Every week there seems to be a story telling us how the UK is squandering its lead in the race to net-zero, or, at least that we are falling behind our targets in most areas. So as to avoid depressing you all I am away for a couple of weeks, so next episode will be the last week of the month.


Mitsui buys 49% of Danish e-methanol plant
Japan’s Mitsui 8031.T has agreed to buy 49% of an e-methanol plant and a connected solar plant from the privately owned renewable energy firm European Energy A/S, the Danish firm said on Wednesday.
The 304 megawatt (MW) solar PV plant is located in Kassoe in the Aabenraa municipality in Denmark, and the connected 52 MW e-methanol facility has a production of up to 42,000 metric tonnes of e-methanol per year, European Energy said in a statement.
The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023 and will contribute positively to European Energy A/S’s financial position, the company said.
Interest in methanol as an alternative fuel has grown in the shipping industry, which seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Mitsui is involved in establishing the world’s first methanol bunkering pilot in Singapore this year along with Maersk Oil Trading, Mitsui & Co Energy Trading Singapore, and American Bureau of Shipping. (reuters)

NextEnergy Capital raises US$480 million for solar and storage fund
London-based investor NextEnergy Capital has closed a US$480 million tranche of investment in its NextPower V ESG fund, which is targeting solar and battery storage.
The NPV ESG vehicle looks to procure financing for solar and energy storage assets in OECD countries, specifically across Europe, North America, and Chile.
The fund was launched in January with targets of US$1.5 billion and 3.5GW of solar capacity, and NextEnergy has offered investors mid-double digit returns on commitments.
Of the US$480 million secured so far, NextEnergy said that US$330 million are direct commitments and US$150 million are co-investment allocations. Two pension funds, one Nordic and another German, are prominent investors in NPV, with others in the process of due diligence and expected to be confirmed in the second round later this year. (energy-storagenews)

Photo: NextEnergy Solar Fund


UK plans to drop flagship £11.6bn climate pledge
The government is drawing up plans to drop the UK’s flagship £11.6bn climate funding pledge, the Guardian can reveal, as the prime minster is accused of betraying populations most vulnerable to global heating.
The disclosure provoked fury from former ministers and representatives of vulnerable countries, who accused Rishi Sunak of making false promises.
A leaked briefing note to ministers, given to the Foreign Office and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and seen by the Guardian, lays out reasons for dropping the UK’s contribution to meeting the global $100bn a year commitment to developing countries.
It says: “Our commitment to double our international climate finance to £11.6bn was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.7[% of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-Covid.” It adds that to meet it by the deadline would be a “huge challenge” because of new pressures, including help for Ukraine being included in the aid budget.
The UK counts spending on refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine as part of the Aid budget which other countries do not. (guardian)

Greater Manchester leads UK in heat pump demand
Enquiries for heat pumps in Greater Manchester have soared, reaching five times the national average.
This surge in demand comes as the city aims to become a zero carbon city by 2038.
Manchester has received nearly double the number of heat pump enquiries compared to areas such as Exeter, Plymouth and Bournemouth.
According to British Gas, the top eight heat pump hot spots in Greater Manchester include Manchester, Bolton, Stockport, Bury, Warrington, Wigan, Oldham and Rochdale.
Manchester alone accounts for nearly 57% of total heat pump installations across the region. (futurenetzero)

Centrica to build largest battery storage project in Scotland
Centrica Business Solutions has secured the development rights for its largest battery storage project in Abernethy, Perthshire, Scotland.
The project involves the construction of a 65MW two-hour battery storage plant, which will play a crucial role in managing grid capacity and supporting the integration of offshore wind farms.
The chosen site in Abernethy is located near a connection point for North Sea offshore wind farms, allowing for efficient transmission of renewable energy.
Centrica hope to complete the project by 2028. (energylivenews)


Rolls Royce Spectre
You would imagine that RR and EV would be very compatible as the cars always majored on their near-silent driving. However, the company has made clear, as it launches its first EV called Spectre, that to them it was important that they made “a Rolls Royce” not an EV. In order to tailor this car match their demanding customers’ expectations they have damped the acceleration so that the “wafts” forwards, all 3 tons of it. The suspension has been tuned to cope with the immense power and regenerative braking is very light compared to most EV’s. It is serene and has a range of about 250 miles between charges, although I am guessing that the chauffeur does the plugging in. Yours for around £400,000.

photo: Rolls Royce


Excitement Grows About ‘Natural Hydrogen’ as Huge Reserves Found in France
While carrying out work to check the risk of firedamp pockets in the abandoned mines of the Lorraine region in May, La Française d’Énergie (FDE) discovered a large deposit of natural hydrogen, igniting hopes that it could be a game changer in Europe’s energy transition.
For years, researchers and businesses in the private sector have been looking for rare natural hydrogen, otherwise known as native or white hydrogen, due to its potential as a clean and renewable energy source.
Indeed, it is believed that the Lorraine basin could contain up to 46 million tonnes of natural hydrogen – equivalent to half the world’s current hydrogen production – and enough to contribute to the EU’s decarbonisation objectives significantly.
Natural hydrogen is naturally present in the Earth’s crust and mantle, which can be harnessed when it degases on the earth’s surface or when extracted with boreholes. It has been on scientists’ radars for some time. But a broader interest in the resource arose as world nations sought to replace fossil gas with a clean-burning fuel.
Unlike hydrogen produced from natural gas or electrolysis, its natural counterpart requires no water and little energy to extract while taking up very little land. (hydrogen-central)

Offshore Hydrogen: HOPE Project Selected for a €20 Million Grant
The HOPE (Hydrogen Offshore Production for Europe) project consortium has signed a €20 million grant agreement with the European Commission. This followed the positive evaluation of the proposal submitted by the partners in response to the call for proposals issued by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, co-founded and co-financed by the European Union.
The consortium aims to pave the way for the deployment of large-scale offshore production of renewable hydrogen. The HOPE project involves developing, building and operating the first 10 MW production unit in the North Sea, off the coast of Belgium, by 2026. The aim is to demonstrate the technical and financial viability of this offshore project, and of pipeline transport for supplying onshore customers.
With HOPE, the consortium partners are moving up a gear and aiming for commercialisation. This unprecedentedly large-scale project (10 MW) will be able to produce up to four tonnes a day of green hydrogen at sea, which will be exported to shore by composite pipeline, compressed and delivered to customers for use in industry and the transport sector. HOPE is the first offshore project of this size in the world to begin actual implementation, with the production unit and export and distribution infrastructure due to come on stream in mid-2026. (energycollective)


Improving soil could keep world within 1.5C heating target, research suggests
Marginal improvements to agricultural soils around the world would store enough carbon to keep the world within 1.5C of global heating, new research suggests.
Farming techniques that improve long-term fertility and yields can also help to store more carbon in soils but are often ignored in favour of intensive techniques using large amounts of artificial fertiliser, much of it wasted, that can increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Using better farming techniques to store 1% more carbon in about half of the world’s agricultural soils would be enough to absorb about 31 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to new data. That amount is not far off the 32 gigatonnes gap between current planned emissions reduction globally per year and the amount of carbon that must be cut by 2030 to stay within 1.5C.
The estimates were carried out by Jacqueline McGlade, the former chief scientist at the UN environment programme and former executive director of the European Environment Agency. She found that storing more carbon in the top 30cm of agricultural soils would be feasible in many regions where soils are currently degraded.
McGlade now leads a commercial organisation that sells soil data to farmers. Downforce Technologies uses publicly available global data, satellite images and lidar to assess in detail how much carbon is stored in soils, which can now be done down to the level of individual fields.
Downforce data could also allow farmers to sell carbon credits based on how much additional carbon dioxide their fields are absorbing. Soil has long been known to be one of Earth’s biggest stores of carbon, but until now it has not been possible to examine in detail how much carbon soils in particular areas are locking up and how much they are emitting. About 40% of the world’s farmland is now degraded, according to UN estimates. (guardian)

World’s Protected Lands Are Safeguarding More Carbon Than the U.S. Emits in a Year
If left unguarded, many of the world’s protected lands would have likely been burned, logged, or otherwise degraded, unleashing huge sums of heat-trapping gas.
Over the last two decades, these assaults would have yielded 9.65 billion tons of carbon, more than double U.S. fossil fuel emissions last year. That is the finding of a new study highlighting “the critical importance of protected areas to help mitigate climate change.”
For the research, scientists analyzed data gathered from the International Space Station on the shape and structure of flora around the world. Using these data, they were able to infer how much carbon is stored in various forests and grasslands.
The study showed that protected areas are far richer in carbon than unprotected areas, particularly in Brazil, which accounts for one third of the carbon safeguarded in protected areas globally. The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications. (yale360)
Read the report HERE

photo: NASA (protected lands are within the yellow boundaries, if you can see them)


Students Use 16,000 Plastic Bottles to Build Eco-Friendly Home 
Namita Kapale and Kalyani Bharmbe, two design students from Aurangabad, India have built an eco-friendly mud home with walls made of thousands of plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in landfills.
The duo collected around 16,000 plastic waste bottles in total. They also decided to use mud instead of cement, and made eco-bricks using soil, bamboo, and non-biodegradable plastic waste, as well as different types of plastic bricks from plastic bottles. Of all the plastic bottles collected, they filled 10,000 bottles with multi-layer plastic and the remaining 6,000 with soil. The plastic bottles were stuffed into plastic bags, the excess air was removed, and the bottle was packed.
The quality of these plastic bottles was checked by civil lab engineers at the Government Engineering College, Aurangabad, says Namita. Later in July 2021, a trial was conducted to test the eco-brick wall.
With the help of 15 women daily wage workers, the duo took around 10 months to complete the house. Their eco-friendly house comprises two square-shaped rooms which are partially open, and one round hut. It does not require air conditioners in summer or heaters in winter. “This is a specialty of mud houses,” says Namita. As of now, a restaurant is being run in the house.
Compared to cement houses, which cost Rs 1,300 per sq ft in construction, as per Namita, these mud and plastic houses cost Rs 700 per sq ft in construction – that’s half the amount. (wingify)

Photo: Wingify Foundation


Toyota Claims Breakthrough That Will Lead To 745-Mile EV Battery
Toyota claims it has made a technological breakthrough that will eventually lead to a solid-state battery capable of delivering up to 745 miles of range, all while completely recharging in 10 minutes, according to The Guardian, quoting Keiji Kaita, president of the company’s research and development center for carbon neutrality. According to the FT which originally broke the story, Toyota believe that they will have the battery in production cars as early as 2027.
The Japanese car manufacturer said that it had simplified production of the material used to make both solid-state and liquid-based batteries, which will allow it to halve the weight, size, and cost of the packs that end up in vehicles. (insideevs)

editor’s note: Whilst Toyota’s cars have an excellent reputation for reliability, their pronouncements and promises on batteries less so.

Cleanup plastic pollution with the easy Pixie Drone
Developed by The Searial Cleaners and 4ocean, the Pixie Drone is a robot that keeps shorelines free of floating debris, including plastics, glass, metal and cloth. It is designed to do so without harming aquatic life. The drone can be remote-controlled or can operate autonomously by following a path set from a corresponding tracking app. In order to be a holistic solution for clearing up coastlines, the drone can operate in freshwater, brackish water and saltwater.
The Pixie Drone serves as a small-scale solution to capture litter from the water’s surface. Compared to 4ocean’s other clean-up robots, the Pixie Drone is relatively small. It measures 162.5 cm long by 115.7 cm wide. This makes the design compact enough to tackle hard-to-reach areas along the coast where the use of large nets or other interventions may not be practical. (inhabitat)
Watch a video of the drone in action HERE

Photo: Serial Cleaners