The top two stories suggest that there is a reasonable secondary market in renewable assets. More mature projects being sold into long term funds. That is encouraging.


NextEnergy Solar Fund to sell some PV farms to invest in storage
NextEnergy Solar Fund has announced plans to sell a 236MW portfolio of subsidy-free UK solar assets, the proceeds, saying it wants to “capture significant value” from the sale to be used to invest in “higher returning investment opportunities … such as energy storage”, reduce gearing and potentially buy back shares.
It has placed five solar farms – Hatherden, Whitecross, Staughton, The Grange and South Lowfield – on the market. It said it will retain two operational subsidy-free assets and “remains committed to its remaining subsidy-free solar pipeline”.  (newpower)

Macquarie sells stake in UK offshore wind portfolio
Infrastructure fund Macquarie Asset Management has sold a 50% stake in UK offshore wind farms to infrastructure investor Equitix, in partnership with  Orsted, Equinor and RWE. The deal comprises of eight operational offshore wind farms with a total of 2.4GW in capacity.
Included in the portfolio are direct stakes in the Rampion, Galloper, and Westermost Rough offshore wind farms, as well as indirect stakes in the Gwynt y Mor, Sheringham Shoal, Lincs, Lynn and Inner Dowsing, and Rhyl Flats offshore wind farms through a limited partnership share in the Macquarie Green Investment Group Renewable Energy Fund 1. (energylivenews)


Octopus and TAQA back huge UK-Morocco cable project
A massive cable project that will connect Morocco and the UK has closed a funding round, raising £30 million, after securing £25 million from Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) and £5 million from Octopus Energy Group.
The two companies have backed Xlinks’ plan to lay what is described as the world’s longest high-voltage direct current (HVDC) subsea cables between the UK and Morocco.
The project is predicted to generate 3.6GW of renewable energy-sourced electricity, nearly 8% of the UK’s current requirements and power seven million British homes by the end of the decade. (energylivenews)

Truck to extinguish electric vehicle and car park fires
Although electric vehicles are statistically less likely to catch fire than an internal combustion engine car, incidents involving a lithium-ion battery can be far more serious and difficult to extinguish.
Once a battery pack has been compromised by an accident or external fire, it can be difficult to tackle the resulting blaze as the energy contained with the cells is released, causing a ‘thermal runaway’. Previous ways of preventing this or fighting the fire involve extreme measures such as immersing the entire car in water for days in large bags or shipping containers.
A new, more practical way of tackling these incidents has been developed along with a new rapid intervention vehicle which can deliver the crew and equipment to locations where height may be limited, such as car park structures.
The basis of the Rapid Intervention Vehicle is the British-built HILOAD, engineered by Prospeed Motorsport in York. It uses a Toyota Hilux as a donor. With the replacement chassis and a torque splitter system, the 6×6 has rated 5,600kg Gross Vehicle Weight, which offers 3,000kg payload. That’s almost triple the standard 4×4 Hilux’s capacity, and the load-space is also extended by 1,230mm.
Among the other equipment which the increased payload helps carry, the HILOAD can be fitted with the Coldcut Cobra system for extinguishing EV battery fires.
The Cobra Ultra High Pressure Lance (UHPL) system uses an abrasive suspended in water to pierce a hole through floor pans and inject water at 300bar – more than 100 times the pressure of the air in a typical car tyre – throughout the module casing . This water cools directly inside the battery and thus prevents propagation and further possibility of a thermal runaway. (electriccarsreport)

photo: Prospeed

UK’s ‘largest’ solar and battery storage project begins construction
The UK’s “largest” solar and battery energy storage project, Cleve Hill Solar Park, has started construction, Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners confirmed.
The specialist global investment manager revealed the Kent-based project, which consists of 373MW of solar and “more than “150MW of battery energy storage, is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2024.
The £450 million solar park – a joint venture originally between Hive Energy and Wirsol before being acquired by Quinbrook in 2021 – was the first in the UK to be classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) due to its scale.In July 2022, Quinbrook announced the successful award of a 15-year Contract for Difference (CfD) in the UK’s latest CfD allocation auction to support financing for the project. This contract award was the “largest received by a UK solar project”, the firm said, as part of the biggest-ever round of the UK government’s flagship auction scheme. (solarpowerportal)


Two interesting launches at the Shanghai Auto Show

BYD Seagull – little car with a big impact
Anyone who follows the EV world, or this column, will know that BYD are a rising power in EV’s. They have overtaken Tesla as the biggest seller and are now making inroads across many markets outside China. The launch this week of the Seagull, a small City EV, has caused a big stir. BYD took 10,000 orders within an hour of the pre-sales opening. This reinforces what everyone in the market knows, namely that there is huge demand for small, cheap electric transport, mainly for urban use.
The proposition to the Chinese market is that the top model in the range will do 250 miles to a charge and cost not much over £10,000. I am sure the price once it makes it to the UK will be nearly double that, but still is likely to be a compelling proposition to many.

Photo: MIIT

Polestar shows off the Polestar 4
As befits their Chinese ownership, Polestar are also releasing new models fast. Hot on the heals of the big SUV Polestar 3 comes the 4 which is a mid-size “coupe SUV” (not long ago that would have been a contradiction in terms). It will look very chic, inside and out and will show great performance. A couple of features worth noting: it has no rear window, so depends on cameras for all rear vision and Polestar have opted to keep the driver in a cockpit rather than opening out the space between driver and passenger as many EV’s do.

Photo: Polestar


European deal for Brenmiller hot rocks storage solution
Brenmiller Energy has signed a non-binding term sheet with an unnamed ‘Leading Global Clean Energy Utility Partner’ and developer Green Enesys Group for nine projects totalling 2GWh of thermal energy storage capacity.
The company’s solution, bGen, charges by heating rocks and discharges by releasing the accumulated heat to heat pressurised water and generate steam for electricity.
Under the agreement, Brenmiller’s bGen units will be built at its gigawatt-scale production facility in Israel. Once the first projects have been deployed the parties may join forces to build-out a manufacturing facility in Europe. (energy-storagenews)

photo: Brenmiller

FOCUS ON: UK Government and Energy Transition

UK to reveal plan for faster grid connections
Conservative MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosbie, asked ministers what steps were being taken to facilitate these connections for new clean energy projects.
In response, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart explained that the government is working with Ofgem and network companies to release network capacity and improve the connections process.
To further this effort, the Electricity System Operator is currently seeking expressions of interest from developers who are willing to connect earlier than their allocated date by 30th April 2023.
Stuart said: “The government will publish a Connections Action Plan in the summer, which will articulate actions by the government, Ofgem and network companies to accelerate network connections, including for renewable energy and battery storage projects.”
The plan is expected to play a critical role in ensuring that the UK’s energy infrastructure is up to the task of meeting the country’s energy needs in a sustainable manner. (energylivenews)

UK Government to face High Court challenge over oil and gas expansion plans
Uplift and Greenpeace are challenging the decision, made under Liz Truss, on the basis that the emissions generated from the consented projects would undermine the UK’s legally binding commitment to net-zero by 2050 and its signing of the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change.
The crux of their arguments are that the Government has not properly assessed the greenhouse gas emissions from burning any oil and gas extracted from fields permitted under new licences.
Ministers are also being accused of failing to listen to its independent climate advisory body, the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The CCC stated in early 2022 that the Government’s climate “stress tests” for oil and gas projects are not sufficient. It urged the Government to consider a formal presumption against exploration, meaning that the vast majority of new licences would not be granted.
The North Sea Transition Authority began the controversial licencing round in October 2022 and it is expected to conclude in June. More than 100 new licences are on the table. While the round was decided under Truss, her successor Rishi Sunak’s Government has continued to support measures to expand oil and gas in the near-term. (edie)

UK investment in clean energy transition falls 10%, bucking global trend
Investment in clean energy and the low-carbon economy fell sharply in the UK last year, even as rival nations were increasing their firepower in the global green race, data shows.
The UK’s investment in the energy transition fell by 10%, from $31bn to $28bn, from 2021 to 2022, while similar investment in the US rose by about 24% to $141bn, and in Germany by 17% to $55bn.
Across the EU, investment in the energy transition away from fossil fuels rose by $26bn last year, to $180bn, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (guardian)

Tory former net zero tsar calls for halt to Rosebank North Sea oil project
The government’s former “net zero tsar” has urged ministers to halt the development of the Rosebank oilfield in the North Sea, or risk destroying the UK’s credibility on the climate crisis.
Chris Skidmore, the influential Tory MP who led the review of the UK’s climate goals, writes in the Guardian on Tuesday of his concern that the development could derail net zero.
Skidmore told the Guardian: “There is no such thing as a new net zero oilfield. Approving Rosebank would undermine UK claims to climate leadership on the world stage, undermine what the climate science tells us and undermine our efforts to achieve a net zero Britain by mid-century. To enhance our energy security, the government must say no to Rosebank, and instead give the green light to energy efficiency, rooftop solar, onshore wind and other forms of clean energy supply.”
Skidmore, a former energy and science minister, is the first Conservative MP to openly oppose the Rosebank project. (guardian)


Museum in Belgium recycles construction waste into bricks
Ryhove Museum Ghent is a lovely 18th century town mansion in Belgium that connects with a newer wing built in 1992 and a third wing named Leten House that dates all the way back to the 16th century. To expand on this and make the addition sustainable, designers from Carmody Groarke, RE-ST and TRANS Architectuur Stedenbouw have collaborated to create a way to blend styles while making construction of the new wing.sustainable. Bricks will be built from recycled construction waste, and the new building will have much more transparent façade to welcome visitors in and engage the public in a modern, welcoming style of museum. (inhabitat)

photo: Carmody Groarke


Tata Steel starts hydrogen blast furnace tests
Tata Steel has begun tests for injecting hydrogen into its blast furnace, to cut the carbon emissions of production.
The Indian company is hopeful the pilot will show that metallurgical coke usage can be reduced by using the gas.
It released a statement reading: “This is the first time in the world that such a large quantity of hydrogen gas is being continuously injected in a blast furnace.”
The firm projects that injecting hydrogen will see a 10% reduction in the carbon emissions per tonnes of crude steel made at its plant in Jamshedpur. (futurenetzero)

Australia demonstrates more renewables = lower energy prices
Australia’s record levels of renewable energy helped extend the slide in wholesale power prices in the first three months of 2023, displacing fossil fuels and sending carbon emissions from the sector to new lows for the first quarter.
The latest energy dynamics report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) showed wholesale spot prices in the national electricity market (NEM) averaged $83/MWh, down more than a 10th from the December quarter and two-thirds lower than the record average $264/MWh in the June quarter last year.
Rooftop solar output alone averaged almost 3GW for the March quarter, up 23% from a year earlier. That increase contributed to a drop in “operational demand” in the NEM to an average of 14.38GW, or the lowest since 2005. Low demand records were set in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. (guardian)

photo: Michael Coghlan / flickr


Carbfix’s innovative approach to CCS
Carbfix are an Icelandic Geothermal company and they have developed a simple approach to storing captured CO2 in basalt rock at their geothermal sites. Thi is how it works in the company’s words:
“Vast quantities of carbon are naturally stored in rocks. Carbfix imitates and accelerates these natural processes, where carbon dioxide is dissolved in water and interacts with reactive rock formations, such as basalts, to form stable minerals providing a permanent and safe carbon sink. The Carbfix process captures and permanently removes CO2. The technology provides a complete carbon capture and injection solution, where CO2 dissolved in water – a sparkling water of sorts – is injected into the subsurface where it reacts with favourable rock formations to form solid carbonate minerals via natural processes in about 2 years. For the Carbfix technology to work, one needs to meet three requirements: favorable rocks, water, and a source of carbon dioxide.
The company have recently announced a couple of deals:
The Coda Terminal will be a cross-border carbon transport and storage hub in Straumsvík. CO2 captured from industrial firms will be shipped to the terminal to be dissolved in water before being injected into basalt bedrock. The operations, scaled up in steps, are set to reach up to 3 mtpa of CO2 from 2031.
The Silverstone project, coordinated by Carbfix, will deploy commercial-scale CO2 capture, dissolve CO2 in water and inject it into underground basalt rock for mineral storage in the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, near Mount Hengill.
Silverstone will capture and store about 25,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. It is expected to start up in the first quarter of 2025. (company website)

photo: Carbfix