Well, well, it looks like the Democrats have managed to get the Tax and Spend Bill through Congress! It took some nifty manoeuvring, which I don’t pretend to understand but this is highly significant in that it includes the biggest incentive programme for clean energy ever in the USA. With the US leading rather than being dragged along, the fight against global climate change starts to look just a little bit easier.
Johnson Matthey will invest £80m in hydrogen fuel cell factory
Johnson Matthey will invest £80m in expanding its site in Royston, UK to manufacture hydrogen fuel cell components. The announcement comes as the Government makes JM’s Jane Toogood the country’s first hydrogen champion.
The factory will begin production in 2024, with the capacity to manufacture 3 GW of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles. The UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre has forecast that the country will need 14 GW of fuel cell stack production by 2035 to meet hydrogen vehicle demand. It projects that fuel cells that offer greater range and faster refuelling could win out over electric systems for use in vans, trucks, trains and shipping. (chemicalengineer)
ICG snaps up British Solar Renewables
British Solar Renewables has been snapped up for an undisclosed sum by global asset manager ICG, which said its aim was to help grow the solar and energy storage developer into one of the UK’s leading integrated power producers.
First established in 2011, British Solar Renewables (BSR) has grown to become one of the UK’s largest integrated solar developers, having successfully developer, built and operated almost 1GW of solar and energy storage plants in the UK.
Announcing the acquisition, ICG said its ambition was for BSR to grow its portfolio to over 1.5GW of renewable capacity in operation within the next five years (businessgreen)
Electric car battery plant’s funding confirmed
Britishvolt, a firm planning mass production of electric car batteries in the UK has had government funding approved for its proposed factory – six months after the plan was first backed.
Britishvolt will build the plant in Northumberland, creating 3,000 jobs.
The BBC understands Whitehall has committed about £100m through the Automotive Transformation Fund.
The £3.8bn plant – which is being built in Cambois on the site of the former Blyth Power Station – will also receive backing from investors Tritax and Abrdn, which should unlock about £1.7bn in private money. (bbc)
Pensana to build rare earth oxides recovery plant
Construction has begun of a pioneering British plant designed to wrest control from China of recycling valuable magnetic metals used in EVs and wind turbines.
Metallurgists Pensana intend their £163 million new factory on the Saltend Chemicals plant in Humberside’s free port to re-process recovered magnetic rare earth oxides.
Up to 12,500 tonnes of oxides per year – half of them rare metals such as neodymium and praseodymium vital to low carbon power generation and transport – is intended to flow late next year from the factory. It will employ over 120 people directly, with as many as 500 during construction. (theenergyst)
St. Modwen to develop carbon-negative homes in Birmingham
St. Modwen has unveiled plans to develop up to 350 new all-electric, carbon-negative homes at a former car factory site in Birmingham.
The homes, on the historic MG Rover site that was once home to the MINI, will be powered by a dedicated smart grid, with electricity supplied and tracked across a network of homes to ensure they are gas-free.
The latest construction techniques and renewable technologies such as solar panels and heat pumps will also be used in the homes, which will be designed to produce more energy than they consume.
The company estimates they could help reduce a home’s energy bills by 76% when compared with a standard new-build home. (futurenetzero)
photo: St Modwen
Sizewell C has a water problem
Last week, the government gave the go-ahead for a new nuclear power station to be developed on the Suffolk coast known as Sizewell C.
What might not have been immediately obvious in the coverage of the government’s decision was that the Planning Inspectorate, tasked with assessing such projects, had recommended that permission be refused. The problem, the examiners explained, was fairly simple: EDF couldn’t say exactly where it would obtain one of the main substances needed to make a nuclear power station work, that substance being water.
As well as uranium, a reactor of the kind EDF plans to build needs water in very great volumes. Saltwater will do for part of the process, which is one reason why nuclear power stations are usually built beside the sea. But fresh or “potable” water will also be needed – first, to cool the two reactors, and then, just as importantly, to cool the irradiated fuel once it has been removed from the reactors. For this, absolutely pure water is essential. Sizewell B uses about 800,000 litres of potable water per day; Sizewell C, with its twin reactors, will need more than 2m litres per day, and as much as 3.5m litres per day during construction.
As one of the driest parts of the country, Suffolk is described by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed”. By 2043, eight years into Sizewell C’s 60-year operating life, the agency anticipates a water deficit in the county of more than 7m litres a day. Northumbrian Water, which operates locally as Essex and Suffolk Water, had made it clear to EDF that there was not enough local groundwater for either construction or operation. (guardian)
Scottish Power offering 1,000 green energy jobs
ScottishPower has launched its “biggest ever” recruitment drive, with the firm seeking to fill least 1,000 new green energy roles over the next year to help build out of a raft of wind and solar projects and carry out grid network improvements.
The green energy giant, which is owned by parent company Iberdrola, said it rapidly needed to fill a raft of new roles after securing a record number of green energy infrastructure contracts during the first half of 2022, including 2.1GW of renewable power projects. (businessgreen)
EV OF THE WEEK
At last, a no-bullshit EV
If I were to list the nonsensical boasts of the EV industry, it would take quite a while: Absurdly fast, sensors everywhere, byzantine touch displays, weird vegan interiors, programmable headlights, joysticks, farting. That is just the start, and also prices are resolutely “premium” and virtually all the companies launch the most excessive versions first, when reviewers agree that the base models tend to be best.
Fear not, however, a no-frills saviour is at hand: The Sion from Sono Motors, a Munich based startup will launch early next year. It is a mid-sized, boxy, practical family estate that comes in one specification with a 54kWh battery good for 190 miles. It’s panels are almost all flat, so can be completely covered with solar panels, which can generate up to an extra 70 miles of range a week. This is a genuine self-charging EV.
OK it does have one cute gimmick: in its no frills dashboard is a clear strip which houses a bright green moss. It is not there to filter the air, just to make you feel good.
The Sion is to be manufactured in Finland in decent numbers, and will be available from early next year. The fledgeling company already have over 19,000 reservations, which certainly helps to validate the concept.
photos: Sonos Motors
Plans unveiled for ‘Europe’s first’ net zero industrial park in Spain
Envision Group has signed an agreement with the Government of Spain to collaborate on the development of the first net zero industrial park in Europe.
The partnership includes the construction of a gigafactory of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), a development and innovation centre for the digitalisation of renewable energy systems, a green hydrogen generation plant and a wind farm and assembly of smart turbines.
The EV batter gigafactory in Navalmoral de la Mata is expected to have a capacity of up to 50GWh in the first phase and support the creation of 3,000 green jobs when it is operational in 2025.
It is part of the VENERGY+ Project, which consists of 12 partners from 10 Autonomous Communities, with suppliers of vehicle parts and components located using advanced technology as part of an integrated battery ecosystem.
The business-government collaboration for the net zero industrial park – which will be connected by a fully-electric truck transportation system and intelligently managed by Envision’s AIoT operating system, EnOS – is expected to catalyse Spain’s transition towards a net zero future. (futurenetzero)
photo: Envision Group
FOCUS ON: SOUTH AFRICA
Big changes to the energy industry in South Africa
Electricity generation in South Africa may come online at a faster pace than what we previously thought after president Cyril Ramaphosa proposed wide-ranging and urgent power reforms including a temporary legislative regime that cuts red tape, says Jeff Schultz, senior economist at BNP Paribas South Africa.
BNP Paribas noted that the president announced a series of energy reforms last night, adding that there are a few steps that are likely to make a significant difference on their own.
“And taken together, the measures certainly provide a considerable impetus to close South Africa’s electricity supply gap – more than 14GWh in the pipeline between now and 2025.”
The most important changes are as follows:
– The removal of the 100MWh cap on private electricity generation. There is now no limit on the private sector to procure and generate their own electricity. Earlier, the limit on private generation was raised to 100MWh from 1MWh in June 2021 and resulted in 4.6GWh in mining sector pledges for renewable investment.
– Doubling of energy bid window 6 to 5.2GWh. This is scheduled to be rolled out in April 2023.
– A temporary relaxation of local content requirements and red tape on licensing and environmental requirements in certain low-risk areas. This is particularly relevant for bid window 5 (2.6GWh), which is scheduled to be rolled out between now and September this year.
– New bid windows and integrated resource plan to be expedited to allow further determinations of new renewable investment bid windows into 2023 and beyond.
Incentivising rooftop solar and grid connections through standard feed-in tariffs, i.e. paying consumers for the excess power they generate.
– A renewed push to improve Eskom plant reliability through not only better skills attraction but also stepped up investment to improve falling energy availability (59% year-to-date).
– A proposal tabled in the MTBPS on what will be done to solve Eskom’s debt burden, in line with our baseline that a formal decision in Eskom debt will be made by the Feb. 2023 budget and after the legal separation of its transmission business in Dec. 2022. (businesstech)
TITAN Cement Group to scale Rondo Energy’s decarbonisation technology
TITAN Cement Group joins decarbonisation and electrification investment leaders, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Energy Impact Partners, in supporting Rondo Energy (Rondo) through its recent Series A financing round for the scale-up of its innovative ‘heat battery’ technology, aiming to provide new solutions for decarbonising power generation and heavy industry, including cement manufacturing.
The Rondo Heat Battery uses established industrial technologies to transform renewable electricity into heat at 98 per cent efficiency, exhibiting high scalability potential that’s cost competitive to current energy storage methods, claims Rondo. In addition to supplying heat at temperatures of up to 1500°C, the modular battery can store renewable energy generated during off-peak hours, ensuring grid load flexibility, and achieving additional greenhouse gas emissions savings.
Rondo will use the Series A funding to establish its first manufacturing lines, proceed with industrial demonstrations and develop services for both heavy industry and energy producers. (cement)
US takes over as world’s largest LNG exporter
The US became the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) during the first half of 2022.
That’s according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), citing data from non-profit organisation CEDIGAZ, which revealed US LNG exports increased by 12% between January and June 2022 compared with the second half of 2021.
Exports this year averaged 11.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), with the EIA suggesting the rise was due to increased LNG export capacity, increased global natural gas and LNG prices and a rise in global demand, particularly in Europe.(energylivenews)
Carbon capture train concept could clean air as it moves
Currently, the methods deployed to capture carbon directly from the atmosphere require vast amounts of land and energy to get this done. Researchers at CO2 rail, along with the University of Toronto, have therefore devised a new method that can tap into the existing rail network and capture carbon from the atmosphere while passenger and freight trains make their usual rounds.
The researchers plan to use purpose-built train cars equipped with large vents to take in the air. Since this will be done as the train moves at high speeds, it will eliminate the need for fans usually deployed by stationary direct carbon capture systems, saving significant amounts of energy.
The train cars will be equipped with chambers to collect carbon dioxide, which will then be concentrated and stored in a liquid reservoir under the train. The carbon dioxide-free air will be released back into the atmosphere from the back or underside of the rail car, and the CO2 reservoir can be emptied when the train stops. (interestingengineering)
photo: CO2 Rail