Lazard Asset Management takes stake in rooftop solar company
Rooftop solar developer and owner Shawton Energy has seen a change in ownership. Iona Capital, the UK low carbon sustainable fund manager, has sold its interest in the company to a fund sponsored by Lazard Asset Management. As a result of the transaction, Lazard’s Sustainable Private Infrastructure Fund is the new 50% owner of Shawton Energy’s business.
Shawton Energy’s rooftop solar PV projects are developed for commercial and industrial clients across the UK.
Iona Capital said that since it invested in Shawton Energy in 2021 the company has grown significantly, with a growing order book for larger solar projects under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). (newpower)
Photo: Shawton Energy
Good Energy sees H1 2023 revenue increase by 45.6% YoY
Renewable energy company Good Energy has seen its H1 2023 revenue increase by 45.6% year-on-year driven by higher tariffs due to high wholesale power and gas costs.
These rising wholesale costs led to price rises throughout the year leaving Good Energy on £156.1 million for revenue in H1 2023. In H1 2022, the firm’s revenue stood at £107.6 million.
Good Energy also reported an impressive 168% YoY increase in reported gross profit to £32.7 million whereas 2022’s figure stood at £12.2 million. The energy company explained that this increase reflected a recovery from a loss made in H1 2022 as well as a strong H1 2023 performance.
It is important to note that this increase is not expected to be maintained into H2 2023 due to the way PPAs have been formed. (solarpowerportal)
Coventry and E.ON’s UK green energy pact
Coventry City Council and energy company E.ON have entered into a 15-year partnership, marking a first of its kind in the UK.
The collaboration aims to transform energy use in Coventry, benefiting both local communities and the broader economy.
Under this partnership, E.ON assumes the role of Coventry’s Strategic Energy Partner.
This strategic alliance focuses on innovative projects that will serve the residents of Coventry.
The initiative includes initiatives such as the development of a 30MW solar farm, the introduction of solar power in local schools and the decarbonisation of various council vehicles and depots.
Additionally, the partnership will strive to enhance energy efficiency in public buildings, promote electric vehicle charging infrastructure and improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses across the city. (energylivenews)
Foresight to dispose of 200MW of solar PV
Foresight Solar has begun a divestment programme for around 200MWp of solar PV projects. Proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt and recycle capital into yield-accretive opportunities.
Proceeds from disposals will be used to reduce gearing and to cover commitments under the existing pipeline. Alexander Ohlsson, Chairman of Foresight Solar, said: “Based on current forecasts, the sale of about 200MW of operational assets will allow the full funding of our expected pipeline until the end of 2025 without the need for additional external capital.” (newpowerinfo)
Onshore wind further boosted in Scotland
The Scottish government will accelerate approvals of larger new wind farms under the Onshore Wind Sector Deal signed between the industry and the government on Thursday.
As part of the deal, the government will aim to determine applications within a year when no public inquiry is required and two years with an inquiry, reducing the average determination time by 50%. It will do that by streamlining processes and improving the format of applications.
The deal will help increase Scotland’s onshore wind capacity from the current 9.3 GW to the government’s target of 20 GW by 2030. It was hailed as “a huge moment for the onshore wind industry in Scotland” by Scottish Renewables’ chief executive Claire Mack. (renewablesnow)
Britain’s First Bio-LNG Production Plant
RenEco, in collaboration with Nordsol, plan to establish the United Kingdom’s inaugural bio-LNG (liquefied biomethane) production facility. Located in proximity to Rushden and under RenEco’s ownership, this plant represents an expansion of their current organic waste processing that focuses on biogas production and electricity generation.
Leveraging Nordsol’s innovative technology, RenEco will convert biogas into bio-LNG , with production to commence in the first quarter of 2024.
Bio-LNG is positioned to play a pivotal role in the sustainable transformation of long-haul road and maritime transport. Its advantages over diesel are manifest in significantly reduced emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx, and particulate matter. Depending on the feedstock, bio-LNG is carbon neutral or even carbon negative. (renewableenergynews)
EV OF THE WEEK
2024 Mini Countryman EV
Mini showed this at Munich, and has promised also an American launch. The EV version looks well specified, up to 280mile range, which is definitely more usable than the current mini EV. It is a little bigger than the outgoing model, and will offer a four wheel drive option.
Mini-world is a little confusing as this one will be built in Germany, whilst the recently announced Mini Cooper EV will be made in China. On top of that the company has just received plenty of UK Governkment money to build EV’s in Cowley.
Green Genius to build 198.8MW of solar projects in Lithuania, Latvia
Green Genius, a Lithuania-based clean energy developer, has secured permits for the construction of two solar projects, with a total capacity of 198.8MW, in the Baltic nations of Lithuania and Latvia.
The company will build a 78MW solar plant, to be located near Seduva in central-north Lithuania, as well as a second project in Latvia with a capacity of 120.8MW.
Construction on the two solar plants is due to begin by the middle of next year.
Statkraft, Fluence partner on Ireland’s ‘first’ 4-hour BESS
Fluence and Norwegian state-owned firm Statkraft have partnered to deliver a 4-hour battery energy storage system (BESS) in Ireland.
The 20MW BESS, which is expected to be a “market first”, will be deployed in County Offaly, in the Republic of Ireland, at Statkraft’s 55.8MW Cushaling wind farm, which is already under construction. Fluence and Statkraft expect to finish construction by the end of 2024.
The BESS will be able to discharge 20MW for up to four hours, longer than the typical duration deployed in the Ireland market to-date, which has been between 30 minutes and two hours, Statkraft said.
It will support Ireland’s grid operator Eirgrid by providing renewable load shifting as well as ancillary services to help maintain grid stability. (solarpowerportal)
FOCUS ON: BIOCHAR
In case any readers are unaware of Biochar, it is a carbon-rich charcoal-like substance, produced from heating organic biomass to very high temperatures under low oxygen conditions. It has not, so far played a central role in in the green agenda, but is generating increased interest as a biogenic route to removing carbon from the atmosphere. I expect to be covering carbon removal projects a lot more over the next few years.
Can climate change champion biochar match its potential?
Soil improver, waste recycler and atmospheric carbon capturer – there’s a lot of excitement about the potential benefits of biochar. Equally, there are a lot of unknowns about whether that potential will be realised in practice.
That opens the possibility for its use in climate change mitigation strategies, says Joe Stanley, head of training partnerships at the Allerton Project, which is one of the field trials sites for a £4.5m Biochar Demonstrator project. The Biochar Demonstrator project is one of five greenhouse gas removal projects funded by UK Research and Innovation to explore the effectiveness, cost, risks and limitations of large-scale greenhouse gas removal.
Biochar as a fertiliser? Undoubtedly, but research in UK conditions to prove benefit is limited, so the Biochar Demonstrator aims to rectify that using a stable biochar created from a woody feedstock.
Biochar for soil protection? Biochar will help improve soil health, soil structure, water holding capacity and have a positive effect on pH, but the effects will depend on the biochar feedstock, pyrolysis temperature and soil type. (farmersweekly)
Biochar is a ‘shovel-ready’ climate technology, but can it scale?
The glorified charcoal is rare on American farms, yet it has become a focal point in the movement to turn agriculture into a climate solution. Biochar can lock up planet-warming carbon for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years, and unlike other, higher-tech technologies that suck carbon out of the air, it’s relatively straightforward and accessible.
As a result, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Shopify, and other corporations trying to burnish their image as climate-conscious are paying biochar producers millions of dollars so that they can claim credit for the carbon that’s locked up in the soot and not in the atmosphere heating the Earth. Biochar now accounts for the vast majority of the carbon dioxide that has supposedly been removed from the air after being purchased by companies seeking to offset their planet-warming emissions, according to cdr.fyi, a website that tracks carbon removal data.
The amount of biochar being produced in the U.S. — 100,000 metric tons — is tiny compared to the amount needed to sequester carbon in a globally significant way. By one estimate, biochar could offset the equivalent of up to three gigatons of carbon dioxide each year by 2050. That’s roughly the same as shutting down 800 coal plants. To get there, producers would have to ramp up worldwide production drastically. (grist)
Is there a market for commercially produced biochar?
DarkBlack is a start-up which claims to be the UK’s first large-scale carbon credit producing biochar company.
Its Blackbird 3-train continuous pyrolysis machine was commissioned earlier this year and would currently cost £1.8m to purchase.
It is expected to produce 1,000t/year of biochar, equating to 3,000 carbon credits/year, when fully operational.
The company hasalready sold its first carbon credits, subject to verification by Puro earth.
The company has used various feedstocks – oversized wood, coppice and pallet waste – although all have their drawbacks.
But what has really surprised the company is the lack of a market for biochar.
“Everyone talks about it being black gold, having all this value, but nobody wants it – you can’t even give it away,” says co-founder Liz Casely.
It’s part of the reason why the firm is planning to develop smaller scale, fully automated, affordable, accessible biochar machines that can be situated on farm producing around 2.5t of biochar/day, equating to 5-7 carbon credits. (farmersweekly)
Biochar-infused concrete: a green solution
Biochar is among the most promising materials for carbon sequestration owing to its property to adsorb more than twice its weight in CO2. Therefore, it is now finding applications as a substitute for cement in concrete production. While other bio-based materials are known to decrease the structural performance of concrete, studies show that biochar can enhance such properties if used correctly.
Adding biochar to concrete enhances its mechanical properties and contributes to sustainability objectives. It further reduces the need for traditional cement content, which is desirable given that cement production contributes significantly to carbon emissions. By replacing a portion of cement with biochar, corporate practitioners can substantially lower the carbon footprint of infrastructure development. (eurekalert)
For a detailed investigation of biochar as an ingredient for cement see HERE
CDP to provide core data to global climate data project
Environmental disclosure platform CDP has announced a partnership to provide access to core climate data from hundreds of companies for the ‘proof of concept’ launch of the Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU), which is scheduled to take place at the COP28 Climate Summit later this year.
Announcing the tie-up, CDP said the collaboration would be instrumental in the development of an “open, free, and centralised” source of climate transition-related data that could help accelerate decarbonisation efforts around the world.
The proof of concept will provide an initial set of companies’ Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions and reduction targets, with the CDP-providing foundational data that allows users to experience initial NZDPU features and functionality, and offer insights that will inform future releases, according to the update.
While CDP will aim to supply data from approximately 400 firms which disclose via its platform, companies will retain the option to remain anonymous and independent, it said. (businessgreen)
Severe plankton bloom off Thailand
An unusually dense plankton bloom off the eastern coast of Thailand is creating an aquatic “dead zone”, threatening the livelihood of local fishers who farm mussels in the waters.
Marine scientists say some areas in the Gulf of Thailand have more than 10 times the normal amount of plankton, turning the water a bright green and killing off marine life.
The coastline of the province of Chonburi is famous for its mussel farms, and more than 80% of the almost 300 plots in the area have been affected.
While the cause of the intense plankton bloom remains unclear, scientists believe pollution and the intense heat caused by climate change are to blame. (guardian)
photo: Stuart Rankin/Creative Commons
Business giants fall short on regenerative agriculture commitments
A new study has revealed that while 50 global agriculture and food giants have publicly acknowledged the potential of regenerative agriculture to address climate and biodiversity crises, more than half have failed to establish formal, company-wide targets.
This is based on research conducted by FAIRR, a network supported by investors with more than $70trn in combined assets, which examined the stance of 79 global agri-food firms on regenerative agriculture.
Among the 79 companies examined, 63% made public acknowledgments regarding the need for regenerative agriculture to tackle climate change. Nevertheless, a considerable 64% of the 50 expressing support have refrained from establishing specific targets.
A mere 8% of the 50 companies, such as Nestlé, PepsiCo and JBS, have taken the step of setting financial targets to support farmers within their supply chains, aiming to incentivise the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices. (edie)
A final blow to fossil fuels? Environment embedded in grid rules
The Australian Energy Market Commission says it will get to work applying an emissions reduction objective to its rule-making and review processes, setting in motion what has been described as the most important reform to the Australian energy market in decades.
The AEMC said that with the Emissions Reduction Objectives Bill 2023 now passed through the South Australian parliament and assent gazetted, it can consider environment alongside the existing criteria for price, quality, safety, reliability, and security.
The announcement ushers in the first substantial change to the objectives of the National Energy Laws in 15 years and is expected to result in a rethink of key rules and regulations that will, in turn, help fast-track the shift from coal and gas to a renewables-based grid. (reneweconomy)
Photo: Engie (a still from the demolition of the Hazlewood power station.)
MIT Making Aviation Fuel from Biomass
For the past five years, understanding and solving the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) problem has been the goal of research by Román-Leshkov and his MIT team — Michael L. Stone PhD ’21, Matthew S. Webber, and others — as well as their collaborators at Washington State University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Their work has focused on lignin, a tough material that gives plants structural support and protection against microbes and fungi. About 30% of the carbon in biomass is in lignin, yet when ethanol is generated from biomass, the lignin is left behind as a waste product.
The key to converting lignin into the aromatic fraction of SAF is to break the “macromolecule” into smaller pieces while in the process getting rid of all of the oxygen atoms.
Most industrial processes begin with a chemical reaction that prevents the subsequent upgrading of lignin: As the lignin is extracted from the biomass, the aromatic molecules in it react with one another, linking together to form strong networks that won’t react further. As a result, the lignin is no longer useful for making aviation fuels.
To avoid that outcome, Román-Leshkov and his team utilize another approach: They use a catalyst to induce a chemical reaction that wouldn’t normally occur during extraction. By reacting the biomass in the presence of a ruthenium-based catalyst, they are able to remove the lignin from the biomass and produce a black liquid called lignin oil. That product is chemically stable, meaning that the aromatic molecules in it will no longer react with one another.
After successfully breaking the original lignin macromolecule, the team then needed to find a way to remove the oxygen atoms. They needed to selectively break the carbon-oxygen bonds to free the oxygen atoms; they needed to avoid incorporating noncarbon atoms into the aromatic rings (for example, atoms from the hydrogen gas that must be present for all of the chemical transformations to occur); and they needed to preserve the carbon backbone of the molecule — that is, the series of linked carbon atoms that connect the aromatic rings that remain.
Ultimately, Román-Leshkov and his team found a special ingredient that would do the trick: a molybdenum carbide catalyst.
To check their products, Román-Leshkov and his team send samples to Washington State University, where a team operates a combustion lab devoted to testing fuels. Results from initial testing of the composition and properties of the samples have been encouraging. (renewableenergymagazine)