Electric Car FAQ & Answers — UK Edition

Cars

Published on December 31st, 2017 | by Andy Miles

December 31st, 2017 by


The Hazards of Charging up in Public Places

If, like me, you charge up your vehicle in public places, I am sure you will be familiar with what I am about to describe. I do my public charging at motorway service areas here in the UK. These are always busy. The car park is always nearly full, and there is a constant stream of people moving towards and away from the main doors, which lead to and from the restaurants, shops, and other public facilities.

The Ecotricity chargers are very prominent, not tucked out of the way in some obscure corner, so anyone charging up is very much on public exhibition. There are various looks one might get from the passers-by. Some look vaguely curious. Some look, but avert their eyes, as if they did not want to be seen to be interested. Some look vaguely hostile; the sort of reaction you might get while drinking orange juice in a public house — you know the way it is, as if daring to be different is being openly critical of them. In both cases, I am just doing what I need to do, and want to do, which is, in this case, to get on with plugging in my car and charging up so that I can then join all the others walking towards the doors and enjoy the rest facilities.

Inevitably, however, there always seems to be one, whose curious looks increase, coupled with hesitant walking towards where I am. I wonder which question they will ask first, I ask myself.

Charging Time

“How long does it take to charge up?”

I usually answer this one with a question of my own.

“How long are you staying for?”

“Oh, about 20 min, or half an hour, I suppose, just to have a break and a cup of tea.”

“Well, that is about how long it takes to charge up. As soon as I get here, I just plug my car into the charger, here, go for a break for about 20 min or so, and when I get back, it’s charged up, and ready to go.”

“Oh, that’s not too bad, is it?”

“No, and I don’t have to fuel up afterwards as something additional, as you might be doing if your fuel is low.”

Charging Cost

“And how much does it cost to charge up, then?”

I spare them the complexities of explaining the different rates according to whether you are an Ecotricity customer or not, and try to explain it in a way that they can best relate to.

“You would be lucky on the motorway to get more than 50 mpg, and as a gallon is about 5L and a litre is about £1.20 on average, to do 50 miles will cost you at least £6. For me to charge up to add 50 miles of range, that costs me only £1.”

While I am on the subject of costs, I usually choose this moment to mention other cost advantages, just to drive home the point.

“The VED (Vehicle Excise Duty, or ‘Road Tax’, as we often call it) is nil, insurance is about the same as for a similar size of ICE car, and as for servicing,” (pregnant pause here), “I have to have the motor coolant changed every 20 years, and every year, I have to get the pollen filter changed. Because of regenerative braking, the brake pads last forever. There is no oil and filter, no air filter, clutch, exhaust, spark plugs, timing belt, etc., etc., to replace, and no expensive engine and gearbox to wear out.”

Battery Replacement

“Um, very cheap then, but I’ve heard the batteries don’t last long, and cost a fortune to replace.”

“Well, they last a lot longer than people expected. Now that we have some EVs that have actually done big mileages, the estimates have been revised, a lot. For example, there is a Nissan Leaf taxi in the UK that has done over 100,000 miles with no significant loss of battery performance. The batteries don’t go ‘dud’, in any case, but just very gradually reduce in capacity. A battery is said to be ‘spent’ when the capacity has fallen to 80% or less, but whether the owner considers it ‘spent’ depends on how much they are bothered by having 80% of the original range.

As for the price of replacement, batteries are less than half of the original price now and could fall even more, so by the time you need a replacement, it might be very cheap. Also, your ‘spent’ battery, having 80% capacity, has a resale value, as it can typically be used for grid storage or home power storage.”

Now, generally, by this time, people are probably wishing they had never asked, and, for the sake of this story, I am beginning to amalgamate several different people into one, as no one asks all of these questions, but I will continue as if this is the one person in existence who has an absolutely insatiable appetite for information about EVs, and charging.

Reliability

“So, are they reliable?”

“Yes, very reliable. Where an engine and gearbox have thousands of moving parts to break down or wear out, all you have with these is a battery, a motor, or motors, and a control system for charging up the battery and powering the motor. Apart from that, it’s just like any other car with brakes, wheel bearings, tyres, and usually some kind of simple reduction gear between the motor and the wheels. Electric motors are extraordinarily reliable, and with all the complexity done away with, you can expect an electric vehicle to be super-reliable.”

Range

“How far will it go on a single charge?”

That depends on a lot of variables. This car that I am driving, a Peugeot Ion, was one of the first of the current batch of electric vehicles, and also one of the smallest that you could still call a proper car, rather than a golf cart, and it only has a range of about 60 to 70 miles, depending on how you drive it. It’s also one of the cheapest to buy, and more expensive ones have a range of anything up to 335 miles. New vehicles coming out now typically have double the battery capacity and will do from 150 up to 300 miles, again mainly depending on how much you pay. Even my car, with a relatively short range, will cover most of the journeys I make simply from a charge done at home. I only have to use the charger, as here, for longer journeys. So, although it’s more convenient to have a longer range for these longer journeys, most of the time it’s not very relevant and the amount of money I’m saving, and the amount of pollution I’m no longer causing, are much more important.”

Charging Bigger Battery Packs

“If I bought a car with a much bigger battery capacity, would that mean that it would take a lot longer to charge up?”

“Not really. The way to think of it is that this car has a 16 kWh battery pack, but if it had a 32 kWh battery pack, charging it could be like charging two 16 kWh battery packs at the same time, and so, need not take any longer. The charging station here is a sophisticated device, as is the charging controller in the car, and the two communicate with each other to determine the optimum charging current at any given time. A bigger battery pack will accept a bigger charging current, and the only limitation really is the maximum current the charging station is able to supply. Theoretically, the battery could be charged up much faster than it actually is, but the rate is conservatively controlled to protect the battery from any damage that could be caused by charging too quickly at too high a current. According to Dale Vince, the fellow who put all of these chargers into these service areas, he will be installing chargers next year with 7 times the capacity of these, which could add a 100 miles of range in only 5 mins, so charging up an EV would then be much like filling up a petrol or diesel car, and much cleaner and more pleasant to do.”

EV Prices

“So, what sort of price do EVs come at?”

“This one is one of the cheapest, and you could probably get one for about £3000 now, but they are a bit rare. In the UK the most common second-hand EVs are the Nissan Leaf, which you can get for around £5,000 right up to £16,000 depending on how new they are and how many miles they’ve covered. There is a new Leaf coming out in February, but that is about £24,000 new, has twice the battery capacity, will do at least 150 miles on a full charge, and has autonomous driving features that will park the car for you and keep you safer on the road. I bet there will be plenty of the older Leaf coming onto the second-hand market then. You can get a Renault Zoe cheaper, but they have their batteries on lease, so you are having to pay £50 to £70 per month for the battery, but you can get a replacement, or even an upgraded battery, without having to pay up-front. Then, you have the more expensive band, such as the BMW i3, a Tesla, etc., where prices are from around £18,000 upwards. It’s best to look on Autotrader or similar sites and enter a fuel type of “electric.” There are hundreds for sale at a huge range of prices.”

Green or Not?

“I’ve heard people say that EVs create just as much pollution as any other car: it’s just emitted in manufacture, and at power stations.”

“That is pure fossil-fuel propaganda. In the UK, if you use a mixture of the power sources available, an EV will emit half the CO2 of an ICE car over a 15-year period, and that does not include nitrous oxide and particulates, which make an EV even better. This Ecotricity charger is supplied with 100% renewable energy, and most EV drivers will charge up at home with 100% renewable electricity, so you are looking at close to zero emissions. I also read some propaganda about EVs producing more particulates because they are “heavier,” but that is also nonsense. My little Ion is way lighter than the average ICE car, and particulates come from the brake pads, which EVs don’t use very much because of regenerative braking. EVs are the future, and even now are much nicer to drive than an ICE car.”

Decision Time

“So, do you think you will be buying one?”

“Yes, I’ll definitely be looking into it.”

They go back to whatever they were doing before, and having done my bit to spread the word about green energy and EVs, I finish getting my car plugged in so that its batteries will be getting charged while I recharge my own “batteries” by a visit to the rest facilities and a nice cup of tea.

Originally published on EV Obsession.


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About the Author

As a child at school, I had the unrealistic expectation that I would learn about, and understand, absolutely everything, during the course of growing up. Now, at the other end of life, I am fully aware of how much I have not learnt, and do not understand, and yet, I remain interested in everything. My education, starting with an arts degree, and going on to postgraduate studies, in everything from computer science, to hypnotism, reflected my broad interests. For work, I ended up working as a senior officer in local government, and built my career on being a legal eagle for the obscure branch of law, governing the work of my department. I am retired now, and am currently living in North Leicestershire in the United Kingdom, with plenty of time for doing whatever I like. I have always had a keen interest in everything alternative, which includes renewable energy and energy efficiency and, of course, electric vehicles. So, naturally, I have taken ownership of an EV, now that they are affordable and practical forms of transport. Writing is also one of my great pleasures, with various articles and a novel to my name, so writing about EVs is a natural evolution for me.




Scottish economy can be a green giant – but only if UK helps us out

Scotland could have the greenest domestic heating, transport and industrial manufacturing in the world in a move that would consolidate the country’s bid to be a superpower for renewable energy generation.

Academics claim achieving the goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050 hinges on repurposing the country’s oil and gas infrastructure, developing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) network and converting the gas grid from methane natural gas to hydrogen.

Hydrogen emits no climate-warming carbon dioxide if produced using surplus renewable energy or alongside CCS, and can be used to heat homes as well as power vehicles.

CCS involves removing carbon dioxide emissions from “dirty” operations such as the petrochemicals processing and fossil-fuel power stations and permanently locking them away in depleted oil wells.

All this sounds like a massive undertaking, but scientists and engineers believe Scotland is uniquely positioned to make the vision a reality – and within the next two years.

But they insist action must be taken now, before decommissioning of depleted North Sea oil fields begins, or the opportunity will be lost.

The Scottish Government this week unveiled the country’s first energy strategy, which requires 50 per cent of all energy to come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

It also contains a pledge to continue supporting innovation in the oil and gas sector, including decommissioning and carbon capture and storage.

However, support from UK ministers is crucial.

“If Westminster is serious about being a UK government then it needs to act now and strengthen its recent Clean Growth Strategy, which supports CCS but lacks urgency or financial commitment,” said Stuart Haszeldine, professor of CCS at Edinburgh University and director of research partnership Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage.

“CCS is the best way of delivering low-cost, low-carbon heat to citizens with minimum disruption.”

Scotland has huge capacity for storing carbon dioxide in offshore rock formations, having 35 per cent of all potential sites in Europe.

Analysts suggests this new industry could create billions of pounds a year in value and growth from 2025 onwards.

But plans hit a major setback when Westminster scrapped a £1 billion competition aimed at developing CCS in the UK. It prompted energy giant Shell to mothball a major project in Peterhead.

Haszeldine and his colleagues believe Scotland could establish a new industry based on storing carbon dioxide imported from overseas neighbours.


Andy Yuill: Heating Scotland in a warming world

Personal taxation and public services have been dominating discussions since the Scottish Government laid out their budget plans for the next year. And for good reason, with historic changes being made.

For those of us who have an interest in low-carbon energy, and specifically in low-carbon heating, there was a very interesting and welcome announcement from the Scottish Finance Secretary, who pledged investment of £137 million for energy-efficiency measures and decarbonisation of heat in 2018-19.

So what does this actually mean? It may surprise many that the largest use of energy in Scotland, and also the major source of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, is not electricity generation or transport. It is the heat we use in our homes and industries. Energy used in the form of heat is greater than electricity and transport combined. Great strides have been made in recent years to increase the amount of electricity from renewable sources, yet only five per cent of our heat comes from renewables.

Since 2011, there has been a UK-wide support scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Despite the scheme successfully kick-starting the adoption of renewable heat from a near standing start, the majority of this has been in areas of low housing density or in agricultural industries off the gas grid.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Climate change progress possible without Trump

While this is good, if we are to make a meaningful impact on emissions from heating then we need to look at the fundamentals.

If the RHI got us started down the path, what is going to get us further along to the point where our homes are heated from sustainable low-emission sources?

The answer is a complex one since there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is no golden technology that will address all the issues. To hit green goals will require our buildings and industries to be more heat-efficient. We will have to recover waste heat from industry and deliver it to homes using district heating networks. We must also find ways to harness new sources of heat, such as deep geothermal and recovered heat from abandoned mine workings. To do all this we first need to further develop knowledge and understanding among those responsible for our built environment. We then need to invest in pilot projects to demonstrate what is possible, to learn how best to apply existing technology in the Scottish context and to allow people to come and see what can be achieved in the delivery of low-carbon heat.

READ MORE: Project generating heat from sewers given funding boost

A lot of valuable work has already taken place in this area. There has been specific funding to build the knowledge and capacity of local authorities to identify opportunities for district heating. Pilot schemes have received backing to support their development from initial concept through the difficult stages of feasibility to shovel-ready projects, and matched funding has been put in place to support projects in securing private investment.

The new funding announced in the budget is designed to do just that, with £60m available to deliver innovative low-carbon energy infrastructure and further cash to support pilot projects.

This road is well travelled and the end goal of decarbonised heat is achievable. Our Scandinavian neighbours are already making big headway, with 70 per cent of heat in Sweden coming from renewable sources. This funding is well placed to help Scotland achieve the same result.

Andy Yuill is senior renewable heat manager at independent green energy and infrastructure consultancy Natural Power


Top Electric Cars In USA vs. Top Electric Cars In Europe — Comparisons & Thoughts

Cars

Published on December 23rd, 2017 | by James Ayre

December 23rd, 2017 by


There are some significant differences with regard to the plug-in electric vehicles that sell the best in Europe and those that sell the best in the USA. While differences with regard to range needs and costs are part of the drivers for these differences (note that the average European drives approximately half as much as the average American over the course of a year), they are by no means the only ones. Questions of national bias, government incentives, and public image all come into play as well, amongst others.

What this article proposes to do is provide a direct comparison of the best-selling plug-in electric vehicles in Europe and the best-selling plug-in electric vehicles in the US (as of the first 9–10 months of 2017) — analyzing the differences and providing possible reasons for the discrepancies.

Top Electric Cars In USA Vs. Top Electric Cars In Europe

Place your bets now if you don’t already know these facts…

Top-Selling Plug-In Electric Vehicles In Europe (First 9 Months Of 2017)

1. Renault Zoe
2. BMW i3
3. Nissan Leaf
4. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
5. Tesla Model S

The thing to keep in mind when dealing with plug-in electric vehicle sales trends is that, since aspects of the technology are still improving so rapidly (battery tech in particular), when it’s announced that an upcoming model year will possess a greatly improved range, or a lower price, sales of the current model year generally fall off a cliff.

So, when that’s taken into consideration, it’s best to not take the sales figures of individual months too seriously, but rather to look at broader sales trends. The rankings listed here reflect that for a decent period of time — you could go further and do this for a period of a few years.

All of that said, as you can see above, the Renault Zoe is listed as being the top selling electric vehicle model in Europe, with the sales total in the market for the first 9 months of 2017 being around 24,000 — some 9,000 higher than those of the runner up. So, it seems fair to say that the Renault Zoe is the undisputed sales leader in Europe — even if recent months have seen the Tesla Model S, the Tesla Model X, and the Volkswagen e-Golf do quite well and gain ground on the model.

So, why is the Renault Zoe the best selling electric car in Europe? Why does it sell better than Tesla’s offerings? Well, it’s noteworthy here that Tesla’s sales in Europe are reportedly production constrained, not demand constrained. Also, the only major market that Renault sells the Zoe in is Europe, whereas Tesla sells globally (and moves quite a lot of units by that metric).

It’s also noteworthy, though, that the Renault Zoe is a much more affordable car by most people’s standards than the Tesla Model S or Model X. While people wait for the Model 3, the Model S and Model X are just too far out of the price range of an average buyer. Another key factor is likely the large size of the Tesla Model S (and the Model X, for that matter). The Renault Zoe, being a much smaller car, is better suited to navigate the tiny, old streets of some European cities.

It’ll be interesting in that regard to see how well the Tesla Model 3 ends up selling in Europe, once the company finally manages to raise production to the point of meeting demand (whenever that is). It’s a smaller car than the Model S and is much cheaper, but it’s still considerably larger than a Renault Zoe and is more expensive (a bit more or a lot more, depending on options and trims).

Other reasons for the strong performance of the Renault in Europe include the fact that most people prefer to buy products that are made in their own countries (prestige items aside). France is the top market for the Renault Zoe, for instance, and it has had fairly strong EV policies and thus uptake. If France wasn’t supporting EVs, the Renault Zoe would surely have much lower sales (and might not exist). On the other hand, the Renault Zoe itself may be one reason for strong EV policies in the country.

National allegiance applies to our number 2 spot holder as well, the BMW i3. The i3 is a German car made by a German manufacturer — unsurprisingly, the model sells well in Germany. In fact, it sells much better in Germany and Europe then it does in the US, relatively speaking. Germany hasn’t had strong EV policies for long, but it is a large auto market and the i3 was heavily marketed for its unique approach to the future of cars, and the highly popular BMW brand. The limited range of the model no doubt accounts for part of the discrepancy between the US and Europe, though — as that is less of an issue in Europe, where things are closer together, than it is in North America, where the distances between destinations can be quite long.

Next up, in third, we have the Nissan LEAF, a model that seems to do quite well in North America as well as in Europe — with the impending release of a much improved (long-range, semi-autonomous, and improved appearance) version of the offering looming, though, sales have dropped off in both markets to a degree. Expect to see sales soar in early to mid 2018 with the release of the new model year. Thanks to its practicality, wide availability, smooth handling, and relatively low pricing, the Nissan LEAF has been a mainstay of both regions’ electric car markets for over half a decade now.

In fourth, we have the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid (PHEV), another model that, like the Renault Zoe, isn’t even available in the US — hence the lack of sales there. That lack of availability in the US has remained something of a puzzle, as the Outlander PHEV would likely have sold quite well over the last few years if it had been available — perhaps even giving a hugely needed boost to struggling Mitsubishi. You’ll recall that there’s essentially nothing on the market in the US as regards plug-in electric SUVs (just a few expensive options, the Tesla Model X, Volvo XC90 T8, and BMW X5 xDrive40e). The reason for the success of the Outlander PHEV in Europe to date is easy to pin down — its electric, and it’s an SUV (it has almost no competition).

In fifth, I’ve placed the Tesla Model S. Though, arguably, the Model S would actually be the first or second (or third) best selling plug-in electric vehicle in Europe if demand was being met — as evidenced by the very strong sales of recent months as the company’s production abilities have continued improving. The selling points of the Model S (and the Model X) in Europe are much the same as they are in the US — the longest range of the electric cars out there (by far), very effective semi-autonomous driving features, a very useful and extensive fast-charging network, a seamless buying experience, a prestigious name, etc…

While I didn’t included any other models on the list above, a very honorable mention should be made of the Volkswagen e-Golf (which sells very well in Norway), which recently got a large range improvement and has seen sales rise since then. An honorable mention should also go to the Tesla Model X, which only very recently hit the European market in notable numbers and has been selling well since then.

Top-Selling Plug-In Electric Vehicles In The USA (First 10 Months Of 2017)

1. Tesla Model S
2. Tesla Model X
3. Chevy Bolt
4. Chevy Volt (PHEV)
5. Toyota Prius Prime (PHEV)

Moving on to the US, you’ll notice that the top 5 list includes some very different names — with GM/Chevy taking two of the top spots and Toyota one of them. Tesla Model S and Model X sales are also substantially higher.

The truth, though, is that figures involving Tesla could be more accurately described as “deliveries” than as “sales” — the point being that the company is reportedly still production constrained rather than demand constrained.

Much more could be said about the success of the Tesla Model S and Model X here, but I’ll limit myself to saying that long driving range is even more important to plug-in electric vehicle buyers in the US than it is in Europe, and also that Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving features seem to be even more of a selling point to consumers in the US than in Europe (possibly due to the generally much longer commutes). Again, the US being Tesla’s home base also makes it Tesla’s priority and a source of national pride for many buyers.

Holding the third-place spot, we have the Chevy Bolt EV, a model that is essentially unavailable in Europe (though some rebranded Opel Ampera-e units were sold in Norway, at a loss apparently, before the plug was pulled by new brand owners PSA Group). The Chevy Bolt EV is essentially the only all-electric vehicle on sale in the US that isn’t a Tesla but still offers a long range. Notably, it’s a substantial deal cheaper than the Tesla Model S and Model X, so demand has been fairly strong. The Bolt itself has also been heavily production constrained much of the year.

In fourth, we have the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid (PHEV), once again demonstrating the fact that all-electric vehicles in the US without a substantial range have been getting beat by PHEVs — owing to the greater distance between cities and destinations than in Europe. Hence the reality of the Volt and the #5 spot holder the Toyota Prius Prime (a PHEV) making the top 5 in the US but not the BMW i3 or the Nissan LEAF.

Once the long-range, refreshed Nissan LEAF launches in early 2018, though, you can likely expect it to storm the rankings, possibly even taking the top spot. Likewise, once Tesla Model 3 production gets going in earnest (whenever that is) the model will probably take the #1 spot.

[embedded content]

For the latest Model 3 production and delivery news, see: 

1st Tesla Model 3 Delivery To Regular Customer (Detailed Walkthrough Video)

Tesla Model 3 Deliveries To Non-Employees Begin!!

Is Tesla Model 3 Production Gliding Into 5,000 Cars A Week?

15,000 Tesla Model 3 Configuration Invites? (Customer Report)

330,000 Tesla Model 3 US Reservation Holders (Buyers) Could Take Advantage of the Federal EV Tax Credit

Going back to the Toyota Prius Prime, it’s a highly fuel/energy efficient PHEV that was designed so that its all-electric range could meet the daily driving needs of most commuters. By almost all of the personal accounts that I’ve heard, it’s succeeded. It’s sales success in the US has been owing to this reality, as paired with the ability to travel longer distances when needed by utilizing the gasoline-powered hybrid engine — again showing that the sorts of ranges offered in vehicles such as the BMW i3 just don’t meet most people in the US’s needs. Not to be ignored as well, the Prius has a strong brand and is known for a couple of key benefits (fuel savings, green cred), which probably leads to a lot of relatively mainstream buyers coming in for a Prius (probably not their first) and being upsold on the Prime, the highest trim in the lineup.

Any other thoughts on these top electric cars?


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About the Author

James Ayre’s background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.




Carbon capture expert urges repurposing of oil and gas infrastructure

Scotland could have the greenest domestic heating, transport and industrial manufacturing in the world in a move that would consolidate the country’s bid to be a superpower for renewable energy generation.

Academics claim achieving the goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050 hinges on repurposing the country’s oil and gas infrastructure, developing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) network and converting the gas grid from methane natural gas to hydrogen.

Hydrogen emits no climate-warming carbon dioxide if produced using surplus renewable energy or alongside CCS, and can be used to heat homes as well as power vehicles.

CCS involves removing carbon dioxide emissions from “dirty” operations such as the petrochemicals processing and fossil-fuel power stations and permanently locking them away in depleted oil wells.

All this sounds like a massive undertaking, but scientists and engineers believe Scotland is uniquely positioned to make the vision a reality – and within the next two years.

But they insist action must be taken now, before decommissioning of depleted North Sea oil fields begins, or the opportunity will be lost.

The Scottish Government this week unveiled the country’s first energy strategy, which requires 50 per cent of all energy to come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

It also contains a pledge to continue supporting innovation in the oil and gas sector, including decommissioning and carbon capture and storage.

However, support from UK ministers is crucial.

“If Westminster is serious about being a UK government then it needs to act now and strengthen its recent Clean Growth Strategy, which supports CCS but lacks urgency or financial commitment,” said Stuart Haszeldine, professor of CCS at Edinburgh University and director of research partnership Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage.

“CCS is the best way of delivering low-cost, low-carbon heat to citizens with minimum disruption.”

Scotland has huge capacity for storing carbon dioxide in offshore rock formations, having 35 per cent of all potential sites in Europe.

Analysts suggests this new industry could create billions of pounds a year in value and growth from 2025 onwards.

But plans hit a major setback when Westminster scrapped a £1 billion competition aimed at developing CCS in the UK. It prompted energy giant Shell to mothball a major project in Peterhead.

Haszeldine and his colleagues believe Scotland could establish a new industry based on storing carbon dioxide imported from overseas neighbours.


Scotland goes big on renewables and low carbon innovation with $107 million fund

It's famous for its oil fields, but this country just doubled down on renewables and low carbon innovation.

The Scottish government has published its first energy strategy, which includes plans for a £20 million ($26.75 million) energy investment fund and a £60 million low carbon innovation fund.

In an announcement Wednesday, Scottish authorities said the strategy had six "strategic priorities." These include championing Scotland's renewable energy potential; improving energy efficiency in Scottish homes; and continuing to support "investment and innovation" across the oil and gas sector.

Targets in the strategy include renewable sources supplying the equivalent of 50 percent of the energy for Scotland's heat, transport and electricity consumption by the year 2030.

"Scotland has world class skills, expertise and knowledge, from the North Sea oil and gas industry to our academic institutions and smaller start-ups, to our cutting edge low carbon technology," Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland's business, energy and innovation minister, said in a statement.

Wheelhouse added that Scotland was "leading the way in promoting community and locally owned renewable energy."

Gina Hanrahan, the acting head of policy at environmental group WWF Scotland, said it was "great" to see the Scottish government cementing its ambitions to deliver half its energy from renewables by 2030.

"In uncertain times for investment, it is a strong statement that Scotland is open for low-carbon business and plans to build on its fantastic progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors," Hanrahan said in a statement.

According to the Scottish government, Scotland is home to 25 percent of Europe's offshore wind resources. More broadly, there are more than 58,000 jobs in Scotland's low carbon and renewable energy economy.

On Thursday, the U.K. government released energy statistics for the third quarter of 2017. One of the key findings showed that low carbon electricity's share of generation hit 54.4 percent, a record high.


SNP to seek views on state-owned Scottish energy company next year

A public consultation on creating a state-owned, not-for-profit energy company for Scotland will start late next year.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse gave the commitment this afternoon as he published the Scottish Government’s 2050 vision for energy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced at the SNP conference in October the idea would be taken forward by 2021 and promised more detail on the strategy.

Mr Wheelhouse told the Holyrood chamber it was “important to seek views and expertise as we further develop this proposal”.

He added: “Early feedback on the strategy consultation has been constructive and we’re grateful for this input. We today commit to a formal process of public consultation in the later part of 2018.”

The strategy document described the aim as a “unique challenge requiring deep expertise” and said analysis was underway “to consider the best route to achieve our principal aims”.

The strategy sets a target for half of the energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030. It also targets a 30 per cent increase in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy.

The six priorities are to protect consumers from excessive costs, champion Scotland’s renewable energy potential, improve energy efficiency, continue to support the oil and gas sector, ensure “secure, resilient and flexible” energy for homes and businesses, and strengthen the development of local energy.

READ MORE: Alexander McCall Smith: Save Edinburgh from tourism boom

Mr Wheelhouse told MSPs there had been a 12 per cent increase in the level of community and locally-owned renewable capacity operating in Scotland to more than 660MW.

Included in the strategy is a £20 million energy investment fund and a £60m low carbon innovation fund to support renewable and low carbon infrastructure.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Scotland has world-class skills, expertise and knowledge, from the North Sea oil and gas industry to our growing renewable energy sector, our academic institutions and our smaller start-ups.

“This strategy recognises and builds on our past, on our achievements to date and on Scotland’s capacity for innovation.

“It confirms the vital role of energy efficiency, of our renewables potential and our desire to develop new local energy systems and to develop a Scottish supply chain to deliver a sustainable energy future and it places consumers and their interests more firmly than ever at the heart of everything that we do.”

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett said the publication of the strategy was “long overdue” and the final version “looked like a draft”.

He said: “We welcome the overarching goals for 2050, the support and recognition of Scotland’s island wind and the UK Government’s role in the contracts for difference process.

“However the remainder of the strategy provides no detail of what should be achieved and how between now and 2050.

“Once again this is a government strategy long on rhetoric but short on detail.”

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said there was little information on how a promise of new jobs and supply chain opportunities would be delivered.

She said: “It’s fair to say that the major investment in renewables so far has not led to a significant number of jobs or supply chain opportunities retained in Scotland.

“It’s surely not beyond us to retain a greater proportion of work and jobs at home.”

READ MORE: Claims that North Sea gas could run out in a decade labelled ‘poor’


UK’s largest tomato grower set to expand with BGF funding

Family-owned APS Group, the UK’s largest tomato grower, has secured funding from BGF to support its continued expansion.

Headquartered in Cheshire, APS plans to build a new glasshouse to extend capacity at existing sites and make further investments into industry leading, innovative technologies and automation to optimise operational efficiencies.

APS currently manages 56 hectares of glasshouses and operates several packhouses across sites in Alderley Edge, Middlewich, Kent, West Sussex, Teesside, East Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight.

More than 700 people are employed across the group which produces 500 million tomatoes per year using the best traditional and modern growing techniques to grow a range of high quality tomato varieties in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Founded in 1949 by Albert and Hilda Pearson, APS Group is now under the stewardship of CEO Mark Pearson alongside Philip Pearson and several other members of the Pearson family and senior management team.

As a long-standing supplier to the major supermarkets in the UK, the business has been well-placed to respond to a significant increase in demand for food produce grown in Britain in recent years.

The company has a strong heritage of innovation having delivered a number of UK and worldwide firsts in the horticultural industry.

Mark Pearson, CEO said: “During the past decade we have invested heavily into our greenhouse infrastructure, combined heat and power plants and packhouse automation.

"This has been well received by our customers and there is an opportunity to further expand our capacity and increase supply whilst retaining our quality focus.

“BGF has been flexible in its approach to providing this funding. The investment allows us to implement our growth projects at the same time as keeping control of the business.

"As a family business that was important to us, and we are looking forward to working with the BGF team.”

The investment into APS Group, which makes BGF a minority partner in the business, was led by BGF’s Matt Widdall, Rhys Davenport and Paul Dolyniuk.

BGF’s Matt Widdall, who will join the board of APS Group, said: “The Pearson family has a passion for growing quality produce and providing a first-class service to its customers, which has served the business well for close to 70 years.

"We are delighted to be supporting their continued growth with this funding, backing another forward thinking and innovative family business in the UK.”

APS was advised by Neil Mitchell and Alex Wilson of Rickitt Mitchell.

Banking facilities have been provided by RBS England and Wales, with a team including John Radcliffe, Stuart Hamnett and Kevin Steven, along with Rick Sealey and Catherine Donnelly from Gateley who provided legal advice for RBS.

James Sheridan, Adrian Rogers and David Hayes from Turner Parkinson provided legal advice to APS.

Jonathan Robinson and Will Munday from DWF provided legal advice to BGF.


Stromness researchers secure £50k to promote hydrogen energy

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University’s Stromness Campus are exploring new ways to capture energy contained within water particles to help break the world’s dependency for fossil fuels.

Heriott-Watt’s Stromness researchers, based in the Business Centre at the old Academy, hope to educate communities about the potential of hydrogen energy.

A newly established network of partners from Norway, Iceland, Canada, and Orkney, are using latest technology to extract hydrogen from water. If successful, it could pave the way for a limitless source of clean energy.

More than £50,000 has already been secured for the Network from NORA — the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation — an intergovernmental organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The NORA region includes the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Coastal Norway. Its goal is to create a vital and dynamic North Atlantic region, characterised by a strong and sustainable economy.

Hydrogen is the universe’s most abundant element but very little of it is freely available. It can, however, be produced through electrolysis of water, by using an electrical current to split hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). If the electricity in this process is taken from a renewable source, then the resulting hydrogen can be used as a zero emission fuel.

Over the next two years, the international partnership — named the North Atlantic Hydrogen Learning Network — will develop and present a roadmap aimed at encouraging local governments to create ‘hydrogen communities’ in the North Atlantic region.

“Using hydrogen as an energy source is an idea that has been in existence around the scientific community for a number of years but it’s never really taken hold,” explained Dr Sandy Kerr director of the Stromness-based International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT)

“One significant obstacle is not enough current day technologies are ready for hydrogen as a fuel source, but with the creation of this new international group we can progress not only from a scientific angle but also with local government planning and policy making, which are absolutely crucial to its overall success.”

If successful, scientists will be able to use hydrogen as a fuel for a variety of uses including cars, buses and even ferries. They also aim to redress energy poverty in some of the world’s most remote regions, which typically have a greater reliance on fossil fuels due to a lack of renewable energy infrastructure.

December 19, 2017 at 3:28 pm


Joyce McMillan: This could be David Attenborough’s lasting legacy

Sir David Attenborough’s lasting legacy may be to galvanise efforts to tackle climate change, writes Joyce McMillan.

The title itself is a small work of genius: the words ‘Blue Planet’ remind us both of those heart-stopping images of our glowing blue world spinning in space – first seen by human beings just 45 years ago – and of the truth that our oceans are the dominant feature of that world, vast, beautiful, and still full of exotic and incredible forms of life.

And in recent weeks, the world of social media has been full of people responding passionately to Blue Planet II, David Attenborough’s second BBC series on the Earth’s oceans; voices full of wonder at the astonishing natural world the documentary reveals, and of anger at its increasing destruction through global warming and the pervasive presence of human-made plastics even in its farthest depths.

Some respond with tears; some are inclined to despair. Yet many also launch petitions and begin to campaign; and slowly, governments are at last beginning to act, talking about forcing the recycling of plastics rather than their single use, or promoting the development of new biodegradable forms of the material that, just 40 years ago, seemed to be the key to our future.

Human beings often learn slowly, particularly where big money and big profits are involved; but we do have the capacity to learn, to invent, to create anew. And when Attenborough’s astonishing life as a broadcaster finally comes to an end, he will have left a mighty legacy, if his latest series helps to mark the moment when we finally cease to believe that the world’s consumption of plastics, and of hydrocarbons in general, can simply continue on its present path.

It may not be pure coincidence that this week, President Emmanuel Macron of France chaired a conference to mark the second anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, and to increase the pressure on the 195 remaining signatory nations – Donald Trump announced the US would no longer participate earlier this year – to begin to make the accord a reality. In the course of the meeting, Mr Macron was able to announce not only a series of awards to climate change scientists – many of them from the US – as part of his cheekily named “make our planet great again” programme, but a landmark decision by the World Bank to stop funding upstream fossil fuel-based projects from 2019.

READ MORE: Poll finds more Scots want stronger action on climate change

This week also saw a striking victory by Exxon Mobil shareholders – led by an intriguing alliance between the Church of England Commissioners and the Comptroller of New York State – compelling the company’s management to adopt a planning process that begins to position it for a low-carbon future. In other words, this recognises that many of their reserves of fossil fuel will not, and can never, be extracted and exploited.

No one involved in the campaign to meet climate-change targets can possibly be complacent about progress so far, of course. Eighty-five per cent of the world’s energy consumption is still fossil fuel based; this week, a series of relatively small accidents to gas pipelines and supply systems across Europe came as a sharp reminder of our continuing extreme dependence on this particular fossil fuel.

Even governments with the strongest theoretical commitment to the low-carbon transition – including the Scottish one – struggle to escape the logic of the carbon-fuelled economy we have known for the last 250 years. Meanwhile, the news from those monitoring climate change is ever more grim. This week, scientists announced further alarming figures on the melting and thinning of Arctic sea ice, and on the possible melting of the huge Greenland ice sheet.

Yet still, there are reasons for hope. Even in the two years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the costs of installing and operating renewable energy plants have plummeted worldwide, with many countries beginning to bypass the hydrocarbon phase of economic development, and moving straight to solar power in particular.

READ MORE: Leader comment: The global warming conundrum

Many major car manufacturers have signalled their intention of switching entirely to electric car production, as technological improvements steadily overcome the traditional objections to electric cars; and while US politicians continue to equivocate and resist, both major companies and city and state governments across the US are beginning to switch investment towards renewables for purely practical and financial reasons, as well as in the effort to control climate change.

And alongside those economic changes, we can also glimpse something else; for just as we can see, looking back, that the ages of coal and oil forged our societies into particular patterns of industrial and corporate power, so renewables have the potential to change our society again, and perhaps to bring a vital aspect of the lives of individuals and communities back into their own hands.

Hope is possible, in other words; and it’s also true that despair is a waste of time. Interviewed by CBS this week, before the Paris meeting, Mr Macron had plenty to say – in a distinctly Blairite vein – about topics from terrorism to his personal relationship with Mr Trump. When it comes to the main threats to our global environment, though, he is right; and apparently willing – alongside other nations now making huge investments in renewables – to take a welcome and much-needed lead.

“If we decide not to move, not to change the way we produce and invest and behave, de facto we decide to condemn billions of people in the coming decades,” he told CBS. “And we will – I mean all of us – be judged for that. We do know that if we don’t react, we will be responsible for billions of victims. And I don’t want to be a leader in such a situation; so let’s act, right now.”

And he also said that one of the key tasks of politicians now is to offer people a vision of that sustainable future, and a way of contributing towards it; to protect, retrain and support people, as they make the transition to a new economy. All of which seems, in the time of Trump, Brexit, and other florid rebellions against 21st century reality, like something of a social-democratic pipe-dream; until we remember what our own history tells us – that we can, if and when we want to, make social-democratic dreams come true.