There is a place in the Net Zero world for each of these three: CCS, Nuclear (large and small) and hydrogen, but one must be realistic and not saddle them with the expectation that they can solve the problem. I have covered CCS and nuclear recently. This week we have a good summary of the limitations of hydrogen.
SSE to invest £40bn in green energy as profits almost double
SSE has set out plans to invest £40bn in clean energy over the next 10 years as it reported a near-doubling of its annual profits compared with the year before thanks in part to its fossil fuel power stations.
The Perth-based FTSE 100 company said it would carry out its record-breaking green energy plan by investing “far in excess of its earnings” after making an adjusted pre-tax profit of £2.18bn for the 12 months to the end of March, up from almost £1.16bn the year before.
The sharp increase in full-year profits came as earnings from its gas-fired power stations surged almost fourfold to £1.24bn for the last financial year, up from £331.1m the year before.
It did not face higher taxes on its profits from gas-fired power stations because the government’s energy generator levy focused on renewable power. But SSE’s renewables business made a fraction of the profit that its gas plants made last year, rising to £580m from £568.1m the year before, meaning it was required to pay only £43m under the levy. (guardian)
Old EV batteries help electrify North Tyneside Council’s fleet
Old electric vehicle batteries are to be used to store solar-powered energy to fuel a fleet of new EVs at North Tyneside Council’s revamped Killingworth depot.
The facility – at which about 1,000 council employees work – now includes a solar PV array and car ports delivering 700 kilowatts at peak generating around 600,000kW/h of electricity each year.
North Tyneside Council plans to install more than 40 EV chargers in the coming months, a figure which will increase as the authority transitions a significant part of its fleet to electric over the next few years.
However, realising it would be giving 15% of the solar energy it generated back to the grid, as it had no way of storing the excess energy created during daylight hours, the council turned to Connected Energy in an effort to use this excess electricity to charge its electric vans at night.
Connected Energy has developed a battery energy storage system (BESS) called E-Stor which uses batteries from end-of-life electric vans, giving them a second life. (theenergyst)
photo: Connected Energy
Government and industry plot major rooftop solar push
Solar Taskforce meets for the first time, as government underscores its commitment to turbocharging roll out of rooftop solar arrays
The solar industry and government have agreed that ramping up solar power capacity on commercial and public rooftops should be a top priority as the UK looks to deliver on its clean energy goals.
In a statement issued after the first meeting of a government-convened Solar Taskforce yesterday, trade body Solar Energy UK and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) jointly hailed the “untapped potential” for deploying solar arrays at commercial sites.
The taskforce, led by Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart and Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett, was established by DESNZ earlier this spring, after the government accepted a recommendation from Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review that called for closer collaboration between policymakers and the solar industry.
Solar Energy UK said it expects 2023 to be a record year for solar installations, noting the current rate of installation could see 230,000 sites come online across the year – beating the record set in 2011 when the government’s subsidy scheme was in full force. (businessgreen)
Octopus & L&G invest into Kensa Heat Pumps
Octopus Energy Generation and Legal & General Capital are investing £70million in a ground source heat pump firm, in a move that they claim will drive down the cost of switching to green energy for customers.
The money will be invested in manufacturer and installer The Kensa Group – based in Truro, Cornwall – and is the biggest investment ever made in ground source heat pumps in Britain.
Octopus and L&G said it would allow Kensa to rapidly expand and install 50,000 ground source heat pumps a year by 2030. (thisismoney)
Adding hydrogen to the gas network could be the next ‘dieselgate’
There’s also been a lot of talk about the idea of mixing clean hydrogen into our existing gas grid, perhaps blending up to 20 per cent by volume (the rest being natural gas). Both E3G and the Regulatory Assistance Project have raised the alarm about this, upsetting a few hydrogen lobbyists and drawing the attention of the Climate Change Committee. We’ve analysed how the costs and benefits of this proposed blending are affected by the risk of leakage. We found that blending could result in only a four per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, at best, and this would be at significant cost.
Part of the motivation for considering blending is to create a reliable and consistent use for hydrogen to encourage its overall production to scale up. This may be a valid reason, but it will introduce additional costs which the government wants to charge to already high consumer energy bills. And the climate benefits will be minimal, especially if leakage rates are high.
We already know that methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, seeps out from the gas network more than official records show, and hydrogen is known to be even more leaky than methane. Clean hydrogen for everything might sound like the holy grail of climate solutions but, in the accelerating climate emergency, we can’t afford to take wrong turns and waste money and effort on something that could be a big step backwards. Dieselgate taught us that, to great environmental and financial cost. We need to find a better way of linking hydrogen producers with the best and most impactful end uses. Blending it into the gas network isn’t one of them. (extract from post by Liam Hardy for Green alliance blog)
Download the Green Alliance briefing note “What is the best use of hydrogen in the UK?” HERE
EV OF THE WEEK
Caterham show electric Seven
Well, that’s the Hill Climb at Goodwood Festival of Speed sorted. Caterham have shoehorned an electric powertrain with 40kWh (usable) battery, into a modified Caterham Seven body. The resulting rocket is designed for track outings (charge it while you have lunch). Whilst it is only a concept it is interesting in that it would probably win an award as the lightest EV. They haven’t got room for a standard DC and AC charging setup so won’t be sold commercially as it is. It gives a glimpse into how a small independent car company is looking to navigate the transition post combustion engines. I bet that few cars would beat it up that hill!
Mercedes F1 team says biofuels cut emissions by 89%
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team has said that its trial of using biofuels for three races last year saw carbon emissions drop by 89%.
Following the success, it has said it will look to prevent 200 tonnes of carbon reaching the atmosphere by using biofuels for a full season next year.
Biofuels will be used to power all its freight trucks, which cover close to 10,000km throughout the F1 season.
This will see the team’s overall emissions drop by 60%, it estimates.
The F1 team has also invested in sustainable aviation fuel to cut the carbon footprint of its drivers and other personnel. (futurenetzero)
MIT helping advance the cause of Flow Batteries
Flow batteries have numerous advantages over traditional solid-state batteries, including longer lifetimes and lower costs. They consist of two large tanks holding liquid electrolytes – one positive and one negative – which contain dissolved active species that undergo electrochemical reactions, releasing or storing electrons. The capacity of a flow battery, or the amount of energy it can store, can be adjusted independently from its power, the rate at which it can be charged and discharged. This flexibility enables flow batteries to be designed and modified according to specific applications and future needs.
However, flow batteries also face challenges, such as electrolyte degradation and “crossover” – the mixing of active species between tanks, which can cause capacity loss. Despite these issues, flow batteries are more cost-effective and easy to maintain than conventional batteries, as their components are more easily accessed for remediation.
Today, the most common flow battery setup uses vanadium in different oxidation states on both sides. Vanadium is a stable material that doesn’t degrade, and its use prevents permanent cross-contamination of the electrolytes. However, as the demand for renewable energy grows, so will the need for flow batteries, putting pressure on vanadium supply. Vanadium extraction is difficult due to its dilute occurrence, and its production is limited to a few locations such as Russia, China, and South Africa, resulting in high and volatile prices.
Researchers are exploring alternative chemistries using more abundant and cheaper materials to address these challenges. However, comparing the economics of different options is complex, as multiple variables and components are involved in the electrochemical system. To aid in decision-making for research and investment, MIT has developed a techno-economic modelling framework for estimating the levelized cost of storage for different chemistries. (innovationorigins)
Global supply of vanadium electrolyte is currently very tight.
Primary vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals in South Africa is completing construction of its BELCO electrolyte plant which is expected to start operation in H1 2023, with an initial capacity of eight million litres per year. This production can be expanded to deliver 32 million litres per year.
Emerging vanadium producer Australian Vanadium Limited in Australia is building a vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility in Western Australia which will have an initial capacity of 33MWh per year. Production is due to commence later this year. AVL also intends to build further manufacturing facilities on the east coast of Australia to supply the growing local demand.
There are three primary vanadium mines in the world outside China that are currently in operation. One in Brazil which is operated by Largo Resources and two in South African which are operated by Bushveld Minerals and Glencore. However, 75% of the world’s vanadium is currently produced by China and Russia, not from primary production i.e., mining and extraction of vanadium from the ground, but as a by-product in the production of steel.
One of the main costs affecting vanadium electrolyte is the price of moving it. Essentially when you transport the electrolyte you are moving acid and water. To reduce the cost of the battery, manufacturing the electrolyte close to the installation makes a lot of sense. (energy-storagenews)
Pay-as-you-drive enables switch to electric busses in Nairobi
Embassava became the fourth bus company in Nairobi have signed up for Basigo’s Pay-as-you-Drive electric bus service, taking delivery of 4 BYD B6 26 seat busses. The service is described thus by Basigo:
BasiGo is bringing a new breed of bus to Africa’s roads. BasiGo’s Electric Buses offer long range, improved reliability, and lower operating costs than diesel buses. BasiGo electric buses are recharged each night from East Africa’s abundant renewable energy, enabling a dramatic impact on air pollution and climate emissions. And with BasiGo’s unique Pay-As-You-Drive financing solution, the K6 Electric bus is made affordable to all owners who are eager to transition to clean, electric drive. (basigo website)
Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of $209bn a year, says study
Amid growing debate about who should bear the economic cost of the climate crisis, the paper, titled Time to Pay the Piper, presents a moral case for the carbon corporations most responsible for the climate breakdown to use some of their “tainted wealth” to compensate victims.
The study considers this to be a substantial yet conservative price tag, as the methodology excludes the economic value of lost lives and livelihoods, species extinction and other biodiversity loss, as well as other wellbeing components not captured in GDP.
The study builds on the carbon majors database, which records the emissions of individual oil, gas and coal companies since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established and industry claims of scientific uncertainty about the climate crisis became untenable. (guardian)
Buried? Cremated? Composted?
Loop Biotech is a Dutch startup that is “growing” coffins by putting mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, together with hemp fiber in a special mold that, in a week, turns into what could basically be compared to the looks of an unpainted Egyptian sarcophagus.
And while traditional wooden coffins come from trees that can take decades to grow and years to break down in the soil, the mushroom versions biodegrade and deliver the remains to nature in barely a month and a half.
With climate consciousness and a special care of nature a focal point in ever more lives, Loop Biotech says it has the answer for those wanting to live the full circle of life — and then some — as close to what they always believed in.
Bob Hendrikx, the 29-year-old founder bedecked in a “I am compost” T-shirt at a recent presentation, said that he had researched nature a great deal “especially mushrooms. And I learned that they are the biggest recyclers on the planet. So I thought, hey, why can we not be part of the cycle of life? And then decided to grow a mushroom-based coffin.” Moss can be draped within the coffins for the burial ceremonies.
And for those preferring cremation, there is also an urn they grow which can be buried with a sapling sticking out. So when the urn is broken down, the ashes can help give life to the tree. (huffpost)
photo: Loop Biotech