The week where two of the world’s richest men throw their pocket money at their favourite causes. Not sure either has completely thought through the ramifications. Although the announcement by Jeff Bezos to give $10bn to fighting climate change is welcome, as Politico says (HERE) is he part of the solution or part of the problem? At least it is a victory for employee activism.

Company news

Sanjeev Gupta invests €2bn in modernizing European steel plants
British conglomerate GFG Alliance this week announced it will invest €2bn to modernize its European steel plants, as it steps up efforts to tackle the sector’s substantial carbon emissions and achieve the firm’s 2030 carbon neutral goal.
Last year Mr Gupta consolidated these purchases under the banner Liberty Steel Group and pledged to make it “the world’s first carbon neutral steel company” by 2030, building on GFG’s existing GREENSTEEL strategy.
Over previous years, the firm had bought up a raft of renewable energy projects, invested in electric arc furnaces (pic below) to produce recycled steel, and explored the use of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies in the steel manufacturing process.
The new investment will be targeted primarily at plants in Romania and the Czech Republic, the firm said, with much of it going towards installing electric furnaces, which can reduce emissions by around 60 per cent.
€1bn will be invested in the firm’s Galati operations in Romania, €750m in its Ostrava plant in the Czech Republic, and the remaining €250m spread over its other European operations, in Italy, Belgium Luxembourg and North Macedonia, the firm said.
The investment will see production increase substantially at both plants, a move that has turned heads in an industry struggling with issues of over-supply and falling demand. (businessgreen)

UK news

UK’s ‘first’ green hydrogen plants among winners in £90m funding boost
Europe’s “first ever” green hydrogen production plants, a clutch of smart home energy schemes, and efforts to switch carbon intensive industry to run on renewables are among projects sharing in a £90m low carbon energy funding boost announced by the government this week.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said some £70m of the funding would go towards developing several green hydrogen projects, including two of Europe’s first ever low carbon H2 production plants, with one situated on the banks of the Mersey and a second planned near Aberdeen.
In addition, a third green hydrogen project is envisaged to harness renewable offshore wind electricity off the coast of Grimsby for electrolysis in order to produce hydrogen, while some of the £70m will also go towards trialling technologies to help switch high carbon industry – such as cement and glass production – from running on fossil fuels to renewable energy, BEIS said.
The remaining £20m funding announced today is then earmarked for projects aimed at cutting household emissions through nine UK-wide smart energy projects. (businessgreen)

Shell Signs PPA With Largest Storage Battery In Europe
Shell has agreed to purchase the output of the 100 MW/100 MWh Minety power storage project in Wiltshire which is expected to be complete by the end of this year. It is comprised of two 50 MW batteries and is being developed by CNIC — China’s sovereign wealth fund — and China Huaneng Group, a utility company owned by the Chinese government. (cleantechnica)

U.K. to Spend $1.6 Billion on World’s Best Climate Supercomputer
The U.K. said it will spend £1.2 on developing the most powerful weather and climate supercomputer in the world.
The program aims to improve weather and climate modeling by the government forecaster, the Met Office, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement Monday. The machine will replace the U.K.’s existing supercomputer, which is already one of the 50 most powerful in the world. (Bloomberg)

Arsenal saves half a million single-use plastic cups from landfill
Arsenal introduced a reusable cup scheme in partnership with the local Camden Town Brewery at the beginning of the 2019/2020 football season following a successful trial period the year prior. The initiative has seen Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium offer beer in reusable cups, as opposed to single-use, with numerous drop-off and collection points signposted within the stadium where fans can place the reusable alternatives.
Up to 20,000 cups are now collected at the Emirates each matchday to ensure each cup reaches its maximum life of 200 uses.
Arsenal this week revealed that the scheme has helped prevent more than half a million single-use plastic cups from being discarded. In response, green campaign group Friends of the Earth is calling on stadiums and sports venues in the UK to adopt similar reusable cup schemes. (edie)
For the fans who read this a little reminder that Arsenal were once quite good at lifting cups as well as reusing them:

EV of the week

Odyssey 21, an electric beast of an SUV built to race in extreme conditions
Extreme E is a race series that, as the name suggests, will pitch electric racing into extreme environments around the world. The Oddyssey 21 is the car that will act as a template. All teams will run variations of this design.
The Odyssey 21 was manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, with a battery from Williams Advanced Engineering. It uses a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, with a raised suspension and huge off-road wheels. Continental will supply the tires.
It first appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and there is no doubting that the Odyssey 21 is a true beast. The rugged 1,650 kg, all-electric SUV has a 400 kw (550 hp) peak output that gets it from 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds — and it can do so at gradients of up to 130%. Watch it in action HERE(electrek)


How Siemens Gamesa Could Give Coal Plants a Second Life
Ten years ago, Siemens Wind Power, as it was then known, started playing around with a concept for a thermal energy storage system. Last year, the wind turbine manufacturer now known as Siemens Gamesa plugged a 30-megawatt/130-megawatt-hour demonstration system into the grid at Hamburg harbor.
 By next year, it could be breathing new life into coal power plants that are currently scheduled for a date with a wrecking ball.
The Electric Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) technology uses fans to blow hot air into a chamber filled with volcanic rocks to temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius. The heat can be used to drive steam turbines for power or siphoned-off as heat or steam for end users.
With more than six months of performance under its belt in Hamburg, the company is now eyeing a full-size rollout using modular systems of 1-gigawatt-hour blocks. Ten potential customers are in talks with the firm, including a wind farm operator looking to sidestep curtailment rates that are approaching 60 percent and the owner of a recently commissioned coal plant looking to prolong its life.
There are lots of energy storage technology options available for load-shifting or arbitrage, but ETES is the only system that can rejuvenate and rehabilitate conventional power assets. (gtm)

German court says Tesla can clear trees to build car factory
A German court has ruled that clearing of trees from the site of Tesla’s first electric car factory in Europe can go ahead, days after it issued an injunction temporarily halting the preparatory work.
The top administrative court in the Berlin-Brandenburg region ruled on Thursday that authorities had been within their rights to clear the way for work to start.
The court had issued an injunction last weekend to give it time to consider the case after an environmental group challenged a lower court’s ruling that Tesla could proceed with felling 92 hectares (227 acres) of pine trees at the site in Grünheide, 24 miles (38km) east of Berlin. Final planning approval for the factory has yet to be granted.
The company wants to start manufacturing 150,000 electric cars a year from mid-2021, with plans to increase that number to half a million annually. (guardian)

Focus on: Regenerative Agriculture

First up, a quick definition of regenerative agriculture:

Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.
Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming and ranching communities.    
The system draws from decades of scientific and applied research by the global communities of organic farming, agroecology, Holistic Management, and agroforestry(

General Mills chooses Kansas for restorative farming project
General Mills, with the help of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, selected the 650,000-acre Cheney Reservoir region as the project’s location.
This region includes farms in five counties — Kiowa, Reno, Pratt, Kingman and Stafford. Water from the reservoir where the runoff from these farms goes is used by residents of Wichita. By way of application, 24 farmers were chosen for this pilot project.
This impact-based agricultural program will pay farmers for increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases, and improved water quantity and water use efficiency. This is part of General Mills’ regenerative agriculture program.
By not using century-old farming methods of tilling each field, pulling out the nutrients from the earth and then adding fertilizer, this model leaves living roots in the ground 365 days per year, creating less soil erosion, less chemical use and higher nutrient crop value. (1-kansas)

Danone adds funding support
Dairy company Danone, which previously pledged to invest $6 million in soil health research and was the catalyst for a biodiversity consortium announced last fall, is stepping up its support of regenerative agriculture with two new sources of funding that it helped arrange with public and private sector partners.
The programs are available to the farmers that participate in its cost-plus model, through which Danone sets long-term contracts with more predictable pricing. About 40 per cent of the milk it purchases in North America for its brands – including Dannon yogurt and Horizon Organic milk – is procured through these arrangements. They also often have a lower financial risk profile than their counterparts.
Danone is already conducting soil research with 23 dairies across 50,000 acres in 10 states — tracking at least 28 varieties of cover and cash crops. It hopes to double that acreage over the next two years. (businessgreen)

Global stuff

Red-state Utah embraces plan to tackle climate crisis in surprising shift
In a move to protect its ski slopes and growing economy, Utah – one of the reddest states in the nation – has just created a long-term plan to address the climate crisis.
And in a surprising turnaround, some of the state’s conservative leaders are welcoming it.
“If we don’t think about Utah’s long-term future, who will?” Republican state house speaker Brad Wilson said at a recent focus group to discuss the proposals.
At the request of the Republican-dominated state legislature, a University of Utah economic thinktank produced the plan to reduce emissions affecting both the local air quality and the global climate.
Project lead Thomas Holst, an energy analyst, never expected to be at the helm of an effort like this. A few years ago, the Utah legislature passed a resolution urging the EPA to “cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated”.
But now the perspectives of some state lawmakers – and of Holst, who spent most of his career in the oil and gas industry – have shifted. (guardian)

Bamboo electric bike is designed for Kathmandu locals and tourists
Designer and Fulbright scholar Lance Rake has teamed up with local bamboo builders at Abari in Kathmandu to design an electric cargo bike made out of sustainable materials. The resulting design is the Habre Eco Bike, a three-wheeled bicycle made out of locally sourced bamboo that was strategically crafted to provide locals and tourists with an alternative vehicle that would not only let them move around town easily but would also help reduce the city’s notorious pollution (inhabitat)

Techie corner

“Reverse Fuel Cell” Converts Waste Carbon to Valuable Products at Record Rates
Fuel cells turn chemicals into electricity. Now, a U of T Engineering team has adapted technology from fuel cells to do the reverse: harness electricity to make valuable chemicals from waste carbon (CO2).
An electrolyser uses electricity to drive a chemical reaction. The new paper’s authors are experts in designing electrolysers that convert CO2 into other carbon-based molecules, such as ethylene.
Today’s electrolysers do not yet produce ethylene on a scale large enough to compete with what is derived from fossil fuels. Part of the challenge lies in the unique nature of the chemical reaction that transforms CO2 into ethylene and other carbon-based molecules. (fuelcellworks)