I return this week to a material that gets airtime every now and then: Thorium. The world might be a very different place if thorium was chosen rather than uranium to power nuclear reactors. I was led to believe that it was pressure from the military that swung the argument in favour of uranium, as thorium has no military use. Not sure if this is true or legend, but worth a thought at a time when Europe’s biggest nuclear plant is being menaced


Moixa acquired by Lunar Energy
Moixa announced this week it has been acquired by newly launched Lunar Energy, a US-based company with a mission to electrify the home and provide energy independence to millions worldwide. Lunar will leverage and scale Moixa’s GridShare software to manage batteries across Europe, Japan, the US and beyond. Through Lunar, GridShare software will supply a wider range of solutions to electrify homes.
To enable Lunar to deliver on its mission, the company raised US$300 million in funding over two rounds led by South Korea’s SK Group and Sunrun. The capital raised has been used to acquire Moixa, hire and invest in product development and manufacturing activities in order to bring Lunar’s first hardware product to market later this year.
Today, GridShare software is deployed at scale across 35,000 homes (330MWh of batteries) via ITOCHU in Japan. It also supports advanced smart charging services for Honda electric vehicles, flexibility services for UK distribution network operators, and depot smart charging with UPS in the UK. (theenergyst)

Chief executive quits Britishvolt amid gigafactory funding fears
The future of Britishvolt, the ambitious plan to build a £3.8 billion electric battery “gigafactory” on the coast of Northumberland, is at a crossroads after a botched management succession plan left it without a permanent chief executive.
The company, which has talked of producing batteries to power hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles a year and of creating 3,000 directly employed jobs, has been rocked by the resignation of Orral Nadjari, its chief executive and co-founder.
A recipient of £100 million of UK taxpayer support, Britishvolt also has signalled to potential new investors that it will slash valuations to attract their support, after leaked internal memos indicated that construction of the plant near Blyth was stalling and that the business’s finances had been put on (thetimes)


Octopus’ investment partnership targets Britain’s biggestg grid battery
Building Britain’s biggest battery, capable of storing a day’s supply of renewable electricity for 235,000 Midlands homes, is on the to-do-list for Octopus Energy’s new investment partnership called Octopus Energy Development Partnership. The partnership has £186m to invest.
Taking a 24% stake in non-fossil energy developer Exagen, the OEDP will seek storage and non-fossil generation opportunities across continental Europe and Britain.
Under the deal, Octopus’ partnership fund takes ownership of Exagen’s three solar-with-storage ventures in the north-east and the Midlands, with a combined 400MW.
Among Exagen’s 2.4GW pipeline of projects is Britain’s biggest grid-scale battery currently under development, a 0.5GW/1GWh venture dubbed the Normanton Energy Reserve, set for Earl Shilton, near Blaby in Leicestershire.  A public consultation began last week. The battery is scheduled for commissioning by 2027. (theenergyst)

Smart Green Shipping wins investment into FastRig wing sail technology
Smart Green Shipping (SGS) has launched a £5m research and development project for its fully automated FastRigs wing sail technology and digital routing software that will harness the power of wind to deliver major fuel and emissions savings for the shipping industry. The collaborative three-year programme has been made possible by a  £3.2m investment from the private sector, which unlocked a further £1.8m grant from Scottish Enterprise.
Over the course of the project SGS will  initially test its FastRig wing sails at a land based site at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Centre in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin. It will further develop its weather routing TradeWind software that creates route plans for wind optimisation. Following successful land based tests, a demonstrator on board a vessel is expected to be tested by 2023.
Major industry partners include Drax, Malin, Peel Ports and LR, who, alongside SGS’s naval architects, consulted with crews and marine engineers, and have already optimised the technology and design to ensure easy retrofitting and cargo access during port operations. (smartgreenshipping)

photo: Smart Green Shipping

Will the new PM please break the link between gas and electricity prices
…because of the way the UK electricity market operates, the average electricity price is almost always tied to the cost of gas, not wind or solar power. The chief executive of Octopus Energy put it neatly when he said recently: “Even if cheap renewables are in use, this doesn’t filter through to consumers, which is bonkers.”
The market mechanism stems in part from the UK’s “dash for gas” in the 1990s, as it moved away from coal. Yet it looks extremely outdated given the rapid rise in renewable energy in recent years.
Boris Johnson was so taken by the anomaly that even in his make-or-break speech to the Tory backbench 1922 committee in June (when he was fighting to avoid being ousted from office) he singled out the need for “decoupling” of the UK electricity market price from global gas prices.
Johnson couldn’t survive his backbenchers’ onslaught in the end, but his Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng did this summer start a consultation on breaking the link between gas prices and all prices, admitting the market rules had “largely been designed for a fossil fuel-based electricity system”… (excerpt from Paul Waugh in the i newspaper)


BYD are coming to the UK this year
You hear quite a lot about this little known company in Titbits. I have pointed out their excellent LFP “Blade” batteries, that they supply electric busses and lorries as well as cars and that they have recently overtaken Tesla as the world’s largest EV maker (if you include PHEV’s). They are already selling cars in Norway, Australia, Japan, India and many others, even Cambodia and are about to launch in continental Europe. Now they have announced that first deliveries to the UK will start before the end of 2022.
The first car to be sold will be mid-size SUV called the Atto 3, which has already been well received in Australia. It is sized between the Hyundai Kona and the VW ID.4 and will be well equipped, such that pricing is expected to be mid-to-premium rather than bargain like the MG range.
By itself this may not be that exciting, but BYD control all aspects of production, including ever-scarce microchips so are promising that when they launch there will be plenty of cars available, in contrast to many of their competitors here.

photo: BYD


The German search for Green Hydrogen takes it to Newfoundland
German-Canadian Atlantic Renewable Hydrogen Expo was held in Newfoundland, which was attended by Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Chancellor, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Scholz and Trudeau are expected to sign a key deal on hydrogen during the visit, which comes as Germany’s energy crisis looks set to escalate on the back of reduced natural gas flows from Russia. Germany used to source over half of its natural gas from Moscow, and has dramatically accelerated its plans to decarbonise since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March, as well as searching for alternative short-term supplies. Trudeau and Scholz are also expected to agree an LNG supply deal during the visit.
Germany is scouring the world for potential hydrogen supply sources and is already looking to tap markets including Namibia and Australia. (rechargenews)


A Circular Economy Approach to Affordable Housing in Chicago
The real housing crisis didn’t happen in the early 2000s. It’s happening right now, as both Canada and the U.S. find that the need for affordable housing is growing more and more desperate every day. Moreover, there are many countries around the world in dire need of affordable housing solutions. People are in need and they are suffering, but there is hope. S.I. Container Builds has cracked the formula for providing exactly these solutions through sustainable, affordable practices.
S.I. Container Builds, based in Chicago, turns recycled shipping containers into work and living spaces that are comfortable and fully functional. Their method of flipping these containers has proven so successful, and the housing need is so great, that S.I. Container Builds has recently opened up a new production facility to provide even more of this much-needed housing solution. (inhabitat)

photo: SI Container Builds


South Korea opens its largest hydrogen production complex
A hydrogen production complex, claimed to be the largest of its kind in South Korea, has now been opened.
The facility in Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi Province, is capable of supplying fuel for around 410,000 hydrogen vehicles every year.
The city and province plan to build a hydrogen transportation complex connected to hydrogen refuelling stations near Pyeongtaek Port and create a “hydrogen city” that uses the fuel as its primary energy source. (futurenetzero)

Photo: Gyeonggi Provincial Government

Japan eyes return to nuclear power
Japan is considering building next-generation nuclear reactors and restarting idled plants in a major policy shift, 11 years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant rocked the country’s dependence on atomic energy.
The prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said he had directed a government panel to look into how “next-generation nuclear reactors equipped with new safety mechanisms” could be used to help Japan achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. His “green transformation” council is expected to report back by the end of the year, he said on Wednesday.
The change of direction, which could include extending the lifespan of existing reactors, have highlighted Japan’s struggle to secure a stable energy supply as a result of the war in Ukraine and soaring energy costs. (guardian)

In Indonesian Mining Region, the EV Boom Takes a Heavy Toll
One cannot be blind to the fact that the green electric vehicle revolution hides a few dirty secrets. One of these is, literally, unearthed by the Winner of the 2022 Yale Environment 360 Film Contest — “From Dreams to Dust” — which vividly tells the story of the high cost of nickel mining through the life of an Indonesian mine worker.
In “From Dreams to Dust,” Indonesian filmmakers Stephanie Tangkilisan and Muhammad Fadli visit the coastal community of Tapunggaeya, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of mining. Once a picturesque fishing village on the island of Sulawesi, the hills in and around Tapunggaeya have been torn apart by vast open-pit mines that cause life-threatening landslides, pollute drinking supplies, and contaminate coastal waters. (yale360)
Watch this beautiful and sad film HERE


Is it time to bring Thorium in from the cold? A comparison with Uranium for nuclear power
Thorium is estimated to be at least three times more prevalent than uranium, making it about as common as lead. In addition to being more readily available, thorium is highly energy-efficient compared to uranium, too, producing more energy during reactions. The waste is less radioactive than uranium, and the chemical reaction can be stopped in process, offering a safety feature not present in its widely-used uranium cousin. One other significant difference between the reactions of the two elements is that thorium doesn’t produce plutonium, which of course is the government’s key ingredient in the recipe for nuclear warheads.
As an energy source, thorium is superior in other ways, too. As it’s mined from the earth, thorium is basically ready to power a nuclear reactor. Uranium, on the other hand, requires serious hand-holding to convert the 3-5% that’s reactor ready into a higher amount. It’s an incredibly energy-consumptive process. Plus, thorium doesn’t spontaneously begin to produce energy. It needs additional neutrons to make that happen. This is a safety feature that allows scientists to control the reaction easily. Stop feeding it neutrons and stop the reaction.  
At the end of the process, we’re still left with radioactive waste, however, it’s thousands of times less than that produced from uranium. It also has a shorter radioactive life. Where uranium needs to be buried or otherwise secured away for 10,000 years, and protected against theft from nefarious criminals who want to use the material to make nuclear bombs, thorium material waste will break down in around 500 years. Obviously, it’s still not ideal for the environment, but if we’re going for progress and not perfection, it’s a candidate worth consideration. (inhabitat)