Company news

Octopus Energy acquires IoT technology nCube Home

Octopus Energy has acquired nCube Home, the UK’s first independent smart home energy management platform.
nCube Home is an award-winning technology, that bridges the gap between IOT devices, using Z-Wave, WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth and LAN. It is currently supports over 100 products, including Nest, Sonos and Yale.
Octopus intends to use the platform to help develop smart grids, increase automation and integrate smart meters into its offering. (current-news)

UK news

UK Renewables generate more than fossil fuels for the first time

During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.
This is the first-ever quarter where renewables outpaced fossil fuels since the UK’s first public electricity generating station opened in 1882. It is another symbolic milestone in the stunning transformation of the UK’s electricity system over the past decade. (carbonbrief)
Read the whole piece to see why this is not a reason for us to sit back an congratulate ourselves HERE

Eden Project to start drilling on ‘hot rocks’ project

The Eden Project has secured enough money to push ahead with its £17m plan to drill into Cornish rocks to harness clean heat and power, the tourist attraction announced yesterday.
Together with project partners EGS Energy Limited, the Eden Project plans to drill down 4.5km as part of a pioneering geothermal enegry project.
Water will then be pumped through the tunnel and heated using geothermal heat, before being brought back to ground level and fed into a district heating system that will power the site’s biomes, offices, and greenhouses. (businessgreen)  

Drax launches sustainable biomass strategy

Drax has outlined how it will use the latest science and best practice to ensure that biomass use is sustainably sourced and not linked to deforestation, with the UK Governments former chief scientific adviser Sir John Beddington confirmed as chair of a new Independent Advisory Board
The company has unveiled a new biomass sustainability policy built on the recommendations of Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission and the European Climate Foundation.
The new policy aligns to 15 recommendations, notably to favour biomass associated with restoration and conservation projects and a commitment to not take from sources linked to deforestation.
Drax has agreed to work with academic institutions and non-profit organisations to meet its core commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and protect the natural environment. (edie)  

UK net zero ‘needs 100GW’ extra green power

The UK’s legal obligation to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require more than 100GW of new wind and solar generation, according to Aurora Energy Research.
The Oxford consultancy’s ‘Getting to Net Zero’ report found the climate goal needs wind and solar capacity to increase to more than 140GW by mid-century, up from around 33GW today.
Net zero will also require 20GW of new nuclear and 3GW of carbon capture and storage, Aurora said.
The variable nature of wind and solar output means that deploying renewables at this scale will also need up to 30GW of short-duration energy storage in 2050 to help balance the grid.
A further 20GW of longer-duration back-up capacity would be required to cater for prolonged windless spell in winter. (renews)
Coincidentally in another part of Oxford, Chris Goodall’s blog Carbon Commentary had been doing a similar exercise and come up with similar numbers:

‘Massive overbuilding’ of renewables is the way to 100% decarbonisation

This note argues that ‘net zero’ energy is likely to be most cheaply achieved by a huge expansion of renewables combined with hydrogen as a storage medium.
In particular, I look at the first stage of this strategy: the building of sufficient renewables capacity to provide all UK electricity, rather than all energy. I use data from the month of September 2019, showing that a 6.2 times expansion of wind energy supply would have created a sufficient electricity to at least cover current needs about 62% of the time. At times of surplus, up to 30 gigawatts of electricity is assumed to be converted to hydrogen. This hydrogen is then used to make electricity in the 38% of half hour periods when renewables supply is insufficient, through either combustion in a hydrogen CCGT units or the use of fuel cells. The supply from a 6.2 times multiple of current wind energy would have covered total electricity demand in each half hour of the month. No other capacity would be required, either from fossil fuel or, indeed, other renewables.
I use projected 2025 costs to assess the financial implications of this. The recent offshore wind auction produced prices as low as £39.50 (in 2012 money) per MWh. After applying CPI inflation to this number, the price would be about £51 in 2025. I then use estimated costs to calculate the price for converting surplus electricity to hydrogen and then back to electricity. Using these estimates, I suggest that the cost of fully renewable electricity system is only slightly more than today’s electricity supply pattern, updated to 2025 prices.
Finally, I postulate that this calculation is too pessimistic and that cost trends in renewables will make massive overbuilding of renewables cheaper than any alternative by 2025. Specifically, the expansion of renewable electricity as a source for replacements for liquid fuels will aid the economics of the proposed approach. (carboncommentary)

(image from Carbon Commentary)

EV of the week 

Volvo’s first full EV

Volvo has unveiled its first pure electric car, the XC40 Recharge. It’s based on the existing compact SUV, slipping into an attractive segment of the market where there aren’t currently a huge range of rivals.
Not only is Volvo showcasing this first vehicle, but changing gear on electrification in general, saying that there will be an electric car launch every year for the next 5 years – with the ambition of moving to 50 per cent sales from EVs by 2025.
The range of electric Volvos will be known by the moniker “Recharge”
The XC40 is all-wheel drive, with a total output of 408hp, giving a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds. There’s a 78kWh battery that will recharge to 80 per cent in around 40 minutes, supporting fast charging up to 150kW, and should make the car good for a range of 250 miles. (pocket-lint)


Hamburger Hochbahn to purchase 530 electric buses between 2021 and 2025

The road is paved for the transition of Hamburger Hochbahn bus fleet to electric drive. The 20 Mercedes eCitaro and 10 Solaris Urbino 12 Electric are just the stepping stones for a plan that aims at the introduction to no less than 530 electric buses between 2021 and 2025, including both battery and fuel cell buses.
The plan follows the initiatives by the Hamburg Senate calling for transport operators to only purchase zero-emission, fully electric buses from 2020 onwards and is part of Germany’s wider environmental agenda, which has named Hamburg as one of first cities to commit to the full electrification of its bus fleet. (sustainablebus) 

Eco-childrens’ centre of the week

Self-sustainable children’s center in Tanzania harvests water like a baobab tree

In northern Tanzania, a Swedish team of architects, engineers and a non-profit collaborated with local workers to complete the Econef Children’s Center, a self-sustaining facility for orphans in the King’ori villageThe off-grid buildings are powered with solar energy and harvest rainwater in a system inspired by the African baobab tree. Inspired by the African baobab tree that can retain up to 120,000 liters of water in its trunk to survive in the desert, the building’s rainwater harvesting system draws rainwater from the roof’s spine through a central gutter that funnels the water into two water tanks tucked beneath the two of the inner courtyards. The collected rainwater is used for showers and laundry. (inhabitat)

Focus on: Inertia

As usual Aurora Energy Research put on a fascinating show at their Flexibility & Storage Conference. Fintan Slye, director of National Grid highlighted issues to do with Inertia, especially in relation to the August 9th blackout. I am sure that I wasn’t the only one there who had to do some research into what was exactly the issue:

Inertia is “taken for granted”; it will become much more important

Inertia in the GB power system will become far more valuable according to the head of the system operator, Fintan Slye.
He suggested an inertia market will be required to deliver the necessary volumes as traditional sources – such as the spinning turbines of large power stations – are forced off stream.
“Inertia is at the heart of everything we do,” he said. “We need inertia, so let’s get a market-based solution for that.”
Speaking at Aurora’s battery storage and flexibility conference, Slye underlined that “flexibility is one of the biggest opportunities” as the UK attempts to decarbonise its economy. (energyst)

Can Synthetic Inertia from Wind Power Stabilize Grids?

Synthetic inertia is the latest step in a longstanding technology trend, that has already transformed renewable generators from potential liabilities to power grid stability into substantial contributors to it. The first step, he says, was equipping renewables to remain solid and thus “not harm the grid” during times of grid instability. Modern wind and solar plants are designed to “ride-through” severe faults, such as short-circuit events that drop grid voltage to zero.
In fact, most wind and solar farms can do much more than just stick around during trouble. For example, most utility-scale installations—and even some residential rooftop solar systems—are designed to combat voltage sags on power grids. Their electronic inverters can detect brownouts and generate reactive power (AC whose current wave leads its voltage wave) to raise the grid voltage.
Synthetic inertia is about responded to crashing AC frequency, usually after the loss of a big power plant. When a big generator goes offline, it leaves the grid under-supplied. That will cause the AC frequency to fall.
To emulate the inertial behavior of massive rotating equipment, a renewable generator must somehow find extra power quick. Québec’s wind turbines do so through a collaboration between the turbines’ solid-state power electronics and their moving parts. (ieee)


The Caribbean Shows the Way to a Renewable Future

In the span of just a few years, the focus at the annual Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation conference has shifted from issues around producing electricity from thermal capacity — usually oil — to what blend of renewable options constitutes the best path forward.
They are not questions rooted only in environmental sustainability; they also address life-saving resiliency, as seen with storms that have battered communities and their power grids on many islands.
The island of Bonaire has deployed a mixture of battery energy storage, wind and thermal engines controlled by Greensmith’s Energy Management System (GEMS).
Earlier this year, Greensmith Energy worked with Contour Global — the island’s sole power producer — to reimagine the island’s grid to incorporate more renewable generation.
The island had previously relied on generation from 14 megawatts of heavy fuel engines, 3 megawatts of diesel backup engines, a small lead-acid battery system, and 11 megawatts of wind generation to meet the annual demand of 110,000 megawatt-hours. In March, Wärtsilä deployed a 6-megawatt/6-megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery storage system along with GEMS to control all of the Contour Global’s generation assets.
Since being installed last March, GEMS has been able to deliver significant benefits to Bonaire. Wind curtailment has been reduced significantly, and today wind provides as much as 33 percent of the island’s energy. In addition, engine fuel consumption has been reduced by 5 percent and carbon emissions are down 8 percent.
Narminio says that Contour now has plans to add a solar PV plant to the island’s grid in early 2020. The result will be days when the island runs on 100 percent renewable energy. (greentechmedia)

Countries Moving Toward a Green Hydrogen Economy

If number of Titbits posts is anything to go by, levels of interest in hydrogen solutions is increasing. These countries are likely to be the leading players:
Australia has had an almost negligible presence in green hydrogen markets to date. But it is looking to step up its participation considerably as a way of replacing fossil fuel exports using the country’s plentiful renewable energy resources.
Canada sees potential in future green hydrogen markets, not just as a producer of the gas, based on abundant renewable resources, but also as a manufacturer of fuel cells. Ballard Power Systems made headlines last year when Chinese conglomerate Weichai Power invested $163 million, buying a 19.9 percent stake in the business.
Along with electric vehicles, Beijing sees green hydrogen as a potential way of decarbonizing transportation, WoodMac’s Gallagher said. The country’s targets include 5,000 fuel-cell vehicles by 2020 and 1 million by 2030.
September saw the country deploying its first hydrogen-powered passenger bus, and this month the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region committed €200 million toward 1,000 hydrogen vehicles and 15 electrolyzers.
The country, already a front-runner in hydrogen technology development, is aiming to up its game with plans for 20 research labs, with a total budget of €100 million, being unveiled over the summer.
The country leads the way in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle development thanks to the efforts of auto makers such as Toyota and Honda.
And policymakers are keen to stimulate green hydrogen as an alternative to liquefied natural gas, which Japan imports more of than any other country.
Norway has vast potential to create hydrogen from hydropower and is pioneering the use of fuel cells in ferries.
South Korea
South Korea’s ambitious hydrogen rollout plans, which include getting 850,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the road by 2030, up from 3,000 this year.
U.K. is looking to renewable hydrogen as a way to reduce gas imports and help decarbonize the heating sector at the same time.
Last month, the U.K. government unveiled a £12 billion plan to use 4 gigawatts of offshore wind for renewable hydrogen production in the early 2030s.
California’s interest in hydrogen is driven partly by aggressive decarbonization targets, including phasing out all diesel or natural-gas-powered buses by 2040, and partly by the presence of some of the industry’s most high-profile technology developers. (greentechmedia)

Jane Fonda gets arrested for climate protest, plans to do it again

Jane Fonda has joined many a protest in her eight decades on God’s green earth. She has marched with working mothers, supported the Black Panthers, and sat on an anti-aircraft gun in Vietnam. Now, the star of Barbarella, Monster-In-Law, and dozens more movies, TV shows, and exercise videos is lending her voice and influence in a new way to an old cause: climate change.
For the next 13 Fridays, the 81-year-old Academy Award winner will demonstrate on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to ask lawmakers to put an end to fossil fuel drilling. She’ll have to stop protesting in December so she can start filming the seventh season of Grace and Frankie, her Netflix comedy series.
Fonda is calling the protests “Fire Drill Fridays,” and they’re like a combination of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future protests and the activist group Extinction Rebellion’s civil disobedience. Fonda says she plans to protest each week until she is arrested. (grist)

Techie Corner

Tesla helps you make it through the smoke

Californian Tesla Models X and S owners are rejoicing at their choice of cars right now. These models come with an air filtration feature called the ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode,’ which is proving very useful during the ongoing wildfires in the Western U.S. State.
Tesla states that when it is working at full capacity, the Tesla Model X’s Bioweapon Defense Mode is “100 times more effective than premium automotive filters.”
Seemingly, the HEPA air filter system removes “99.97% of fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores.”
Tesla owners have been posting videos on Twitter and online, as their Teslas drive through some areas with black smoke, and raging fires. (see HERE)