The Trump years created such an air of despondency within the environmental industries that we felt that it would take years to recover the lost ground. Team Biden seem to be doing a great job of helping lift the gloom by moving quickly to reverse the harmful legislation and doing so with a purpose.
Vestas in €2bn credit line deal
Turbine titan Vestas is doubling its loan facility, as the Danish-headquartered engineering firm celebrates delivering the 1,000th giant blade from its UK base, and gears up to create up to 2,000 new jobs in the North East.
This morning the manufacturer told investors it had secured €2 Billion-worth of multi-currency revolving credit. Banks led by HSBC and Skandinaviska Enskilda will add to the firm’s working capital, if Vestas meets its own sustainability targets in decarbonising its operations and supply chain.
More jobs look certain be created in Britain as the firm, maker of the world’s longest blades at 115.5 metres, prepares to provide giant turbines – known in Germany as ‘white asparagus’ – to several European offshore and onshore wind projects. (theenergyst)
Rural households cannot afford the heat pumps
More than 28% of rural households say they could not afford the government’s proposal of installing a new heating system to meet net zero targets.
That’s according to research from Opinium and Liquid Gas UK, which also revealed that 34% of participants could not afford to pay more than £4,000 for a new low carbon heating system, despite the average price of heat pumps ranging from £11,000 to £18,000.
The study suggests that the government’s aim to slash emissions by 78% from 1990 levels by 2035 will be difficult to achieve.
Around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions are generated from heating buildings and therefore tackling heat is considered a top priority.
The UK has set a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 but only 3% of rural households stated they believe they are good value for money and as the study highlights, they will be unattainable for many. (futurenetzero)
King’s Cross signs green gas deal with Iona Capital
Iona Capital has agreed a landmark deal with King’s Cross in London which will see the 67-acre estate switch entirely to green gas. This means that all the heating and hot water for the estate’s 2,000 homes, 5 million square ft of offices, retail and dining space will be powered by green gas.
By switching its gas supply to green gas, King’s Cross will reduce its carbon footprint by 50% and save 20,000tCO2 per annum from being released into the atmosphere.
The deal, which has been facilitated and managed by Optimised Energy, will see an Iona Capital owned anaerobic digestion plant in Scotland supply 40,000MWh of green gas each year to King’s Cross. (ionablog)
University team finds new life for old wind turbine blades
A team at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow has figured out how to recycle glass-reinforced polymer composites (GRP) that are used in wind turbine blades. The university has partnered with Norwegian offshore wind developer Aker Offshore Wind and green investment company Aker Horizons to implement its new technology.
The University of Strathclyde has predicted a global increase of wind turbine blade waste from around 400,000 tons per annum in 2030 to around 2 million tons by 2050. They explain their solution:
The GRP recycling can turn composite waste into reusable fiber reinforcement and could serve 50% of global glass fiber demand if implemented worldwide. As the process produces both mid- to high-value fibers, a broad spectrum of the market can be covered, ranging from less demanding to high-performance products. Recycled GRP will also be attractive to industries outside the wind power space and can be tailored for a range of different composite applications. Today, GRP… is used in sectors like car manufacturing, maritime vessels, oil and gas production, construction, and sporting goods. (elektrek)
Nearly 81% of Brits still find EVs ‘too expensive’
More than four-in-five drivers in the UK believe electric vehicles (EVs) are still too expensive.
A new report by the AA reveals the majority of Brits still find switching to an EV a rather pricy move while nearly 63% have never heard of the plug-in grant, one of the government’s subsidies to help the public make EV purchases.
The research also shows more than three-quarters believe that a single charge of an EV cannot allow it to drive as far as a petrol or diesel car on a full tank.
The study of 15,549 drivers also highlights nearly 56% are not willing to ditch their conventionally-powered cars while a similar percentage admit they are concerned over the reliability and availability of EV charging infrastructure.
However, the report suggests almost 49% agree with the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. (futurenetzero)
Moto plans ultra-rapid EV chargers at all UK sites
Motorway service station operator Moto has announced plans to install ultra-rapid EV chargers at all its UK sites.
The first stage of the initiative is an installation of 12 Tesla and 12 Electric Highway 350kW DC chargers at the newly-opened Rugby Services, said to be the largest ultra-rapid charging site on the motorway.
The chargers have the capability to add up to 100 miles of range in less than five minutes and will accept contactless payment.
A total of 28 Moto sites are set to have ultra-rapid chargers by the end of this year and the company plans to install 24 charger locations at sites in Reading, Thurrock, and Exeter.
The aim is to equip all Moto services with at least six ultra-rapid chargers by the end of 2022, as part of an investment programme of more than £100m, including an upgrade to all existing 50kW chargers by the end of July 2021. (theenergyst)
Ørsted says offshore UK windfarms need urgent repairs
The Danish wind power firm Ørsted has warned that up to 10 of its giant offshore windfarms around the UK and Europe will need urgent repairs because their subsea cables have been eroded by rocks on the seabed.
The renewables firm, which is behind plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore windfarms off the coast of Grimsby, told investors it might need to spend up to DKK3bn (£350m) over the next two years to repair the cables.
Ørsted has found that the rocks placed at the base of the wind turbine foundations to prevent the erosion of the seabed were responsible for wearing down the cable protection system which, in a worst case scenario, could cause the cables to fail.
The problem was first discovered earlier this year after its Race Bank offshore windfarm off the Norfolk coast, which can generate enough electricity to power 500,000 homes, suffered an outage due to cable damage caused by the seabed rocks. (guardian)
EV of the week
MG shows the Roadster concept at Shanghai
I am not sure whether you have been following the fortunes of MG motors over the recent past, but this week seems a good time to feature them, as the affordability of EV’s seems a live topic (see above). Just such a debate came up on our local WhatsApp group this week too.
It is a long time since MG made dinky British made sports cars. They are now Chinese owned and represent the beginnings of what will become a wave of Chinese car imports selling at competitive prices. The MG SUV EV is a common sight on British roads already, and offers a fine combination of range for price.
Now, they have started to show more ambition: for the Shanghai show they released this electric two seater concept with very futuristic styling and specs to challenge the forthcoming Tesla Roadster. MG claims a range of 500 miles and 0-60 time of 3 seconds.
Bosch questions the demise of the internal combustion engine
Bosch executives on Thursday criticized proposed EU regulations that would ban the internal combustion engine by 2025, saying that lawmakers “shy away” from discussing the consequences of such a ban on employment.
Although the company reported it is creating jobs through its new businesses, particularly its fuel cell business, and said it was filling more than 90% of these positions internally, it also said an all or mostly electric transportation revolution would likely affect jobs. As a case in point, the company told reporters that 10 Bosch employees are needed to build a diesel powertrain system, three for a gasoline system — but only one for an electrical powertrain.
Instead, Bosch sees a place for renewable synthetic fuels and hydrogen fuel cells alongside electrification. Renewable synthetic fuels made from hydrogen are a different technology from hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cells use hydrogen to generate electricity, while hydrogen-derived fuels can be combusted in a modified internal combustion engine (ICE). (techcrunch)
Focus on: Methane leaks
Measuring Methane Emissions
Sharon Wilson, the Texas coordinator of Earthworks uses an optical gas imaging (OGI) camera, which makes otherwise invisible emissions visible, to identify methane leaks at oil and gas industry sites. For the last few years, Wilson has been focused on documenting methane releases in the Permian Basin, one of America’s most productive oil fields.
She submits reports detailing her findings to the state regulators. While on occasion regulatory actions were taken by regulators as result of her work, she finds that most of the sites where she identifies leaking methane continue to spew emissions.
While regulators are aware that many sites are leaking methane, the emissions aren’t acutely measured in Texas and other oil and gas producing states, she points out. That is why report after report about methane emissions from wells reveal the number of estimated emissions is greater than the figures the EPA has been using, which are based on figures provided by the oil and gas companies themselves.
A 2018 report organized by the Environmental Defense Fund, found that the U.S. oil and gas supply chain is leaking roughly 60 percent more methane than reported in previous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates. And a new study by McGill University found “that annual methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas (AOG) wells in Canada and the U.S. have been greatly underestimated — by as much as 150% in Canada, and by 20% in the U.S. Indeed, the research suggests that methane gas emissions from AOG wells are currently the 10th and 11th largest sources of anthropogenic methane emission in the US and Canada, respectively.” (desmog)
US Senate votes to reinstate methane rules loosened by Trump
Congressional Democrats are moving to reinstate regulations designed to limit potent greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas fields, as part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to tackle climate change.
The Senate approved a resolution Wednesday that would undo an environmental rollback by Donald Trump that relaxed requirements of a 2016 Obama administration rule targeting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.
The resolution was approved, 52-42. Three Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio – joined Democrats to approve the measure, which only needed a needed a simple majority under Senate rules. (guardian)
Leaking Landfill Contributes to World’s Mystery Methane Hotspot
A landfill in Bangladesh is leaking huge quantities of the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, according to the emissions-tracking company GHGSat Inc.
An April 17 observation from the company’s Hugo satellite shows a methane release originating from the Matuail Sanitary Landfill, said GHGSat President Stephane Germain. The company estimated the emissions rate at about 4,000 kilograms an hour, the planet-warming equivalent of running 190,000 traditional cars. The country’s environment ministry said it’s investigating.
The Matuail waste site is one of several sources that are probably producing methane plumes over Bangladesh this year, according to Montreal-based GHGSat. The 12 highest methane-emission rates detected this year in satellite data occurred over Bangladesh, according to analytics company Kayrros SAS. (Bloomberg)
July Dermanski, who wrote the Desmog article above has been photographing abandoned oil and gas sites in Louisiana. Here are a few examples:
Biden’s new moonshot: An offshore wind industry to rival Europe’s
Today, Europe has 5,400 turbines rising from the ocean with a capacity of 25 gigawatts, of energy – enough to power more than 8 million homes. As the global manufacturing hub for the offshore wind industry, the European Union said in 2019 that the sector accounted for 210,000 jobs across its 27 member nations and the United Kingdom.
The US had 7 at the time of the 2020 election, but that may be about to change. In late-March, the Biden administration announced a national goal of 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 – which could power over 10 million homes. That would give the U.S. the same capacity of offshore power over the next 9 years that it took Europe 30 years to build.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm had the honor of laying out the Biden administration’s target, and she rattled off a litany of direct jobs, totaling 44,000, that the department estimates would be created along the way plus another 33,000 jobs could be created to support the burgeoning industry.
Getting the queue moving starts with restoring staffing at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, which will handle the processing of offshore wind environmental reviews, lease sales, and construction permitting. That is an urgent concern as the Biden administration has begun a massive fast-tracking of environmental reviews.
BOEM was one of many agencies where Trump appointees crippled environmental science. It lost nearly 50 of its 450 scientific staffers, a high watermark during the Obama administration, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. BOEM also lost one out of four of its oceanographers. (grist)
California to stop issuing fracking permits
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that the state will stop issuing fracking permits by 2024 and will ban all oil drilling activities by 2045.
This is not the first time that Newsom has attempted to put a stop to the fracking industry. Last year, the governor said that he did not have the authority to ban fracking. Instead, he relied on two Democratic senators to try and push such a bill, which failed due to a lack of support from other lawmakers. Since then, the governor has resorted to exploring other options.
While the governor has the right intentions, his order is just the beginning of a lengthy process. If it is successful, California will be the first state in the country to set a deadline for fracking. (inhabitat)
Can bacteria capture and eliminate microplastics?
Scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have found a way to use bacteria’s natural stickiness to pull microplastics from the environment. Their vision is that microplastics in polluted water will adhere to tape-like bacteria nets, making a plastic blob that can easily be recycled or otherwise disposed of.
The scientists used a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa to make a bacterial biofilm net that can lure in microplastics floating in water, trap them, then sink them to the bottom. This is where it gets really scientific — a biofilm-dispersal gene lets researchers free the microplastics from the bacteria. (inhabitat)