Company news

TRIG raises £120m war chest
The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) has raised £120m from a share issue following the issue announcement on 19 May.
The net proceeds of the issue will be applied in repaying amounts drawn under TRIG’s revolving credit facility.
The facility is expected to be fully repaid with surplus cash of £70m by September 2020, allowing for the expected receipts from the partial sell down of the 396MW Merkur offshore wind farm and sale of phase one of the 229.1MW Erstrask wind farm in Sweden in the third quarter of this year.
The balance will be deployed in the acquisition of further investments and to fund the company’s commitments to construction projects of £35m that are due during the rest of 2020 and 2021. (renews)

UK news

Vattenfall to warm London homes and businesses with low carbon heating
Vattenfall Heat UK has sealed an agreement with Brent Cross South developer Argent Related to provide low carbon heating to homes, shops, and other businesses in Barnet, North London.
It says the 8MW heating system will be ‘the largest installation of its kind in the UK’ and will provide low carbon heating and hot water to 6,700 new homes and half a million square metres of new office, retail and commercial space.
The project, which will include 8MW of heat pumps, is expected to supply more than 80% of the total heat requirements of the site, alongside other low and zero carbon heat sources. (futurenetzero)

Flex keeping lights on, study finds
Flexibility providers are succeeding in stabilising grids stressed by depressed power demand and renewables’ intermittency, academics advising biomass giant Drax suggest.
Margins for grid failure narrowed over 2020’s first three months, experts from Imperial College note in their latest Electric Insights, as Britain endured its coldest, wettest winter since records began. As severe storms swept Britain, output from wind farms soared, up 40 per cent over the quarter against 2019.
When wind output plummeted on calm days, stresses to the grid increased. In one incident, Imperial notes, just 0.2GW of spare generation capacity was available, compared to over 4GW the following day.
The quarter’s extreme conditions highlight how National Grid ESO and DNOs are having to manage complexity and multiple partners like never before. The report  – and to date, no blackouts – suggests they are rising to the challenge.
“Having flexibility within the power system at these critical moments is crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on”, the report concludes. (theenergyst)
Download the Drax/Imperial College report HERE

Pop-up EV charging hubs deemed a success
A trial of pop-up EV charging stations in the United Kingdom has proven successful, showing a possible way to expand urban charging infrastructure without adding clutter.
A British company called Urban Electric announced the trial last year, placing prototype pop-up charging “hubs” along streets in Oxford, England.
Activated by an app, the 7-kilowatt charging hubs retract into the street when not in use, freeing up space.
Urban Electric hopes to provide at-home charging for people who don’t have driveways or garages, and park their cars on the street. That’s the case for 43% of UK households, according to the company.
The charging hubs were designed for overnight charging, where cars are parked for 12 hours or more on residential streets. (greencarreports)

BEIS unveils £40m investment fund to ‘supercharge’ green startups
The UK government has announced a £40 million fund for green startups, designed to help “supercharge the development of next generation clean, low-carbon technologies.”
It has been established together with CCLA, one of the UK’s largest fund managers, to help provide investment to UK’s most promising early-stage “clean growth” companies. These will include those across power and energy, buildings, transport and waste.
In particular, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has highlighted energy storage and smart grid systems companies that can help to bolster resilience in the power system, renewable heating and ventilation technology companies across homes and commercial buildings, and biofuels and bioenergy system companies. (current-news)

UK local authorities and businesses secure £2m eCargo bike grant fund
An extra boost to a low carbon transport future has been given to 18 local authorities and businesses with the announcement of a £2 million eCargo Bike Grant scheme.
Councils were invited to bid for up to £200,000 each to purchase ecargo bikes for use by local businesses or deployment within their fleets.
Limited companies and organisations are also set to benefit with up to 20% grant funding towards ecargo bikes. (futurenetzero)

Capacity Market: CO2 limits introduced for back-up power supply contracts
The government has set out plans to take carbon emissions into account when securing back-up power supply for the UK’s electricity grid, in a long-awaited move it is hoped will make it easier for green grid technologies such as battery storage projects and demand side response (DSR) services to compete for contracts.
The change forms part of a suite of reforms announced yesterday for the Capacity Market, the UK’s auction system for ensuring security of power supply during periods of peak demand on the grid.
The Capacity Market has previously faced criticism over concerns it favoured more well established, often high carbon, back-up power technologies – such as diesel generators – which detractors argued undermined the UK’s climate ambitions. (businessgreen)

EV of the week

AIWAYS joins Hertz in mission to ‘Electrify Corsica’
Yet another Chinese electric SUV is coming to Europe, although the route is not the usual.
AIWAYS, the Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, has agreed to join rental car company Filippi Auto, operators of Hertz Corsica, in its mission to ‘electrify’ the island of Corsica. The Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup will provide hundreds of U5 all-electric SUVs to Filippi Auto this summer.
The new partnership is part of a wider mission to reduce pollution and develop Corsica as a hub of e-mobility, which involves Filippi Auto making 70% of its rental fleet emission-free by 2022. Further details of the ‘Electrify Corsica’ project will be announced in June – including the exact number of U5 vehicles to join the Filippi Auto fleet, as well as plans to rapidly build the island’s EV charging infrastructure.
Hertz said that they chose to partner with AIWAYS because they were impressed by the quality and performance of the U5. (insideEVs)


Spain’s Green Recovery Bill
The Spanish government is expected to table a draft law today that will aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, call an immediate halt to new coal, oil, and gas projects, and ground the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a green transition.
“At a time when we have to address the COVID-19 recovery process, the energy transition is going to become an important driving force for generating economic activity and employment in the short term, and in a manner consistent with what we will need as a country in the medium and long term,” said Vice President and Economic Transition Minister Teresa Ribera.
The government forecast the plan would generate more than €200,000 million of investments in the next decade and create up to 350,000 new jobs every year, while boosting economic growth 1.8% through 2030 compared to business-as-usual modelling. (energycentral)

Danish schemes to finance North Sea ‘energy island’
Danish pension funds PensionDanmark and PFA announced a deal with Danish energy firm SEAS-NVE to finance and operate a new “energy island” in the North Sea, which will be the base for up to 10GW off-shore wind turbines.
The funds said they would initially invest DKK400m (€53.6m) to develop the project.
The plan is part of the Social Democratic government’s climate action plan presented yesterday, which includes the creation of what it said would be the world’s first two energy islands.
PensionDanmark and PFA said the island they are financing – dubbed VindØ (wind island) – will match the energy output of 25 traditional wind farms, and originated from a government plan announced in summer 2019.
One of the two hubs, which would be the world’s first energy island, will be located on the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm (below) and the other on an artificial island in the North Sea.
The investment from the trio would enable the project to be realised with no funding from the government, the funds said. (realassets)

Northvolt Enters The Portable Energy Storage Market
Northvolt Enters The Portable Energy Storage Market With The Voltpack Mobile System
Up and coming Swedish battery producer Northvolt launched the Voltpack Mobile System today in partnership with energy provider Vattenfall. The modular system was designed from the ground up as a portable replacement for diesel generators providing energy as a service in temporary installations.
At launch, the modular Voltpack Mobile System can deliver up to 250 kW of power and a capacity of 245 to 1,225 kWh, depending on the customer need. The building blocks of the new system are Voltpacks. These 245 kWh modules each contain three liquid-cooled Voltpack Cores. These modules are then bolted into a central interface hub of the system, depending on how much capacity is needed. The hub is the brains of the unit and handles the primary interconnection to the local grid, is home to the inverter, supporting power electronics, and the application interface for the system. For even more capacity, additional Voltpack Mobile Systems can be added in parallel.
The portable nature of the system opens up the potential for leases of the systems, lowering the cost of piloting a system on an energy storage-as-a-service basis. When the utility of the system is no longer needed, it can simply be removed and repurposed elsewhere.
The new system represents a step forward for Northvolt as one of the first product offerings from the company beyond the simple promise of battery cell production capacity. Northvolt designed and developed the new system from the ground up including batteries, inverters, and the battery management system (BMS). The BMS is where the magic really happens in a battery system, as the code living there dictates is primary mode of operation, enabling a wide range of advanced grid services, among other modes. (cleantechnica)

Covid response of the week

It was hoped that the pandemic would lead to some new approaches to inner city transport. Two cities are taking a lead:

Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of street
Seattle recently made bold moves to put pedestrians and cyclists first as the pandemic-induced stay-at-home order creates a new normal. Up to 20 miles of roadways in the “Stay Healthy Streets” program shall remain permanently closed to nonessential through traffic to encourage people to exercise safely while social distancing. Environmentalists are praising the move because curtailing vehicular traffic means a reduction in carbon emissions. (inhabitat)

Sadiq Khan reveals plans for car-free zones in London
London will soon be home to one of the “largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world” under plans announced by mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Mayor of London said that converting parts of the capital into car-free zones during congestion hours – 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday – will help as it moves towards life after lockdown.
Streets around London Bridge, Shoreditch, Euston, Waterloo and Old Street, and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists to help support safer, more sustainable travel.
Access to emergency services and disabled people will be maintained, TfL said, but some deliveries might have to be made outside of congestion hours. (inews)

Focus on: Off-river pumped hydro

Off-river pumped hydro could provide lower costs for energy storage
An off-river pumped hydro system comprises a pair of artificial reservoirs with area of a few square km, spaced several km apart, with an altitude difference (“head”) of several hundred metres, and connected with a pipe or tunnel containing a pump/turbine.
The reservoirs may be specially constructed (“greenfield”) or may utilise old mining sites or existing reservoirs (“brownfield”).
Closed loop off-river pumped hydro utilises conventional hydroelectric technology for construction of reservoirs, tunnels or pipes, powerhouse, pump/turbine, control systems, switchyard and transmission, but in a novel configuration.
Schemes are away from rivers and are designed to hold small volumes of water, so flood risk and control cost is minimal.
For example, a pair of 100 hectare reservoirs with a head of 600 metres, an average depth of 20 metres, a usable fraction of water of 90% and a round trip efficiency of 80% can store 18 Gigalitres of water with energy potential of 24GWh, which means that it could operate at a power of one GW for 24 hours.
This far exceeds the power and energy of any battery.
The use of efficient computer algorithms is key to searching large areas for good sites.  A global survey of greenfield pumped hydro energy storage was undertaken by a group at the Australian National University.
They found 616,000 good sites around the world with the enormous energy storage potential of 23 million GWh, which is 100 times more than required to support a 100% renewable global electricity system.
About 3000 good pumped hydro pairs were found in Australia, which is several hundred times more than required to support 100% renewable electricity. (reneweconomy)

Global stuff

Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force
By focusing on climate change and other issues important to progressive voters, Joe Biden is attempting to win over Bernie Sanders’ supporters and unify the Democratic Party. Biden has tapped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry to co-chair a climate change task force.
Ocasio-Cortez serves as representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens. At only 30 years old, she’s Congress’ youngest member and is known for advocating for working-class people and social and environmental justice; Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the Green New Deal. Kerry is known for his work on environmental improvements. He helped orchestrate the 2016 Paris Agreement, which addressed greenhouse gas emissions. (inhabitat)

US slaps solar, wind operators with retroactive rent bills
The Trump administration has ended a two-year rent holiday for solar and wind projects operating on federal lands, handing them whopping retroactive bills at a time the industry is struggling with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, according to company officials.
The move represents a multi-million-dollar hit to an industry that has already seen installation projects canceled or delayed by the global health crisis, which has cut investment and dimmed the demand outlook for power.
It also clashes with broader government efforts in the United States to shield companies from the worst of the economic turmoil through federal loans, waived fees, tax breaks and trimmed regulatory enforcement. (reuters)

Techie corner

Tesla quietly adds bi-directional charging
The advent of electric vehicles is expected to increase the demand for electricity, but electric cars can also offer some advantages by controlling the power load.
A study showed that electric vehicle fleets could save billions of dollars with controllable load and vehicle-to-grid features, and it would enable the grid to optimize its use of renewable energy.
Several automakers, like Honda and Nissan, have been openly exploring the technology, but Tesla, who is arguably the leader in electric vehicles, has been reticent about deploying bidirectional charging in the past.
Straubel noted in a presentation in 2015 that once Tesla’s fleet reaches 1 million vehicles, it would have a significant controllable load capacity:
At the time, Straubel estimated that Tesla would hit a million cars in 2019, and he wasn’t too far off, since Tesla produced its 1 millionth electric car in March 2020.
Elektrek believes that the Model 3 is already designed for bi-directional charging so Tesla would seem to have kept to Mr Straubel’s timetable
This has massive implications. It means that Tesla could eventually unlock a lot more value from its customer fleet, both for the vehicle owners and for Tesla itself.
In terms of practical features for owners, they could potentially power their house with their Tesla vehicle during a power outage or charge another electric vehicle with their own.
However, the real value of bidirectional capacity lies in grid services.
With the owners’ permission, Tesla could offer electric utilities the ability to access power from the vehicles on the network in other to offset electricity demand during peak hours. (elektrek)