An interesting weekend read (HERE , if you have an FT subscription), is an article by John Burn-Murdoch about the inherent mis-nomer in British Conservation Areas, which do a great deal to protect buildings and quite the opposite when it comes to the natural environment. He quotes research by Professor Thiemo Fetzer from the University of Warwick (Download it HERE) which suggests that planning restrictions in conservation areas are directly responsible for up to 3.2mn tonnes of excess domestic CO₂ emissions.


Corporations Buy Record Amounts of Clean Power
Against the backdrop of a global energy crisis, supply chain bottlenecks and high interest rates, private companies and public institutions signed contracts to secure a record 36.7 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power to power their operations in 2022, up 18% from 2021.
BloombergNEF’s (BNEF) 1H 2023 Corporate Energy Market Outlook highlights 167 different organizations, including Amazon, Ford and McDonald’s, that announced power purchase agreements (PPA’s) in 36 markets worldwide.
Activity accelerated in two of three major regions. Contracts signed (as measured in gigawatts) rose 18% in the Americas to a record 24.1GW, with upticks in both the U.S. and Latin America. In the U.S., companies embraced the virtual PPA model under which a clean power project sells directly into the wholesale market to capture the spot price, rather than literally delivering its electrons directly to the customer. Mining companies seeking clean energy to power operations in remote corners of Chile and Brazil drove PPA activity in Latin America.
The Asia Pacific region saw corporate PPA activity more than double to 4.6GW, led by India and Australia.
Activity slipped 7% in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region to 8.1GW in 2022, mostly due to the region’s energy crisis.
Among specific firms signing clean energy deals, Amazon led with 10.9GW of PPA’s signed in 2022, followed by Meta (2.6GW), Google (1.6GW) and Microsoft (1.3GW), illustrating big tech’s continued dominance in the market. (bnef)


Government plots hydrogen certification scheme
The government is seeking industry views on the design of a “globally recognised” certification scheme for low carbon hydrogen in the UK, in a move aimed at building transparency and confidence in the carbon credentials of the versatile energy source.
In an 11-week consultation launched today, the government reiterated its commitment to setting up a certification scheme for low carbon hydrogen – including that produced from renewable energy, fossil gas with carbon capture, and other sources – by 2025. (businessgreen)

ECO3 achieves £8.3m in energy efficiency savings
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO), first introduced in 2013, is a government energy efficiency scheme for Great Britain. ECO places legal obligations on larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to low income and vulnerable households. ECO is intended to assist in reducing fuel poverty, help to maintain security of energy supply and reduce household carbon emissions – a critical component of achieving our Net Zero ambitions.
ECO3 which ran from October 2018 to March 2022, was the third iteration of ECO and consisted of one distinct obligation. Under the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO) obligated suppliers promoted measures that reduced the energy costs for low-income, fuel-poor and vulnerable households. With a focus on insulation and heating measures, estimated lifetime bill savings of £8.253 billion had to be achieved.
The ECO3 final determination report provides details on overall scheme performance and our final determinations of energy suppliers’ achievement against their obligations.

  • The overall bill saving target for the HHCRO obligation was exceeded with lifetime bill savings of £8.547 billion achieved.
  • All but one active supplier successfully met their HHCRO obligation and sub-obligation lifetime bill saving targets.
  • 1.03 million energy saving measures were installed over the course of ECO3.

It is estimated that measures installed since the first ECO scheme was introduced in 2013 will provide lifetime carbon savings of around 58.2 MtCO2e. (ofgem)
Click on the link above to download the report.

Octopus Energy claims EV tariff users are UK’s largest virtual power plant
Octopus Energy claims it now manages more than 100MW of electric car charging power through its ‘Intelligent Octopus’ smart home energy tariff, which it says amounts to a flexible power supply greater than that provided by the largest battery currently operating on the UK grid.
The energy supplier’s flexible car charging tariff provides electric vehicle (EV) drivers with electricity for 10p per kilowatt hour (kWh), which allows the average battery car driver to charge up for less than a third of what it would cost on a standard variable home energy tariff.
As a result, EV drivers on the tariff are able to reduce their fuel costs by around 3p per mile by using overnight, off-peak rates, adding up to £760 in savings per year.
Moreover, Octopus Energy estimated the number of customers on the tariff charging up and storing off-peak electricity overnight in their EVs now amounts to more than 100MW of power capacity, which is enough to power a city the size of Leicester for an hour. (businessgreen)

photo: Octopus Energy

Energy Department to ask Britons to cut energy use by 15%
Two days after the announcement about the government reshuffle, the newly-created Energy Security and Net Zero Department set out its priorities for the year ahead.
Among these first tasks, officials will have to urge households and businesses across the UK to slash energy use by 15% through energy efficiency schemes and other measures.
The new Energy Department will also ensure the UK is on track to meet its legally binding net zero commitments and support economic growth by significantly speeding up the delivery of network infrastructure and domestic energy production. (energylivenews)

UK’s clean energy investment leadership ‘at severe risk’, industry warns
RenewableUK, Energy UK, Scottish Renewables, the Nuclear Industry Association and Solar Energy UK have written to the Chancellor ahead of his Budget next month, setting out the sector’s economic contribution to the UK economy and the extent to which this contribution could grow on the road to net-zero by 2050.
Their letter states that the sector invests some £13bn each year and returns some £30bn in gross value directly, plus a further £100bn in gross value through supply chains and partnerships. These figures should be far greater in the coming years as the UK works towards a 100% clean electricity mix by 2035 and towards its legally binding long-term climate targets.
The key warning is that this growth is not guaranteed, but, rather, dependent on coherent, joined-up and ambitious action from policymakers.
It states that, with the US and EU bringing forward major new subsidy packages and policy interventions to scale clean technologies in the coming years, “the UK can no longer take its competitive advantage as a mature market for granted”. (edie)


Faraday Future finally finds funding
I haven’t posted about Faraday Future in the nine years of its existence, mainly because I wasn’t sure it had a future. The California based designer of a super rapid luxury EV sedan called the FF 91 Futurist surprised more than just me when they announced that they had secured $130m of funding and were good to go for the launch. The company says that production will start in April.
As to the FF 91 itself, it is due to have a 130MWh battery delivering 1035bhp which is an industry leading number.

Photo: Faraday


Vestas recycling breakthrough
Vestas has unveiled an alternative to scrapping decommissioned wind turbine blades, which harnesses a newly discovered chemical process to ensure old blades can be recycled.
The Danish turbine giant said the breakthrough could eliminate the need to redesign or dispose of epoxy resin-based blades at landfill sites at the end of their working life. 
The use of epoxy resin – a lightweight carbon fibre binder renowned for its strength and water resistance – has long been standard practice in the wind turbine industry, but the material has proven near-impossible to break down for recycling.
However, a new process developed by Vestas as part of the Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites (CETEC) initiative alongside chemical manufacturer Olin, Aarhus University, The Danish Technological Institute, and Stena Recycling, has worked out how to use widely available chemicals to break down epoxy resin into virgin-grade materials.
Vestas said the new method would ultimately allow it to produce new wind energy infrastructure from recycled turbine blades. (businessgreen)

Calvera develops ‘world’s largest’ hydrogen tube trailer
Spanish-based Calvera Hydrogen has developed a hydrogen tube trailer model for Shell Hydrogen, with what it says is the largest capacity in the world.
Designed to transport one tonne of hydrogen on US roads, and more than 1.3 tonnes on EU roads – due to varying road weight regulations – with a working pressure of 517 bar (7,500psi), the carbon fibre trailer measures at 45ft long and has been developed for Shell Hydrogen to service its refuelling stations globally. (h2view)

photo: Calvera

Denmark Suspends Open Door Offshore Wind Scheme
Denmark’s Ministry of Climate, Energy and Supply has, in dialogue with the government’s State Aid Secretariat, assessed that the granting of permits for offshore wind turbine projects and other renewable energy projects under the open door scheme may be in breach of EU law.
The Danish Energy Agency has therefore put the case processing of all pending cases under the open door scheme on hold until the scheme’s relation to EU law has been investigated in more detail. The same will apply to any new applications.
The Danish Energy Agency has informed the relevant parties involved and will continuously communicate to the actors about the further process for the individual cases. (offshorewind)


Tesla launches Tesla Electric program
It’s not like the company owns a utility grid. Tesla is launching Tesla Electric to become an electricity retailer through Powerwall owners, starting with markets in Texas where the company has moved its headquarters. It’s also where the grid reliability has notably struggled in the last few years due to climate-change induced severe weather the state is not prepared to handle. Tesla experimented first with virtual power plants (VPPs) in California. Through this program, Tesla responded to specific “events” that required grid backup power to provide extra power to local electric utilities. Now, Tesla is taking that one step further by actively and automatically buying and selling electricity for Powerwall owners to provide a buffer against peak electricity prices. (inhabitat)

photo: Bryan Alexander on Flickr

Making Mining for EV Materials Sustainable
The world needs EVs, but if this material mining remains the same, EV growth may not yield a net gain for the environment. Here are some ways to make these operations more sustainable to enable safe, eco-friendly EV expansion.
1. One of the most important steps is to reduce EVs’ reliance on these minerals. To accomplish that, automakers must redesign battery packs to provide the same efficiency without using as much lithium, nickel and similar materials.
Solid-state batteries — which require less cobalt and graphite by using a solid ceramic electrolyte instead of metallic liquids — are a promising alternative.
2. Another step in making EV material mining more sustainable is to move away from inefficient equipment. Some mines can use vehicles like microexcavators, which have an operating weight below 3,000 pounds, making them more energy-efficient. As redesigned batteries reduce material demand, these smaller-footprint options will become more viable for more mines.
3. Changing how companies extract needed materials will also help make these mining operations sustainable. Of the current most widely used methods, hard-rock extraction is better than brine mining, as it uses less water and energy, but new alternatives pose even more significant advantages. More materials should be recycled. (energycentral)

Uganda Sees Resurgence of Rhinos, Elephants, Buffaloes
Endangered rhinos and elephants are rebounding in Uganda’s wildlife reserves, buoyed by decades-long conservation efforts, the state wildlife agency said Thursday.
Ugandan wildlife saw a precipitous decline from the 1960s through the early 1980s, when conflict and political upheaval allowed for rampant poaching. After northern white and eastern black rhinos were wiped out by hunters in the early 1980s, the government introduced new measures to protect wildlife, including lengthy sentences for poachers, Reuters reports.

Four rhinos where reintroduced in 2005, and today their numbers total 32. Since 1983, the population of buffaloes has grown 77 percent, reaching 44,163 in 2021. And over the same period, the population of elephants grew nearly 300 percent, reaching 7,975. (yale360)

photo: Edu Gonzalez at Unsplash

Southeast Asia’s largest battery goes online
Sembcorp and Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) have announced the successful commissioning of a 285 MWh energy storage system in the Banyan and Sakra region on Jurong Island, Singapore.
The large-scale system features 800 high-energy density lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries and occupies 2 hectares of land. It is the largest energy storage system in Southeast Asia, according to Sembcorp. (pv-magazine)

Photo: Sembcorp


Heat-loving lightweight superalloy promises higher turbine efficiency
One factor limiting the output of today’s power stations is the metals used in the blades, bearings and seals of their steam turbines, which tend to soften and elongate well before their melting point. Solve these problems, and you could conceivably raise temperatures on anything that converts heat to electricity using a steam turbine, with a resulting boost in efficiency and a reduction in waste heat being lost.
Researchers at Sandia Labs, Ames National Laboratory and Iowa State University say they’ve created a 3D-printable high-performance superalloy that’s stronger and lighter than the state-of-the-art high-temperature alloys used today. They’ve published their findings in the journal Applied Materials Today.
Composed of 42% aluminum, 25% titanium, 13% niobium, 8% zirconium, 8% molybdenum and 4% tantalum, this material is an example of a “multi-principal-element superalloy,” or MPES. Most alloys are made chiefly out of one primary element, combined with low concentrations of other elements to boost certain properties, but multi-principal-element alloys have high concentrations of three or more elements.
According to the research team, a wide variety of these alloys are showing great promise on a number of metrics; strength-to-weight, fracture toughness, corrosion and radiation resistance, wear resistance, and others. But the MPES subset this team has explored excels at high strength in high-temperature situations. (newatlas)

Photo: Sandia Labs