Two record breaking equity fundraising announcements in Europe this week. Impressive

Company news

Paris-based Ÿnsect wins funding for first fully automated insect-based protein plant

Paris-based Ÿnsect aims to become the world leader in insect-based protein production for animal and fish feed. In February, Ÿnsect raised a €110 million Series C round – the largest funding round to date in an agtech startup outside of the US. The startup promises to present a more sustainable alternative to protein sources such as soy, which takes up large amounts of land, soil, and water resources to produce.

Today, Ÿnsect is officially launching the first fully-automated industrial facility to produce premium insect protein. The project, called FARMYNG is based in the city of Amiens in northern France, and receiving €20 million in investment from the European Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU). Ÿnsect is the first French company to win an EU-backed project on such a scale.

FARMYNG will produce insects called Tenebrio Molitor (below) on an industrial scale, which can be used as premium proteins for animal feed and fertilizers. This will be the first time that bio-based proteins are produced on an industrial scale, to meet ever-increasing global demand. (eu-startups)

Northvolt Raises $1 Billion: Announces JV With Volkswagen

June 12, 2019 was a big day for Northvolt, which completed a huge €900 million equity capital raise, led by Volkswagen Group and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division alongside BMW Group, AMF, Folksam Group and IMAS Foundation.

The Swedish company intends to build lithium-ion factories in Europe – first in Sweden, and through a new joint venture with Volkswagen, another one in Germany.

The construction of phase one of the giga-factory is further secured by a debt round, with the EIB acting as cornerstone and by the fact that Northvolt have pre-sold a significant amount of the production to major customers. The order book stands at $13bn. (insideevs)

UK news

‘Super battery’ for Scottish Power’s Whitelee wind farm

A huge “super battery” will be built on the site of the UK’s largest wind farm, after plans were approved by the Scottish government. It will store power generated by the 215 turbines at Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, near Glasgow. Scottish Power, which operates the wind farm, said the battery storage site would be the size of half a football pitch. Its planned capacity will make it largest wind farm battery in the UK.

The energy firm said the facility would support the National Grid in maintaining the resilience and stability of the electricity grid, even when the wind is not blowing. It will be able to achieve full charge in less than half an hour. The battery can been fully discharged or used in bursts as and when required to keep the electricity network stable by balancing supply and demand. (bbc)

The UK Government’s net-zero commitment: What happens next?

While details regarding how the UK plans to reach net-zero emissions remain to be set out, the Government has confirmed that it will, broadly, follow the CCC’s framework, which No 10 has agreed could be delivered using between 1-2% of GDP in 2050. However, the Government’s plans will deviate from the CCC recommendations through the use of international carbon credits. It is also widely expected that the Government will not adopt the CCC’s recommendation of bringing its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2035 or sooner. Moreover, most experts believe that the Government will not make any amendments to the upcoming fourth and fifth carbon budgets in order to spur faster progress towards the new 2050 goal. The UK is currently well off-track to meeting the targets laid out in these budgets, largely due to slow progress in decarbonising sectors such as transport and heat, and has, controversially, agreed to carry forward emissions reductions which have already taken place in a bid to rectify this trend.

In the longer term, by 2025, the third carbon budget will be distant history, having expired in 2022, and the UK will be working within its fourth (2023-2027) carbon budget. If this is to happen, there are a number of policy gaps that will need to be “plugged”, across areas ranging from transport and heat to emissions trading. However, if no countries follow the UK example, the UK will legally be allowed to revoke its net-zero legislation and revert to the Climate Change Act’s original target. (edie)

Then there were five: Fiddler’s Ferry coal power plant to close

The UK’s journey away from fossil fuels gathered steam yesterday with SSE’s announcement of plans to close another coal-fired power station, leaving just five coal plants operational across the country. SSE said it will close its last coal-fired power station, Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire, by March 31 2020.

The firm said the move was shaped by the UK government’s commitment to end unabated coal-fired generation by 2025 and its move this week to legally adopt a net-zero emissions target for 2050. (businesgreen)

BP Chargemaster bolsters charging range with new 150kW unit

BP Chargemaster has unveiled its new 150kW ultra-fast charger, which is to start being deployed across its Polar network. Dubbed the Ultracharge 150, the charging point features both CCS and CHAdeMO connectors and will be capable of providing some 100 miles of range in 10 minutes. The charging infrastructure owner also moved to confirm plans to deploy the chargers at BP forecourts throughout the UK over the next two years. (current-news)

** Last week I suggested that the end date for RHI accreditation had been moved forward. The end date for RHI accreditation for commissioned systems is still 30 March 2021.  What has changed is the Tariff Guarantee Scheme for systems over 1MW which was due to close to commissioned systems on Jan 31 2020 which has now been moved to Jan 31 2021.

EV of the week

Workhorse secure funding

Workhorse Group have raised 25m from institutional investors which will be sufficient to put their NGEN last mile delivery vehicle into production and satisfy their order backlog (electriccarsreport)


Voltalis looks to be a leader in Demand Response

The Paris-based company, founded in 2006, aggregates and manages behind-the-meter customer assets. It monitors electrical appliances in homes and offices and delivers reliable, dependable, low-cost demand response (DR) services to the grid operator and/or to the wholesale market, as well as in the specific capacity mechanism. The company has attracted roughly 100,000 customers amounting to 300 MW of inexpensive capacity aggregated from roughly a million electrical appliances mainly in homes, but also in commercial premises, offices and various public and municipal buildings.

Voltalis installs the monitoring devices and manages them free of charge. Customers share the flexibility of their consumption – which Voltalis aggregates and operates at scale without inconveniencing them. It sells these services to the grid operator and/or in the wholesale market, which provides a revenue stream. It is a win-win-win with benefits for all three.
Initially, the French network operator, Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE), agreed to test the scheme’s proof of concept in a trial. After a successful pilot project, where Voltalis demonstrated that it could effectively and reliably deliver capacity on demand, it gained confidence in the business model and the underlying technology. Voltalis’ distributed demand response accounted for more than 80% of the DR volume in the French market last year. (cleantechnica)

Power to the people: how Spanish cities took control of energy

In Andalucía, José María González was re-elected mayor of Cádiz last month having swept to power in 2015 on the same tide that brought Colau to office, with energy as a central issue in his campaign. Cádiz and Barcelona have set themselves up as distributors, cutting out the middle man, and have begun installing solar panels on public buildings with the aim of becoming self-sufficient.

The city is an anomaly in that it has its own power company, Eléctrica de Cádiz, founded in 1929, in which the council holds a 55% stake. Since 2017 it has supplied all municipal needs and about 80% of households with energy from renewable sources. About 40% of Andalucía’s power is produced by renewables, from windfarms and vast solar arrays such as those at San Roque, whose 67,000 panels rotate to follow the sun, and the innovative PS10 plant near Seville.

Cádiz is an ancient city but its elegant squares obscure the fact that it is the poorest province in Andalucía, Spain’s poorest region, and one of the most impoverished in the European Union. A quarter of the city’s population are unemployed. Under González, €500,000 of the profits generated by Eléctrica de Cádiz is used to prevent “energy poverty” among the city’s most disadvantaged, whereas other companies simply cut off the supply to those who cannot afford to pay.

In wealthy Catalonia, Barcelona has also taken energy matters into its hands. When the power company that supplied the city failed to bid to renew its €33m contract last year, the council decided to set up Barcelona Energia (BE), to buy certified renewable energy direct from source. (guardian)

EDF wins 600MW Dunkirk offshore wind farm

A consortium led by EDF Renouvelables, with Innogy and Enbridge has been awarded the rights to develop the 600MW Dunkirk Round 3 offshore wind farm off the coast of France.

The joint venture will receive less than €50 per megawatt-hour for 20 years, French Environment Minister Francois de Rugy said during a speech in the town of Saint-Nazaire today. This is believed to be a record low for France. (renews)

Focus on: Hydrogen

IEA hydrogen report

Hydrogen, which has been touted as the fuel of the future much of the past five decades, may finally be on the verge of converting its potential to reality.

Governments, automakers and even oil and gas giants are part of a growing coalition pushing a larger role for the fuel as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions while still providing reliable electricity to a growing population and powering complex industrial processes, the International Energy Agency said in a report

The report underscores the challenges — existing production techniques are polluting and costly, while the gas itself is volatile and highly flammable — as the energy industry responds to increasingly urgent calls to decarbonize amid doomsday climate change scenarios. Policies must be put in place now to support early investments needed to reduce costs and scale up the industry, the agency recommended.

The IEA has suggested ways to push the market forward, including:
– Supporting research and development to bring down costs and creating financial vehicles to offset the risk of early investors
– Focusing first on increasing use at industrial ports, where existing production is concentrated, and on transport fleets along popular routes
– Launching international hydrogen trade routes (bloomberg)

Download the report HERE


Hydrogen station explodes

A hydrogen refueling station exploded in Norway on Monday and the company operating the station has suspended operation at its other locations following the explosion.

Does this spell the end of fuel cell hydrogen vehicles as a “zero-emission” alternative? The Uno-X hydrogen station in Sandvika in Bærum exploded on Monday and resulted in two injuries in a nearby non-fuel cell vehicle.
According to the police, the explosion was strong enough that it activated the airbags in the vehicle without any impact. The cause of the explosion is currently unknown and the rest of the refueling network is being shut down. (elektrek)

*Toyota & Hyundai have suspended sales of Fuel Cell vehicles in Norway pending the enquiry, but as of now do not expect to stop selling their FCEV’s

Off-grid guest house of the week

Off-grid guest house

London/West Indies based architects Blee Halligan have adopted a novel approach to restoring a French ruin. Accessible only by an un-made track, this little building provides guest accommodation for an historic water mill in the Languedoc region of the South of France. The entire building was designed to be transported to site in a single trip from London, in a luton transit van.

The building sought to retain the beauty of the crumbling stone ruin by placing a separate insulated timber structure within it. It was built entirely from Douglas Fir, with an Iroko structure, which was easily adaptable once on site to suit the idiosyncracies of the ruin’s stone walls. All the clay roof tiles were salvaged and cleaned for reuse from the collapsed historic structure and part of the existing building was completely rebuilt with back-fill pointing to retain its ruinous quality.

Internally, a bedroom is heated with a woodburning stove, located in an old doorway, which also heats the water to an en-suite bathroom. The building is insulated with sheeps wool and  benefits from an array of photovoltaic panels. It is an entirely off-grid structure, that sits quietly in the wilderness. (BleeHalligan)


Iowa officials consider energy storage tax credit

Global renewables jobs ‘hit 11 million’
The renewable energy industry employed 11 million people around the world last year, according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA said in its ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review’ that 10.3 million people were employed in the sector in 2017. The increase in jobs came despite slower sector growth in key markets, such as China, the report added. IRENA said the diversification of the renewable energy supply chain is changing the sector’s geographic footprint. It said until recently renewable energy industries have remained relatively concentrated in a handful of major markets, such as China, the EU and the US. However, east and south-east Asian countries have emerged alongside China as major exporters of solar photovoltaic panels. Countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, were responsible for a greater share of growth in renewables jobs last year, with Asia as a whole maintaining a 60% share of clean power jobs worldwide. (renews)

Iowa economic development officials are tentatively endorsing a tax credit for battery storage to complement the state’s wind and solar generation. The tax credit is one of several recommendations made in a recent report on energy storage opportunities by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Others include targeting grant money and conducting additional research, including a “value of storage” analysis.

The new report suggests tethering a state storage tax credit to a proposed federal tax credit. The Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act, introduced in the U.S. House in April, would offer electric storage systems the same 30% investment tax credit now available for solar photovoltaic systems. (renewableenergyworld)

Techie corner

Carbon-neutral fuel made from sunlight and air

Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a novel technology that produces liquid hydrocarbon fuels exclusively from sunlight and air. For the first time worldwide they demonstrate the entire thermochemical process chain under real field conditions. The new solar mini-refinery is located on the roof of ETH’s Machine Laboratory building in Zurich. ETH researchers have developed a solar plant to produce synthetic liquid fuels that release as much CO2 during their combustion as previously extracted from the air for their production. CO2 and water are extracted directly from ambient air and split using solar energy. This process yields syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is subsequently processed into kerosene, methanol or other hydrocarbons.

These drop-in fuels are ready for use in the existing global transport infrastructure.The solar mini-refinery on the roof of ETH Zurich proves that the technology is feasible, even under the climate conditions prevalent in Zurich. It produces around one decilitre of fuel per day. Steinfeld and his group are already working on a large-scale test of their solar reactor in a solar tower near Madrid, which is carried out within the scope of the EU project sun-to-liquid.The next project goal is to scale the technology for industrial implementation and make it economically competitive. (sciencedaily)


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