One argument that has been rattling around the environmental arena for the last few weeks is about whether the North Sea oil extractors should face a windfall tax. Generally the financial community have an aversion to the idea of windfall taxes as companies need to feel comfortable that their tax liability is predicatble so that they are confident to invest.

However Chris Giles in the FT (HERE) makes an excellent argument that exceptions can be made when the circumstances dictate. North Sea taxes were set at 62% by George Osborne in 2011 when energy prices were high, and then dropped to 40% in 2016 when energy prices were persistently low. Now would seem to be a very good and equitable time to return them to the 2011 levels to reflect the extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances we now confront.

Company news

TRIG to buy 8% of Hornsea One
The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) have bought 7.8% of the world’s biggest working wind farm off Yorkshire, and is tapping investors over the next seven days for more equity.
Originally built by Ørsted with 174 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines, Hornsea One began in 2020 piping power back from 120 kilometres out in the North Sea, adequate for 1 million homes’ needs.
Inflation-proofed Contracts for Difference (CfDs) on the facility still have 13 years to run, and the 407 square kilometre park is producing above expectations, according to this morning’s announcement.
The sum TRIG is paying current owners Global Infrastructure Partners for the 7.8% stake is not disclosed in today’s announcement.  The deal is subject to regulatory and lender consents. Both are expected to be received in the coming months, and the fund says it expects the deal to be completed before this July. (theenergyst)


UK news

UK signs £1.7bn clean transport deal with Turkey
The UK has signed a £1.7 billion clean transport deal with Turkey to build an electric railway line to decarbonise Turkish travel.
UK Export Finance (UKEF) will guarantee the £1.7 billion loan to construct the 503km railway.
This is the first time in more than 160 years that a UK-supported rail transaction has happened in Turkey and it will connect the capital of Ankara to port city Izmir.
With fully electric high speed rail in place, it will mark a huge step in Turkey achieving its climate goals made at COP26. (futurenetzero)

British businesses urge introduction of carbon tariff on imports
British manufacturers of low-carbon goods want the Government to ensure that they aren’t being discouraged by a market saturated with low-cost, high-carbon imports.
That is one of the recommendations being set out by influential business body the Aldersgate Group this week, as part of a new report on developing strong UK supply chains for low-carbon products.
The report acknowledges the UK Government’s continual emphasis on the private sector as being key to the delivery of the net-zero transition, and the narrative it is building around supporting domestic low-carbon industries as part of the Covid-19 recovery package.
It also warns that current legislation and regulation is not enough to properly capitalise on the opportunities of increasing domestic production of things like lithium, low-carbon steel and cement. Manufacturers in industries like automotive and building materials are finding it hard to electrify processes or source alternative fuels, and are concerned about being undercut on price by cheap by high-carbon imports, the report argues. (edie)

Pivot Power ready for two more grid-scale battery projects
Pivot Power has won planning approval for two battery storage facilities in Bedfordshire and Cornwall designed to balance the grid and support the developer’s plans to build a network of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs around the country.
The first project, in Sundon, near Luton, comprises a 50MW/100MW lithium-ion battery storage facility and is expected to begin construction in early 2023, with an aim of being connected to the local substation later that year, Pivot Power said.
The second, planned for Indian Queens, Cornwall, will see Pivot Power share a grid connection with two other developers, including Renewable Connections, a UK-based renewable energy company which supported a joint planning application. Both companies have received approval to build a 50/100MWh battery, with both projects expected to be connected to National Grid by 2024, according to the update.
Pivot Power said it aims to build a private wire to enable local EV charging at both projects once the batteries are live, in a bid to bolster both regions’ electric vehicle charging infrastructure. (businessgreen)

photo: Pivot Power

UK green aviation fuel research takes off with £1bn investment
Saudi Arabia will invest £1 billion in a green aviation fuel plant in Teesside.
During a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Saudi Arabia yesterday, alfanar group confirmed the investment into its Lighthouse Green Fuels project.
The construction of the plant in Billingham is forecast to create 700 jobs.
The Saudi Arabian energy group aims to be the first company to produce sustainable aviation fuel from waste at scale in the UK.
The fuel generated by the plant has the potential to produce 80% less greenhouse gas than its fossil fuel equivalent. (energyylivenews)

MFG to open EV charging hub in Glasgow
Independent forecourt operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG) has announced plans to build an EV charging hub at the Great Western Retail Park in Glasgow.
The new site, featuring eight 150kW Ultra-Rapid chargers and all-weather canopy, will be situated adjacent to Starbucks in the park’s car park and it is expected to open in Q3 this year.
The chargers will offer motorists 100 miles range in about 10 minutes, subject to the charging capability of individual car batteries.
The new site adds to MFG’s growing national network of EV hubs including its flagship forecourt in Putney and the North-West of England’s first dedicated ultra-rapid EV only site in Manchester. (theenergyst)

photo: MFG

Jaguar Land Rover charges ahead to give second life to old EV batteries
Jaguar Land Rover is giving a second life to electric vehicle (EV) batteries by using them for portable EV charging.
It has partnered with Pramac to develop a portable zero-emission energy storage unit, called the Off Grid Battery Energy Storage System, which features lithium-ion cells from Jaguar’s I-PACE batteries taken from prototype and engineering test vehicles.
The flagship system has a capacity of up to 125kWh, more than enough to fully charge Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE SUV or power a regular family’s home for a week.
The unit, charged with solar panels and available for commercial hire, is a self-contained solution that consists of a battery system linked to a bi-directional converter and associated control management systems.
Pramac directly reuses up to 85% of the vehicle battery supplied by Jaguar Land Rover within the storage unit, including modules and wiring, whilst the remaining materials are recycled back into the supply chain.
The units are fitted with Type 2 EV charge connections with dynamic control and rated at up to 22kW to enable EV charging. (futurenetzero)

EV of the week

Maserati GranTurismo Folgore EV Coming In 2023
The Stellantis-owned company says it will be the first Italian luxury car brand to produce full-electric models under a dedicated lineup called Maserati Folgore—Italian for lightning.
Paving the way for these new EVs will be the next-generation GranTurismo, which will debut sometime in 2023 in both GranTurismo coupe and GranCabrio convertible body styles as part of the all-electric Maserati Folgore range.
The GranTurismo EV will pack a tri-motor powertrain with more than 1,200 horsepower and signature Maserati handling control. It will also feature Formula E inverters and lightweight multi-material architecture and body to keep the weight down.
It will be able to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in under 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 186 mph. (insideevs)

photo: Maserati


Europe Plans Break From Russian Gas
Europe plans to urgently diversify its gas supplies, while accelerating decarbonization efforts to reduce overall gas use. In a wide range of measures, European policy-makers are scrambling to reduce gas consumption in light of soaring prices and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission released on March 8, 2022, its ‘RePowerEU’ plan, setting out measures to cut Russian gas imports by over two thirds in 2022. Half of the 102 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be cut are to be substituted with additional imports, while the rest will rely on behavioral energy savings and ramping up renewables deployments. (bnef)

Focus on: Geothermal Energy

Deep Geothermal – full of untapped potential
In theory, geothermal energy can be tapped anywhere on earth, and according to ARPA-E, using just 0.1% of the Earth’s energy we can provide all human power needs for 20 million years. It’s reliable, 100% renewable, generates no greenhouse gasses, doesn’t require massive amounts of rare earth metals, and is always on, unlike solar or wind.
Most existing geothermal projects are only located where geothermal heat can be tapped close to the surface, which limits them to locations where this is available such as Netherlands, Iceland, Indonesia etc. However new technologies are allowing for people to start to look deeper into the earth’s crust where there is a limitless supply of heat at temperatures around 500C. Two particularly allow us to dream of tapping this resource: first, the development of closed loop systems that allow cold water to be piped down, heated and returned in one piped loop. This is clever in that the cold water pushes the warm water back up the pipe without the need for pumps. Canadian company Eavor, backed by BP and Chevron has recently drilled a closed loop at a depth of 3km and plans more.
Secondly, new drilling technology is allowing drilling to the 12km depths required. Quaise Energy use light beams to break up the rock (see below) and a Slovakian company called GA Drilling have a plasma based drilling technology that can drill to 10km.
Finally, a fully renewable energy solution that will harness the skills of all those soon to be redundant oil drillers. (thenextweb)

photo: Eavor

Quaise Energy plans to dig deeper
Quaise Energy, a startup that aims to revolutionize the geothermal energy market, has secured $40 million in series A funding. The goal of these super-deep holes is to access a limitless amount of renewable energy from the heat deep inside Earth.
Geothermal energy has a low profile compared to other renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro, but Quaise believes it is “at the core of an energy-independent world,” according to the company’s website. This form of energy is among the oldest power sources harnessed by humans, but it only accounts for about 0.4 percent of net energy production in the United States, which is the world’s biggest geothermal producer.
Current geothermal plants are typically built in areas where hot rock is located close to Earth’s surface, such as tectonically active fault lines
But geothermal energy could play a much bigger role in meeting the world’s energy needs if plants could access the hot rock that is globally available several miles under the planet’s surface. Quaise, which is a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), intends to pioneer this technology using vacuum tubes known as gyrotrons that shoot millimeter-wave light beams, powered by electrons in a strong magnetic field. Using these devices, the company plans to burn almost twice as far into Earth as the deepest holes ever made, such as Russia’s Kola Superdeep Borehole or Qatar’s Al Shaheen oil well, both of which extend for about 7.5 miles.
By 2028, the company aspires to retrofit coal-fueled power plants into geothermal energy hotspots, reports ScienceAlert. The process of drilling out these super-deep holes would take a few months, but once the setup is complete, they could provide limitless energy to a region for up to a century. (vice)

Geothermal energy keeps grape vines cozy in winter
At the Vignoble du Ruisseau in Dunham, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, rows of grape vines are taking their long winter’s nap under cocoons of insulating geotextile, covered with a layer of snow.
But these vines are benefitting from an extra source of heat to keep them comfortable during Quebec’s harsh winter freeze: geothermal energy.
The family that owns the vineyard believes it’s the first in the world to use the technology to protect grape vines from the cold.
The system, patented by the vineyard, distributes heat across 7.5 hectares of fields, thanks to 15 kilometres of tubing running both above and below ground, keeping the temperature of the soil above –10 C all year round. In addition, the vineyard’s warehouses, vats and cellars are all heated and cooled using geothermal energy.
The system works by carrying that underground heat to the surface with the help of a glycol solution flowing through the tubes. (cbc)

Global stuff

Angolan energy company looks to produce green hydrogen
Angolan energy company Sonangol has announced plans to produce green hydrogen for domestic consumption and exportation.
It hopes the move will be a statement of desire from the African continent to transition towards renewable technologies and sources of energy.
It has partnered with German companies Conjuncta and Gauff & Co, who will both play a key role in delivering the hydrogen plant in Angola.
Sonangol has stated that due to its abundance of water resources, Angola should be considered a key location for hydrogen production through electrolysis. (futurenetzero)

Techie corner

What is Electric Truck Hydropower?
This is a suggestion that has been carefully researched by a team from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
The idea is that it is a variant on the the pumped hydro concept, except that instead of having two lakes a weir, a load of pipes, a turbine and a generator you use a number of electric lorries, who drive up hill to collect water from one or a number of streams. Once full they roll down hill using their regenerative breaking to capture the inherent energy in the water and either use that energy or discharge it to the grid, leaving enough to get back up the hill. Alternatively they might have swappable batteries.
This is already done in Poland carrying mining spoil instead of water and the trucks generate about 200kWh per day each (cleantechnica)