitting marks a new dawn for solar hydrogen production
Using hydrogen as a fuel source is preferable to fossil fuels as it is renewable and contributes very little, if at all, to the greenhouse effect. In areas where the temperature is regularly below freezing, hydrogen fuel stores easily in tanks, so a method that produces hydrogen locally would go a long way to fulfilling the energy needs of remote populations. A problem with this is that most conventional methods for producing hydrogen do not work well at sub-zero temperatures.
Now, a team of researchers in Germany, led by Matthias May of the University of Ulm, has devised a technology that would allow hydrogen production at low temperatures. The method works by using electrolytes with low freezing points, such as dilute sulfuric acid, to allow the use of water at lower temperatures. This is combined with strict thermal control of the whole device to prevent loss of heat to the environment and to transfer additional heat energy from the solar cell to the electrolyte, resulting in an interior working temperature of around 10°C. (chemistryworld)