UK solar innovator Naked Energy continues European expansion with new partnerships
British solar thermal design and engineering company Naked Energy has announced further international expansion after partnering with two leading European engineering-led firms.
Portuguese business Tech4Food will now offer Naked Energy’s cutting-edge solar thermal and photovoltaic thermal (PVT) products as part of its engineering solutions for the food and beverage, textiles and hospitality sectors.
Also added to Naked Energy’s roster of distributors is the Greek division of German engineering contractor Menerga. The solar collectors are set to provide cleaner, more efficient heating to hospitals, swimming pools and manufacturing facilities across the country. 
Naked Energy’s VirtuPVT collector combines solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technology to generate both electricity and heat from a single collector. Their unique modular design makes them the world’s highest energy density solar technology. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Naked Energy


Scottish Government mulls upping offshore wind ambitions
Scottish ministers are considering whether to increase the country’s current offshore wind rollout targets.
As part of its recently published energy strategy, Holyrood pledged to consult on whether a greater ambition for turbine deployment by 2030 and 2045 should be set, and what that level should be.
Currently, the goal is to have at least 8GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters by 2030, as per 2020’s Offshore Wind Policy Statement.
It is hoped that raising the bar will spur on developers, in a move that has been hailed as “bold, ambitious and potentially transformative” by key figures from within the renewables industry. (energyvoice)

Octopus to begin home solar PV installations
Now with 4.9 million UK retail customers following last month’s absorption of failed supplier Bulb, Octopus ranks third among energycos, behind British Gas and E-on.
Octopus is backing its battery and module instals with what it claims are the UK’s best rates for buying homeowners’ unused, unstored electricity, made from light.  The retailer’s standard export tariff of 15 pence per kWh for unused, unstored power is three times higher than rivals’ offerings, the firm says.
More rewarding still is a variable alternative, a floating export tariff linked to market prices for wholesale electricity.
Agile Outgoing links a customer’s “spilled” generation via Kraken, the firm’s fulfilment platform into realtime trades. Between September 2021 and September 2022, customers on this tariff were paid 34p per kWh on average, the firm claims, with payments going up to £1.29 per kWh in the last year.
Octopus says its stable of installation technology and proprietary know-how now allows some properties to exist without energy bills. By installing the technology trio of on-roof panels, a suitcase-sized in-house battery and a heat pump, the firm says houses can become ‘Zero Bills’ properties.
Octopus views venturing into Britain’s now booming on-roof PV installation scene as filling in a gap. Its Energy Services division already connects up home EV chargers, air-source heat pumps and smart meters. (theenergyst)

Geothermal eligible for fifth UK contract for difference round
Geothermal technologies which generate electricity will be eligible for the next allocation round of the UK Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.
Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan, in a letter published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), noted that the Government continues to monitor progress of geothermal heating technologies, to understand better its potential as part of the UK’s energy mix.
On conclusion of the EAC’s work examining this issue, members argued that there is the potential to fulfil much of the UK’s heating needs using geothermal energy. 
The CfD scheme is the government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation.
The fifth allocation round is expected to open to new applicants in March 2023: the auction parameters for the round will be announced in January 2023. (renews)

photo: google

MPs to hear plan to get rural households to run heating on vegetable oil
A proposal to incentivise households in rural areas to run their heating systems on vegetable oil is to be put to parliament.
The former environment secretary George Eustice will introduce a bill proposing the removal of duties on renewable liquid heating fuels and incentives to replace kerosene in existing boilers.
It is estimated there are 1.7m UK households in rural communities using kerosene boilers. Under government plans, homes with “off-grid” gas connections will be banned from buying replacement boilers from 2026 and instead expected to install air source or ground source heat pump systems.
But Eustice, the Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, will on Wednesday argue in parliament that the costs involved in installing heat pumps in older rural properties present a “huge barrier”. Instead, Eustice said, kerosene oil boilers can run on “hydro-treated vegetable oil” (HVO) with a “minor adaptation” and reduce related greenhouse gas emissions by 88%. (guardian)

Clean Growth Fund invests in smart power socket company
UK venture capital fund the Clean Growth Fund has led a funding round that secured £4.5 million for startup technology company The company designs and manufactures smart, machine learning-enabled power sockets that it says reduces the energy costs of commercial buildings by more than 20%.
Clean Growth Fund (CGF) invested £2.5M in the company, alongside a suite of other investors, including Vectr7 Investment Partners LLP, RO Capital Partners (ROCP), and MMC Ventures. They join existing investor Bonheur ASA, the Norwegian-listed holding company for the Fred Olsen family, which has significant interests in the renewable energy and shipping sectors.
Founded in 2018, aims to eliminate waste energy that is not required by devices that are plugged in or directly wired. It says that devices such as printers, AV equipment, chilled or hot water taps, monitors or heaters are often left fully on or in standby mode overnight or when an office is not in use. It believes up to 40% of total electricity usage in most commercial office buildings can be attributed to this type of energy use. (newpower)


I suspect it is going to be an interesting year for the EV market. Demand is climbing the exponential growth curve, but some headwinds are appearing: Manufacturers are struggling to control costs and component supply, which has led to the date when EV’s become cheaper to buy than their equivalent ICE (internal combustion engine) models has been pushed back by a couple of years, possibly to 2027. Also the rollout of public charging facilities still looks to be lagging demand, especially on big driving days, witness the queues at chargers at Christmas. Deteriorating relations with China are an issue too.

However, despite these issues momentum is firmly with the EV sector, and two themes I predict will develop over 2023 are: first, the arrival of disruptive Chinese manufacturers into western markets will create competition and pricing pressure. Secondly I believe that the premium manuacturers, having been initially slow to react to the threat of Tesla, will start to lead technical developments within the sector, as has traditionally been the case. Mercedes have broken records for usable range and BMW, Audi and Porsche are all stepping up their efforts in EV’s

Porsche Macan to be first car on new platform
Porsche have been teasing an electric version of their best selling Macan mid-size SUV. It will be a significant car as it will be the first to run on the new VW/Audi/Porsche upscale EV platform called PPE. The teasers concentrate mostly on PPE, which will have 800V ultra rapid charging, plus “bank charging” which will allow the battery to split in order to allow more efficient charging on less rapid DC chargers. PPE boasts other innovations such as a power box which will house the A/C charger and DC/DC converters plus high voltage heater in one efficient unit. The rear motor will be placed behind the rear axle in a nod to the 911.
This taster is a clear indication that Porsche, encouraged by the success of the Taycan, are going to push hard on electric and are determined that the Macan EV will be a serious contender in the most commercial space in which they compete. (motortrend)

photo: Porsche


Novel floating wind turbine design to use recyclable aluminium
Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company, signed a Letter of Intent this week with compatriots World Wide Wind AS (WWW), a relative newcomer to the scene which has designed a novel offshore wind turbine design which uses a counter-rotating vertical axis turbine.
Founded in 2021, WWW’s floating offshore wind turbine uses two counter-rotating turbines which are tilted with the wind, similar to how a sail boat works. Requiring no nacelle, gears, cooling, or yaw, the company claims their turbine is scalable up to 40MW and up to 400-metres in height.
The new agreement with Norsk Hydro will see the two companies explore the use of aluminium in the design of its floating wind turbines. The goal of the two companies is to use sustainable and recyclable materials such as aluminium in the construction. (reneweconomy)

photo: World Wide Wind AS

The time is right for a Mercedes-Benz charging network
At CES 2023 in Las Vegas last week, Mercedes announced the creation of a bespoke charging network for its growing line of EVs — all-electric offerings that will make up the company’s entire portfolio by 2030.
The $1 billion initial investment, split with Mn8 Energy, will create an initial 400-plus charging sites across North America, with an eventual 2,000 sites globally offering 10,000 total chargers.
By way of context, that’s one quarter the size of Tesla’s current Supercharger network, a charging offering that has taken a decade to build.
TechCrunch spoke with Magnus Östberg, chief software officer, and Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer, for more details on why Mercedes is jumping into EV charging and it how it will execute its plan.
Schäfer said the final cost to build the network will total a “couple billion dollars” based on the scope of the initial investment (“you can do the math,” he said).
“We think it’s absolutely worthwhile,” he said during an interview at CES 2023. “If you’re an EV driver, you know what kind of experience you have, especially in the holidays and traveling with an EV. And that’s not Mercedes-like.”
Though the initial investment is steep, Schäfer said it’s just another big spend the company is prepared to make to own the EV space. (yahoo)


Almost all U.S. Drivers Could Cut Their Fuel Costs by Going Electric, Study Finds
Around 90 percent of U.S. households would save on fuel costs by buying an electric car rather than a gas-powered car, according to new research from the University of Michigan.
The study, which looked only at fuel costs and did not account for the cost of new cars, compared the price of gas with the price of electricity across the country, finding that 71 percent of U.S. drivers would see their fuel bills drop in half by switching to a new electric vehicle. Just 0.02 percent of drivers would see the same savings from buying a new gas-powered car.
Drivers in California, Washington, and New York would see the greatest fuel savings and the biggest emissions reductions from buying an EV — more than $600 a year in some places — owing to their cleaner power grids and the larger gap between the cost of electricity and the cost of gas in those places. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
While plug-in cars sport higher sticker prices, other research has found that, over their lifetimes, electric vehicles are generally cheaper than comparable gas-powered vehicles, owing to savings on fuel and maintenance. Newly expanded U.S. tax credits, which amount to $7,500 for qualifying new electric cars and $4,000 for used electric cars, are aimed at making EVs cost-competitive at the point of purchase. (yale360)
Read the study HERE

EPA methane proposal makes critical progress
This week, EPA is holding public hearings on its recently proposed methane standards for oil and gas operations, which build on the agency’s initial proposal and represent a significant step forward for reducing methane pollution across the country.
Federal standards are crucial for curbing methane emissions — human sources of which drive over one fourth of current global warming — and protecting frontline communities from smog-forming and toxic pollution.
EPA’s proposal builds on the foundation of past rules, state regulations, and the actions of leading operators to deliver cost-effective and protective standards. The agency’s actions also draw on input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from frontline communities and health groups to solution providers and large and small oil and gas companies, offered during last year’s public comment period.
The agency’s proposal makes major progress, including by ensuring monitoring occurs at all sites and seizing on advanced and zero-emitting technologies, but can be further strengthened in the final rule to reduce pollution from routine flaring.
Strong and speedy final standards will dramatically reduce methane and air pollution from the oil and gas sector, helping to safeguard the climate and protect communities across the country, especially when complemented by the Inflation Reduction Act’s Methane Emissions Reduction Program, MERP. (energycollective)

photo: Flikr

Tonga volcano eruption raises ‘imminent’ risk of temporary 1.5C breach
On 15 January 2022, an underwater volcano in Tonga – the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai – erupted violently, releasing billowing plumes of soot, water vapour and sulphur dioxide high into the atmosphere.
Major volcanic eruptions typically cool the planet temporarily, because, until they dissipate, sulphur dioxide particles reflect sunlight away from the planet. However, the study – published in Nature Climate Change – finds that the Tonga eruption in the south Pacific expelled an unprecedented amount of water into the atmosphere.
Water vapour is a greenhouse gas and so “it is possible that over a multiyear period Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai will cause a temporary increase in global surface temperatures”, the paper says.
The study says that, before the eruption, there was a 50-50 chance that global temperatures would exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels at least once by 2026. In its aftermath, the likelihood of exceeding this threshold has increased by seven percentage points – making “imminent 1.5C exceedance” more likely than not.
The authors stress that temporarily crossing the 1.5C threshold would not equate to missing the Paris Agreement target, which concerns long-term temperature trends. Nevertheless, the paper says “the first year which exceeds 1.5C will garner substantial media attention, even if a portion of this results from Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai”. (carbonbrief)

photo: Google


Swiss to unlock staggering potential in next-gen building blocks for solar
The race to develop the next generation of super-efficient solar panels has just taken a huge step forward with the Swiss top-end technologies group Meyer Burger forging strategic partnerships designed to pave the way to commercialising perovskite-based systems.
Together with CSEM (also from Switzerland), Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB), the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, and the Institute of Photovoltaics at the University of Stuttgart, the company is working on the industrialisation of “perovskite tandem technology”, which is expected to allow the industrial production of solar cells with efficiencies greater than 30%.
Meyer Burger’s plan is to mass produce silicon-based perovskite cells in-house together with appropriate solar modules using Meyer Burger’s proprietary SmartWire connection technology.
In a nutshell, perovskites are today regarded as a new class of semiconductors that emit and absorb light across the entire visible and infrared range. Their commercial potential is staggering. (energyvoice)