Looking forward to seeing the Microlino 2.0 on our streets

Company news

Highview Power Closes Growth Capital Funding Round
Highview Power, the liquid air cryogenic storage company, has closed its Growth Capital round of funding with over $70 million, bringing the total amount of funding and grants the company has secured to date to over $145 million. The Growth Capital round includes the previously announced $46 million investment from Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI) and additional investments from strategic investors Janus Continental Group (JCG) and TSK, along with a $5.5 million contribution from the original and founding investors.
This round of funding enables Highview Power to continue its aggressive global expansion and rapidly moves additional projects into the commercialization phase. Highview Power is entering the new year with a late-stage pipeline of over 4GWh of projects across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. This is in addition to the current 700MWh of projects currently under development. (renewableenergymagazine)

photo: Highview Power

UK news

Unspent funds in £2 billion Green Homes Grant to be scrapped
Any of the initial £2 billion promised for the Green Homes Grant that goes unspent this year will not be rolled over.
This was confirmed by energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan in a parliamentary answer, with Trevelyan stating that this original funding was announced as a “short term stimulus for use in the 2020/21 financial year only”.
Whilst there will be £320 million of funding that is available for the scheme in 2021/22 – with this being announced in the 2020 Spending Review – the scheme itself has been plagued with problems and delays in accessing funding
Earlier this month the Environmental Audit Committee warned that at the current rate, it will take ten years to meet the government’s target, with only 20,000 vouchers issued out of a total of 600,000 on offer. This followed evidence coming to light that many installers are yet to be paid for their work and members of the public are waiting months to be issued vouchers. (solarpowerportal)

Government confirms carbon trading plans
The government has published further details about its plans for the UK’s new emissions trading scheme (ETS), after Ministers controversially decided to exit the EU scheme.
As expected the new domestic carbon market is expected to largely mirror the EU ETS, which British companies have taken part in since its launch over a decade ago. However, the new document confirms one major change from earlier proposals, with the reserve price for allowances sold at auction increasing by nearly 50 per cent to £22 a tonne.
The move comes as carbon prices through the EU ETS continued to rally, hitting a record high of €40 a tonne this week.
The BEIS update also confirmed the scheme will cover the same businesses as are covered by the EU ETS and that free allocations of allowances will continue to certain industries so as to reduce the risk of ‘carbon leakage’. (businessgreen)
Read the full guidance HERE

Octopus to launch Centre for Net Zero
Octopus Energy, which recently hit a $2bn valuation, today launches The Octopus Centre for Net Zero (OCNZ) – an ‘entech’-led research organisation which will create models and policy recommendations for potential paths to a green energy future.
The OCNZ will combine energy tech data, economic analysis and behavioural insights to develop the tools that policy makers and businesses around the world need to accelerate the uptake of clean technologies and green energy. Aiming to boost knowledge transfer between countries and industry leaders, OCNZ will make its technology publicly available to grow a global community of collaborators.
The research centre will bring together an unrivalled, interdisciplinary team of experts from data science, econometrics, behavioural science and climate policy to find answers to the most pressing issues in energy. Although funded by Octopus Energy, the OCNZ will be independent of Octopus Energy and have full autonomy over its work. Its initial research will focus on two of the UK’s most carbon heavy sectors, residential heating and transport, which together accounted for 53% of overall carbon emissions in 2019.
The OCNZ will be headed up by Lucy Yu, an accomplished business leader with 15 years of experience in building groundbreaking tech teams and advising governments and international organisations on policy issues. (theenergyst)

Green hydrogen trialled at Port Talbot cement factory
A green hydrogen unit has been installed at an industrial factory for construction materials in Port Talbot, as part of a research project to explore how the zero carbon technology could be used to replace fossil fuels in concrete and cement production.
Construction materials supplier Hanson UK announced yesterday it has teamed up with researchers at Swansea University to install the hydrogen demonstration unit at the blast furnace facility in South Wales, where the firm produces a cement-replacement material used in concrete. (businessgreen)

photo: Hanson

EV of the week

Microlino 2.0 set for September launch
I reported with excitement that the BMW Isetta “bubble car” was to be reborn as the Microlino a Swiss enterprise helmed by the team behind Micro scooters. They saw a gap in the market between bike and car for urban use and adopted the shape and style of the iconic Isetta. Plenty of excitement was generated when the concept was first shown but that presaged wrangles over manufacturing and during the delay a reconfiguration to Microlino 2.0 which is stronger, more stable and now ready for launch in September this year.
Apart from being indelibly cute the Microlino 2.0 will run for 80 or 120 miles depending on battery choice, can park across a parking bay and has a top speed of 55mph and will cost from €12,000.

photos: Microlino


Vestas launches 15MW offshore wind turbine
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems has unveiled the world’s new largest offshore wind turbine, a 15MW behemoth with a massive swept area in excess of 43,000 m2. This will allow Vestas to leapfrog Siemens Gamesa (14MW) and GE Renewable Energy’s 14MW turbines as the largest in the world.
With the wind industry’s largest rotor with the highest nominal rating, the turbine offers a capacity factor of over 60% and generates a 65% higher annual energy production than the company’s previous largest turbine, the V174-9.5 MW, and for a 900 MW wind park it boosts production by five percent with 34 fewer turbines. (reneweconomy)

photo: Vestas

Green Genius To Invest Over €100 Million To Create Solar Parks In Poland
Green Genius, a renewable energy company that is a part of an international group of companies known as the Modus Group, has sunny ambitions for Poland. At the end of last year, it won two auctions for solar power plant projects with a total capacity of 79 megawatts. Along with these, the company plans to build solar power plants with a total capacity of 32 megawatts this year. In total, Green Genius aims to install new solar power plants with a total capacity of 154 megawatts in Poland “in the near future.”
The total investment in all of the planned and already implemented projects is over €100 million.
Poland’s solar power capacity jumped tremendously last year, from 1.5 gigawatts (GW) in 2019 to 3.7 GW in 2020. (cleantechnica)

Focus on: Oil majors’ carbon strategies

Shell’s new plan tests investors’ green resolve
Royal Dutch Shell is presenting investors with a choice. While BP’s long-term strategy envisages major reductions in oil output and big pivots to renewable energy, its Anglo-Dutch counterpart on Thursday set out a much more business-as-usual plan. Which one prevails will say something about the two hitherto-similar oil majors, but also the true preoccupations of their shareholders.
Talk of a great divide might seem exaggerated. After all, Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden’s target to eliminate carbon emissions per unit of energy by 2050 is analogous to BP boss Bernard Looney’s goal. Indeed, Shell is arguably being more ambitious because the British company, for example, excludes emissions from its stake in Russian giant Rosneft. The difference, however, is how the two CEOs envisage arriving at their destination.
BP plans to cut oil and gas production by 40% by 2030, and hike generation of wind and solar power 20-fold to 50 gigawatts. Shell’s oil output will only fall 1% to 2% a year, implying a total cut of roughly 15% at the mid-point of the range. And while Van Beurden will spend around a tenth of annual capital investment of $19 billion to $22 billion on renewables, he’s not setting any capacity targets.
The problem is that Shell is assuming a major future intervention. Its plan requires the amount of emissions removed from the atmosphere via so-called carbon capture and storage facilities to grow fivefold to 25 million tonnes by 2035, along with 120 million tonnes of carbon to be absorbed by “nature-based solutions” like planting trees. ESG purists dislike carbon capture because it is untested at scale and requires state subsidies. And they’re suspicious of carbon offsets because accounting for the schemes can be opaque.
Shell’s plan may not be enough for some: Aviva Investors last week said it could sell shares in slow-moving carbon emitters. But Van Beurden’s relatively oil-heavy stance will test investors’ green resolve. (reuters/breakingviews)

Global stuff

Flywheel tech helps ease grid demands of EV fast-charging
Although true flywheel-based kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) never quite caught on in racing or in production hybrids, a company in Israel has been working on putting the technology to use where it could make a big difference: EV fast-charging stations.
The flywheels Chakratec uses for charging stations weigh about 330 pounds each and they’re housed in canisters where they’re suspended in a vacuum. The great mass of one canister unit allows two shorter-range EVs to be fast-charged to 80% simultaneously as the flywheel “spins down,” after which the unit requires about 45 minutes to get back up to its ideal/top speed.
With flywheel technology—which the company terms a kinetic battery—the company allows the deployment of fast-charging stations anywhere. It doesn’t require big batteries because the energy storage is all accomplished mechanically.
The company says that the solution is a greener one. It will last 20 years and enable roughly 200,000 charge and discharge cycles—far better than today’s assumed cycle life for batteries
Chakratec claims that it currently has Škoda, Blink, and Enel X as clients and units in use in Germany and the Czech Republic. (greencarreports)

photo: Chakratec

Tesla to get tax credit on 400,000 more electric cars in the US
EV sales were incentivised in the US through a $7,000 tax credit up until a manufacturer reached 200,000 sales, after which the credit was wound down. This was at first a boost to Tesla and GM, the market leaders as it helped drive early adopter sales. However as both passed the magic 200,000 hurdle their cars became less competitive than new entrants.
It is not surprising that the new administration, having promised to drive adoption of EV’s, is looking once more at the incentive. They have now introduced the GREEN Bill (Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now). This will raise the threshold for the credit to 600,000 after which the phaseout will occur.
This can only be good news for Tesla and GM, although there may be something of an interregnum whilst the democrats force the bill through the legislation process. (elektrek)

Techie corner

C-Zero Raises $11.5M to Scale up ‘Turquoise Hydrogen’ Technology
The newswires are awash with stories debating the merits of Green or Blue Hydrogen as a key to decarbonising the parts of the economy that renewable electricity can’t reach. Most readers will by now know that Green Hydrogen is created by electrolysis of water, but catalysts are expensive and Blue Hydrogen is via methane reforming with CCS.
Maybe there is a third way: methane pyrolysis, that had earned the moniker of ‘turquoise’ for merging blue and green. That’s the target of C-Zero, a startup that’s won the backing of venture capital investors to take its approach from lab tests to pilot plant scale. On Tuesday the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company announced an $11.5 million Series A round led by Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Eni Next, the venture investing arm of Italian oil company Eni. Other investors included AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
C-Zero’s chosen method of methane pyrolysis, a high-temperature process to convert methane into hydrogen gas and solid carbon in the presence of a catalyst. That carbon can be “bound” in a solid form, avoiding grey hydrogen’s emissions and blue hydrogen’s technical and cost challenges of capturing it as a gas.
C-Zero are taking on some big players who are also looking at Turquoise hydrogen, but their differentiator is that they are not looking to use the carbon by-product, they are concentrating solely on extracting the cheapest hydrogen possible. Currently C-Zero estimate that they could produce hydrogen at around $1.50 per kg whilst the very best that Green Hydrogen can boast is $4 per kg. (gtm)