I know, I know, it’s not Thursday. My promise to deliver Titbits on a Thursday lasted all of one week. I failed to look at my diary when making the promise, but we shall be back on track next Thursday!
One strangely encouraging piece of news: the appointment of WWF’s Tony Jupiter as the new Chair of Natural England. At last an environmental expert chairing an environmental organisation, in stark contrast to recent American appointments.
Orsted shows strong results
Danish offshore wind developer Orsted reported full-year profit above expectations on Wednesday and said it would consider restarting its activities in Taiwan following a new proposal from the local government.
Group EBITDA came in at 30.0 billion Danish crowns (€4bn) in 2018, compared with a 28.5 billion crowns forecast in a Reuters analyst survey.
A key statistic in the report is that 75% of the company’s energy generation was based on renewables in 2017. The carbon intensity of Orsted’s energy generation was reduced by 72% in 2018, compared with 2005 levels. (reuters)
Octopus makes first strides into energy networks sector
Octopus Investments has made a multi-million-pound investment in independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO) Eclipse Power, marking its maiden investment in the networks sector.
Octopus, which is already the largest asset holder of UK solar farms and is the parent company of challenger supplier Octopus Energy, said the investment would allow it to expand its operations base and make further investments into the country’s electricity infrastructure.
It also spoke of the potential for IDNOs to play “an important role” in furthering the electrification of heat and transport through cost-efficient grid reinforcement works, with Eclipse Power expected to connect more than 25,000 customers in the coming years. (current-news)
Private wire deals may revive Swansea tidal lagoon plan
the firm behind the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon, for which ministers rejected subsidies last year on the grounds it was too costly, has said it believes the project can work without government money and be built within six years.
Swansea-based Tidal Power plc said several major companies were interested in buying the low-carbon electricity generated by the tide flowing through turbines in a concrete wall along Swansea bay.
Property company Land Securities, Cardiff airport and developer Berkeley Group are among those to have expressed an interest in signing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the lagoon. (businessgreen)
ScottishPower launches ‘game changer’ EV tariff
ScottishPower has become the latest utility to launch an exclusive EV tariff, proposing to slash the cost of charging an electric vehicle.
The power firm’s new EV tariff, dubbed SmartPower Green EV, is designed to allow consumers to charge their electric vehicles outside of peak hours – typically between midnight and 5am – which can deliver drastic savings on conventional vehicles.
ScottishPower said that by adopting its new tariff, a Nissan Leaf with a 40kWh battery with an average annual mileage of around 6,000 miles would pay just £62 in charging costs each year, equivalent to savings of up to ten times that of a petrol-fuelled car. (current-news)
No plans to review gas fracking rules
Britain’s government has no plans to review regulations for fracking gas in the country, it said on Thursday, following calls from industry to revisit the rules.
Chemical giant Ineos and fracking firm Cuadrilla earlier this week said current restrictions around seismic events at fracking sites could force the industry to close.
Under the so-called traffic light system fracking must be paused for 18 hours following any seismic event of magnitude 0.5 or above, something which forced Cuadrilla to halt its operations several times last year.
Cuadrilla said this week its test drilling in northwest England showed a rich reservoir of high quality and recoverable gas.
Environmentalists have campaigned against fracking, saying extracting more fossil fuel is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have also raised concerns about potential groundwater contamination and the number of lorry movements. (reuters)
And then there were six
One of the UK’s last seven coal power stations will close this year after half a century of generating electricity, as the polluting fuel continues its rapid decline in the energy mix.
EDF Energy said more than 150 jobs were likely to be cut due to the closure of the Cottam plant in north Nottinghamshire on 30 September.
Just seven years ago, coal was a cornerstone of the energy system, providing more than 40% of electricity, but a series of closures in the face of poor economics have led to it tumbling to 5% last year. The most recent plant to shut was Eggborough in Yorkshire last year. (guardian)
EV of the week
Porsche raises production plan for electric Taycan
Porsche is already having to double its production plan on the electric car it hasn’t even released yet.
The German carmaker known for its sports cars and racing heritage said stronger-than-expected demand has led it to boost production on its electric Taycan car from 20,000 to 40,000 units, the company confirmed. Porsche’s total annual production is around 250,000 cars.
The car represents a $6.8 billion investment for Porsche, and is expected to create 1,200 new jobs. Porsche plans to have net-zero-impact production for the Taycan, and is even installing exterior panels on the factory to break down nitrogen oxide pollution in the air. (autoblog)
Hundreds of EU stakeholders call for a ‘common food policy’
A coalition of 400 agriculture-related EU stakeholders, convened by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), has mapped out a new governance architecture for food systems in a bid to create sustainable food systems under a ‘Common Food Policy’.
Policy must consider global warming, biodiversity loss, rising obesity rates and food security, the group is arguing
IPES-Food worked with farmers, food entrepreneurs, civil society activists and scientists, as well as policymakers, who have been consulting each other throughout a three-year process that resulted in the report published today. (edie)
Download the report HERE
Circular, solar powered beach house
A charming, circular escape from the city has popped up on an idyllic stretch of beach in New Zealand. Powered with solar energy and built with weather-resistant materials, the St Andrews Beach House is the work of Austin Maynard Architects, a Fitzroy-based design practice that prides itself on sustainable architecture. The “Euclidean form” of the dwelling was inspired by the beauty of the remote site and is designed to take advantage of views in all directions. (inhabitat)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Unveils Landmark Green New Deal Resolution
On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) unveiled a landmark resolution cementing the pillars of an unprecedented program to zero out planet-warming emissions and restore the middle-class prosperity of postwar America that the original New Deal helped spur.
Just three months after calls for a Green New Deal electrified a long-stagnant debate on climate policy, the Democratic lawmakers released the six-page document outlining plans to cut global emissions 40 to 60 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and neutralize human-caused greenhouse gases entirely by 2050.
It’s an ambitious, if measured, clarion call for action that, if accomplished, would transform the United States into the leader in decarbonizing and clear a path forward for the world to avert catastrophic warming.
The resolution stakes out a “ten-year national mobilization” plan to build “smart” grids and rapidly increase the share of American power generated from solar and wind from 10 percent today to as close to 100 percent as possible over the next decade. The plan gets local, demanding upgrades to “all existing U.S. buildings” to “achieve maximum” efficiency with energy and water use. (huffingtonposteu)
Renewables to the rescue during Australian heatwave
As temperatures soared above 115 degrees Fahrenheit last week in Australia, fossil fuel-based power infrastructure failed in parts of the country, unable to operate in the heat and keep up with demand from air conditioners. Utilities instead relied on renewable energy to bring power back to hundreds of thousands of households.
In Victoria on Thursday and Friday, the Loy Yang and Yallourn coal-fired power plants went offline as demand soared. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) cut off power to approximately 200,000 households and a major aluminum smelter for several hours. In the city of Adelaide, almost 30,000 households lost power after transformers on local power lines overheated
As energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said “…Wind power came through today, it produced sufficient power generation. Our largest batteries were available last night when we needed them the most.” (yale360)
US firm breaks 100MW community solar milestone
Colorado-based SunShare claims to be the first company in the US to have developed more than 100MW of community solar projects.
Spread over 77 community gardens, the company has developed 105MW of shared capacity – enough to meet the electricity needs of 8,000 users.
Solar gardens allow small businesses and homeowners who would not otherwise be able to install solar panels on their property to make the switch to clean, renewable energy. (energylivenews)
The giant Drax power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, has become the first in Europe to capture carbon dioxide from wood-burning. This technology is known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
Drax is trialling a new system devised at Leeds university. Most existing carbon capture technologies use a chemical, amine.
It is drizzled down through a flue gas chimney, where it absorbs the CO2. A further process separates the CO2 from the amine, which can be re-used.
The Drax experiment is working with a tech spin-off called C-Capture. It uses an organic solvent which it says is less toxic than amine and uses less energy.
It’s one of several products on the market as chemists strive to find new ways of taking CO2 out of the air. (bbc)
Have a good weekend.