It feels like there is endless talk in our industry of “transitions” and “tipping points”. However, imagine our surprise when POTUS (can’t bring myself to say his name) steps up and almost acknowledges the issues relating to Climate Change (he still can’t bring himself to say it). Give it six months and he will be claiming it was all his idea.

Company news

ITM Power partners with Open Energi to cut costs of low-carbon hydrogen production

Hydrogen producer ITM Power has today announced a new partnership with Open Energi, which will see hydrogen production at ITM’s UK sites tied to electricity prices.

Open Energi has linked ITM’s six hydrogen electrolysers to its ‘Dynamic Demand’ platform, so production times will automatically match with periods when the electricity price is at relatively low levels.
ITM produces hydrogen by electrolysis, which is typically an energy-hungry process but which also enables the production of ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of renewable power.

By running production when the supply of clean power is plentiful – and costs are therefore low – ITM Power and Open Energi say they will reduce the overall cost of hydrogen production and maximise emissions savings. (businessgreen)

UK news

Hydrogen Facility to Test Use in UK Homes

A hydrogen testing facility has been opened in Buxton, Derbyshire, to demonstrate whether hydrogen can be used in place of natural gas in millions of homes across the country. Critical safety tests will be conducted at the facility, the purpose of which is to establish that it is as safe as natural gas. The project is part of H21, a suite of gas industry projects designed to support conversion of the UK gas networks to carry 100% hydrogen.

The UK government has made a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and, therefore, policies are urgently required to achieve that goal. Around 30% of UK carbon emissions are from the heating of homes, businesses, and industry, making heat a prime target for emissions cuts. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is due to publish a ‘low-carbon gas’ consultation later this year. (alphaenergy)

CCC: UK has just 18 months to avoid ’embarrassment’ over climate inaction

The UK government only has 12-18 months left to raise its game on climate policy, or risk “embarrassment” as the likely host of the COP26 UN summit late next year. That’s the message from the latest annual Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report, submitted to parliament and government, which says the time to strengthen policy is “now”. Rapid cuts in emissions over the past five years have masked a lack of underlying progress towards the UK’s longer-term climate goals, the CCC report says.

From the average CO2 emissions of new cars to the number of lofts insulated or the hectares of forest planted, just seven of 24 on-the-ground indicators are on track, the committee says.

The government’s own projections reflect this situation, suggesting the UK will miss its existing carbon targets by a significant margin, as shown in the chart, below. Indeed, the latest projections show the gap has widened over the past year. (carbonbrief)

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Engenie lands £35m Cube investment, plans 2,000 rapid EV chargers

Engenie has secured £35m in backing from infrastructure investor Cube. The company will use the funds to rollout 2,000 rapid electric vehicle chargers over the next five years.

CEO Ian Johnstone said the rollout will be “fairly linear” out to 2024. The company is installing chargers at 200 sites for pubco Marston’s and Johnstone said other deals with local authorities and retailers are in the pipeline.

Engenie’s model, said Johnstone, “is all around taking the time to select the best site, that will enjoy the highest usage in the future when we achieve mass adoption [of electric vehicles].” He said that was what helped convince Cube to invest, given the timing risk around EV charging infrastructure utilisation in a nascent market. (theenergyst)

E.ON Transitions 3.3 Million Customers To 100% Renewable Electricity At No Extra Cost

German electric utility E.ON, one of the UK’s largest renewable energy generators, announced Tuesday that it had transitioned all of its residential customers in Britain to 100% renewable electricity at no extra cost, a move which now provides more than 3.3 million British households with 100% renewable electricity.The move comes on the heels of a survey of electricity customers which showed that more than three-in-five Brits (61% to be specific) not already on a renewable energy tariff would be likely to change to a renewable electricity supplier if at a reasonable price. (cleantechnica)

EV of the week

Two minis in one week

In Europe

Mini announces that it is to start taking orders on the MINI Electric. It is competitively priced at £24,000 after Plug-in grant). It is designed for city use so has a comparatively small 32.6kWh battery which should be good for 140 miles of range. This helps to keep the performance lively and the weight down, thus delivering the traditional MINI “fun factor” (cleantechnica)

In China

In case the new electric Mini Cooper SE isn’t small enough for some buyers, Mini plans to build an even smaller electric car in China, based on its 2011 Rocketman concept. British auto magazine Autocar learned that the company plans to team up with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors to build an electric city car smaller than the Cooper SE.

The electric Rocketman concept could share a platform with the Great Wall Ora R1, which is under 11.5 feet long, and less than 5.5 feet wide. A senior official with Mini’s German parent, BMW, revealed to Autocar that the new Rocketman would be built by Spotlight Automotive, a new joint venture between the two automakers in China, though he said the decision has not been finalized. (greencarreports)


Swedish study suggests high levels Li-ion battery recycling in Asia

Lithium-ion batteries are far more widely recycled than many people think, while China and South Korea are already leaders of the emerging circular economy of lithium, a report commissioned by the Swedish Energy Agency has found.

An often-cited figure is that “5% of lithium-ion batteries are recycled”, when in fact this statistic, taken originally from a Friends of the Earth research report, is itself now nine years old, yet has been repeated over the years. The new report’s author, Hans Eric Melin, a consultant with UK-based Circular Energy Storage, was hired by the Swedish Energy Agency, which is part of the country’s Ministry of Environment and Energy and in charge of administering battery research funding.

Melin told that many misconceptions and poor observations are made and repeated around lithium recycling. Melin said that more than 70% of lithium-ion batteries recycled today are processed in China and South Korea, with “high” recovery rates of materials. recently also spoke with Kunal Phalpher at Canada-based recycler Li-Cycle, who argued that 100% recycling rates are achievable for lithium batteries of many types. (energy-storagenews)

Focus on: The key battleground gas vs renewables

Gas is struggling to compete against coal and oil

There have been those (including Titbits) warning that the Shale Gas miracle is built on a mountain of debt, which will eventually collapse it.

Now one of the key insiders has joined the chorus. Steve Schlotterbeck, former CEO of drilling company EQT told an industry conference the following:
“…There will be a reckoning and the only question is whether it happens in a controlled manner or whether it comes as an unexpected shock to the system.” These comments were part of a larger presentation in which he laid out the scale of financial failure associated with fracking for natural gas and oil.

Right now, natural gas prices are artificially low because fracking companies have been producing record amounts of natural gas at a loss. As Schlotterbeck points out, this is an unsustainable business model. But it has supplied natural gas consumers with artificially cheap energy, giving natural gas a competitive edge over the dying coal and nuclear power industries.

But as the next Titbit explains, even at these prices gas can’t now compete with renewables (desmoblog)

New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin. Later this month the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners is expected to approve a 25-year contract that will serve 7 percent of the city’s electricity demand at 1.997¢/kwh for solar energy and 1.3¢ for power from batteries.

Mark Z. Jacobson, the Stanford professor who developed roadmaps for transitioning 139 countries to 100 percent renewables, hailed the development on Twitter Friday, saying, “Goodnight #naturalgas, goodnight #coal, goodnight #nuclear.” (forbes)

The project is expected to receive Note to Proceed with Construction in later 2022, with first installed capacity able to deliver in April of 2023, and a guaranteed commercial operation date of the last day of 2023. The presenting team noted that the project would represent approximately 5% of the LADWP RPS goal (below image) of 100% clean electricity by 2050. (p-vmagazine)

Sustainable luxury holiday cottage

Château La Coste adds a solar-powered cottage

Chateâu La Coste is known as one of the world’s most innovative art and architectural escapes. Located in fairytale-esque Provence, the 600-acre property is comprised of biodynamic vineyards and a winery designed by architect Jean Nouvel, among countless works of art and designs by other notable names. Now, the famed Chateâu has added another incredible property: a solar-powered luxury suite inside a refurbished Jean Prouvé-designed one-room shelter. (inhabitat)


Kenya’s first coal plant construction paused in climate victory

Plans for the 981MW station, backed by a Chinese-led consortium, are in limbo after Kenyan judges revoked the environmental licence at the end of June. They ruled the authorities had failed to carry out a rigorous environmental assessment and to inform local people of potential impacts.

Environmental campaigners – who took Amu Power and the Kenyan National Environment Management Authority to court over the station – hailed the ruling as a victory for grassroots lobbying. They had argued that the adverse effect the plant would have on local fishermen and farmland had not been considered.

Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, in a meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan this week, called on Kenya to revise the environmental assessments of the coal plant and to consider the potential impact of pollution on the “fragile” stone buildings of Lamu old town, a 14th-century tourist destination and world heritage site. If Kenya fails to submit a new environmental impact statement by February 2020, Lamu could be added to its list of world heritage sites in danger, the committee said. (guardian)

Chinese Thermal Coal Demand Set To Fall With Launch Of New Power Transmission Line

The new ultra-high voltage transmission line, stretching 3,324 kilometers  from the Xinjiang province in Western China, through the Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, and Henan provinces, before ending in the Anhui province city of Xuancheng, in the country’s east.

The new transmission line, with a voltage of 1,100 Kilovolts (kV), is designed to transmit 66 billion kWh each year, according to Xinhua News, the state-run Chinese news agency, which reported the news last week. It is believed that the majority of the electricity to be transmitted will stem from the Zhundong coal-fired power plant in northern Xinjiang, which has an installed power generation capacity of 28 GW.

The expected reduction in coal, while unclear in all English-based reporting, seems to stem from the difference between locally-generated coal-fired electricity and imported thermal coal generation. By transmitting electricity from an already coal-heavy area of China, which presumably is not utilizing the entirety of what is generated, coal demand on the other side of the country will decrease. (cleantechnica)

U.S. produces more waste and recycles less than other developed countries

Compared to the rest of the world, the waste and recycling stats in the U.S. just can’t compete. Although the U.S. is just 4 percent of the world’s total population, the country produces 12 percent of the total solid waste of 2.1 billion tons per year. When researchers from the global risk firm Verisk Maplecroft compared the numbers, they found that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in terms of its capacity to handle and recycle waste.

The average American generates 1,700 pounds of trash every year, including 234 pounds of plastic waste. That’s three times more than what the Chinese produce and seven times more than Ethiopians. But the problem isn’t just waste generation — what happens to all the waste is where the U.S. is embarrassingly behind the times.

On average, the U.S. is able to recycle 35 percent of all solid waste produced. Germany, in the lead for recycling efficiency, is able to recycle 68 percent of all waste. (inhabitat)

Global Clean Energy Investment Down 14% in First Half of 2019

A 39% drop in Chinese investments in renewable energy sent global investment in new projects down by 14% to $117.6 billion in the first half of 2019. That’s the lowest investment level since the second half of 2013. Total investment in the United States and in Europe also dropped by 6% and 4%, respectively.

The data was reported Wednesday by Bloomberg NEF, which noted that the sharp decline in Chinese spending followed a government decision to shift from mandated tariffs to an auction system for electricity from new solar and wind capacity. China’s first-half investment in clean energy dropped from around $47 billion in the second half of 2018 to $28.8 billion, its lowest level since 2013. (24/7wallst)

Techie Corner

No hot new tech this week but a quick glance a few of the excellent and worthy companies presenting at the equally excellent Ashden Awards recently:

NEF and Energiesprong

A retrofit for social housing that applies factory made cladding plus solar etc to allow a cost effective and near instant makeover for some of the UK’s most energy inefficient properties.

Enjoy Waltham Forest

A scheme pioneered by the council involving road redesign, cycle storage and bike training that is helping make the borough safer and cleaner

Micro anaerobic digestion for off-grid smallholders in Africa, Asia and South America. The biogas generated is fed direct to cookers and the digetate improves farm yields. Win-win

SMV Green Solutions

Electric rickshaws leased with fair contracts, based in Varanasi. Cleans the air and saves the lags/knees of drivers. Their Vahini Project encourages female drivers, which helps female passengers feel secure

Alcaldia de Medellin

The City of Medellin’s Green Corridors project which has planted millions of trees into what were empty parts of the city. Benefits include the city losing the tag of most dangerous on earth and the average temperature has dropped by a couple of degrees Celsius. It has also created many gardening jobs


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