An interesting week where people have found new and innovative ways to promote awareness of climate change: by gluing themselves to the stock exchange and 16 year old daughters of a Swedish popstar lecturing Parliament.

Company news

Rivian Announces $500 Million Investment from Ford

Michigan-based EV startup, Rivian, has received an equity investment of $500 million from Ford Motor Company. In addition to the investment, the companies have agreed to work together to develop an all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle for Ford’s growing EV portfolio using Rivian’s skateboard platform.Ford intends to develop a new vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform. This is in addition to Ford’s existing plans to develop a portfolio of battery electric vehicles. As part of its previously announced $11 billion EV investment, Ford already has confirmed two key fully electric vehicles: a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero-emissions version of the best-selling F-150 pickup. (renewableenergymagazine)

UK news

MPs demand more from the Environment Bill

A cross-party group of MPs has today called for the draft Environment Bill to be strengthened. The Environmental Audit Committee’s report follows its inquiry into the draft Environment Bill published in December. The committee doesn’t pull its punches and demands urgent action to plug gaps in environmental protection.The report makes a number of recommendations which reflect much of the evidence that Greener UK and many other stakeholders have submitted on the draft bill. MPs have provided the government with a hefty list of improvements that they would like to see made in a number of key areas.Here are four top messages from the report:
1. Independence in reality not just in name
2. Legal compliance should be tightened
3. Climate change must be included
4. Focusing only on England is a disjointed approach
Read the report HERE

Fortum Glasgow snaps up proposed South Clyde Energy Centre

Fortum Glasgow, a joint venture between Fortum Oyj and Verus Energy, purchased it from Peel Environmental – the two companies have been working closely to bring forward the project, with plans for work to start on the site early next year.
The site has secured planning permission for an energy recovery plant, which could treat up to 350,000 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste a year.
That could help generate around 21MW of electricity. (energylivenews)

Mass VPP rollout could save £32 billion worth of network upgrades

A local energy system pilot on the UK’s south coast is to establish a virtual power plant (VPP) comprising, renewables, storage and electric vehicles that could save the country billions in network reinforcements.
Furthermore, the project holds the potential to cut domestic energy costs and slash emissions.
The Smart Local Energy System (SLES) project in Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea, first unveiled earlier this month, will establish a VPP aggregating domestic solar and battery storage, electric vehicle chargers, a marine source heat pump, a grid-scale battery and air source heat pumps.
The operational capacities and benefits of those technologies will be blended together using VPP software developed by battery storage firm Moixa under the three-year project aimed at showcasing its potential.
Moixa and other consortium partners on the project, including Flexitricity, PassivSystems, Connected Energy and Flexisolar, have claimed that not only could it cut energy costs by as much as 10%, but a nationwide rollout of the technology could offset infrastructure upgrades worth as much as £32 billion by 2035. (current-news)  

Repower old onshore wind farms to meet climate targets

The UK must ensure it replaces older onshore wind farms with newer turbines as they reach the end of their operational lives if it is to secure enough low-cost power capacity to meet climate change targets, RenewableUK has warned.
A report today by the trade body explains that more than 8GW of existing onshore wind capacity, which currently generates nearly a fifth of the UK’s renewable electricity output, could be retired over the next two decades.
The group added that new policies are therefore needed to enable the replacing or ‘repowering’ of these older turbines as they reach the end of their operational lives, such as setting a framework to encourage councils to grant planning permission for such projects.
The report warns the UK faces a low carbon electricity generation gap of up to 18 per cent of current demand by 2030, and that if the government fails to support ‘repowering’ or replacing existing onshore wind turbines that gap could grow even wider. (businessgreen)

EV of the week 

The Qiantu K50 by Mullen

We have featured plenty of exciting EV sports cars over the years that have never made it beyond a stand at a motor show. The Qiantu K50 is a prime candidate. Mullen have been around the fringes of the EV world in California for a while. They were involved with the stillborn Coda project for those with long memories.
The K50 is designed by CH Auto in China, who announced a deal for Mullen to make and sell it in the USA. Where exactly it will be built is not certain, but a working prototype is going to be on show at the New York Auto Show.
The car itself looks sleek and will generate 402 horse power from a 78kWh battery pack. It should have a range of over 200 miles and will be built of carbon fibre on an aluminium chasis. (autoblog)  


Baltics clear 2020 renewable energy targets

Three Baltic states are among the European Union (EU) member states that have already met, or are close to hitting their 2020 renewable energy targets. These are Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The latter was the first among the three to smash the target – a sizeable 30% of its final energy consumption is already produced from renewable energy sources. Lithuania announced in mid-April that it reached the landmark and Latvia was about to pass it in the days to come.
The European Commission (EC) has praised the Baltic nations as examples for some affluent Western European countries that lag well behind in fulfilling their green energy obligations. With the midway hurdle cleared, the Baltic countries are upbeat about meeting more ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets.
– Estonia believes that its renewable energy prognosis for 2030, at 42% of final energy consumption, is feasible.
– Having just hit the 2020 renewable energy target, Lithuania anticipates 45% of the total energy consumption to be met with renewables in 2030.
Heavily dependent on hydro energy, Latvia is about to achieve the 2020 renewable energy target and has also set eyes on a 2030 target of 45% of total energy consumption. (renewablesnow)

VW joins blockchain network for sustainable mineral sourcing

German carmaker Volkswagen Group (VW) has joined a collaborative sector initiative aimed at bolstering sustainability and traceability in global mineral supply chains through the use of blockchain technologies.Under the scheme, participating firms use IBM’s blockchain platform and the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric tracking software to trace cobalt used to manufacture electric vehicle (EV) batteries as it moves throughout the supply chain. The technology creates an unbreakable digital ledger ensuring that all processes in the supply chain meet RCS Global Group’s responsible sourcing standards, which were developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).According to VW, this system provides “near real-time” data regarding the flow of cobalt across global supply networks, from mining to the end-user. (edie)

Lithuania: €385 million support for production of electricity from renewables

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a scheme to support electricity production from renewable energy sources in Lithuania. The measure, open to all types of renewable generation, will contribute to the EU environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition.On 1 May 2019, Lithuania will introduce a new aid scheme to support installations generating electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower. The scheme will help Lithuania reach its national target share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption, which has been set at 38% by 2025. The renewable energy scheme will be applicable until 1 July 2025 or, alternatively, until the 38% target is reached. (moderndiplomacy)

Focus on: Energy efficiency in commercial buildings

BEIS to launch energy efficiency consultation on commercial buildings ‘as soon as possible’

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will launch a consultation on the emissions of commercial buildings “as soon as possible”, describing the sector as a “huge untapped area” for improvements.
Speaking at a BEIS Committee hearing on Wednesday, Energy and Climate Change Minister Claire Perry announced that the Government would consult on what actions would drive improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions in the commercial built environment sector.
Around 60% of the sector is rented, creating barriers to improve energy efficiency due to complex contracts between landlords and commercial tenants which often clash with the ownership, maintenance and long lifetimes of technological improvements.
However, at the hearing Perry and BEIS’s Director of Energy Efficiency and Local Department, Ben Golding, confirmed that a consultation would be launched “as soon as possible”. (edie)

New York City passes landmark bill to cut carbon emissions of big buildings by 80%

New York City just passed a landmark bill to cut carbon emissions. City council members overwhelming voted in favor of a historic law, called the The Climate Mobilization Act, which will reduce emissions of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet by 80 percent over the next 30 years.
The most significant portion of the bill will require these buildings to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent over the next decade. By 2050, these buildings will have to cut emissions by 80 percent total, greatly reducing overall air pollution in the Big Apple. Buildings of this size, including Trump Tower, represent a tiny portion of the city but cause about half of building-related pollution.
The new law comes on the heels of a study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that linked building emissions to climate change. Researchers with the IPCC concluded that carbon emissions in the United States grew by a little over 3 percent in 2018. Large buildings were a major contributor to the jump in emissions, and the study called for tighter restrictions in the building sector.
New York City’s new initiative will undoubtedly help lower those numbers. The plan will also create jobs for thousands of New Yorkers. Lawmakers estimate that the law will put around 20,000 people to work, mainly in the construction industry. With the bill being beneficial to the environment and economy, city council members voted it in 45-2. (inhabitat)

Brazilian eco-home of the week

Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

São Paulo-based firm Studio MK27 has unveiled a spectacular home made out of a beautiful blend of natural and prefabricated materials. The Catuçaba House is tucked into the remote rolling hills of Catuçaba, its horizontal volume sitting almost 5,000 feet above sea level. Wanting to forge a strong relationship with its stunning natural surroundings, the architects designed the home with a number of sustainable features to be completely off-grid and low-impact. In fact, the home’s sustainability profile is so impressive that it is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification.The 3,300-square-foot home is a beautiful study in eco-friendly minimalism. The residence, which is a wooden prefab structure, is comprised of an elongated form that sits on a series of pillars. These wooden pillars were carefully embedded into the landscape to reduce the impact on the terrain.A wooden deck cantilevers over the hilly topography, creating a large platform that is book-ended by two adobe walls made from local soil. As a passive feature, sliding shades made out of eucalyptus branches cover the floor-to-ceiling front facade and filter light through the interior, offering a vibrant movement of shadows and light in the living space. (inhabitat)


Energy Storage Tax Credit Could Jumpstart Battery Industry

Energy storage is still hampered by high costs, but some in the federal government are looking to partially solve that problem. Last week, lawmakers in the democratic-controlled House of Representatives introduced a bill to extend tax credits to energy storage.
Pennsylvania representative Mike Doyle introduced the Energy Storage and Deployment Act on April 4th. The bill would extend the current 30% tax credit for solar and other renewable systems to energy storage systems for utilities, businesses, and homeowners. Just like the existing credits, the energy storage credit would be set at 30% of total installation costs through 2019, then drop to 26% in 2020, then 22% in 2021. Starting in 2022, the tax credit would disappear for residential systems, but drop to 10% for commercial and utility-scale projects, where it would remain permanently. (earthtechling)

Car-free Sundays are the norm in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá

Imagine your city without cars — every single Sunday. At first, you might be frustrated by the inconvenience and inability to complete errands, but once you embrace the throngs of bikes, recognize your friends and neighbors among the people out for a stroll or attend a Zumba class at what was once a congested intersection, it’s likely to become one of your favorite traditions. For 45 years, the Colombian city of Bogotá has closed its major roads for Ciclovía, a weekly event where cyclists and pedestrians reclaim the street.Vox calls the weekly event “the world’s most successful mass recreation event,” and more than 400 cities around the world look to Bogotá as a model for replication. In Spanish, Ciclovía means “Bicycle Way,” but the roads are open to bikes, roller skates, scooters, wheel chairs, skateboards, runners, walkers and all other types of physical activity, recreation and relaxation. Since its launch in 1974, the event has expanded to include juice bars, fruit stands and exercise classes at various stops along the now 76 miles of designated roadway. (inhabitat)

Techie corner

Green material for refrigeration identified

When put under pressure, plastic crystals of neopentylglycol yield huge cooling effects — enough that they are competitive with conventional coolants. In addition, the material is inexpensive, widely available and functions at close to room temperature. Details are published in the journal Nature Communications.
In their newly published research, Dr Xavier Moya, a Royal Society Research Fellow in Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy and collaborators from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the Universitat de Barcelona describe the enormous thermal changes under pressure achieved with plastic crystals.
Conventional cooling technologies rely on the thermal changes that occur when a compressed fluid expands. Most cooling devices work by compressing and expanding fluids such as HFCs and HCs. As the fluid expands, it decreases in temperature, cooling its surroundings.
With solids, cooling is achieved by changing the material’s microscopic structure. This change can be achieved by applying a magnetic field, an electric field or through mechanic force. For decades, these caloric effects have fallen behind the thermal changes available in fluids, but the discovery of colossal barocaloric effects in a plastic crystal of neopentylglycol (NPG) and other related organic compounds has levelled the playfield. (sciencedaily)

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