I had hoped to help bring some clarity around the brave new world of farming outside of the clutches of the CAP. Unfortunately I suspect that we haven’t got there yet and can only hope that soon all will become clear.

Company news

Schneider Electric acquires Zeigo PPA platform
Schneider Electric has acquired start-up climate-tech platform Zeigo to enhance its digital capabilities in energy, sustainability, and environmental commodity consulting. Zeigo’s machine learning algorithm and 20-person team provide generators with a digital route to market via its PPA platform. Utilities can bid for PPAs via the platform from a whole range of different generators, who themselves can gain best price and market terms through a competitive tendering process.
Renewable energy procurement is time-consuming and complicated, requiring significant expert evaluation of projects and risks alongside the satisfaction of stakeholders up to and including corporate boards. By combining Zeigo’s AI capabilities with its existing advisory services, Schneider Electric will deploy enhanced collaborative intelligence in the energy and environmental commodity procurement process, complementing existing Schneider Electric solutions for aggregation and digital platforms, EcoStruxure Resource Advisor and NEO Network. (theenergyst)

UK news

Ineos-backed hydrogen fund splurges £50m in first five months
Launched in July, HydrogenOne Capital Growth (HGEN) bills itself as the first London-listed fund dedicated to the clean hydrogen revolution.
It aims to be the “sector specialist” in the clean fuel, investing primarily in private opportunities not readily accessible elsewhere.
HGEN raised £107m as part of its launch last year, £25m of which came from petrochemicals giant Ineos.
Of that initial pot, 46% (£50.29m) has subsequently been deployed into hydrogen sector companies – the fund excludes fossil fuel producers.
The investments span the full value chain, including critical components for green and turquoise, that made through a process called methane pyrolysis, hydrogen supply.
Over 90%, of the deployed capital is in the UK and Europe.
Based on current estimates HGEN expects to fully deploy the proceeds from its 2021 initial public offering (IPO) by the second quarter of this year. (energyvoice)

Shell refuelling station becomes EV charge hub
Shell has opened its first UK electric vehicle charging hub in Fulham, London, where petrol and diesel pumps at an existing fuel station have been replaced with ultra-rapid charge points.
A global pilot, this is the first time the company has converted one of its existing sites to cater solely for EVs.
Shell Fulham features nine high-powered, ultra-rapid 175kW charge points which can charge most vehicles from 0 to 80% in 10 minutes – three times faster than more widely used 50kW rapid chargers.
The design includes a timber canopy with built-in solar panels, and roof and shop windows that employ double glazing with high insulating properties.
It includes a comfortable seating area, free Wi-Fi, a Costa Coffee cafe and an extensive Little Waitrose & Partners. (theenergyst)

photo: Shell

Infrared heating scores over heat pumps
Infrared heating is one of the most energy efficient and cost-effective heating systems available.
That’s according to a report from EnTRESS, within the University of Wolverhampton, revealing that over time infrared will be cheaper than air-source heat pumps and can heat a room in under 10 minutes.
This is also more efficient and quicker than heat pumps, as they have a lower output compared with both gas boilers and infrared.
The report claims the government should consider infrared just as much as heat pumps in his net zero strategy, as it’s a useful alternative for properties that cannot afford heat pumps or logistically have them installed. (energylivenews)

EV of the week

This week’s choice is an EV that you will never drive in, has a top speed of 45mph and wears its airbags on the outside. Nuro or similar vehicles are very likely to play a significant role in future urban transport.

Nuro Unveils Third-Generation Autonomous Delivery Vehicle
Autonomous vehicle startup Nuro unveiled a third-generation electric autonomous delivery vehicle designed for commercial operations and manufactured in partnership with BYD North America.
Nuro’s third-generation vehicle is designed to carry more goods and enable more deliveries, with twice the cargo volume of the company’s second generation vehicle. The automotive production-grade vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customize storage and new temperature-controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool. The introduction of the new model furthers Nuro’s ongoing commitment to sustainability through fully electric and zero emissions vehicles. Nuro is also announcing it will use 100% renewable energy for all vehicle charging and facilities for the first time starting this month. In addition, the company is releasing its first sustainability highlights report, covering actions the company has taken toward sustainability thus far and upcoming plans for the year ahead. (electriccarsreport)

photo: Nuro


Fossil fuel free fertiliser to be sold in Sweden from 2023
Fertiliser giant Yara and Swedish agricultural cooperative Lantmännen have signed a landmark deal that could see fossil-free fertiliser become increasingly common on farms in Sweden.
Under the terms of the agreement, Yara will produce fertilisers with a carbon footprint 80 to 90 per cent lower than conventional fertiliser, and Lantmännen will market them to farmers in the Scandinavian country from 2023.
The partners, who have been working together on the development of green fertiliser since 2019, said the deal represented the “first” commercial agreement ever signed for fossil-free fertilisers.
The fertiliser will be produced with ammonia made from hydrogen generated using renewable energy, according to the partners, instead of hydrogen derived from liquified fossil gas that is typically used across the agriculture industry. (businessgreen)

Focus on: UK Farming Policy

The first two Titbits here are taken from a post for the Green Alliance by Shaun Spiers. Read the whole post HERE

ELM and beyond – Where we are now.
The government’s plans for farming in England have taken a kicking. In October, the NFU opposed reductions to the Basic Payments Scheme, and called for delay to the roll out of the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM). But many environmentalists see the first tranche of this new scheme, the new Sustainable Farming Incentive announced in December, as basic payments reheated. It was condemned by the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts for ignoring “the important links between farming, climate and nature”.
Now Defra has given details of the other two components of ELM, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery. These are more ambitious and certainly do connect farming and nature, though there is less emphasis on climate. But many farmers think the schemes give them too little certainty, and environmentalists want more ambition.
The recent Public Accounts Committee report on ELM is particularly critical. It accuses Defra of being “over-optimistic about what it will be able to achieve by when”. On the environment, it says Defra “has not established the metrics that it will need to determine whether ELM is contributing towards the government’s environmental goals” and “is unable to explain how it intends to assess progress against environmental baselines, or even whether these baseline measures exist”.

Looking Forward
…If farming is to play its part in restoring nature and delivering net zero, policy needs to be ambitious. We need a step change, not incremental change (eg a Local Nature Recovery scheme billed by Defra as “the more ambitious successor to Countryside Stewardship”). We need this for nature and climate, but also to ensure that the state (aka the Treasury) continues to pay for land management when, outside the EU, it does not have to.
It is simplistic to assume that more nature means less food or that food prices will have to rise as a result. “Food security” is a powerful cry, employed by the Daily Mail against the “rewilding cult”
But food security – choose your definition of what the term means – will not be achieved by continuing to farm in the future as we farmed in the past, nor simply by growing food on as much land as possible. George Eustice was right to point out in his Oxford Farming Conference speech that “there isn’t a direct correlation between the amount of land that is farmed and our agricultural output… around 60 per cent of our agricultural output comes from just 30 per cent of land”. The least productive 20 per cent of land in England produces just three per cent of our calories. Is there really no more space for nature?
Rather than simply assuming that we need to grow as much food as possible in England, we need a food strategy that supports enlightened farming, as proposed by Henry Dimbleby (the National Food Strategy Report can be found HERE). A decent food strategy would tackle diet, food poverty, trade, the resilience of UK farming (output is not the only good) and much more.  
Environmentalists must continue to put pressure on the government for greater ambition in its farming policies. But, in defending the principle of public money for public goods, we must also beware of the increasing pressure to turn the clock back and return to an agricultural policy that prioritises food production over all other aims.

Photo: Knepp Wildland

Scottish sustainable farming to get £30m boost
The Scottish government has announced £30 million in funding for sustainable farming businesses.
The funding represents the latest round of its ‘Agri-Environment Climate Scheme’ (AECS) and will see more than 600 rural businesses share the money.
Farmers will be given a financial hand to improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate climate change.
Low carbon farming is considered an important part of Scotland’s net zero journey. (futurenetzero)

Eco – City that thinks it’s a forest

Urban Sequoia: an urban carbon absorbing network
At COP26 innovative architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) showcased “Urban Sequoia” an integrated urban design solution that incorporates natural carbon capture within the design envelope. Simply put they treat buildings like they are trees. They showed a prototype tower that optimised design, minimised materials and integrated biomaterials, advanced biomass and carbon capture. All this can be done using existing technology and they claim that their prototype will be capable of sequestering 1,000 tonnes of carbon a year. You would need to plant 48,500 trees to match that. (som.com)

pics: SOM

Global stuff

Lightsource bp to build 520 MW agrivoltaic project in Australia
Lighthouse bp’s 520 MWp Goulburn River Solar Farm with its 296MW/588MWh battery energy storage system, proposed by for a site in Merriwa, approximately halfway between Newcastle and Dubbo, has progressed to the next stages of planning.
Last week, the Australian government posted the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) referral for the project, inviting the public to comment until January 18. Formal planning applications following on from the company’s now-complete preliminary assessments, site design and community consultation are expected to be lodged mid-year.
The Goulburn River Solar Farm is to be built on more than 1000 hectares of cleared freehold land previously used for grazing livestock. The site will be returned to this purpose once the solar panels, sitting about five meters above ground level, have been installed. This will see around 1000 sheep grazing on the property, “managing” the grass, weeds and plant life below the sprawling agrivoltaic project.
Lightsource bp expects construction to begin by mid-2023. (pv-magazine)

photo: Lightsource

CCS ‘red flag?’ World’s sole coal CCS project hits a snag
The world’s sole carbon capture project on a large power plant caught 43 percent fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021 compared with the year before, according to new data from the Canadian utility company operating the project.
SaskPower said the drop in captured emissions at the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan, Saskatchewan, stems from challenges with the main CO2 compressor motor — forcing its carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility to go offline for multiple months last year.
The plant’s backers say the technical issues have been addressed, but critics of carbon capture technology say they are a sign the technology shouldn’t be funded at large coal power plants. (eenews)

photo: Sask Power

Kentucky coal mine to become clean energy hydropower project
An old Kentucky coal mine will soon be turned into a pumped hydro “water battery” in an ambitious renewable clean energy scheme. Hydropower developer Rye Development is transforming a strip mine in southeastern Kentucky’s Bell County into the Lewis Ridge pumped storage project.
The project site sits on a former coal strip mine in an active coal mining area. As coal is phased out of the grid across the nation, coal communities face uncertain employment and economic futures. Projects like Lewis Ridge create new jobs and economic activity in energy communities.
Pumping all that water uphill will take a lot of energy. The idea is to use wind and solar to operate the pumps. Currently, Kentucky ranks 50th on the wind energy scale for the U.S. and 47th in solar. So, the Bluegrass state has a long way to go to fulfill its green future.
As coal phases out, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to repurpose old coal sites for renewable energy. Many strip mines are located far from towns and cities where people can put that energy to good use. Rye Development said its chosen site is “unique and features beneficial topography and proximity to transmission infrastructure. (inhabitat)

photo: Rye Development