“Perfect is the enemy of good” was a quote attributed to Voltaire. Maybe he was dreaming of the Chinese ETS when he said it.

UK news

40 waste-to-hydrogen refuelling stations planned for the UK
Element 2 and Ways2H have joined forces to deliver as many as 40 waste-to-hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK as part of Element 2’s plans to deploy over 800 hydrogen pumps in the UK by 2027, and 2,000 by 2030.
Announcing the new partnership, the duo said they plan to collaborate on the production and distribution of renewable hydrogen fuel for public transit and other forms of transportation in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
Under such plans, the companies said they envision as many as 40 sites that will each provide 500kg to one tonne per day of renewable hydrogen fuel – enough for a heavy-duty truck, lorry or other heavy goods vehicles to cover 11,000 road kilometres.(h2-view)

Pivot Power opens first grid connected battery
The scheme is part of the £41m Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project, which integrates energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, low-carbon heating and smart energy management technologies. Its aim is to decarbonise Oxford by 2040 and create a blueprint for other towns and cities to achieve net-zero.
The 48MW/50MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system will be directly connected to National Grid’s high-voltage transmission system at the Cowley substation on the outskirts of Oxford. It is the first part of what will be the world’s largest hybrid battery, combining lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow systems, which is due to be fully operational later this year. The energy storage system will provide essential flexibility to cost-effectively integrate more renewables and increase system resilience.
Pivot Power, which is part of EDF Renewables, is developing the battery energy storage system together with an 8km private wire network, which will share the connection to the high-voltage transmission network and deliver large volumes of power to public and commercial EV charging locations across the city. The first of these will be the UK’s largest public charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride, which will feature 38 fast to ultra-rapid chargers when it opens later this year. (eandt)

photo: Pivot Power

Select Committee opens inquiry into Net Zero governance
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has launched an inquiry on net zero governance, to examine what leadership and co-ordination will be needed by government to reach net zero by 2050.
The Committee will consider the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s role in delivering net zero, how effectively BEIS is driving action across Whitehall and the role of devolved administrations and local and regional authorities.
The Committee wants written evidence by Friday 27 August on topics including:
• What are the key requirements for a governance structure that can deliver cross-government climate action at the pace, scale and over the duration required to meet the carbon budgets and the 2050 net zero target?
• What governance structures would enable HM Treasury to give greater priority to the net zero target and the carbon budgets in its financial and economic decisions?
• What signals and support does business need from the Government in order to deliver cross-economy decarbonisation? (newpower)

First recycled plastic railway sleepers laid on Network Rail tracks
Trains in Wiltshire are now running on top of old bottles, food packaging and other unwanted plastics, with the introduction of the first composite railway sleepers on Network Rail’s main line tracks.
Made from recycled plastic, engineers recently installed the environmentally-friendly technology across the weight-restricted Sherrington Viaduct, between Salisbury and Warminster. Previously, track across the viaduct would have had to be fitted with wooden sleepers, as concrete would have been too heavy for the structure. Sleepers sit on the ballast and hold up the rails, keeping them the correct distance apart.
From 31 July this year, creosote-treated softwood sleepers will be banned and the alternative is sleepers made with hardwood. Instead, the new sleepers are manufactured by Sicut Ltd in the UK using a blend of locally-sourced plastic waste that may otherwise end up at landfill. (railpro)

photo: Sicut

EV of the week

Alfa GTV to be reborn as electric performance car?
Autocar suggests that there are rumours that the newly created Stellantis, owner of the Peugeot/Citroen/Fiat merged entity are planning to reboot Alfa Romeo as a performance electric brand starting with a retro inspired four door coupe version of the iconic GTV. Sounds like a good way to showcase electric intent. A reminder below of the original GTV. If the EV looks half as good…


Porsche to design its own battery cells
Porsche is getting into battery cells for the first time as it invests in Customcells and creates a new company, Cellforce, with the battery cell manufacturer.
Porsche CEO Oliver Blume explained:
“The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future. As a new Porsche subsidiary, the Cellforce Group will be instrumental in driving forward the research, development, production and sale of high-performance battery cells. This joint venture allows us to position ourselves at the forefront of global competition in developing the most powerful battery cell and make it the link between the unmistakable Porsche driving experience and sustainability. This is how we shape the future of the sports car.”
Some car manufacturers prefer the supplier-buyer relationship while others are investing into their own battery cell production. It is now clear which approach Porsche is taking. (elektrek)

Bee-friendly urban wildflower meadows prove a hit with German city dwellers
The mini-wilderness on Baerwaldstrasse, in Berlin, is one of more than 100 wildflower meadows that have been planted in Germany’s largest cities over the past three years and are coming into full bloom this summer to transform urban landscapes.
Berlin has set aside €1.5m to seed and nurture more than 50 wild gardens over a five-year period, while Munich has set up about 30 meadows since 2018. There are similar initiatives in Stuttgart, Leipzig and Braunschweig. Hamburg, which started the trend in 2015, this month unveiled the first of a series of bee-friendly flower beds atop bus shelters.
The initiatives were met with some scepticism but the rain-heavy start to this year’s German summer has created a bloom so spectacular that many a doubter has been swayed. The organisers behind the scheme deliberately mixed in endangered flowers that take two years to come into their prime with populist Akzeptanzpflanzen (“acceptance plants”) like poppies and cornflowers, which blossom after only a year. Three years on, the full floral array is on display. (guardian)

Focus on: Quality of ESG Investing

How to do ESG due diligence and avoid greenwashing in portfolios
In fashion it is generally the case that whenever something becomes trendy, imitations appear, many of which are inferior to the original.
This applies to the investment management world as much as to anywhere else.
The story of recent years has been the emergence of investment products with a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.
And as with any trend, there has been a substantial increase in such products coming to market.
Wealth managers face a decision on how to identify those which genuinely are about ESG, rather than merely using the term as part of a marketing strategy.
Greenwashing is a genuine problem for fund pickers to monitor, says Nicolo Bragazza, investment analyst in the portfolio management team at Morningstar, because some investment firms and the companies in which they invest are becoming more aware of the need to be seen to compliant, presenting a challenge for an investor, to ensure thy only invest with the firms that are truly following the rules.
Peter Michaelis, head of the sustainable investment team at Liontrust, says there is a danger that the rise in the number of providers bringing ESG products to market increases the risk of greenwashed investment portfolios. (ftadviser)

Specialists launch Active Net Zero Clean Energy Index to tackle greenwashing
Longspur Research and Radnor Capital Partners have launched the Active Net Zero Clean Energy index to allow investors to measure the performance of companies actively enabling climate solutions.
The ‘Active Net Zero’ methodology has been pioneered by Longspur and Radnor to evaluate companies based on their actual performance towards the energy transition in a systematic, transparent and repeatable framework.
This pan-European index eliminates greenwashing by penalising fossil fuel activities and focuses on actual achievement and positive contribution, “rather than promises for the future”.
The Active Net Zero Clean Energy index represents the top 50 European clean energy and related companies that meet these stringent criteria, and is then adjusted for market capitalisation and liquidity. (investmentweek)

Eco – Transport hub

Transportation hub in Sweden has a futuristic, floating solar roof
The “floating” solar roof in Sweden’s Västerås Travel Center may be just an illusion, but the power it generates is entirely real. The design for the new transportation hub will include several other sustainability features, including rainwater recycling, and allow for better access to the city’s public transit stations. (inhabitat)

Global stuff

Will China’s emissions trading scheme help tackle climate change?
After a decade of preparation, China’s national emissions trading scheme (ETS) officially enters the operational phase in 2021, with trading due to start by the end of this month.
Despite only including the power sector in its initial phase this year, it is already the world’s largest ETS, overtaking the European Union’s ETS and covering nearly 15% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
President Xi’s “dual carbon” climate pledges give the strongest possible political signal of the need to peak and then rapidly cut the country’s CO2 emissions to zero.
China’s leader has repeatedly referred to the national ETS in the context of meeting his targets. Yet question marks remain over whether the ETS will actually help to cut emissions.
According to a joint report published by the IEA and Tsinghua Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy (Tsinghua 3E), the national ETS “could be an important market-based instrument to help the country meet its recently enhanced climate goals”.
Importantly, however, this conclusion relies on the assumption that the ETS is subject to gradually tighter benchmarks over time – something that has not yet been promised by Chinese regulators.
The IEA report found that the emissions impact of the ETS could be achieved without raising electricity prices, assuming it is coupled with power-sector reforms.
The ETS would be even more effective in terms of cutting emissions if some of the allowances were sold at auction rather than given away for free, according to the report. (carbonbrief)

Cotton-growing regions facing increased exposure to climate risks
New analysis has been commissioned by the Cotton 2040 initiative, which is facilitated by Forum for the Future and supported by Laudes Foundation. It warns that 50% of the world’s cotton-growing regions will face high temperatures, water scarcity and extreme weather events by 2040.
As such, Cotton 2040 is calling on companies that rely on cotton to improve climate adaptation and mitigation across the value chain, while also prioritising decarbonisation in an attempt to limit the impact of a changing climate.
The analysis found that 40% of growing regions will experience a decrease in “growing seasons” due to temperature increases. In fact, the six highest cotton-producing countries – India, the US, China, Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey – are exposed to increased climate risk.
Northwestern Africa, including nations like Sudan and Egypt, and western and Southern Asia are particularly at risk from climate-induced disruption. (edie)

Goldman Sachs launch Carbonomics, their Net-Zero roadmap
GS published this week two global models of de-carbonization by sector and technology, leveraging their Carbonomics cost curve. They present a scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep global warming well below 2°C, and a more aspirational path, aiming for global net zero by 2050, consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. They expect a cumulative US$56 tn of green infrastructure investments to net zero, reaching more than 2% of GDP by 2032 in the 1.5° scenario. Renewable power is at the heart of the energy transformation, supporting the abatement of c.50% of global CO2 emissions, leading global power demand to triple by 2050. However, a broader ecosystem of technologies will be needed: the hydrogen market could increase 7-fold by 2050, to more than 500 Mtpa, while carbon capture grows from c.40 MtCO2 currently to more than 7,000 MtCO2 pa, and carbon offsets (mostly natural sinks, but also Direct Air Carbon Capture) contribute c.15% of de-carbonization for the harder-to-abate sectors.
Interestingly under both scenarios GS see oil demand peaking in the mid-2020’s, but role of gas varies, playing a major role as a transitional fuel in the 2°C (see below) (gs)

Gabon Pitches New Funding Model to Protect Africa’s Rainforest
Gabon is the world’s second-most forested nation, yet its economy is almost fully reliant on revenues from oil extraction. Environment Minister Lee White hopes to turn some of its trees into a source of income so the country can cut its dependence on fossil fuels.
The government is working with the African Conservation Development Group, founded by Alan Bernstein to pitch Gabon’s forests as a green investment. ACDG has been given the right to use about 700,000 hectares of forest—about 3% of the country’s land—so it can be developed “sustainably.”
ACDG plans to declassify a third of the land as a logging concession, generating carbon offsets for protecting that forest in the process. Logging will take place on another third, but workers will harvest trees over a 25-year cycle and allow natural growth to exceed the amount of timber removed. The area will also contain a 100,000 hectare cattle ranch that will include wildlife conservation and tourism, a 23,000-hectare sugar plantation and a port for exports.
The livestock and forestry programs are underway, while the tourism operation and timber processing facility are expected to start next year. All told, the project is expected to cost as much as $250 million in its first five years. Bernstein thinks some of the money can be raised through a green bond, alongside traditional project finance and equity sales.
The plan isn’t to simply repay the green debt with profit from the activities. Instead, Bernstein said, they’ll use the carbon offsets to generate more revenue and use that to pay back part of the borrowed money, thus combining two finance mechanisms that have boomed in the climate age. (bloomberg)