I don’t tamper often with the format for Titbits, but have decided, at least for a while, to follow advice from a few sources suggesting that it might be preferable to put out the weekly some time other than Friday evening. I am therefore going to try running it on a Thursday, with an objective of sending it out between 2.30pm and 4pm.

I would be keen to hear any views either in favour or against this dramatic shift.

Company news

Faraday Grid lands £25m investment

Grid technology company Faraday Grid has received a £25m investment from billionaire businessman Adam Neumann, founder of shared workspaces firm WeWork.
The firm claims its technology enables power grids to accommodate vast levels of renewable generation, up to 80 per cent penetration. It intends to create intelligent, self balancing networks using ‘Faraday Exchangers’. These power flow control devices autonomously maintain voltage, frequency and power factor.
The company said it will use the money to fund global expansion and accelerate commercialisation of its exchangers. (theenergyst)

UK Power Networks puts ‘Big Battery’ up for sale

The 6MW/10MWh battery was connected at Leighton Buzzard in 2014, as part of an innovation trial.
The Smarter Network Storage project looked at how grid scale batteries could deliver ‘stacked’ or multiple commercial services to National Grid while also providing services to help distribution network operators (DNOs) manage load on their networks.
As its name implies, the battery is quite big, the size of three tennis courts, and when built was the largest of its kind in Europe.
Now the trial is over, UKPN has to sell the battery, because network operators are not allowed to own storage, which is classed as generation. (theenergyst)

UK news  

Nottingham aims to become first UK’s carbon-neutral city by 2028

The East Midlands city it can achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions through a mix of expanding public transport powered by renewables, installing solar panels on homes and reducing the number of cars on its roads. Her are some of the ways it hopes to achieve this:
– Its electric bus fleet is said to be one of the largest in Europe
– The 20-mile tram network, which includes a significant extension opened in 2015, runs on electricity from renewable sources.
– Traffic congestion has been tackled (controversially) by introducing a workplace parking levy in 2012. The proceeds have been used to improve cycling infrastructure.
– A network of electric vehicle charging points have also been installed
– Solar panels have been fitted on 4,500 homes across the city, as well as on council buildings and prominent sites such as the intu Victoria Centre shopping mall
– A further 400 houses have been retrofitted with energy-efficient measures through Remourban – a major Future Cities renewable energy demonstrator project backed by the EU
Nottingham energy supplier Enviro Energy has produced electricity from recycled waste.
Robin Hood would approve (compelo)

Water security: Newcastle University to lead a £20 million collaboration

Eighty per cent of the world’s population live in areas threatened by water security yet efforts to resolve this are repeatedly thwarted by pressures such as pollution, extreme weather, urbanisation, over-abstraction of groundwater and land degradation.
Now a major new project has been launched which brings together leading global experts from academia, industry and government to understand the true value of water and address the challenge of water security for all.
The project is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Starting in March, the Newcastle University led GCRF Water Security Hub will run for five years and also brings together leading research partners from Colombia (Universidad del Valle and Universidad del Cauca), Ethiopia (University of Addis Ababa), India (Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, School of Planning and Architecture Delhi), Malaysia (University Teknologi Malaysia), the UK (University of Leeds, University of Oxford), and the International Water Management Institute. (tyndallinstitute)

UK’s Greenest Military Base

RAF Marham in Norfolk has had a busy week on a number of fronts: This week marks the retirement after 40 years of their Tornado fleet, which has been marked by a number of flypasts, ceremonies etc. The base has also announced that it has signed a private wire supply agreement with Future Biogas, who run the nearby Redstow Renewables AD plant at Swaffham in Norfolk. The base will become the first UK military base to be supplied 100% by renewable energy.
Private wire agreements such as this are a win-win for all the counterperties. The base goes green and gets a discount off its electricity bill whilst the AD plant gets to sell electricity to a sizeable client at better than wholesale rates.

Undersea rocks could store power from wind farms

Britain could store enough renewable electricity to last through winter by creating vast reservoirs of compressed air under the North Sea, a study has suggested.
Researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde propose using electricity generated from wind and tidal power to force hundreds of millions of cubic metres of air into porous sandstone formations.
These undersea reservoirs of compressed air could be charged during the summer, with the air released during the depths of winter to drive turbines that would produce electricity when demand rose.
However, the costs would be steep. The study says that as many as 7,800 holes could be drilled in sandstone formations beneath the North Sea and Irish Sea to create the new air reservoirs, at a cost of between £12 million and £45 million each. By comparison, the North Sea oil industry took 40 years to drill about 11,000 wells.
Air would be compressed to pressures of up to 250 bar.
Julien Mouli-Castillo, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said that the technology could recover as much as 60 per cent of the energy that was pumped under the seabed. (times)

EV of the week

Kia Niro is first EV to win What Car? Car of the year

What Car? COTY is the big one for some reason, and a first win for an EV is highly significant. It is also the first time that the Korean firm Hyundai/Kia has got close to this prize. As the magazine says:
“Put simply, the e-Niro beats its rivals via knockout rather than on points, because it’s the first sensibly priced electric car that can fit into most people’s lives.
Its huge real-world range helps, allowing you to get to where you’re going without any fear that you’ll end up stranded by the roadside. But it also makes a very practical family car, comes loaded with luxuries and strikes just the right balance of comfort and composure.
In short, the Kia e-Niro is a stunning achievement.” (whatcar)


EU Commission report says UK has highest fossil fuel subsidies

The commission report warned that the total subsidies for coal, oil and gas across the EU remained at the same level as 2008. This is despite both the EU and G20 having long pledged to phase out the subsidies, which hamper the rapid transition to clean energy needed to fight climate change.
Germany provided the biggest energy subsidies, with €27bn for renewable energy, almost three times the €9.5bn given to fossil fuels. Spain and Italy also gave more subsidies to renewable energy than fossil fuels.
But along with the UK, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland all gave more to fossil fuels. The report is based on 2016 Eurostat data, the latest available, and found that across the EU renewable energy received 45% of subsidies and fossil fuels 33%.
A significant part of the UK fossil fuel subsidies identified by the commission is the 5% rate of VAT on domestic gas and electricity, cut from the standard 20%. The UK government did not dispute the data but denied that it provided any subsidies for fossil fuels under its own definition and that of the International Energy Agency.
This seems like a point of semantics. The WTO qualify reduced taxes as a subsidy as do Germany and Italy. When is a subsidy not a subsidy? (guardian)

VTT develops method to turn forestry waste into fuels, chemicals

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has developed a new technique based on gasification, which offers a sustainable way to turn forest industry byproducts, such as bark, sawdust and forestry waste, into transport fuels and chemicals. The new technique reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 90 percent compared to fossil fuels.
The new approach uses gasification to turn biomass into intermediate products—liquid hydrocarbons, methanol or methane—in production units integrated with communal district heating plants or forest industry power plants. The intermediate products are processed further in oil refineries to make renewable fuels or chemicals.
Approximately 55 percent of the energy content is turned into transport fuels and a further 20-25 percent can be used to provide district heating or to produce steam for industrial processes. (biomassmagazine)

Focus on: California’s Cap & Trade

UK sets sail towards cleaning up maritime emissions

The Maritime 2050 Strategy sets out the ambitions to remain a world-leader in the sector and enable the country to capitalise on the economic potential of maritime innovations.
It outlines a range of proposals, including the establishment of a Maritime Innovation Hub by 2030, to support new technologies while boosting regional productivity with new jobs.
The government also intends to introduce a Clean Maritime Plan later this year that will set out ways to ensure the UK leads the way in green standards to reach zero emission shipping “as quickly as possible”. (energylivenews)

Liquefied Hydrogen Bunker Vessel Designed

Moss Maritime, Equinor, Wilhelmsen and DNV GL have developed a design for a liquefied hydrogen bunker vessel.
Liquefied hydrogen at a temperature of -253°C is expected to offer advantages over pressurized hydrogen gas in relation to transportation costs. The project, sponsored by Innovation Norway, was launched to find solutions for storage and handling of this demanding fuel on a vessel.
The 9,000-cubic-meter vessel has been developed to provide liquefied hydrogen bunkering services to merchant ships in addition to open sea transport.
Once liquefied, hydrogen is reduced to 1/800th of its volume, compared to that of its gas phase, facilitating a more-efficient distribution. As a fuel, hydrogen does not release any CO2, and liquefied hydrogen can be used to charge batteries for electrical propulsion via fuel cell technology. (maritime-executive)

Eco-Irish rural retreat

Metal-clad Eco Cottage puts a modern spin on Irish rural architecture

Ballymoney-based sustainable architecture firm 2020 Architects has completed a new contemporary and low-energy home that offers a refreshing and sustainable take on the typical rural architecture found across Northern Ireland. Located in the coastal fishing village of Ardglass, the Black Cottage (also known as the Eco Cottage) champions low-cost construction and energy efficiency with its simple material palette and highly insulated timber frame. The project is clad in cost-effective black corrugated metal panels and offers a bright and welcoming environment indoors. (inhabitat)


First commercial flight to use fuel produced from saltwater tolerant plants

The fuel was produced by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) established by Masdar Institute, which operates a pilot facility in Abu Dhabi cultivating salt-tolerant halophyte plants that thrive in desert conditions and do not need fresh water or arable land to grow. The initiative is also intended to address food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process.
The research and demonstration project was first established nine years ago by founding partners Boeing, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP . Operations then began in March 2016 at a 2-hectare site in Masdar City to grow seafood and halophyte plants for sustainable aviation fuels. Since then, the SBRC partners have been collaborating on a comprehensive value chain centred around the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS). They claim it is the world’s first desert ecosystem designed to produce fuel and food in saltwater. (greenaironline)

Corporate America Is Getting Ready to Monetize Climate Change

Bank of America Corp. worries flooded homeowners will default on their mortgages. The Walt Disney Co. is concerned its theme parks will get too hot for vacationers, while AT&T Inc. fears hurricanes and wildfires may knock out its cell towers.
The Coca-Cola Co. wonders if there will still be enough water to make Coke.
As the Trump administration rolls back rules meant to curb global warming, new disclosures show that the country’s largest companies are already bracing for its effects. The documents reveal how widely climate change is expected to cascade through the economy — disrupting supply chains, disabling operations and driving away customers, but also offering new ways to make money.
The disclosures were collected by CDP, a U.K. based nonprofit that asks companies to report their environmental impact. Thirty U.S. based companies got an “A” grade, the most of any country; they include Apple Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Home Depot Inc. Next on the list were Japan, with 25 top-scoring companies, and France with 22. (bloomberg)

First phase of China’s biggest flow battery put into operation by VRB Energy

VRB Energy, a maker of flow batteries headquartered in Canada and owned by a metal resources and mining company, said the first phase of a 40MWh flow battery project in China has now been commissioned.
The company said that it has now successfully commissioned a 3MW / 12MWh vanadium redox flow battery energy storage project which represents Phase 1 of the Hubei Zaoyang Utility-scale Solar and Storage Integration Demonstration Project, set to be 10MW / 40MWh when completed. (energy-storagenews)

Techie corner

Graphene batteries that could last forever

A new type of graphene batteries could charge faster, run longer and last forever.
That’s according to graphite technology firm Saint Jean Carbon, which has announced it is to start building the first prototype of its graphene gel saltwater batteries.
The project aims to have a series of three full production batteries ready for launch in spring 2020, for use in small portable devices, large stationary storage applications and high energy density automotive models.
The firm says saltwater battery technology has been in research for about five years but added continued advancement has slowed due to relatively limited voltage capacity.
However, it claims with the use of graphene in a highly concentrated saltwater gel, the ‘wonder material’ can now be used without worrying about the graphene re-stacking.
It adds saltwater batteries are much safer, won’t burn and have significantly less raw material cost. (energylivenews)

Have a good weekend.