Telstra story is interesting. I hope that Telco’s moving into energy services is more successful than their move into media twenty years ago

Company news

Morrisons acquires ‘significant stake’ in soft plastics plant
Morrisons said the plant in Fife has an “initial capacity” of 15,000 tonnes and will process hard-to-recycle soft plastic – including chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, and food film. Yes Recycling, the owners of the plant say that it is due to be fully open by the end of 2021.
The retailer said it is now “looking at ways to use the recycled material from the site for a range of applications, including store fixtures and fittings”. In addition, new “Ecosheets”, are being manufactured at the site for use in the agriculture and construction industry.
Ecosheet is an “environmentally friendly alternative to plywood”, which can be used in construction and agriculture industries.
The move means the retailer will become the first supermarket in the UK to own its own recycling operations. (letsrecycle)

photo: Yes Recycling

Aleph Farms cooks up roadmap to net zero emissions
Leading lab-grown meat innovator Aleph Farms has released a new roadmap for achieving net zero emissions across its supply chain by 2030.
The pioneer of non-genetically engineered cultured beef steaks announced its net zero targets in April 2020, pledging to reach net zero within its own operations by 2025, in advance of achieving net zero emissions throughout its entire supply chain by 2030.
And last week the company announced new strategic partneships with ENGIE and CE Delft in support of its net zero carbon roadmap, which outlines how it intends to eliver on its goals. (businessgreen)

UK news

Green hydrogen plan for Orkney oil terminal
Plans to turn the Flotta Oil Terminal in Orkney into one of the world’s first large-scale green hydrogen plants have been unveiled.
French oil giant TotalEnergies is part of a consortium proposing to use offshore wind power to produce hydrogen on an industrial scale at the facility.
Terminal operator Repsol Sinopec said it wanted to transition away from oil and gas towards green energy.
It is expected the earliest it could be up and running would be 2028.
Offshore Wind Power Limited (OWPL) has submitted the proposal to Crown Estate Scotland (CES). (bbc)

Ocado Retail buys Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal
Ocado Retail — a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer and one of the world’s largest dedicated online supermarkets — is the first grocery retailer to have signed a carbon dioxide removal agreement with Climeworks. Joining the likes of Audi and Microsoft, the online supermarket is helping to pave the way for a more sustainable future and is acting as a first mover within its industry.
Through this new deal, Ocado Retail has paid for over 1’000 tons of carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere, the equivalent of what the brand will emit over the next seven years at its HQ in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal thus helps to make their head office net zero. (thepacker)

photo: Climeworks

More than 2,000 sewage treatment works under scrutiny
Ofwat and the Environment Agency (EA) have today launched a new ‘major’ investigation into the operations of more than 2,000 sewage treatment works.
Today’s announcement follows a checking process that led to certain water companies admitting that they could be releasing illegal sewage discharges into rivers and watersources.
Any breach found by the investigation would mean fines and prosecutions, Ofwat and EA said.
They added that the penalties can be up to 10% of annual turnover for civil cases, or unlimited in criminal proceedings. (energylivenews)

EV of the week

Aura concept is British sports EV with 400-mile range
The futuristic Aura concept is a one-off road-legal two-seater developed by a consortium of British companies to showcase an array of new technologies that could shape the development of electric cars.
Four outfits contributed to the project: Astheimer led the design, Potenza Technology supplied the batteries and electric motors, BAMD Composites developed the body panels and vegan interior and Conjure took care of the human-machine interface (HMI), which uses technology supplied by Spark EV to effectively manage battery charge.
Funding for the concept, which was designed and built during the pandemic-induced lockdowns and is described as “Britain’s first long-range EV”, came from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) through the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN). Development began on 1 October 2020, less than a year before its public debut at the Cenex-LCV show.
Although it’s designed in the mould of a traditional open-top sports car, the Aura’s prevailing focus is on sustainability and efficiency, rather than outright pace and dynamic agility. (autocar)



Denmark and Costa Rica Launch Anti-Oil and Gas Alliance at COP26
A group of countries and regions led by Denmark and Costa Rica have pledged to phase out oil and gas production in a new initiative launched today at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.
Wales, Ireland, France, Greenland, Québec and Sweden have joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) as “core” members, which requires winding down any existing projects by a Paris Agreement-aligned date and not issuing new licences.
California, Portugal, and New Zealand are associate members of the initiative, having adopted policies to restrict fossil fuel supply but not yet banned licensing of further developments.
Italy has signed up as a “friend” of the alliance, signalling its support for BOGA’s objectives but not taking action to cut fossil fuel production at this time.
None of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers, such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia, have joined, and the total oil production of those signed up makes up a small proportion globally. The UK hosts of the summit also shunned the effort. (desmog)

Major European carmakers will hit emissions targets too easily
Weak EU vehicle emissions targets could allow Europe’s biggest carmakers to produce millions more petrol and diesel cars than necessary up to 2030 in a “wasted decade” for cutting carbon pollution, according to a report.
Analysis of car industry sales plans for electric vehicles shared exclusively with the Guardian by Transport and Environment (T&E), a thinktank and campaign group, showed that manufacturers could hit their 2030 EU carbon emissions targets with four years to spare.
However, the report warned that manufacturers could stick closely to their minimum requirements, as has been the case in recent years – opening up the potential for the industry to sell their more profitable petrol and diesel marques.
Based on the car industry’s publicly stated commitments for EV production, the study showed there was a gap between what could be achieved and where sales volumes would be if they are kept in line with the EU emissions rules. (guardian)

‘Farmers are digging their own graves’: in Spain’s arid south
A wetland without water is a melancholy sight. The fish are dead, the birds have flown and a lifeless silence hangs over the place. “Everything you see around you should be under water,” says Ecologists in Action’s Rafa Gosálvez from the lookout in Las Tablas de Daimiel national park. The park has been dry for three years and where there were once aquatic species such as ducks, herons, egrets and freshwater crayfish, as well as tree frogs and the European polecat, now the wildlife has mostly vanished.
Las Tablas de Daimiel is a unique wetland in the vast, almost treeless plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. But the park has had the life sucked out of it to slake intensive agriculture’s insatiable thirst.
Las Tablas’ ecosystem relies on water from rainfall, the Guadiana river and a huge aquifer, but the climate crisis has resulted in Spain’s periods of drought getting longer. The Guadiana is drying up, while agriculture has depleted the aquifer and polluted the groundwater with phosphates and other chemical fertilisers. In 2009, the wetland was so dry that subterranean peat fires broke out.
The 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of Las Tablas are all that remain of what, according to the World Wildlife Fund, was once a system of 50,000 hectares of wetland in Castilla-La Mancha. (guardian)

photo: Unsplash

Focus on: LFP vs Li-ion

An interesting trend, that bears out Voltaires saying that “perfect can be the enemy of good” has developed in EV batteries over the last couple of years. Manufacturers, led by Tesla, have been specifying a cheaper, older battery technology. A couple of articles explain the thinking:

A quick comparison of technologies
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), also called LFP, is one of the more recently-developed rechargeable battery chemistries and is a variation of lithium-ion chemistry. Rechargeable lithium iron phosphate batteries use LiFePO4 as the principle cathode material. Despite having a lower energy density than other lithium-ion chemistries, lithium iron phosphate batteries can provide better power density and longer life cycles.
Lithium-ion can consist of two different chemistries for the cathode, lithium manganese oxide or lithium cobalt dioxide, as both have a graphite anode. It has a specific energy of 150/200 watt-hours per kilogram and a nominal voltage of 3.6V. Its charge rate is from 0.7C up to 1.0C as higher charges can significantly damage the battery. Lithium-ion has a discharge rate of 1C.
Major advantages of Lithium Iron Phosphate:
● Very safe and secure technology (No Thermal Runaway)
● Very low toxicity for the environment (use of iron, graphite, and phosphate)
● Calendar life > 10 years
● Cycle life: from 2000 (vs c 1000 for li-ion)
● Operational temperature range: up to 70°C
● Very low internal resistance. Stability or even decline over the cycles.
● Constant power throughout the discharge range
● Ease of recycling

The Smartest EV Batteries May Not Be the Best Ones
The hype around electric vehicles has raised expectations for the next generation of long-lasting batteries that take cars farther — all at the right price. But new advances and big breakthroughs may not be the way forward. The success of one of the world’s largest EV battery companies, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., or CATL, is a case in point.
CATL has managed to bring down battery prices by using older technology, and has convinced automakers that the end product is a worthwhile investment — no easy task. But in so doing, CATL has maintained gross profit margins at more than 25% each quarter for the past few years. The China-listed company’s share price has risen almost 60% so far this year.
CATL has been realistic. The company has taken a technology viewed as relatively low-end — lithium-iron-phosphate, or LFP, batteries — and made it widely accepted for passenger vehicles. CATL has redesigned battery packs to be more efficient with fewer parts. While the batteries have lower energy density and won’t take vehicles as far as those with newer chemistry, they are safe, and have improved in terms of quality and durability. Procuring raw materials is also less challenging, an issue for manufacturers now trying to get and maintain a consistent supply of commodities such as lithium and cobalt.
While CATL produces other types of powertrains with newer technologies, the company has made its LFP version a primary focus for now. (bloomberg)

Two biggest EV makers sold on LFP
Tesla announced last year that the standard range Model 3 made in China would run on LFP batteries and would be good for 290 miles of range. Elon Musk has been so impressed with the performance of this version that Tesla recently announced that all standard range cars would use LFP.
BYD created a stir when they announced their “Blade” battery based on LFP. This battery not only cuts production costs for the battery pack, but also the batteries for part of the structure of the car further reducing costs.

photo: BYD

Research of the week

Carbonomics on how cost of capital constrains high carbon projects
Michele Della Vigna and his team at Goldman Sachs have been doing some interesting work for a while under the brand Carbonomics. In a report published this month they produce convincing evidence that even if carbon pricing is still something of a blunt instrument, investor engagement is now doing the heavy lifting in its place.
Increased capital markets engagement is driving higher cost of capital for high carbon investment as against renewables investment (see chart below). The graphs show a stark divergence. This divergence implies a long term cost of carbon of $40-80 per tonne, which in turn is generating a structural underinvestment in carbon intensive industries. This drives a rise in commodity prices which further encourages investment in industries with a clear regulatory framework like renewables. The incremental cost of zero carbon policies therefore continue to fall which puts extra emphasis on technologies that will be needed to drive further decarbonisation particularly around energy storage, such as batteries, green hydrogen etc.
Download the report HERE

Global stuff

Telstra to tap 1GW of batteries in big new play
Telecommunications giant Telstra says it intends to “replenish” its near 1GW of battery storage assets to play into the electricity spot market, and tap into Australia’s resources of “abundant, dirt cheap but clean energy” as it takes on the country’s big energy retailers.
Telstra has just secured an energy retail licence in three major states and in 2022 will roll out its first energy product to its more than five million customers, part of its plans to leverage its huge customer base and become one of the big five energy retailers.
The cross-fertilisation of telecommunications and energy has been mooted for some years, but Telstra’s plans represent by far the biggest and most potent to date, even if it is just one of a number of big players seeking to muscle into the market hitherto dominated by a handful of energy incumbents.
Its energy strategy is led by Ben Burge, the former CEO of Powershop Australia, who has spent the past few years crafting the strategy, which also includes signing big contracts with wind and solar projects, and re-purposing its vast array of distributed assets previously used only to supply power to its network of towers. (renews)

Canadian National look to electrify freight transport
Electrification has been part and parcel of railway history for generations, but primarily in the form of passenger trains. Electrification for long haul rail freight still has, well, a long way to go, but CN aims to to get things going.
Earlier this week, CN staked its claim to acquiring the first 100% battery-electric freight locomotive in North America, the so-named FLXdrive locomotive manufactured by the Pittsburgh firm Wabtec.
CN and Wabtec credit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with providing support for the deal through its Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program. (cleantechnica)

photo: Canadian National

Techie corner

How Finland found an answer to heating homes
Heating homes and workplaces without fossil fuels is a significant challenge in the move to zero carbon economies. Within the EU alone, heating is the most energy and carbon-intensive sector, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of total energy demand – 75 per cent of which is met through burning fossil fuels. Globally, just 10 per cent of heat demand was met with sources of renewable energy in 2017.
But in the chilly Nordics, Finland has shown the extraordinary potential of one of the less visible renewable energy technologies: heat pumps, which convert energy from external heat sources like air, water or geothermal energy.
In the early 1990s, air-source heat pumps began to be introduced from Sweden. A Finnish national heat pump association (SULPU) was established in 1999 by a heat pump entrepreneur and a researcher, with some support from the government energy efficiency agency, Motiva.
Change was slow, but the organic growth of hands-on knowledge via the SULPU resulted in improved training and standards for installations, boosting the reputation of the sector and leading to increased sales. The internet brought heat pump discussion forums, where users and installers swapped stories in an environment of trust and collaboration.
This is important to note: although regulation has driven the scale of this transition, individual households have played a key role. Much of the investment flowing into the purchase and installation of heat pumps has come from regular homeowners, using their own cash and with limited or no government support.
Today, heat pumps are the go-to resource for residential and commercial heating, bolstered by affordable prices, new service-led business models and tax rebates. In 2018, air-source heat pumps reached sales of 47,000, ground-source heat pumps 8,000, air-to-water heat pumps 4,000, and exhaust-air heat pumps 3,000. Around 40 per cent of Finland’s housing stock is detached, making it easier to install ground source heat pumps through underground pipes.
Heat pumps also provide an excellent means for demand-side management of the power grid and are flexible, using water volumes, buildings, geothermal wells and other features as energy resources. (nesta)

I recommend the whole article. There are plenty of lessons for the UK to take from it: 1) Build technical competence from the bottom up through training, so that there is a trusted and plentiful installer base. 2) Build understanding and trust through word of mouth endorsement (heat pumps suffer a poor reputation, not all deserved, in the UK). 3) ensure that electricity is affordable vs alternatives. 4) Use tax breaks to encourage behaviour change. 5) Do not overly depend on Government edict.