I was interested by an article in the FT by Gillian Tett (HERE) suggesting that a way to sell the green agenda might be to concentrate on bio-diversity rather than climate change. She highlighted a study by the IMF (yes, that IMF) looking into how wales sequester CO2
In a similar vein I also enjoyed a documentary on Netflix called Kiss the Ground which suggests that with sympathetic cultivation the earth could sequester far more CO2 than it currently does. It called for regenerative farming techniques to be adopted on a global scale.
‘Retrofit revolution’ could create half a million UK jobs
More than 455,000 ‘white van’ jobs could be created across the UK’s property and construction sectors if the government increases funding for retrofit projects and green skills as part of its Covid-19 recovery package.
That is the key conclusion of new research from UK100, published to coincide with the closure of the Treasury’s Spending Review. The review was intended to inform the Autumn Statement but, with the statement scrapped by Chancellor Rishi Sunak due to Covid-19, it will now inform a ‘winter economy plan’ – a package of short-term measures – and the 2021 Budget.
A total of 455,076 full-time equivalent roles for constructors, electricians, plumbers and professionals in related fields would be created if the private sector and government bolster the Covid-19 recovery funding they have already committed to retrofitting in the name of improving energy efficiency, the analysis states. (edie)
Apple accused of ‘swerving’ questions on sustainability and product repairability
As it launches its highly-anticipated range of new products, Apple ‘continues to swerve’ questions from the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on its environmental record and repairability of its devices, the Committee says.
The EAC invited Apple to participate in its Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy inquiry and agreed to appear before MPs on 16 July. However, the company later cancelled its appearance at short notice.
Often, small electronics are the hardest to collect and recycle, it says.
With Apple being one of the largest manufacturers of small electronic items, its evidence is ‘crucial’ for the EAC’s inquiry, the Committee says.
Specifically, the EAC is keen to obtain information on what Apple is doing to enhance the operating life of its products, and promote repair, reuse and recycling.
During evidence hearings, the EAC heard how it can be too expensive or ‘even impossible’ for Apple products to be repaired.
The Committee says that it has heard that Apple prevents third parties from repairing its devices and restricts access to parts creating what it calls a ‘monopoly’ on product repair. (circularonline)
Plans for interconnection of British and Dutch offshore wind farms
The commercial development arm of National Grid, National Grid Ventures and the Dutch transmission system operator TenneT have signed an agreement to investigate the feasibility of connecting Dutch and British wind farms to the grids of both countries through subsea electricity cables.
The plan is to develop an interconnector, which would connect up to 4GW of British and Dutch offshore wind, providing an additional 2GW of capacity between the countries.
The project could allow both the UK and the Netherlands to trade electricity, further increase the use of offshore infrastructure and mitigate the environmental impact on coastal communities, compared to the current approach in which interconnectors and wind farms are developed and connected separately. (energylivenews)
World’s first Hydrogen powered commercial plane takes off from Cranfield
The flight took place at the company’s R&D facility in Cranfield, with the modified Piper M-class six-seat plane completing taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing.
In a statement ZeroAvia said that the fight marks a major step towards the use of zero-emission hydrogen as the primary energy source for commercial aviation. The company claims that ultimately hydrogen-powered aircraft will match the flight distances and payload of the current fossil fuel aircraft.
ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain is projected to have lower operating costs than its jet-fuelled competition due to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
The flight was conducted as part of the UK government HyFlyer project – a collaborative effort involving ZeroAvia, the European Marine Energy Centre and Intelligent Energy aimed at demonstrating low carbon powertrain technology that could replace conventional engines in propeller aircraft. (theengineer)
University of Exeter launches sustainability behaviour change scheme
The University of Exeter has launched sustainable behaviour change scheme Green Rewards for its staff and students, as part of its vision to become a net-zero organisation by 2040.
Operated by JUMP, the scheme uses an app and other digital communications channels to encourage participants to engage in behaviours that reduce their waste, energy and carbon footprints while improving their health and mental wellbeing. Activities listed include walking or cycling instead of using cars, using reusable coffee cups and turning off electronics when they are not in use. In recognition of the fact that students and staff are spending more time at home and less on campus as a result of Covid-19, all actions have adapted versions for those working remotely.
Students and staff will be able to log their behaviours in exchange for ‘Green Points’. Each month, the University will provide prizes to the individuals and teams which amass the most points. (edie)
EV of the week
VW ID.4 launched
VW are now falling over themselves to push out their new offerings on the bespoke all electric MEB platform. The company have only just started delivering the ID.3 (Golf size) to launch customers in Europe, which itself somewhat stole the thunder from the Mk 8 Golf launch. Now the electric SUV called ID.4 gets an official launch. All this must be keeping the marketing team busy, although I suspect that having decided not to sell the ID.3 in the USA they needed to get product out there quick.
The ID.4 is slightly smaller than the Tiguan, but boasts good space for 5 passengers. The mid-size SUV sector the most popular currently, so this may well be VW’s best seller in the ID range. A lot is riding on the car and reports suggest that people like the looks and the quality of the interior (the ID.3 displays some cheap materials). Performance is described as “brisk rather than sporty” with the usual electric benefits of smooth, silent driving and rapid progress at low speeds. The launch car is said to be good for 250 miles of range and can charge at up to 120kW
The software looks very similar to that of the ID.3, which means that there is a lot of it packed into minimalist packaging. Whilst Tesla is a tech company trying to make cars VW is a car company trying to do tech. Both have run into issues on the route, but there is a huge prize for the one that manages to conquer both.
Airbus shows hydrogen concepts
Airbus has unveiled three concepts for a zero-emission commercial aircraft powered by hydrogen rather than jet fuel, which it says could be carrying passengers by 2035.
The three concepts are each based on a different idea for how to achieve zero-emission flights and use different aerodynamic configurations for what the company said was its ambition of “decarbonising the entire aviation industry”.
The crucial power source for all of these planes, codenamed ZEROe (for zero emissions), is hydrogen as a clean aviation fuel.
One of these is a turbofan design capable of carrying 120-200 passengers with a range of 2,000+ miles by using modified gas-turbine engines powered by liquid hydrogen stores in tanks behind the rear pressure bulkhead.Another design using a turboprop engine (modified from gas-turbine engines) could carry up to 100 passengers more than 1,000 nautical miles – making it a “perfect option for short-haul trips” according to Airbus.
The third futuristic design uses a blended-wing body and could carry up to 200 passengers to distances similar to the turbofan fan concept.
In this design the wings merge with the main body of the plane, giving it a wide fuselage which allows for greater hydrogen storage capabilities and a new kind of cabin layout. (sky)
‘World’s first’ 100% recyclable wind turbine
A consortium of companies, including ENGIE and the Denmark-based manufacturer LM Wind Power, part of GE Renewable Energy, has unveiled plans to develop what claims to be the ‘world’s first’ 100% recyclable wind turbine.
Driven by the French research centre IRT Jules Verne, the €18.5 million Zero Waste Blade Research (ZEBRA) project intends to investigate the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of thermoplastic wind turbine blades.
LM Wind Power will manufacture two prototype blades using Elium, a thermoplastic resin, which is known for its recyclable properties through the processes of depolymerisation or dissolution.
During the development of the project, partners will also explore methods to recycle the materials used in the prototype blades into new products. (energylivenews)
Swedish consortium unveils wind-powered vessel capable of carrying 6,000 vehicles
The Oceanbird, capable of carrying 6,000 vehicles, has been created by the the KTH Centre for Naval Architecture, maritime tech developer SSPA and Wallenius Marine. The Swedish Transport Administration agreed funding for the project from 2019 through to 2022.
The vessels will not travel as fast as today’s car carriers despite having sails that are over 100m high. Instead of taking seven or eight days to cross the Atlantic, the wind-powered vessels are expected to need up to 12 days. (splash247)
Focus on: BP’s change of religion
BP drops a cluster bomb on Big Oil
With a single stroke of the pen, BP has written the obituary of the global petroleum industry. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company that once fuelled the British Empire and long defined Big Oil has confirmed what the technology fraternity has been saying for the last five years. Bells do not toll any louder than this.
The two key scenarios released at BP’s capital markets forum – at least the two that it believes in – tell us that world oil demand has already peaked forever near 100m barrels a day and will soon go into precipitous decline.
It will fall by three quarters to 25m barrels a day by 2050 under BP’s Net Zero forecast, mostly for plastics. By then cars will be electric (or better). Heavy trucks will run on hydrogen, aircraft on green synthetic jet fuel. Half the world’s proven reserves (1.7 trillion barrels) will never be needed. They are already stranded assets.
Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist, added an extra contingent scenario called “delayed and disorderly” where nothing much is done – a coded way of saying Donald Trump is re-elected, China continues to get a free pass on building coal plants and Jair Bolsonaro turns a blind eye as the Amazon vanishes.
This does not avert the fossil crunch. It stores up trouble until the world panics and then resorts to the drastic solution of “widespread energy rationing”, causing economic crunch.
Most likely is something between BP’s “Rapid” and “Net Zero” scenarios. Both have existential consequences for the Opec-Russia alliance and the crude market. They render oil cartels obsolete. There is no longer any sense in trying to steer prices higher by withholding supply if that cedes finite share to others. It is cut-throat competition now, sauve qui peut. (telegraph)
China Pledges Carbon Neutrality by 2060
In a surprise announcement to the UN China said it intends to become carbon neutral by 2060, a tightening of its target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
President Xi Jinping also reiterated his goal for emissions to peak before 2030 and urged all nations to work toward a greener economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of Nature and go down the beaten path of extracting resources without investing in conservation, pursuing development at the expense of protection, and exploiting resources without restoration,” Xi said in a speech by video link to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
The remark is a signal that China, the world’s most populous nation and biggest polluter, is willing to take on more responsibility for tackling climate change. (Bloomberg)
Shell and Microsoft in AI jv
Shell and Microsoft announced a major partnership between the two companies, with the aim of combining Shell’s expertise in clean and efficient energy creation with Microsoft’s expertise in cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and the internet of things (IoT).
This has resulted in a number of initiatives to reduce carbon footprints – including helping Microsoft to meet its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2025, as well as to develop safer and cleaner working environments.
Projects so far launched have involved Microsoft AI specialists teaming with Shell data scientists to probe areas of operation where cooperation is likely to have the deepest impact. This has led to the development of 47 separate applications designed to reduce the carbon footprint of the business of energy production. The data storage and compute workload is handled through Microsoft’s Azure platform, so insights and efficiencies gained in one area of operation can be put to work to benefit any other area. This has included building “digital twin” functionality to create a simulated, virtual model of the entire energy generation process. As well as optimizing their own operations, the solutions will also be offered as a service to any other organization they work with that might benefit from them. (forbes)