UK urged to set end-date for gas-fired electricity as wholesale energy prices skyrocket

21 September 2021, source edie newsroom

With wholesale gas prices in the UK having risen by 250% since January, some green groups are calling on the Government to commit to ending gas-fired electricity generation and give more detail on plans for reducing the nation's dependence on gas for heating.

Within the past six weeks, wholesale prices in the UK have risen by 70% 

Within the past six weeks, wholesale prices in the UK have risen by 70%

An analysis published by energy and climate think-tank Ember today (21 September) states that around 86% of the increase in UK electricity prices this year can be attributed to soaring natural gas costs.

By Ember’s calculations, the UK’s average wholesale electricity price was £37 per MWh in August 2020 and £107 per MWh in August 2021. Given that the carbon-related costs of electricity have only risen by £9 per MWh within this timeframe, the bulk of the cost increase is down to skyrocketing fossil gas prices.

Industry group Oil & Gas UK had already confirmed that wholesale gas prices have increased by 250% since January, with the steepest hike having taken place since August. Bloomberg has tracked similar statistics.

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Electricity demand from EVs could reach 71.6TWh by 2040: Cornwall Insight

Photo by Sophie Jonas on Unsplash

16 Sep / 2021 13:24 by Alice Grundy Reporter, Current±

The impact of EVs on the systems shouldn't be underestimated, Cornwall Insight said.

This is 31 times higher than the current level of demand for electrified transport, and equivalent to 25% of current annual demand which stands at 299TWh excluding losses.

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Treble boost for UK carbon capture and hydrogen pipeline

The UK's pipeline of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen projects took several steps forward this week, thanks to a flurry of announcements from leading developers.

Sembcorp Energy UK (SEUK) and US clean energy innovation firm 8 Rivers Capital, acting through its UK subsidiary Zero Degrees Whitetail Development Ltd. (ZDW), yesterday announced a collaboration agreement that could see the firms develop the UK's "first net zero power station" at SEUK's Wilton International site on Teesside.

Dubbed Whitetail Clean Energy, the project aims to deliver 300MW of capacity when it is up and running and is expected to support over 2,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs, including cascading supply chain opportunities, the developer's said.

The Whitetail facility is expected to harness the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle (AFC), pioneered by NET Power and 8 Rivers Capital, which combusts natural gas with oxygen, rather than air, and uses supercritical carbon dioxide  as a working fluid to drive a turbine instead of steam. As a result, all air emissions, including traditional pollutants and CO2, are eliminated and pipeline-quality CO2 is produced so that it can be captured and stored offshore, the companies said. The project could be up and running as early as 2025.

Cam Hosie, chief executive of 8 Rivers Capital, said:"Project Whitetail represents a key step towards Net Zero with the UK and US working in close collaboration. The Allam-Fetvedt Cycle technology was first supported by the UK government's Department for Energy and Climate Change in 2010, and the announcement today of the Whitetail Clean Energy project demonstrates the value of supporting research and development projects to support the UK's efforts to achieve its Net Zero targets, with commercially scaled technologies today returning to the United Kingdom as proven concepts.

Energy abd Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan welcomed the news, arguing that the "development of the UK's first-ever net zero power station, benefitting from over £6m government support since 2012 is a real game-changer and a significant step forward in the UK's fight against climate change as we build back greener from the pandemic".

"This project not only demonstrates the UK's leadership in helping the world decarbonise but our expertise in scaling up research and development projects, creating over 2,000 jobs in Teesside and opening up opportunities right across the supply chain - supporting our efforts to revitalise this key industrial heartland," she added.

In related news,Scotland's Acorn Project, which is being developed by Storegga, Pale Blue Dot, Shell, and Harbour Energy, announced this week that it has inked a contract with Carbon Clean to provide Front End Engineering Design (FEED) services to the project.

The specialist carbon dioxide capture and separation technology developer is now set to work in collaboration with consulting and engineering firm Wood on process design and construction planning for Acorn's carbon capture process unit (CCPU).

Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean, said the carbon captured by the project would have a "tangible effect" on the UK's transition to net zero.  "We look forward to getting underway with the ("FEED") stage and working with the other consortium partners to implement novel carbon capture and storage solutions," he added.

Annual volumes of CO2 stored via the project are predicted to reach 5-10Mt per year by 2030.

Trevelyan again welcomed the announcement as a step forward for both the project and the UK's wider decarbonisation plans. "The UK is fast becoming a world-leader in developing new technology that captures and stores harmful emissions," she said. "Pale Blue Dot and Carbon Clean, who have received £11m UK government funding, will help the UK go further to deploy critically important carbon capture and hydrogen infrastructure that will help British industries to decarbonise in a way that's competitive and projects jobs."

Nick Cooper, CEO of Storegga, the lead developer of the Acorn Project, said the award of the contract to Carbon Clean represented an "important milestone" for carbon capture in the UK. "The Acorn Project has a crucial role to play in helping decarbonise our energy system," he said. "It will provide critical infrastructure at scale that will cost effectively transform carbon intensive industries across Scotland and the UK and even Europe; helping build a fairer, more resilient economy, while sustaining and creating low carbon jobs."      

The news comes just days after Petrochemical giant INEOS signed a memorandum of understanding that could see its giant Grangemouth site join the cluster of industrial sites feeding into the Acorn project's network of carbon capture infrastructure.

In further green industrial news, SSE Thermal and Equinor today announced that they are developing plans for one of the world's largest hydrogen storage facilities at their existing Aldbrough site on the East Yorkshire coast with a view to being able to store low-carbon hydrogen as early as 2028.

The existing Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, which was commissioned in 2011, is co-owned by SSE Thermal and Equinor, and consists of nine underground salt caverns, each roughly the size of St. Paul's Cathedral. Upgrading the site to store hydrogen would involve converting the existing caverns or creating new purpose-built caverns to store the low-carbon fuel, the companies said.

With an initial expected capacity of at least 320GWh, Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage would be significantly larger than any hydrogen storage facility in operation in the world today, the firms said, adding that the Aldbrough site was "ideally located to store the low-carbon hydrogen set to be produced and used in the Humber region".

Equinor has announced its intention to develop 1.8GW of ‘blue hydrogen' production in the region starting with its 0.6GW H2H Saltend project which will supply low-carbon hydrogen to local industry and power from the mid-2020s. This will be followed by a 1.2GW production facility to supply the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, proposed by SSE Thermal and Equinor as the world's first 100 per cent hydrogen-fired power station, before the end of the decade.

The new projects are the latest in a growing pipeline of CCS and hydrogen developments that are designed to decarbonise the UK's heavy industry. However, developers have repeatedly warned that final investment decisions for many of the new developments will be informed by the government's much-anticipated new policy frameworks for the emerging CCS and hydrogen industries, with experts warning projects are unlikely to proceed without some form of policy support.

Stephen Wheeler, managing director of SSE Thermal, said: "We're delighted to be announcing our plans for the development of this world-leading hydrogen storage facility with our partners in Equinor, which would play a vital role in creating a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the Humber and beyond. By delivering large-scale hydrogen storage capacity, we can utilise hydrogen to decarbonise vital power generation, as well as heavy industry, heat, transport, and other hard-to-reach sectors, safeguarding and creating crucial jobs and investment across the region."

The government has set an ambition to capture 10Mt of carbon dioxide a year by 2030, and today the Environment Agency set out new 'Best Available Technique' guidance for post-combustion CCS technologies, in a bid to ensure they meet strict environmental and social requirements before being deployed.

Lee Rawlinson, director of regulated industry at the Environment Agency, said the body had "an important part to play in permitting many of the energy technologies that are likely to emerge over the coming years". "This is part of our Climate Ambition to help create a net zero nation that is resilient to climate change," he said. "As an environmental regulator, our role is to ensure that these new technologies, including carbon capture, are conducted in a way that protects people and the environment. Our Best Available Technique guidance will go a long way towards achieving that."


2TWh of hydrogen and 37 million EVs: How can the UK reach net-zero emissions?

12 July 2021, source edie newsroom

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO)'s latest Future Energy Scenarios (FES) report has outlined four potential scenarios for decarbonisation in the UK, three of which would see the UK reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Here, edie outlines what is required to meet the legally binding target.

Under the most ambitious scenario, the UK would reach net-zero by 2047

Under the most ambitious scenario, the UK would reach net-zero by 2047

One of the primary aims for this iteration of the report was to highlight what steps could be taken that would enable the UK to meet the Sixth Carbon Budget, which mandates a reduction in emissions of 78% by 2035. Doing so would put the UK on course to reach its legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to the ESO, three out of four future scenarios would enable the UK to reach net-zero by 2050 or sooner, and two would see it reach the Sixth Carbon Budget. According to the Climate Change Committee, who recommended the target, meeting the Budget would require all new cars, vans and replacement boilers to be zero-carbon in operation by the early 2030s. UK electricity production must then reach net-zero by 2035, in line with the National Grid ESO’s existing vision, and the majority of existing UK homes will need to be retrofitted in some way also.

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Visualizing the Flow of U.S. Energy Consumption

Published on By Graphics/Design: Harrison Schell

America Energy Consumption 2020

Breaking Down America’s Energy Consumption in 2020

The United States relies on a complex mix of energy sources to fuel the country’s various end-sectors’ energy consumption.

While this energy mix is still dominated by fossil fuels, there are signs of a steady shift to renewable energy over the past decade.

This radial Sankey diagram using data from the EIA (Energy Information Administration) breaks down U.S. energy consumption in 2020, showing us how much each sector relies on various energy sources.

The Balance of Energy Production and Consumption

In 2019 and now in 2020, America’s domestic energy production has actually been greater than its consumption—a development that hasn’t taken place since 1957.

Last year’s numbers were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing a 5% drop in energy production and a 7% drop in consumption compared to 2019. Total energy production and consumption for 2020 came in at 95.75 and 92.94 quads respectively.

The energy amounts are equalized and measured in quadrillion BTUs (British thermal units), also known as quads. A quad is a huge amount of energy, equivalent to 183 million barrels of petroleum or 36 million tonnes of coal.

So how is America’s overall energy production and consumption split between energy sources?

U.S. Energy Production and Consumption Share by Source

Energy SourcePercentage of U.S. Energy ProductionPercentage of U.S. Energy Consumption
Petroleum32%35%
Natural Gas36%34%
Renewable Energy12%12%
Coal11%10%
Nuclear9%9%

Source: IEA

America’s new margin of energy production over consumption has resulted in the country being a net total energy exporter again, providing some flexibility as the country continues its transition towards more sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Fossil Fuels Still Dominate U.S. Energy Consumption

While America’s mix of energy consumption is fairly diverse, 79% of domestic energy consumption still originates from fossil fuels. Petroleum powers over 90% of the transportation sector’s consumption, and natural gas and petroleum make up 74% of the industrial sector’s direct energy consumption.

There are signs of change as consumption of the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal, has declined more than 58% since its peak in 2005. Coinciding with this declining coal dependence, consumption from renewable energy has increased for six years straight, setting record highs again in 2020.

However, fossil fuels still make up 79% of U.S. energy consumption, with renewables and nuclear accounting for the remaining 21%. The table below looks at the share of specific renewable energy sources in 2020.

Distribution of Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable Energy Source2020 Energy Consumption in QuadsShare of 2020 Renewable Energy Consumption
Biomass4.5239%
Wind3.0126%
Hydroelectric2.5522%
Solar1.2711%
Geothermal0.232%

Source: IEA

The Nuclear Necessity for a Zero-Emission Energy Transition

It’s not all up to renewable energy sources to clean up America’s energy mix, as nuclear power will play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions. Technically not a renewable energy source due to uranium’s finite nature, nuclear energy is still a zero-emission energy that has provided around 20% of total annual U.S. electricity since 1990.

Support for nuclear power has been growing slowly, and last year was the first which saw nuclear electricity generation overtake coal. However, this might not last as three nuclear plants including New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant are set to be decommissioned in 2021, with a fourth plant scheduled for retirement in 2022.

It’s worth noting that while other countries might have a higher share of nuclear energy in their total electricity generation, the U.S. still has the largest nuclear generation capacity worldwide and has generated more nuclear electricity than any other country in the world.

Converting Energy to Electricity

The energy produced by nuclear power plants doesn’t go directly to its end-use sector, rather, 100% of nuclear energy in the U.S. is converted to electricity which is sold to consumers. Along with nuclear, most energy sources aside from petroleum are primarily converted to electricity.

Unfortunately, electricity conversion is a fairly inefficient process, with around 65% of the energy lost in the conversion, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

This necessary but wasteful step allows for the storage of energy in electrical form, ensuring that it can be distributed properly. Working towards more efficient methods of energy to electricity conversion is an often forgotten aspect of reducing wasted energy.

Despite the dip in 2020, both energy production and consumption in the U.S. are forecasted to continue rising. As Biden aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (from 2005 emission levels), U.S. energy consumption will inevitably continue to shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and nuclear energy.


CCC: UK 'has no coherent plan to reduce emissions this decade', despite net-zero pledge

24 June 2021, source edie newsroom

The UK Government has not yet backed up its long-term climate target of net-zero by 2050, often described as "world-leading" by Ministers, with realistic and ambitious delivery plans, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) is warning.

With current policies, the UK is only likely to deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions needed by 2035

With current policies, the UK is only likely to deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions needed by 2035

In its latest progress report to Parliament on reducing emissions, published today (24 June), the Committee states that the UK Government is failing to support “important statements of ambition” on decarbonisation with “firm policies”. In other words, despite the introduction of a legally binding net-zero target in 2019 and subsequent short-term funding pots like the £12bn provided in the Ten Point Plan, most high-emitting sectors are still unprepared to decarbonise at the scale and pace needed.

2020 is, overall, dubbed a year of “climate contradictions” between talk and action. The CCC has also pointed to “high-carbon blunders” in policymaking such as failure to block a new coal mine in Cumbria, voicing support for lowering green taxes on flights and closing the Green Homes Grant with less than 10% of the £2bn originally promised issued. The recent cut to overseas aid spending is additionally said to be “undermining” domestic green finance commitments.

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Huge "Bennachie-shaped" waste plant approved for-former Inverurie paper mill site.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/3262576/huge-bennachie-shaped-waste-plant-approved-for-former-inverurie-paper-mill-site/


Thermal recycling: Not in my backyard?

Thermal recycling is reliable, makes environmental sense and has no technical alternative – and yet it has an image problem. A number of examples in Europe show how new projects can nevertheless be implemented with great success.....

lifestyle, environment, Horizontal

Image From Mads Claus Rasmussen - AFP / picturedesk.com

The Queen of Denmark is amused. Every morning when Margrethe II looks out of the windows of Amalienborg Palace, she sees the chimney of Amager Bakke. This has now become a familiar and much-loved sight. Located in the centre of Copenhagen, with a ski slope on its roof, hiking trails, the world’s highest artificial climbing wall and a mountain bike trail, the waste incineration plant – which was completed in 2017 and has an annual capacity of 400,000 tonnes – has very quickly become a new landmark in the city.

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Green public transport thanks to waste incineration: a bus powered by hydrogen from the incineration plant on the road in the German city of Wuppertal

Image from Rupert Oberhaeuser / Caro / picturedesk.com

READ MORE from PIOTR DOBROWOLSKI at Waste Management World:

https://waste-management-world.com/a/thermal-recycling-not-in-my-backyard

Statkraft partners with GE as stability project reaches ‘critical milestone’

Image: GE Power Conversion.

Image: GE Power Conversion.

Statkraft has signed a deal to install GE’s Rotating Stabilizer technology as part of a new approach to provide stability on Great Britain’s grid.

Earlier this year, National Grid ESO awarded Statkraft four stability contracts, including two at Keith in the northeast of Scotland. It is here that two of GE's Rotating Stabilizer synchronous machines will be installed in an effort to manage grid stability as the amount of non-synchronous generation from solar, wind and interconnectors grows.

Commenting on the project, managing director of Statkraft UK, David Flood said: “We are delighted to have reached this critical milestone in providing stability services to the grid. Our project at Keith builds on our electricity market and renewables expertise and helps Statkraft deliver our vision of being a renewable energy system integrator.”

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UK Government launches new taskforce to tackle greenwashing in finance sector

9 June 2021, source edie newsroom

The UK Government is set to launch a new advisory group tasked with creating a 'green taxonomy' for finance, in a bid to crack down on greenwashing in the investment space.

Pictured: Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the recent G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting. Image: HM Treasury, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pictured: Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the recent G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting. Image: HM Treasury, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Called the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG), the taskforce will comprise of members from NGOs, trade bodies and academia, alongside organisations that will use the finalised taxonomy and organisations with expertise in creating such frameworks. It is set up to be independent from the Treasury and other Government departments.

Organisations represented within the GTAG's membership include the Green Finance Institute, WWF, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) and the Aldersgate Group. Under the category of taxonomy and data experts sit representatives from the likes of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Climate Bonds Initiative and the Government’s own Environment Agency and Committee on Climate Change.

The Green Finance Institute’s executive director Ingrid Holmes has been appointed as chair of the GTAG. Holmes also heads up policy and advocacy at investment manager Federated Hermes International. Prior to taking up these roles, she was a director at think-tank E3G, contributing to the establishment of the now-closed UK Green Investment Bank.

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