Emissions trading “compliance markets” create a market based solution to drive reductions in CO2
and other nasty gasses. Ursula von der Leyen is quite right to require all polluting countries to adopt schemes. The evidence from all the markets so for operative is that if properly set up they do encourage polluters to drive emissions reductions and do not drive higher consumer prices. Win-win

Company news

Capital Dynamics buys California PV storage giant
The clean energy infrastructure business of asset manager Capital Dynamics has entered into a development partnership with 8minute Solar Energy for a 400MW solar plus storage project in the US state of California.
Financial details of the equity financing and acquisition of the Eland solar and storage centre were not disclosed.
The project, which is located in Kern County, features 300MW of storage capacity.
A long-term power purchase agreement has been secured to serve the power needs of The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. (renews)

Bosch to pay £38m for bigger stake in fuel cell maker Ceres
Bosch will pay £38m to increase its stake from 4 per cent to 18 per cent in UK fuel cell maker Ceres.
The company will use some of the money to start building fuel cells, from 30kW to 200kW, taking its technology into more industrial and commercial applications.
Ceres will also examine the potential for electrolysis applications – reversing fuel cells to produce hydrogen and e-fuels from renewable energy, seen as critical to producing clean hydrogen without requiring carbon capture and storage. (theenergyst)

UK news

Uber in deal with Nissan for discounted Leafs
The Japanese company has announced a partnership with the American ride-hailing giant to provide 2,000 Nissan Leaf cars to Uber drivers in London at a significant discount.
The agreement forms part of Uber’s plan to have all of its 45,000 drivers in London using electric cars by 2025. The capital is one of the biggest markets for Uber outside America, with 3.5 million passengers using its app to hail a taxi.
Just over 4,500 Leafs were sold in the UK in 2019, meaning the Uber deal is expected to give a sizeable lift to domestic sales.
Nissan said it would increase the number of cars that it offers to Uber drivers if initial demand is high. It declined to say how much of a discount it would give, but Uber workers will also be able to draw on savings they have made through the Clean Air Plan. This was an initiative begun by Uber last year that adds 15p to a customer’s fee for every mile driven in London, with the money only to go towards drivers buying an all-electric car.
An Uber driver who does 40 hours of trips a week could expect to save £3,000 towards a new electric vehicle in two years. (thetimes)

UK climate advisors urge overhaul of ‘unsustainable’ farmland management
In what could usher in far-reaching changes to the way land is managed across the country, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) unveiled a raft of net zero policy and funding recommendations designed to slash emissions. However, some of the proposals are likely to prove controversial with farmers and potentially some consumers, who have argued against making changes to diets to curb climate impacts.
As well as recommending consumers move towards more plant-based diets, the CCC said agriculture should shift some of its focus away from livestock rearing and instead towards tree planting, peatland restoration, boosting soil quality, flood protection, and growing crops for bioenergy.
In order to meet the UK’s net zero goal roughly a fifth of agricultural land that is currently used for traditional farming production – such as rearing cows, pigs, and sheep – would need to be given over to natural carbon storage through afforestation and peatland restoration over the next 30 years, including the planting of around 120 million trees every year, the report estimates.
Such efforts could be funded through new market-based measures to reward farmers and land managers taking action and using low carbon farming activities, or even levies on high carbon industries such as fossil fuel firms or airlines, suggested the CCC. (businessgreen)

UK rail on track for net zero as train travels 40 miles on battery power alone
Vivarail has achieved what it claims is a ‘UK first’ with the development of a new train that has already travelled 40 miles on battery power alone.
It said during testing runs conducted through the autumn, the Class 230 train reliably ran this distance many times and has now been fully approved for passenger service.
It will now begin to replace ageing diesel stock on a number of lines – the company says its clean energy system means it can offer faster acceleration than traditional trains without producing any exhaust emissions. (energylivenews)

Consolidation in EV charging
Two independent EV charging installers, Plug’n’Go and EV Driver have decided to join forces creating a network of 72 charge points, and hoping to install 300 more this year. This is a sign that the race to deploy chargers is warming up and that the smaller players are looking to gain scale fast.

UK’s first ‘smart’ commercial hub signs 50-year clean energy innovation deal with E.ON
The developers of what purports to be the UK’s first “smart” commercial campus have signed a 50-year deal with E.ON, that will see the utility giant develop, test and scale-up clean energy solutions in the west country.
Under the deal, developer and landowner This is Gravity Ltd will source 100% renewable electricity from E.ON to power all operations across the 635-acre Gravity campus, which is under construction in Bridgwater.
But, beyond this, E.ON will help the Gravity team to develop an alternative to standard energy models for the site. In partnership, the firms will work to develop, test and scale-up on-site solutions such as renewable electricity generation and storage arrays; low-carbon heat networks and energy-efficient cooling systems. (edie)

UK could tap into Africa’s $24bn market for off-grid solar power
A report by Kleos Advisory, published during the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, has found that the commercial opportunity from off-grid solar panels could generate about £18bn a year.
The market is growing rapidly since the collapse in the cost of solar panel technologies and the emergence of mobile banking and affordable financing in the continent’s fast-growing economies.
Households that earn an income are increasingly using mobile phones to rent small-scale solar panels and ultra-efficient electric lighting strips and appliances to access electricity for the first time. (guardian)

EV of the week

New contender for world’s cheapest electric car
It is believed that the giant Chinese car maker Great Wall Motors (GWM) is planning to launch the Ora R1 in India at the Auto Expo. The R1 will be a serious contender for cheapest EV. It is already on sale in China and if rumours are correct, GWM are talking about a selling price in India of somewhere either side of £7,000.
Please do not confuse this with some kind of new G-Whizz. The R1 comes with a 35kWh battery which should make it good for a range of about 215miles.
I strongly suggest that there would be a ready market here in the Europe and that a car with those specifications would be highly disruptive. It looks OK too.


Von der Leyen warns countries to price carbon or face border tax
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has delivered a warning to high-emitting nations that Europe could impose a carbon border tax “in the name of fairness” unless they implement carbon pricing systems of their own.
Speaking at Davos, Von der Leyen said she would prefer the world to operate under a global carbon pricing system, which she said would create a “level playing field” to help nations decarbonise.
But she insisted the EU is prepared to consider implementing a carbon border adjustment, an idea set out in its European Green Deal, which would be applied to products from certain sectors and countries which “do not share” the EU’s climate ambitions. (businessgreen)

Plans for Copenhagen’s first all-timber community
A sustainable, nature-filled neighborhood unlike any other in Denmark could soon take root just beyond Copenhagen’s city center. Scandinavian architecture firm Henning Larsen has collaborated with biologists and environmental engineers from MOE to design the Fælledby community, a proposal for Copenhagen’s first all-timber neighborhood. Proposed for a former dumping ground site, the development promotes sustainable living, a reduced carbon footprint and a harmonious relationship with nature.
Designed to accommodate 7,000 residents on an 18.1-hectare project site, the Fælledby community features a hybrid architectural design that merges traditional Danish urban design with rural typologies and includes a mix of housing types. (inhabitat)

Focus on: The Polluters

After a Decade of Fracking, Billions of Dollars Lost and a Climate in Crisis
Today’s climate impacts have been shaped heavily by actions taken during the last 10 years, particularly in the U.S., where the climate benefits of coal power plant retirements were undermined by the rise of natural gas. Global carbon emissions had leveled off in the middle of the last decade, but began to climb again in 2017, breaking records anew each year since.
Over the past decade, as the climate crisis worsened, hundreds of drilling rigs dotted both the Permian Basin’s desert expanses in Texas and the Marcellus Shale’s Appalachian hills, grinding through rock to reach oil and gas trapped in brittle shale deep underground. In that time, the U.S. smashed global records for the production of oil and gas — two of the three fossil fuels most responsible for the ongoing climate crisis.
And at the same time, the last decade’s rush to drill continued to prove spectacularly unprofitable. The year 2020 arrived amid tens of billions of dollars in new fiscal write-downs and losses for oil drillers and fracking firms. Moody’s observed that oil and gas debt defaults represented 91 percent of the country’s total corporate debt defaults during the next-to-last fiscal quarter of the decade.
As the new decade starts, it’s worth taking stock of the last decade’s rush to drill and frack for oil and gas and to consider what we now know about how the costs of climate change have begun piling up at increasing rates over the past 10 or so years. (desmoblog)

America’s Radioactive Secret
In 2014, a muscular, middle-aged Ohio man named Peter took a job trucking waste for the oil-and-gas industry. The hours were long — he was out the door by 3 a.m. every morning and not home until well after dark — but the steady $16-an-hour pay was appealing, says Peter, who asked to use a pseudonym. “This is a poverty area,” he says of his home in the state’s rural southeast corner. “Throw a little money at us and by God we’ll jump and take it.”
In a squat rig fitted with a 5,000-gallon tank, Peter crisscrosses the expanse of farms and woods near the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania border, the heart of a region that produces close to one-third of America’s natural gas. He hauls a salty substance called “brine,” a naturally occurring waste product that gushes out of America’s oil-and-gas wells to the tune of nearly 1 trillion gallons a year, enough to flood Manhattan, almost shin-high, every single day. At most wells, far more brine is produced than oil or gas, as much as 10 times more. It collects in tanks, and like an oil-and-gas garbage man, Peter picks it up and hauls it off to treatment plants or injection wells, where it’s disposed of by being shot back into the earth.
One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive. (RollingStone)
This is an excerpt from a lengthy, and shocking article go to the link above for the full story.

Desert eco folly

An Architect-Designed, Off-the Grid Cabin in Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree Folly sits on an abandoned homestead in the town of Twentynine Palms, just outside Joshua Tree National Park. It’s the brainchild of architect Malek Alqadi, who, after years of working at a firm and designing private residences for Hollywood VIPs, decided to strike out on his own. In stark contrast to the large, lavish projects he used to work on, Joshua Tree Folly is small (just two tiny cabins), humble (think plywood on the inside and salvaged steel on the exterior), and appealingly stripped-down (boulders and potted succulents are among the only decorative touches). It is also off grid, all its energy supplied by a stand alone solar panel array, a battery and some sophisticated energy management software. It also has a bedroom open to the stars and a converted cattle trough for taking a dip. (remodelista)
For a video tour by the designer see HERE

Global stuff

Self-sustaining Ugandan surgical facility provides healthcare to underserved areas
In an inspiring example of humanitarian architecture, Kliment Halsband Architects teamed up with Mount Sinai Surgery in New York to create the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility, a prototype for an independent, self-sustaining ambulatory surgical facility. According to the architects, roughly 5 billion people lack any form of safe or affordable surgery, leading to millions of deaths annually worldwide. In response, the architects created a modular, easily replicable surgical facility to provide ambulatory surgical procedures for underserved populations in resource-poor regions.
Located in Kyabirwa, a rural village near the equator in Uganda, the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility is located on a site that originally lacked potable water, reliable electricity, internet or adequate sanitary facilities. To keep construction simple, the architects used a modular and minimally invasive design inspired by locally available materials. Taking advantage of the area’s abundance of red clay, the architects used locally sourced and fired bricks and cladding tiles for the main structure and topped it with a wavy roof reminiscent of the nearby White Nile. (inhabitat)

When tundra melts
The frozen layer of soil that has underlain the Arctic tundra for millennia is now starting to thaw. This melting, which could release vast amounts of greenhouse gases, is already changing the Arctic landscape by causing landslides, draining lakes, and altering vegetation.
Canadian scientists Philip Marsh and Ed Struzik were flying along the coast of the Beaufort Sea, where the frozen tundra had recently opened up into a crater the size of a football stadium. Located along the shoreline of an unnamed lake, the so-called thaw slump was gray, muddy, and barren, in sharp contrast to the brilliant russet and gold of the surrounding autumn tundra. These retrogressive thaw slumps, or landslides — formed as warming temperatures rapidly thaw permafrost — are increasing across the Arctic, including the kilometer-long, 100-meter-deep Batagaika Crater in the Yana River Basin of Siberia.
As the Arctic warms faster than any region on Earth, public attention has largely been focused on the rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice. But major changes are also taking place on land, and one of the most striking is the thawing of vast swaths of permafrost that have underlain these polar regions for millennia. That thaw is taking a toll in complex ways that are not clearly understood, and scientists such as Marsh are now intensifying efforts to grasp how these changes will play out this century and beyond.
What we do know is that if the Arctic continues to warm as quickly as climatologists are predicting, an estimated 2.5 million square miles of permafrost — 40 percent of the world’s total — could disappear by the end of the century, with enormous consequences. The most alarming is expected to be the release of huge stores of greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide that have remained locked in the permafrost for ages. Pathogens will also be released. (yale360)

Techie corner

Forest monitoring gets a boost from Japanese space agency data
Powerful data from a Japanese radar system, available for the first time, will allow governments to monitor threats to their forests and peatlands more closely, helping them tap funding to protect those ecosystems, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed an agreement to include data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in FAO’s forest monitoring platforms, and plans to train states on how to use it.
The FAO said JAXA’s L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology is unique because it can observe the Earth’s surface regardless of time and weather.
The FAO will assist countries including Indonesia, with the world’s third-largest tropical forest, and Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the second-largest rainforest, to benefit from the latest agreement, Fox said.
By improving monitoring in both countries and supporting faster action to curb deforestation and protect peatlands, the radar data could help them qualify for forest-related financing from institutions like the World Bank. (reuters)