This week’s feature highlights a number articles that have appeared supporting the idea that the EU and US should move quickly to create a unified carbon pricing regime. Now that the US is under new management, this excellent idea stands a chance and could really make a difference to global emissions. Our feature explains how.

Company news

ITM Power to sell 24MW electrolyser
ITM Power has announced the sale of a 24 megawatt electrolyser for use at Linde’s Leuna Chemical Complex in Germany.
The electrolyser will be used to produce green hydrogen to supply the Dublin-headquartered company’s industrial customers through the company’s existing pipeline network.
In addition, Linde will distribute liquefied green hydrogen to refuelling stations and other industrial customers in the region.
It’s claimed the Leuna facility, which will be built, owned and operated by Linde, will be the world’s largest proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser plant. (energyvoice)

UK news

ADL & BYD expand UK bus production
British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and the UK arm of Chinese electric vehicle company BYD have announced plans to move a greater proportion of the assembly line for their popular range of  ‘BYD ADL’ electric buses to UK factories.
The partners announced this week that the chassis for BYD ADL Enviro200EV single deck and BYD ADL Enviro400EV double deck buses destined for the British market will be assembled in UK plants owned by ADL from the second half of this year.
The partners said the change would allow them to meet growing demand for zero emission buses, while also expanding the UK’s clean vehicle market and creating new manufacturing jobs. (businessgreen)

Essar and Progressive Energy plot £750m hydrogen CCS hub in Cheshire
Plans for a major hydrogen production hub are being drawn up in Cheshire, where oil refining firm Essar and technology specialist Progressive Energy are aiming to capture carbon for storage below Liverpool Bay while producing low carbon fuel for heavy industry, transport, and home heating.
The joint venture, announced today, aims to invest £750m to create two plants to convert natural gas and fuel gases from Essar Oil UK’s refinery in Ellesmere Port into low carbon hydrogen, with resulting CO2 emissions captured and stored offshore in sub-surface reservoirs below Liverpool Bay, the companies said.
Hydrogen produced at the facilities would then be used to supply heavy industry and manufacturing at the HyNet North West industrial decarbonisation cluster in the region, which is being spearheaded by Progressive Energy alongside a host of manufacturers backed by £7.5m of government funding. (businessgreen)

Hydrogen Given Approval at Bruichladdich Distillery
Protium Green Solutions, the UK‐based green hydrogen energy services company, has received more than £70,000 in funding to complete a feasibility study on incorporating innovative hydrogen combustion technology into Bruichladdich Distillery. Part of the BEIS Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), the project is the next step in assessing the application of alternative fuels at Islay-based Bruichladdich.
The feasibility project, named HyLaddie, has been funded by the Small Business Research Initiative Green Distilleries Competition and will explore the deployment of an on‐site Deuterium Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC™) as a viable mechanism to meet Bruichladdich’s heating requirements.
Together with ITPEnergised and Deuterium, Protium will investigate optimal system design and how the DCC™ can be integrated into the Victorian distillery. As with any project undertaken at Bruichladdich, the feasibility study must consider the preservation of centuries old equipment, the safeguarding of spirit quality and the impact on the local community. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Bruichladdich Distillery

The government quietly lets farmers use neonics again
Last Friday, just when journalists were clocking off and the Saturday papers were being compiled for print, Defra announced it would allow farmers to once again use environmentally destructive neonicotinoid seed treatments on sugar beet. This small administrative decision has huge environmental repercussions. It is seen by the public as a bellwether environmental issue, and also highlights profound inadequacies in pesticide decision making. No wonder the announcement was made at the most muffled moment in the government’s weekly media diary.
Neonics have been shown to contaminate wildflowers growing in field margins, hedgerows and adjacent meadows where they poison bees and other insects. They‘ve caused many bee species to disappear from large areas of the countryside. In addition, there are concerns that birds and mammals will be poisoned if they eat treated seeds. Perhaps most pertinently this particular chemical, when last used on sugar beet, ended up in rivers and streams, causing severe pollution, and exceeding levels that trigger acute and chronic harm to aquatic life. (greenallianceblog)

EV of the week

Renault looks back to move forward
Renault announced at the CES show this week that it will introduce a number of electric models between now and 2025. The two that generated the most excitement was first, the suggestion that they would relaunch the iconic Renault 5 as an all electric supermini, most likely harnessing the running gear of the successful Zoe. If the concept shown below is anything to go by people will be queueing up for one of these. Similarly there was talk of an electric Renault 4 (no need for that horrible gearstick!) and reinventing the Alpine brand as a range of e-sports cars in a possible jv with Lotus.


Siemens Gamesa and Siemens Energy to test Offshore Green Hydrogen
The two companies are joining force and contributing with their developments to an innovative solution that fully integrates an electrolyzer into an offshore wind turbine as a single synchronized system to directly produce green hydrogen. The companies intend to provide a full-scale offshore demonstration of the solution by 2025/2026. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research announced today that the developments can be implemented as part of the ideas competition “Hydrogen Republic of Germany”.  
The ultimate fully integrated offshore wind-to-hydrogen solution will produce green hydrogen using an electrolyzer array located at the base of the offshore wind turbine tower, blazing a trail towards offshore hydrogen production. The solution will lower the cost of hydrogen by being able to run off grid, opening up more and better wind sites. The companies’ developments will serve as a test bed for making large-scale, cost-efficient hydrogen production a reality and will prove the feasibility of reliable, effective implementation of wind turbines in systems for producing hydrogen from renewable energy. (renewableenergymagazine)

 photo: Seimens Gamesa

Focus on: Taxing Carbon

Dear Mr Biden, can we talk about a Carbon Club?
In the four years that America has been absent from the diplomatic stage, the list of co-operative actions needing attention has been steadily growing. One of the principal areas for attention is carbon emissions, where the benefits of co-operation amongst the leading global trading blocks are ever more apparent.
Quite a few thought leaders and writers are extolling the benefits of the EU and USA creating a “Carbon Club” whereby they harmonise either their emissions trading system and/or carbon tax so as allow for free trade in key, high emission products (steel etc).
Such an arrangement works for those inside the club, but it also allows for what the EU calls a “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” (CBAM) to be instituted which will force those not in the club to pay a balancing tax on any goods entering into the club, thus eliminating any chance of “free riding” from countries not extracting a carbon levy. China, clearly would be the principal target of the CBAM.
As a route to achieving a globally shared aim, the combination of a Carbon Club and CBAM has a lot to recommend it. The club would be inclusive, in that outsiders would be encouraged to join, and would create a much stronger mechanism for holding countries (particularly China) to their carbon reduction promises. The voluntary schemes of Kyoto and Paris have never had the required bite.
The key advantage of the Club plus CBAM is that the benefits are enjoyed by those inside the club, whilst the costs are paid by those outside.
This is brilliantly explained in a paper by Nobel winning economist William Northam (download his paper HERE) and picked up by the likes of Guntram Wolff of Bruegel (a Brussels think-tank) HERE and now by mainstream publications such as Bloomberg HERE and the FT HERE

Global stuff

Shell Invests in Quebec’s First Waste to Low-Carbon Fuels Plant
Shell will have a 40% interest in a plant using technology developed by Enerkem, a leading Canadian clean tech company. Enerkem announced the project in December 2020, subject to finalization of commercial agreements.
The approximately $875 million Varennes Carbon Recycling (VCR) will produce biofuels and renewable chemicals made from non-recyclable residual materials as well as wood waste. The plant will leverage green hydrogen and oxygen produced through electrolysis, transforming Quebec’s excess hydroelectricity capacity into value-added biofuels and renewable chemicals. (renewableenergymagazine)

Google to turn a data center into a giant battery
By the third quarter of 2021, the company says, the Saint-Ghislain data center in Belgium will be outfitted with a battery system that can supply three megawatts of power over two hours. That is likely a small fraction of the data center’s overall power needs — it’s not uncommon for hyperscale data centers to have upwards of 40 megawatts of backup power capacity installed — and Google will still have generators on site and ready to fire up in tandem if needed.
But batteries aren’t just a one-trick pony. And when Google isn’t using them as a supplementary power source, their energy can be discharged into the grid. Grid operators around the world are in the process of installing more backup batteries to supply clean energy when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, and to smooth the running of grids that are increasingly dependent of distributed energy. (grist)

A Panamanian Tribe Regains Control of Its Lands
Tribal groups in Panama are celebrating a victory for their rights to control some of Central America’s largest forests — a victory that could benefit conservation throughout the region.
The landmark ruling, by the country’s Supreme Court, upholds a claim by the Naso people of northwest Panama — who live in remote villages, grow subsistence crops, maintain their own forests and native language, and elect their own monarch — to create a semi-autonomous territory, known in Panama as a comarca, covering some 400,000 acres of their ancestral lands.
The ruling, issued in October, might give conservationists pause, because most of the Naso territory has since the 1980s been designated as part of two state-protected areas — La Amistad National Park and the Palo Seco forest reserve. The judges found that, contrary to past claims by the Panamanian government, this status was no bar to the territory being recognized as a comarca — Indigenous land rights had priority. The parks will continue to exist, but under Indigenous control through a joint management plan. (yale360)

Buddhist Monks Are Snapping Up ESG Bonds in Japan
ESG investing is so popular in Japan that even Buddhist monks are getting into it.
One of the new investors is Tokuunin, a Zen Buddhist temple in central Tokyo. The religious group wanted to make more money for building repairs and maintenance over the coming decades, so it bought 40-year social bonds sold by the University of Tokyo, according to Yuzan Yamamoto, its chief priest. It’s another reflection of the sustainable investing boom in Japan that saw sales of ESG notes jump 68% to a record $21 billion in 2020, as demand for such debt surges worldwide. (bloomberg)

Techie corner

Anyone for seaweed-burger
Seaweed is loaded with protein, brimming with carbohydrates and, yes, grows like a weed, which explains why it has been a staple of many Asian diets since prehistoric times.
Still, seaweed is hardly ubiquitous on Western dinner plates, and the thought of it monopolizing a meal might give some people pause. But Amanda Stiles and Beth Zotter want to see seaweed dominate the alt-protein supply chain and change how we eat for good. “Our goal is to develop the most sustainable supply chain for protein on Earth,” says Zotter, who cofounded the seaweed start-up Trophic with Stiles, a biochemist and former head of research at Ripple Foods, in 2018 after a stint in biofuels.
No, they don’t wish to serve you heaping piles of slimy greens seemingly plucked from the gardens of Dr. Seuss. Their focus is on Rhodophyta, or red seaweeds, for their vibrant colors and high protein content. Unlike other companies that see seaweed’s potential as food, Zotter and Stiles consider it an ingredient that can make fake meat look, cook, and taste more like the real thing. Dulse, a type of red algae, even tastes something like bacon when cooked. They are researching red seaweed on a molecular level, exploiting its properties as a protein powerhouse and superior binding agent that makes it a better choice than soy and pea protein in something like a faux tuna steak. It also thrives in harsh, salty climes, does not need fertilizer or fresh water, and grows so quickly it can absorb carbon at a rate much faster than a terrestrial forest. According to Zotter, seaweed farms covering an area the size of Massachusetts would supply enough protein to replace all the beef consumed in the world. (grist)