It is a relief to see that BritishVolt has raised it’s first round. Unlike most startups they have managed to persuade investors of the idea that “build it and customers will come”. They probably will, but it is rare to see so much money raised without a firm orders. Must be a bull market

Company news

MFG put up for sale
Motor Fuel Group (MFG), which is owned by the private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), this week invited investment banks to pitch for a mandate to sell the company, which trades from roughly 900 sites across the UK.
MFG is trying to position itself at the heart of the drive to electrify Britain’s automotive industry, saying recently that it would spend £50m this year on installing 350 rapid vehicle chargers across its estate. (skynews)

New joint venture to boost energy storage in India
Fluence and ReNew Power have teamed up to form a new company that addresses the fast-developing energy storage market in India.
The 50:50 joint venture will bring energy storage technology and global experience to customers by localising and integrating Fluence’s energy storage products and packages in India.
The new company will cater to a market projected to reach 27GW by 2030, according to statistics from India’s Central Electricity Authority.
Energy storage is expected to be a key enabler in helping India achieve its climate goal of 450GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.(energylivenews) 

UK news

Government proposals to cut down on waste crime
Environment Minister Jo Churchill confirmed on Friday (21 January) that the Government had launched consultations on efforts to cut down on waste crime.
Between 2018 and 2019 waste crime cost the English economy around £924m. In 2022, local authorities have already dealt with more than one million cases of fly-tipping.
Under new consultations, the Government is seeking feedback on proposals to increase background checks for firms involved in the handling, moving and trading of waste to ensure waste management is authorised.
Additionally, a mandatory digital tracking system has been proposed, using powers in the landmark Environment Act to overhaul existing waste record keeping. The new system would see organisations that handle waste record information from the point of production through to disposal, including recycling and reuse. It is hoped this system will better detect cases of waste crime such as including fly-tipping, illegal waste sites, and illegal waste exports. (edie) 

BritishVolt gets £1.7 billion funding
Battery developer Britishvolt has confirmed plans to create 3,000 jobs at a £3.8bn gigafactory that will be underpinned by Edinburgh-based asset management company Abrdn and the fund manager Tritax.
The plant, to be built near Blyth in Northumberland, will be capable of powering 300,000 electric vehicles each year, or 25% of current UK production.
It is a key component in the UK Government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution.
Abrdn and Tritax will become long-term partners and are investing between £1.7 billion and £2bn to complement an estimated £100m from the Automotive Transformation Fund, a government programme to oversee the move to a zero emission automotive supply chain in the UK.
The plant will be the UK’s first full-scale electric-vehicle Gigaplant and over the next few weeks BV will make a series of follow up announcements including customer MoUs and R&D collaborations, relationships with blue chip UK automotive sports car brands and technology releases. (dialybusiness)

photo: BritishVolt

Equinor unveils offtake agreements for flagship hydrogen project
The UK’s fledgling hydrogen industry took a significant step forward today, with the formal submission of plans for Equinor’s Hydrogen to Humber (H2H) Saltend production facility as part of the region’s Zero Carbon Cluster project.
The H2H Saltend is Equinor’s flagship hydrogen project and is designed to deliver 600MW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity at the Saltend site to the east of Hull.
The project is intended to plug in to the network of carbon capture and storage (CCS) pipelines that is proposed for the region under the East Coast Cluster project that recently secured approval from the government to proceed to the next phase of its Zero Carbon Industrial Cluster programme. As such, Equinor envisages that H2H Saltend will be able to produce low carbon blue hydrogen where over 95 per cent of the emissions that result from the production of hydrogen from fossil gas is captured and stored in geological formations under the North Sea.
The new partners include Centrica Storage, INEOS Acetyls, Pensana, Triton Power,  Vital Energi and renewable bioethanol fuel producer Vivergo Fuels  (businessgreen) 

EV of the week

Kia EV6 win Car of the Year 2022
The What Car magazine Car of the Year award is a highly prestigious thing and much coveted and even more trumpeted by the winner. On the whole the award has taken its responsibilities seriously and made sensible and occasionally interesting choices, although there have been a few aberrations (Ford Puma last year anyone??).
I am guessing that it would have been perverse not to give the honour to an electric car this year, so the announcement of the Kia EV6 as overall winner makes plenty of sense. Here is what they say about the car:

For starters, the EV6 combines a huge real-world range with the ability to charge at speeds that even some Teslas can’t keep up with, addressing two of the biggest concerns that people still have about electric cars.
What’s more, by basing the EV6 on bespoke electric underpinnings rather than a set that’s shared by petrol and diesel models, Kia has been able to take advantage of the compact size of electric motors and produce a car that’s hugely spacious and practical.
Add in its effortless performance, outstanding refinement, competitive pricing and one of the best warranties around, and the striking EV6 doesn’t just look like the future – it feels like it too.

Titbits has no issue with this choice and would add that the EV6 and sister car the Hyundai Ioniq 5 demonstrate conclusively that the transition to electric motoring is changing the world order in terms of private transport. I have repeatedly warned that the Chinese are coming, but Hyundai/Kia are laying down the challenge to the established “quality” makers right now. They are going to make cars that perform and feel as good as the best. Our only query is whether the EV6 is really an SUV. We would use an old fashioned description “shooting brake”

photo: KIA


Alpha Trains to provide electric trains to East Brandenburg rail network
Alpha Trains, owned by Dutch pension funds, Arcus Infrastructure Partners and Swiss Life Asset Managers, is to provide 31 electric trains to German rail operator Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) through a 24-year lease agreement.
Europe’s largest independent train leasing company, which includes Dutch pension funds ABP and PFZW among its shareholders, will enable NEB to replace diesel engines for the East Brandenburg concession between Berlin and the Polish border.
From 2024, NEB will be able to start using Siemens Mireo battery electric trains, which are expected to save 4.4 million litres of diesel annually, leading to a CO2 reduction of 11,000 tonnes per year.
Through the latest battery technology, the trains draw the electricity needed to charge their lithium-ion batteries from the overhead lines along the electrified sections of the track and from three newly created charging points in outer districts of the routes. (ipe)

photo: Alpha Trains

Focus on: Fertiliser

From Fertilizer to Fuel: Can ‘Green’ Ammonia Be a Climate Fix?
Ammonia has been widely used as a fertilizer for the last century. Now, using renewable energy and a new method for making ammonia, researchers and entrepreneurs believe “green” ammonia can become a significant clean fuel source for generating electricity and powering ships.
In Minnesota, there’s a research farm peppered with wind turbines that, when in full swing, boasts an astonishingly low carbon footprint. The wind powers a chemical plant that makes ammonia, which can not only be spread as fertilizer under the turbines, but also fuels an experimental tractor, stores energy for a non-windy day, and — soon — will heat the barns that dry their grains. All without producing CO2.
“For deep decarbonization of agriculture, you switch to green ammonia,” says Michael Reese, director of the University of Minnesota project. The university’s studies have shown that using green ammonia (‘green’ in the sense that it is made with renewable energy) for fertilizer, fuel, and heat could drive down farming’s carbon footprint by as much as 90 percent for corn and small grain crops. “That’s transformative,” Reese says.
Advocates of this alternative, zero-carbon liquid fuel see green ammonia’s reach expanding far beyond farms. They predict a vast new market for green ammonia as a fuel, eventually outstripping the planet’s already enormous (and growing) demand for ammonia as fertilizer. A 2021 International Energy Agency report forecasts that cars will run on batteries and planes on biofuels, but ammonia will be vital for the shipping industry, which is currently responsible for 3 percent of global emissions and trying hard to whittle that down fast.
Ammonia is also one of the top contenders for storing and transporting energy from renewable power plants so that electricity is available when and where it’s needed. Countries including Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have national plans to use green ammonia to store (and export) their renewable energy surpluses.
For now, though, ammonia production is anything but green. The world currently produces a vast 175 million tons of ammonia per year, mostly for use as fertilizer, employing an energy-intensive, century-old industrial Haber-Bosch process that produces a lot of greenhouse gas. Ammonia (NH3), on the other hand, is easy to store as a liquid and still packs a punch, with about half the energy density of traditional fossil fuels. Although ammonia is toxic, the world already has a vast system for making, storing, and transporting it.
People are working n this issue: Since 2018, experimental wind-driven green ammonia plants have been running in Britain and Japan. In the United States, CF Industries — the world’s current largest producer of ammonia — plans to have a flagship green ammonia plant at Donaldsonville, Louisiana producing 20,000 tons per year by 2023. In Australia, Yara’s Pilbara ammonia plant aims to produce 3,500 tons of green ammonia annually by the end of 2022, scaling that up 50-fold by 2030.
Major engine manufacturers, including German MAN Energy Solution and Swiss WinGD, are now developing ammonia-fueled engines and kits to retrofit old engines so they can run on ammonia, with first products expected to be on ships in 2024.
No matter which specific direction things go, observers expect the green ammonia market to ramp up quickly. While ammonia surely won’t be the best solution for everything, it has a role to play in getting to net zero. (Yale360) 

Report of the week

‘No pain, no gain’ for world on road to net zero, warns Wood Mackenzie
The world must prepare for ‘tangible economic implications’ if it is to cap global warming to the 1.5°C limit agreed in the Paris Climate Accord.
Consultancy group Wood Mackenzie says countries have the means, motive and opportunity to to accelerate the energy transition and limit temperature increases.
But doing so may shave 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, which may not be recoverable until the end of the century.
That is according to Wood Mackenzie’s new report entitled ‘No Pain, No Gain: The economic consequences of accelerating the energy transition’.
Chief economist Peter Martin said: “In our 1.5°C scenario, annual global GDP hits US$165 trillion in 2050. The cumulative loss of US$75 trillion over 2022 to 2050, while material, amounts to just 2.1% of total economic output over the period.
“A turning point is reached after 2035. Under our 1.5°C scenario, global GDP growth outpaces the base case, kick-starting the slow convergence of GDP levels. Lost economic output is eventually recouped before the end of the century.” (energyvoice)
Read the report HERE

Global stuff

Australia to send first shipment of liquefied hydrogen to Japan
Australia will export its first load of liquefied hydrogen made from coal in an engineering milestone which researchers say could also lock in a new fossil fuel industry and increase the country’s carbon emissions.
Under the $500m Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project, hydrogen will be made in Victoria’s LaTrobe valley from brown coal and transported aboard a purpose-built ship to Japan, where it will be burned in coal-fired power plants.
Carbon capture and storage will be used in an attempt to reduce the carbon emissions associated with making the hydrogen and supercooling the gas until it forms a liquid before it is loaded aboard the Suiso Frontier vessel. The first shipment is due to depart from Hastings in the coming days.
Morrison also announced an additional $7.5m to support the next stage of the project, which has a goal of producing 225,000 tonnes of carbon-neutral hydrogen each year and an additional $20m towards the next stage of the CarbonNet project which aims to produce commercial-scale carbon capture and storage.
According to government estimates, this will reduce emissions by 1.8m tonnes a year. (guardian)

ThinkBikes Nigeria Is Launching Locally Produced Electric Tricycles
Tolulopeo Olukokun, the founder and CEO of ThinkElectric Africa, recently quit his job at the Polytechnic in Ibadan in Nigeria to focus on ThinkBikes. Olukokun had been lecturing courses in Mechatronics Engineering for the past 10 years, as well as building the ThinkElectric Africa Initiative. Using his savings, he has decided to bootstrap his ThinkBikes startup.
ThinkElectric Africa is an organization with a mission to accelerate Africa’s transition to renewable energy and sustainable transport. “We do this by uplifting and educating the people,” says Tolulopeo. ThinkBikes is a micromobility company that is manufacturing 2- and 3-wheelers locally for last mile transportation of goods and people. Tolulopeo has been experimenting with several projects over the last 9 years and believes the time is now right to go fulltime to focus on ThinkBikes Limited.
ThinkBikes’ first product is an electric cargo tricycle called Alpha 1.0, targeting the burgeoning on-demand delivery and logistics industries. Over 90% of the components are sourced locally, including the bodywork, the wheels, and the batteries. Only the electric motors are imported. The battery packs are made using repurposed/recycled 18650 cells, similar to what other startups in this field do, such as Bodawerk in Uganda. (cleantechnica)

photo: ThinkElectric

Techie corner

Ocean Battery stores renewable energy at the bottom of the sea
Ocean Battery is a new design for an energy storage system that functions a bit like a hydroelectric dam at the bottom of the sea.
Developed by Dutch startup Ocean Grazer, the Ocean Battery is designed to be installed on the seafloor near offshore renewable energy generators, like wind turbines, floating solar farms, tidal and wave energy systems. It is made up of three components that together function on a principle similar to that of a hydro dam.
Buried in the seabed is a concrete reservoir that holds up to 20 million liters (5.3 million gal) of fresh water, stored at low pressure. A system of pumps and turbines connects this reservoir to a flexible bladder on the seafloor. Excess electricity from the renewable sources can be used to pump water from the reservoir into the bladder. When the energy is needed, the bladder releases and, driven by the pressure of the seawater above it, squeezes its water back down to the reservoir, spinning turbines on the way to generate electricity that’s fed out into the grid.
The Ocean Grazer team says that the system has an efficiency of between 70 and 80 percent, and should be able to run an unlimited number of cycles over an operation lifetime of more than 20 years. It’s also fairly scalable – each concrete reservoir has a capacity of 10 MWh, so adding more of these can increase the overall capacity. (newatlas)