Whilst not wanting to wade into issues between the USA and China, I observe how regularly I find myself posting about lithium ion batteries. It is therefore of interest that I read the FT article this week about China’s play to control the global battery business (HERE if you have a subscription)

Company news

Engie Acquires Genbright to Unlock Market Value of Distributed Storage and Solar

Engie North America has built a big portfolio of distributed energy projects across the U.S., ranging from more than 75 megawatts of behind-the-meter battery systems from Engie Storage (formerly Green Charge Networks), to the hundreds of megawatts of commercial solar projects being developed by the developer it acquired last year, SoCore Energy.
On Wednesday, Engie North America acquired Genbright, a startup with software it believes can unlock a much broader range of revenue streams for these distributed energy resources (DERs), by linking them into the multiple opportunities being opened in U.S. wholesale energy markets.
Genbright, founded in 2013, has built up a portfolio of more than 50 megawatts of solar, storage and demand response resources now using its proprietary wholesale market platform. Some showcase projects include a $3 million deployment of 200 Ice Energy load-shifting air conditioner units on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, a 1.5 megawatt/3 megawatt-hour behind-the-meter battery project with an unnamed commercial customer in Massachusetts, and a 5-megawatt/10 megawatt-hour front-of-meter battery being deployed in Maine. (gtm)

UK news  

Aggreko launches mobile modular battery system

Aggreko has added a new mobile battery storage system, called the Y.Cube, to its 10GW fleet of rental generators.
The 1MW modules, featuring lithium-ion batteries, are housed entirely within standard 20-foot shipping containers and can be combined together to provide more power.
They are available in 30-minute and one-hour versions and can be operated in temperatures ranging from -20°C to +50°C.
The Y.Cube is manufactured by Younicos, which Aggreko acquired in 2017.
Aggreko are seeing plenty of interest in the Y.Cube especially for pairing with gas and solar installations in off grid locations such as mining sites, islands or data centres. (utilityweek) 

Octopus Energy and IONITY to bring ultra-rapid EV charging to the UK

Octopus Energy and EV charging firm IONITY have announced a partnership which sees the latter’s ultra-rapid charging technology installed in the UK for the first time.
The deal will see Octopus supply IONITY’s 350kW, high power charging (HPC) stations with 100% renewable electricity.
It comes just two months after Octopus Energy launched its Electric Juice service, designed to offer EV charging networks with guaranteed renewable power.
The first ‘Electric Juice station’ is to be installed in Maidstone on the M20, and more sites are planned to open in the coming weeks. More than 40 stations are planned to be installed across the UK by 2020. (current-news)

Rewild a quarter of UK to fight climate crisis, campaigners urge

A quarter of the UK’s land could be restored to nature, making a significant contribution towards cutting the nation’s carbon emissions to zero, under a new rewilding proposal.
The plan, published by Rewilding Britain, calls for billions of pounds in farm subsidies to be redirected towards creating native woodlands and meadows and protecting peat bogs and salt marshes. The group says wildlife would benefit, farmers would not lose money and food production need not fall.
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, is in favour of natural solutions to the climate crisis and huge losses of wildlife, and the government has pledged it will ensure “public money is spent on public goods” after the UK leaves the EU’s subsidy regime. (edie)  
Download the report HERE

Lightsource BP plugs in subsidy-free solar farm with private wire

Another subsidy-free solar farm has connected to the UK grid this week, with the site in Lancashire now providing green electricity to glass manufacturer NSG Group at no cost to the taxpayer.
Developer Lightsource BP, which announced the completion and connection of the 2.29MWp array yesterday, said the new farm will meet around 30 per cent of NSG Group’s annual power demand at the site.
The array channels power directly to NSG’s factory in a system known as a ‘private wire’ arrangement, meaning it bypasses the UK grid entirely. The deal is underpinned by a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which will see NSG pay Lightsource BP for solar power from the site for the next 25 years. (businessgreen)

Vattenfall wins first power distribution network contract in the UK

Vattenfall Networks has announced it has won its first electricity distribution network contract in the UK.
The company, which has invested £3.5 billion in the UK energy industry since 2008, will own and operate the new network under an agreement with Helvellyn Group, an alternative fuel manufacturer.
The new network, which will consist of a 11kV connection, will be built by independent connection provider Green Frog Connect at Helvellyn’s new plant in Leeds.
Vattenfall Networks, part of Sweden’s Vattenfall Group, is the UK’s newest independent distribution network operator (IDNO).
It says the scale of the independent distribution network sector has grown considerably since Ofgem opened the market for connection and operations more than 10 years ago.
Last year, the market grew by 26% – from 600,000 to more than 750,000 connections. (energylivenews)

EV of the week 

Aston Martin unveil the Rapid E at Monaco

The Rapide E is billed ‘as the most powerful Rapide model ever’, with twin rear-mounted electric motors delivering a combined output of 612PS (PS by the way is the abbreviation for metric horsepower) and 950Nm of torque.
The Rapide E is also part of the next generation of electric drive architecture, utilising an 800V electrical system that can take full advantage of the 350kW charging systems now being rolled out.
The production run of the Rapide E is strictly limited to 155 units worldwide, and pricing is only provided on application for one of the 155. (thedriven)


GoodFuel contract with Japanese biofuel test engine

Engine developer Japan Engine Corporation (J-ENG) has announced a collaboration with shipowner Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) for the research and development of a biofuel test engine.
The two companies plan to carry out engine testing using biofuel supplied by GoodFuels, a leading biofuel supplier based in the Netherlands.
According to a release from J-ENG, the test engine is located in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Research and Innovation Centre, where various fuel tests can be carried out.
Earlier this year, GoodFuels supplied biofuel to Dutch beer company Heineken, powering the first inland vessel with 100% sustainable biofuel, demonstrating up to a 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to fossil fuels. (energycentral)

Focus on: 21st century farming

Regenerative farming gains traction in Australia

Regenerative or “Holistic” farming techniques were pioneered by a maveric Zimbabwean farmer called Allan Savoury in the 1960’s. He developed a planned grazing system for cattle that looked to replicate the herd behaviour of grazing animals in the wild. His theory was that herds performed vital ecosystem services and nutrient cycling. Modern farming techniques had allowed cattle and sheep to graze widely, which did not allow land time to recuperate naturally, which in turn led to the feeding of land with artificial fertilisers.
The idea was that farmer would break up their farms into multiple fenced in units and keep the herd moving from one to the next allowing full recovery of the grazed units. Slowly this approach to animal husbandry is gaining a following, and farmers are reporting much improved financial results. See it in action in this short film from Australian channel ABC HERE

21st century solar powered dairy the week

An Australian dairy farm is updated with solar-powered ‘grass-to-gate’ facilities

People around the world have been demanding ethical treatment of dairy cows for years, and one brilliant Australian firm, Bosske Architecture, has listened and delivered. The Bosske team has designed a new solar-powered dairy farm facility with a robotic creamery in Northcliffe, Western Australia. The only dairy production facility of its kind in the world, Bannister Downs Dairy is a massive operation that is powered by a 100 KW array of roof-mounted solar panels that generate enough power for the entire ‘grass-to-gate’ facility. (inhabitat)


The U.S. nuclear waste dome in the Pacific is cracking

Beginning in 1977, the Defense Nuclear Agency began a sustained cleanup of the nuclear debris left over on Enewetak Atoll, a slender ring of coral islands in the Marshall Islands’ northwestern corner.
Enewetak Atoll was subjected to repeated blasts during the testing, and inhabitants were forced to relocate before the explosions began. Beginning in 1977, 4,000 U.S. service members began collecting an estimated 73,000 cubic meters (2.58 million cubic feet) of tainted surface soil across the islands, according to the Marshall Islands’ government.
The material was then transported to Runit Island, where a 328-foot crater remained from a May 1958 test explosion. For three years, the American military dumped the material into the crater. Six men reportedly died during the work. Locals took to calling it “The Tomb,” the Guardian reported.
In 1980, a massive concrete dome — 18 inches thick and shaped like a flying saucer — was placed over the fallout debris, sealing off the material on Runit. But the $218 million project was only supposed to be temporary until a more permanent site was developed, according to the Guardian.
Cracks have reportedly started to appear in the dome. Part of the threat is that the crater was never properly lined, meaning that rising seawater could breach the structural integrity.
According to the Guardian, a 2013 report by the Energy Department admitted that radioactive material may have already begun to leak from the dome, but it said the health risks were probably low.
The Marshallese government, however, does not have the money to shore up the structure, leaving it vulnerable to both rising tides and typhoons. (washingtonpost)

Repowering Old Mines With New Energies In The Southwestern United States

Over the last several years, Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI’s) Sunshine for Mines Initiative has embarked on several key partnerships with mining companies on the redevelopment of closed mine sites in the Southwest. Recently, our team was in Globe, Arizona with global resources company BHP to discuss economic development as part of an engagement organized by the nonprofit Rural Community Assistance Corporation, a group that provides training, technical and financial resources, and advocacy so rural communities can achieve their goals. Given that Arizona’s average irradiance of over 6 kWh/m2/day represents hands-down the best solar resource in the United States, Globe seems to be already ahead of the curve. The community understands that energy, more than ore, may hold the key to future economic growth.
Brownfield development has the potential to change the face of local economic and environmental ecosystems without touching a single acre of pristine land, and it can chart a path of sustainable growth. (cleantechnica)

A Major U.S. Utility Is Closing Its Coal-Fired Power Plants a Decade Early

One of the United States’ largest utilities, Xcel Energy Inc., announced it will close its remaining coal-fired power plants in the Upper Midwest a decade ahead of schedule and add 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity by 2030, E&E News reported. It is the latest step in the utility’s plan to provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.
The company said it will shut its 511-megawatt Allen S. King Generation Station by 2028 and its 2,238-megawatt Sherburne County plant (known as Sherco) by 2030. It also agreed to run one of the units at the Sherco facility only seasonally and close the unit permanently in 2023. Xcel said it will increase investment in energy efficiency measures, bring 1,850 megawatts of new wind capacity online in Minnesota by 2022, as well as keep its Monticello Nuclear Generating Station operating until 2040, a decade later than planned, according to E&E News.
The clean energy strategy is part of new legal settlement between the company, environmental organizations, and labor groups involving Xcel’s proposed $650 million purchase of a 760-megawatt natural gas plant. (yale360)

Japan’s Orix Eyes 874 Megawatts Of Wind Energy Assets In India

Japan-based financial services company Orix Corporation is reportedly planning to acquire a 100% stake in a wind energy investment is already has in India.
Orix is reported to have been pursuing acquisition of 51% stake IL&FS Wind Energy, a subsidiary of the financially troubled IL&FS Group in India. Orix already holds a 49% stake in IL&FS Wind Energy and is reportedly looking to execute its right to buy out the remaining stake in the company.
The possible decision by Orix may not be a true indicator of the company’s view of India’s renewable energy, or more specifically the wind energy sector. Most, if not all of the IL&FS Wind Energy projects would be tied-up in power purchase agreements with state power distribution utilities under feed-in tariff regime. This means that the revenue from these projects would be much higher compared to the projects under the auction regime.
The IL&FS Group is reeling under tremendous financial strain and has defaulted on debt obligations worth US$540 million. The Group is now in the process of selling off its assets in order to repay its debt. Bids for the 874 megawatt wind energy assets had already been called by the Group. (cleantechnica)

Techie corner

AFC Energy Cracks Use of Ammonia in Alkaline Fuel Cell

AFC Energy, the leading British fuel cell power company, this week announced the
first successful integration of alkaline fuel cells with an ammonia cracker
for hydrogen production. The use of ammonia as an inexpensive and widely
available liquid fuel enables a reliable, clean solution to the growing demand
for off-grid electricity. It also has the potential to provide a highly
cost-effective fuel source for the company’s recently revealed zero-emissions
EV recharging system called CH2ARGE.
Ammonia is one of the world’s most produced inorganic chemicals and is clean,
with the primary bi-products of its cracking and consumption being water and
nitrogen. AFC Energy’s new system works by cracking ammonia to create a flow
of hydrogen to generate electricity from the fuel cell. Following successful
research and development through the EU funded Alkammonia Project, AFC Energy
was able to successfully demonstrate a clear ability to scale up power
production, enabling it to deliver multi-MW solutions for powering larger
off-grid communities. (bloomberg)