Another week of wildly varying news: Wild weather in Texas, the pandemic’s second wave starts to retreat (hopefully), The US rejoins the Paris Accord and an EV is scooting around in a dried up lake on Mars. For me an interesting theme over the last few weeks is that Big Oil companies are looking at ways to play in the energy transition. This week we see two collaborating to develop Blue Hydrogen and support for geothermal drilling. They have a lot to offer so should be encouraged. 

Company news

TRIG see earnings fall
The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) reported pre-tax profits of £100m in 2020, down from £162m the previous year.
Earnings per share also fell to 5.9p, compared to 11.9p in 2019: 11.4p.
TRIG said that, while the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all markets, it has had differing impacts on each European country where it has an investment.
For example, average power demand since 1 April 2020 compared to “business as usual” has ranged from 2% less in Sweden to 6% less in the UK, with even greater short-term variability, according to the board.
However, the potential impact was largely mitigated as the majority of asset-level revenues in the year were linked to fixed electricity pricing or subsidies.
TRIG’s he portfolio was valued at £2,213m as at 31 December 2020 (2019: £1,745m), with significant growth in the portfolio following investment activities and fundraising in the year.
Valuation gains were buoyed by on-going demand for the asset class resulting in a reduction in valuation discount rates, as well as the managers’ portfolio and asset-level initiatives.
Gains were also dampened by the reduction in power price forecasts across the geographies in which TRIG invests. (renews)

UK news

Limejump adds 170MW of renewables PPAs
Limejump, part of Shell’s Renewables & Energy Solutions division, has added 170MW of renewables capacity to its virtual power plant (VPP) through PPAs since the beginning of the year.
The PPAs were mainly for wind and solar power generation.
It has also added more than 200 renewable generators to Limejump’s award-winning VPP.
Limejump manages one of the largest VPPs in the UK, with over 1GW of renewable capacity.
As well as wind and solar, Limejump’s VPP also hosts a sizeable portfolio of hydro, anaerobic digesters and batteries. (renews)

photo: Limejump

Jaguar to switch to fully electric vehicle portfolio by 2025
Announced this week by JLR’s chief executive Thierry Bollore in the first public statement since he took up the role last summer, the ‘Reimagine’ strategy has been dubbed “a sustainability-rich reimagination of modern luxury, unique customer experiences and positive societal impact”.
The headline commitment for changing JLR’s business model and environmental impact is to cease production of all vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) by the Jaguar brand by 2025.
Jaguar currently only produces one fully-electric model – the I-Pace SUV. This vehicle is manufactured in Austria by a contractor. Bollore admitted that JLR will need to do more to build in-house expertise and change manufacturing lines to meet the new target.
Land Rover, meanwhile, will stop producing ICE vehicles for sale in the UK by 2030, in line with the Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars, and will stop producing them globally by 2036. Land Rover will also launch six new pure electric cars in the next five years. (edie)

photo: JLR

Essar Oil plots £600m sustainable aviation fuel facility at Ellesmere Port oil refinery
Essar Group and Fulcrum BioEnergy Ltd on Monday announced a 600 million pounds waste-to-fuel plant in North West of England that will convert non-recyclable household waste into aviation fuel for use by airlines.
The project will use Fulcrum’s proven waste-to-fuel process, which is already being deployed at its pioneering facility outside of Reno, Nevada in the US, where operations are due to begin later this year.
The development will see Fulcrum, whose parent is based in California, US, construct, own and operate the plant within Essar’s Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in the North West of England. This will be the first Fulcrum plant outside the US. (financialexpress)

photo: Essar

New Oxford-led research centre to accelerate the ‘greening’ of the global financial system
With funding from the National Environment Research Council (NERC) and Innovate UK, both part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the new UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment (CGFI) will be led by Dr Ben Caldecott, the founder of Oxford’s Sustainable Finance Programme.
Access to scientifically robust data and analytics is currently patchy and unreliable. Armed with better information, underpinned by innovative science, financial institutions around the world will be much better placed to make decisions that contribute to a more sustainable planet.
This will help financial institutions shift money away from risky activities that harm the environment, such as coal-fired power and deforestation, and towards activities that are less harmful, such as renewable power and sustainable agriculture.
New physical hubs in Leeds and London will support companies and start-ups commercialise products that can green global finance, including tools that measure storm and flood risk facing properties or the pollution created by companies and the liabilities that result. The Centre will work with finance professions, such as the Chartered Bankers Institute and Chartered Financial Analysts UK, to ensure that every professional financial decision takes climate change into account. (smithschool)

Battery gigafactory in Coventry “could be operational by 2025”
Coventry City Council will enter a Joint Venture partnership with Coventry Airport to develop proposals for the facility which could attract up to £2bn of investment and create more than 4000 jobs.
The Joint Venture is set to be approved by Coventry City Council’s Cabinet at a meeting this month and the partners are due to submit an outline planning application for the gigafactory in 2021.
Subject to successful discussions with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure the necessary long-term investment, the site could be operational by 2025. (theenergyst)

EV of the week

GM’s Bolt EV refresh, plus new bigger brother
The Bolt has somewhat sailed under the radar on this side of the Atlantic, partly because of it’s unexciting looks compared to Tesla and partly because it was not for sale. To be fair it was a good package, a combination of 250 mile range at an OK price. It sold in decent numbers and dealt GM into the EV game.
Now there is a refresh, in order to fend off much greater competition and to represent a step forward for GM in electric motoring. Mk2 displays a fresher look, a big brother called the Bolt EUV and importantly a $5000 price cut.
The price cut shows how pricing of electric cars seems to be following the model for electric goods rather than cars, and will hasten the moment when the sticker price of an EV is less than the equivalent ICE, currently expected to be 2023. The EUV (below) looks more like a crossover and to most critics looks a lot more attractive than the original. To me it seems to look like the popular Kia Niro, and boasts similar stats and a price below that of the outgoing, smaller model.

photo: Chevrolet


The Doughnut Model for a Fairer, Greener Amsterdam
Amsterdam city council has adopted a five-year circular economy strategy. This strategy includes many measures that businesses, the municipality, and also citizens will have to put in place in the coming years. For example, circular consumer goods – such as furniture, electronics, paint, and textiles – must become more available to locals. The city has committed to building a supportive infrastructure that includes sharing platforms, thrift shops, online marketplaces, and repair services. The goal is to halve the use of new raw materials by 2030 and to achieve a fully circular economy by 2050.
Amsterdam’s circular economy strategy is a tailored elaboration of the “doughnut model” created by British economist Kate Raworth. The doughnut is a way to think about how to solve environmental and socio-economic challenges in a coherent and balanced way. (greeneuropeanjournal)

Orange joins forces with ENGIE to deliver a global renewable energy supply solution
The 15-year Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Orange and ENGIE covers the development of two new solar projects totalling 51MW in L’Epine (38MW) and Ribeyret (13MW), both located in the Hautes-Alpes region. These two solar farms will be operational by 1 January 2023 at the latest.
The regions covered by these solar projects will reap significant economic benefits: local companies will build, operate and maintain the sites, and rent will be collected and tax income generated by the facilities.
Under this agreement, ENGIE will aggregate all of the renewable energy produced by the wind farms and solar plants for which Orange France signed a power purchase agreement. Furthermore, ENGIE will put its expertise in energy management to use to deploy a continuous energy strip that caters as closely as possible to Orange’s actual consumption profile. (futurenetzero)

ENGIE and Equinor join forces in the development of low carbon hydrogen
ENGIE and Equinor announce their partnership to develop joint low carbon hydrogen activities. The
partners will investigate the production and market potential for hydrogen from natural gas whereby the carbon dioxide will be captured and stored permanently offshore.
ENGIE and Equinor signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate the development of low carbon hydrogen value chains in Belgium, the Netherlands and France. In the coming months, ENGIE and Equinor will start discussions with potential customers to assess the project, as well as with stakeholders and relevant authorities.
ENGIE and Equinor believe that it is essential to develop low carbon and renewable hydrogen projects at scale in order to make it possible for industrial customers to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions before 2030. This development of low carbon and renewable hydrogen will accelerate the construction of new hydrogen infrastructure and the repurposing of current natural gas infrastructure, thus paving the way for net zero in 2050. (futurenetzero)

Focus on: Shipping

World’s 1st Zero-Emission Tanker Project Will Use Corvus Energy Storage System
Corvus Energy was selected to provide an energy storage system (ESS) to Kawasaki Heavy Industries for the zero-emissions electric e5 tanker it is building, the world’s first zero-emissions tanker. The electric tanker is under construction for Tokyo’s Asahi Tanker Co.
The battery-powered vessel was designed by e5 Lab Inc., which is a consortium of leading Japanese shipping and maritime services companies. One of those companies is Asahi Tanker Co. which focuses on building infrastructure services that focus on electrically powered vessels. The new vessel for Asahi Tanker is the first of two all-electric vessels that will be built from e5 Lab. It should be in service in bunkering operations in Tokyo Bay by 2022. (cleantechnica)

photo: Corvus Energy

Maersk Bids Farewell to New, Fossil-Fuel Only Ships
A century after the global shipping fleet ran largely on coal, the world’s largest shipping line is taking a historic step toward not using fossil fuels for propulsion.
All newly constructed vessels owned by A.P. Moller-Maersk will have to be able to use carbon-neutral fuels, such as clean methanol and ammonia, as well as traditional oil-based products, the company said in a statement. The shift comes just three months after the industry’s main regulator set new decarbonization rules that were criticized for their lack of ambition.
Alongside ammonia and clean forms of methanol, Maersk said so-called alcohol lignin blends were another primary candidate for future fuels. (bloomberg)

Global stuff

Bitcoin uses more energy than all of Argentina
Inhabitat reported on Bitcoin’s out-of-control energy use in 2018. Back then, we noted that Bitcoin was on track to use as much energy as Austria by the end of the year. In 2021, Bitcoin has already surpassed Argentina’s energy use, according to a Cambridge University study. To put this growth into perspective, the population of Austria is about 9 million, while Argentina has approximately 45 million residents. (inhabitat)

photo: unsplash

Big Oil Invests in Startup That Drills for Clean Energy
Companies including the venture arms of BP Plc and Chevron Corp. invested $40 million in a startup that aims to use the fossil fuel industry’s drilling experience to expand a technology that harvests low-carbon energy from heat below the earth’s surface.
Eavor Technologies Inc. plans to expand geothermal power beyond places like Iceland that have volcanic conditions. The technology could be a way to replace fossil fuels and nuclear power plants as a low-carbon source of electricity that can be dispatched to the grid whenever it’s needed.
Eavor’s management plans to use the new capital on research and development and business development that will help the company scale up and bring down costs. The target is enough capacity to supply 10 million homes by 2030.
Eavor’s technology uses drilling techniques taken from the oil and gas industry to create a roughly 20-centimeter wide (8-inch) hole that forms a loop about 2 kilometers to 3 kilometers (1.25 miles to 1.86 miles) underground. Water then circulates around the closed loop, getting heated up naturally by the earth below. Once on the surface that can be used to heat buildings or turned into electricity. (bloomberg)

photo: Eavor Technologies

Techie corner

QuantumScape Will Speed-Up Solid-State Cells With Pre Pilot Line Plant
QuantumScape decided not to wait for its joint venture with Volkswagen to produce solid-state batteries by 2024. At its Q4 and full-year 2020 earnings call, the company’s CEO, Jagdeep Singh, said the company would build a pre-pilot line facility in San Jose, California. Called QS-0, it will help the company accelerate the development of its solid-state batteries and deliver up to 100,000 engineering cell samples from 2023 on.
QS-0 seems to have even better reasons to emerge than solely to speed things up. It may also be a consequence of the advancements QuantumScape has made with its solid-state batteries.
For the first time, the company managed to create a four-layer cell in the 30×30 mm form factor, which achieved “close to 800 cycles at 30°C with over 90 percent capacity retention at both C/3 and 1C rates.” These numbers are similar to those presented by the single-layer cells QuantumScape presented in December. (insideevs)