Looking forward to “Green Day” where the Government responds to Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review and, less directly to the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act. It must be said that the IRA has raised the bar for Government involvement in Net Zero spending, first in the US, then the EU and now, hopefully, the UK. It would be a pleasant surprise if we do step up.
bp reportedly considers buying control of solar power JV Lightsource bp
BP is considering buying the remaining 50% stake in Lightsource BP, its solar power joint venture, as part of the British giant’s drive to build up its renewable energy capacity, three industry and company sources said.
The internal talks come after Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney last month slowed down BP’s shift away from oil and gas but still vowed to increase spending on renewables and low-carbon fuels by $8 billion by 2030.
BP acquired in 2017 a 43% stake in Lightsource for $200 million and increased its interest to 50% two years later.
A deal would value LSBP’s current portfolio around $2 billion, although the final price tag could be significantly higher depending on the valuation of its long-term business, two of the sources said.
London-based LSBP was founded in 2010 by its Chief Executive officer Nick Boyle, who holds the majority of the outstanding 50% stake, and is today one of the world’s top developers of solar photovoltaic projects.
It has developed around 9 gigawatt (GW) of projects and currently has operations in 19 countries. It plans to develop 25 GW of solar projects by 2025 (reuters)
Prepare for Green Day
The upcoming ‘Green Day’ will see the UK government unveil further measures aimed at strengthening energy security and meeting its net zero emissions commitments.
The announcement is expected to take place next week.
A few days ago, in the Spring Budget, the Chancellor confirmed: “In addition to the measures in the Spring Budget, the government will set out further action later this month to ensure energy security in the UK and meet our net zero commitments.”
ELN understands that the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will provide an update on the Net Zero Strategy they were instructed by the High Court to enhance, as well as respond to Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review.
Sources indicate that the UK government may reveal a range of environmental policies and other initiatives, modelled after the extensive package of green energy subsidies included in the US Inflation Reduction Act.
The upcoming announcements are being described by the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero as a “big bang moment.” (energylivenews)
House hunters willing to pay £16,130 extra for homes with green features
Prospective house buyers are increasingly on the hunt for green technologies, such as triple glazing and renewable energy sources, over previously favoured period features
The cost-of-living crisis has sparked a shift in house hunter’s priorities, according to a new survey, which suggests buyers willing to pay on average £16,130 more for a home with green features such as double glazing, good insulation, renewable energy sources, and energy efficient light fittings.
The survey from property management firm FirstPost polled 2,000 UK adults to reveal that previously favoured aesthetic features such as tall ceilings and fireplaces are being replaced near the top of the list of priorities for prospective buyers by various green features.
Seventy per cent of respondents said that efficient glazing is a ‘must-have’, with a further 61 per cent stating that good insulation is important when looking for a new home.
Other green features prioritised by home buyers were an economic central heating system, which 46 per cent of respondents said was essential, and clean energy systems such solar panels and heat pumps, which 37 per cent described as ‘must have’. (businessgreen)
photo: creative commons
Cornwall’s in-road shared ground source heat pump connected to first user
The first resident in the Cornish village of Stithians has had their ground source heat pump connected to an ambient heat network that will draw energy from under the street.
The ‘Heat the Streets’ project, with a shared ground array retrospectively installed in a public highway, is thought to be a world first. The project is run by Kensa Utilities and has €3.4 million funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Each home in Heat the Streets will swap oil or LPG fossil fuels for its own Kensa ground source heat pump, which provide the property’s heating and hot water year round. Homeowners will pay a monthly standing charge to access the heat network, much like the existing gas connection fee.
The in-road ground source heat pump network, also known as Networked Heat Pumps, in Collins Parc, Stithians, will consist of 42 boreholes, drilled to an average depth of 106m. It allows homeowners to utilise the heat from the ground to keep their houses warm and reduce carbon emissions. The infrastructure emulates the existing gas grid and has been designed to accommodate future connections, allowing households who were not ready to change their heating system to connect at a later date.
Unlike traditional district heating, there is no need for a central plant, no heat loss around the network, and customers can still change their energy provider at will, promoting energy independence. (newpowerinfo)
Anesco breaks ground on four solar farms for Gresham House
Solar developer Anesco’s co-operation with specialist investors Gresham House has deepened, with ground-breaking on four solar farms totalling 110MWp. The sites are the first in the companies’ relationship to reach the construction stage.
The four sites are 50MW Low Farm in Skegness, 20MW Beavor Grange in Devon and two more 20MW farms in Derbyshire and Gloucestershire.
All four are planned for completion this year. Lifespans for each of 40 years will end with them being returned to their natural state.
Each site will benefit from an advanced biodiversity plan and significant ecological enhancements designed to support some of the UK’s most at-risk birds and wildlife, as well as native plant life. Wildflower meadows will be created, hedgerows and trees will be planted and bird and bat boxes installed.
Low Farm, the biggest site, is expected to register a net biodiversity gain of more than 130%. (theenergyst)
EV OF THE WEEK
VW share platform with Ford. Result: a better SUV
Ford were not early into electric motoring. In fact they were caught asleep at the wheel as others grasped the exponential growth prospects of EV’s. However, an accepted way to join the party is to license a platform which they duly did, taking the VW Group’s MEB electric skateboard to develop their own branded range of cars.
First fruit is, unsurprisingly a mid size SUV. What is surprising is the quality and clear thinking behind design. Clearly their design team were not asleep and what they have designed, for Europe only, a car that combines the chunky, rugged all-American look, for which Ford is well known in the US, and tailored it to size and stance appropriate in Europe. It is a little smaller than the ID.4, but looks very well proportioned, with plenty of space. It has a chunky, squared off look that many electric SUV’s don’t have. Ford even had the confidence to call it the Explorer, using the name of their popular SUV in the US.
Not only does the resulting car, launched this week look great, but the detailing is clever too. The Infotech looks to be everything VW’s isn’t, with a neat gimmick in that the central screen can be pushed upwards if satnav is needed or to taste. Instead of speakers it has a soundbar on the dash, and the materials are said to be of good quality.
One can assume that performance will be similar to the ID.4 although that is not yet announced. For VW it could be a case of “careful who you share your tech with”.
Pumping Heat a Mile Underground Is Helping One City Cut Carbon
Five miles east of the German port city of Hamburg lies Tiefstack, a massive coal power plant that local officials want to shut down. While replacing its output will require a patchwork of smaller solutions, one piece is warming water with so-called waste heat from steel mills and aluminium foundries and storing it almost a mile underground.
The experimental technology, called aquifer thermal energy storage, pumps hot water 1,300 meters below the surface, then brings it back up for use in municipal systems known as district heating when it’s needed. If all goes as planned, by next year the technology will be able to provide heat to more than 13,000 households. (bloomberggreen)
EU exports of used textiles in Europe’s circular economy
A European Environment Agency briefing came up with the following key observations:
The amounts of used textiles exported from the EU has tripled over the last two decades from slightly over 550,000 tonnes in 2000 to almost 1.7 million tonnes in 2019.
The amounts of used textiles exported in 2019 was on average 3.8 kilograms per person, or 25% of the approximately 15 kg of textiles consumed each year in the EU.
The fate of used textiles exported from the EU is highly uncertain. The perception of used clothing donations as generous gifts to people in need does not fully match reality. Used clothing is increasingly part of a specialised and traded global commodity value chain.
In 2019, 46% of used textiles ended up in Africa. Imported, used textiles on this continent primarily go towards local reuse as there is a demand for cheap, used clothes from Europe. What is not fit for reuse mostly ends up in open landfills and informal waste streams.
In 2019, 41% of used textiles ended up in Asia. Most used textiles on this continent are imported to dedicated economic zones where they are sorted and processed. The used textiles are mostly downcycled into industrial rags or filling, or re-exported for recycling in other Asian countries or for reuse in Africa. Textiles that cannot be recycled or re-exported are likely to end up in landfills.
Due to the obligation to collect textile waste as a separate fraction in all EU countries by 2025, the amounts of used textiles collected may increase further. The EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles identifies ways to address the challenges arising from exporting used textiles, including textile waste. (eea)
photo: Creative Commons / Alan Stanton
FOCUS ON: Small Modular Nuclear
Small modular reactors are a high-risk and expensive pursuit
The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced in Wednesday’s Budget that the Government is launching a competition for scientists to design a new, advanced form of nuclear reactor.
The “Small Modular Reactor” (or SMR for short) would use the same kind of nuclear fission that we know can produce enormous amounts of clean energy in nuclear power stations – but on a far smaller scale.
Nuclear plants take a notoriously long time and a large amount of money – often much longer and larger than originally planned – to get up and running. That’s no reason not to build them, of course. But in the meantime, technology that allows us to harness nuclear power in smaller, quicker, cheaper forms could still help speed us along to our clean-energy goals.
The problem is that feasible technology for reactors that are small and modular and cost-efficient isn’t yet ready. That’s why Hunt sounded a note of caution in his speech: “if demonstrated as viable”, he said, the government “will co-fund this exciting new technology”.
There’s no shortage of candidates. A study in 2020 noted that there were more than 100 potential designs for SMRs, all with different features and different pros and cons.
There’s another catch. Having lots of SMRs around a country would mean that nuclear material was present in many more places than it is currently, where it only exists in a very small number of large, well-secured nuclear plants. That’s a risk: many nuclear researchers worry about SMRs, especially in states with weaker security infrastructure, where the fuel could be an attractive target for terrorist or other groups who might wish to get their hands on the necessary materials for a nuclear weapon.
The UK government’s new SMR competition will have to take all these safety and security concerns into account, while at the same time rigorously judging the cost-efficiency of the SMRs and the extent to which they can get us towards our net-zero targets. To what extent could they make up the slack when our current ageing group of nuclear plants are decommissioned? We should also do our best to learn from the experience of other countries, such as South Korea, which has strongly pushed SMRs under its most recent President. (inews)
Last Energy Signs Deals Worth $19 Billion for Nuclear Plants
Last Energy Inc., a startup developing advanced, smaller nuclear power plants, completed four deals worth $18.9 billion to build 34 reactors in Europe.
The Washington-based company expects to install the first of its 20-megawatt systems as soon as 2025, Chief Executive Officer Bret Kugelmass said in an interview Monday. Last is building its first system in Texas, but is still seeking approval from regulators in Poland and the UK, where it closed the Europe deals.
Last plans to build and operate the plants, and the $18.9 billion value of the deals represents the revenue it anticipates over the course of power-purchase agreements that stretch as long as 24 years. The company must arrange financing for the estimated $100 million it will need for each system. The customers include a data-center operator and a hydrogen producer in the UK and an industrial zone in Poland. It announced last year agreements to build 12 systems for two additional customers in Poland. (bloomberggreen)
photo: Last Energy
Last Energy are one of a number of firms that have responded to the Budget announcement. Also keen to get involved are Rolls Royce, Cavendish Nuclear/X-Energy, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, GMET Nuclear, Holtec Britain, UK Atomics and Newcleo who have plans to raise £900m.
However the regulatory, technical and financial hurdles these companies are going to encounter are considerable. Bret Kugelmass, the CEO of Last Energy is an outspoken voice on the state of nuclear regulation in the USA. Listen to a great interview on the Catalyst with Shayle Kahn podcast or tune into his own podcast called Titans of Nuclear. His core contention is that the only way to get nuclear build is to replicate exactly the original designs from the 1960’s in order to avoid getting caught in a regulatory purgatory.
World Bank pushes for carbon levy on shipping industry
The World Bank is leading a group pushing for the international shipping industry to accept a carbon levy.
This levy on ships would be used to fight the climate crisis – with supporters claiming it would incentivise the industry to upgrade fleets and consult greener technologies.
The World Bank’s idea would reportedly see shipping firms pay into a climate fund depending on the level of carbon their fleets emit – this fund would then be used to decarbonise the sector and help developing nations in climate defence.
The levy has come to light with meetings taking place this week in London between 175 governments for the International Maritime Organisation. A key area of discussion is climate change, with shipping accounting for 3% of global emissions. (futurenetzero)
Hydrogen blending exceeds expectations in WEC Energy Group test
Blending up to 25% hydrogen into natural gas to fire a Wartsilla 20 MW engine reduced emissions and produced better-than-expected efficiencies in a demonstration project by EPRI, WEC Energy Group, engine manufacturer Wärtsilä and other partners.
Although the engine could not achieve its maximum output on a one-quarter hydrogen blend, it did reached 95% capacity without hardware modifications. The test also produced fewer emissions of NOx than expected, while reducing carbon emissions.
“This was without any [hardware] adjustments to the engine whatsoever,” Andy Maxson, senior project manager at EPRI, said. “It was a very successful test and everyone is very happy.” (utilitydive)
How small wind turbines help each other
US manufacturer of small vertical wind turbines, Flower Turbines has found after extensive testing that, when placed correctly near each other, four of its smallest drag type vertical axis turbines double the power output of four separate ones. Adding a fifth increases the power by 228% over that of 5 separate turbines.
The significance is that, because each turbine added increases the output of each turbine in the group, at some point, small wind becomes more cost-effective than solar. One can think of this as birds flying together with aerodynamic advantage. This is based on a patent already granted in the US and China, with more on clustering already filed. Most turbines have degraded performance when placed close together. (einnewswire)
photo: Flower Turbines