UK ranks mid-table on EU recycling performance

29 AUGUST 2019by Joshua Doherty at LetsRecycle

Official figures released by the European Union’s statistical arm, Eurostat, have suggested that the UK continues to lag behind some of the top performing member states on recycling.

However, the data covering the 2017 calendar year, shows that the UK is now sending proportionally less waste to landfill than many of its European counterparts.

UK vs EU average – how do the figures compare?

The figures are compiled annually based upon municipal waste data submitted to the EU by member states, as well as some non-member nations.

As outlined in the table to the right, data on the amount of waste recycled and composted in the 2017 calendar year shows that the UK’s recycling and the composting rate remained static at 44%, 3% lower than the average rate recorded by EU member states.

The Eurostat data also shows that Germany – which generated the most waste across the continent at 52 million tonnes – achieved a recycling and composting rate of 67.6% in 2017. Other top performers included Austria and Slovenia (both on 57%), the Netherlands (54%) and Belgium (53%). Overall, the UK ranked 11th in terms of its recycling rate.

Countries including Norway (39%), Spain (33%) and France (43%) all recorded lower recycling rates than the UK.

Waste generated

On waste generated, the UK produced the third most waste by tonnage, at 31 million, but ranked 15th in terms of waste produced per citizen, at 468kg per capita. Denmark topped the municipal waste generated per capita table, at 781 kg, while Romania was bottom at 272kg.


Municipal waste generate per person for 2017 (click to enlarge)

Energy from waste

When looking at energy from waste, the Netherlands sent around 44% of its waste to energy recovery facilities, while Norway and Denmark sent 53%. The UK’s energy recovery rate stood at 37%, above the EU-wide average of 28%.

Spain was among the worst-performing EU member states when looking at landfill rates, sending 53% of its waste to landfill. France and Italy also both landfill more municipal waste than the UK proportionally.

How the EU’s top five waste producers (based on the overall tonnage of municipal waste) performed. Top row figures are displayed in ‘000 tonnes

Eurostat noted that the long term trend has been towards a reduction of waste to landfill – which has been driven by the EU’s Landfill Directive which sets targets for reducing the amount of waste that is disposed of in landfill. This has prompted an increase in the amount of waste recycled, composted and sent to energy from waste facilities.

“The total municipal waste landfilled in the EU-28 fell by 88 million tonnes, or 60% – from 145 million tonnes (302 kg per capita) in 1995 to 58 million tonnes (113 kg per capita) in 2017. This corresponds to an average annual decline of 4.1%. For the shorter period 2005-2017 landfilling has fallen by as much as 5.6% per year on average,” the statistical body said.

As a result, the landfilling rate compared with municipal waste generation in the EU-28 dropped from 64 % in 1995 to 23 % in 2017, the data suggests.

Related Links
Eurostat Municipal Waste Statistics

Creating a cleaner, more efficient energy system

National Grid ESO outlines its plans to deliver a cleaner energy system in this sponsored post.

National Grid ESO’s ambitions

With climate change high on the Government’s agenda and National Grid ESO’s ambition to be able to operate a zero-carbon system by 2025, it’s important we manage our network in a cleaner and more flexible way. This means breaking down barriers to entry for new market entrants, creating liquidity to realise consumer value, and ensuring security of supply whilst embracing new types of generation and ever-changing needs.

Our analysis shows that by 2050, a decarbonised energy system could add 19 million jobs and £44 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) to the global economy, as well as generating a 15% increase in global welfare and a 60% reduction in health effects caused by local air pollution.

Having published our Towards 2030[1] ambition in April 2019, National Grid ESO sees success by 2025 as:

  • An electricity system that can operate carbon free
  • A strategy for clean heat, and progress against that plan
  • Competition everywhere
  • The System Operator is a trusted partner

Progress against this plan is already taking place having operated the grid coal-free for two consecutive weeks in May 2019, for the first time, and we estimate that delivering our Business Plans[2] net zero ambition, could achieve benefits of around £2.3 billion over the RIIO-2 period.

In the near-term, our recently published Forward Plan[3] lays out our intentions from April 2019 to March 2021 and beyond. The top five priorities are continuing to improve safety and reliability, improving quality of service by listening to stakeholders and acting on feedback, lowering bills for the end consumer, reducing environmental damage, and creating greater benefits for society as a whole.

Achieving the ESO’s ambitions

One of the most significant barriers we face in order to achieve our goal of carbon-free operation is to enable all technologies to participate in our ancillary service markets. Traditionally, renewable sources of generation have struggled to participate due to their intermittent nature and variable output. To allow these technologies to operate on an even playing field we are currently looking to understand how short-term markets can reduce barriers to entry for such technology types who cannot guarantee output months in advance.

There is a question over whether the existing pay-as-bid tenders are the appropriate approach for procuring balancing services. Pay-as-bid tenders are useful when there is a market with a small number of participants and where there are highly standardised products, however, a pay-as-clear auction approach may incentivise bidding at marginal price and increase transparency of pricing signals in a market with standard products.

As a result, we are looking to openly engage, redesign and implement new ancillary service opportunities. Some of the measures being taken to reform the Firm Frequency Response (FFR) market are: moving from monthly pay as bid tenders to trialling weekly pay-as-clear auctions; holding periodic long-term tenders; developing day ahead auction designs; and implementing a single platform for all ancillary service participation.

FFR Weekly Auction Trial

As part of our move towards closer to real time procurement, on 13th June 2019 we held the first Phase 1 weekly frequency response auction to procure a low frequency static service. Four parties entered the first auction, to secure a contract for the coming week, with service delivery to commence the following day at 23:00.

Since then, more participants have joined the Phase 1 auction. We have also carried out additional work on the detail of Phase 2 and will seek to procure dynamic response through a platform being implemented in partnership with EpexSpot.

For more information on the FFR Weekly Auction Trial please visit:

Reform of Reserve Services

In time, we will also be looking at reforms to Reserve Services, including STOR and Fast Reserve, potentially moving to monthly ‘EFA block’ pay-as-clear auctions, whilst implementing measures to increase market transparency and facilitate competition.

New Areas of Focus

Demand Side Flexibility has a vital role to play in the evolution of electricity markets which will shape how we all behave as consumers and providers. The UK’s focus is firmly on the facilitation of new up and coming technologies such as EVs and smart devices in our homes. For example, in our recent Future Energy Scenarios report we estimated that, by 2050, there will be over 35 million electric vehicles on the road. These and other demand side changes increase the need for the grid as a whole to be more dynamic and flexible.

Power Responsive is looking to expand its focus to include domestic consumers and community-based energy projects, and we are actively involved in multiple innovation projects looking at vehicle to grid (V2G) technologies, domestic DSR, a system-wide DER asset register, and whole-system approaches to the flexibility procurement.

We are going through a period of unprecedented change, which will improve the way the energy industry adapts and operates, ultimately delivering greater value for consumers. However, we cannot do this alone. We need to work together across the energy industry to ensure that we are ready to facilitate the energy system of tomorrow.

Contacts us

If you would like to learn more about Power Responsive or find out about the opportunities that exist by using energy or generation assets more flexibly, as well as hear stories from businesses that are taking part and enjoying the rewards of the balancing markets right now, go to: or sign up to our mailing list on the homepage.

Contact us at

[1] Towards 2030 –

[2] ESO RIIO-2 draft business plan –

[3] Forward Plan April 2019 to March 2021 –

The 10 clean growth policy 'shortfalls' and how to address them, according to MPs

22 August 2019, source edie newsroom

The Science and Technology Committee has published a new report warning that the UK isn't remotely close to reaching upcoming carbon budgets up to 2032, outlining 10 key policy areas that need to be addressed if the UK is to deliver on its net-zero ambitions.

edie summarises the 10 key shortfalls and recommendations for UK clean growth


The Committee’s ‘Clean Growth: Technologies for meeting the UK’s emissions reduction targets’ report welcomes the Government’s recent announcements that it will strengthen the existing Climate Change Act in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

However, the report warns that existing policies and progress put the UK off-course to meet existing and legally binding carbon budgets. In response, the report has highlighted 10 policy “shortfalls” and the measures that should be taken to address them in order to deliver a Clean Growth Strategy aligned to the needs of net-zero emissions.

The shortfalls

1) The report criticises the decision to reduce the 'plug-in grant' for the lowest-emission vehicles in October 2018, with financial incentives cut completely for some low-emission vehicles.

2) Despite public transport fares for trains and buses being allowed to increase year-on-year over a nine-year period, fuel duty has been frozen over that timeframe.

3) The closure of the feed-in tariff for low-carbon power generation has been criticised by many, and the report lists the closure as another key shortfall.

4) The Energy Companies Obligation scheme was restricted to vulnerable households in November 2018, despite the Government conceding that this would result in lower carbon emissions reductions being achieved, the report notes.

5) In 2017, the Government launched a consultation on how to build a market for those able to pay for their own domestic energy efficiency improvements. However, the report states that this has still not been announced as a new policy framework.

6) No consultation has been launched on improving energy efficiency in relation to building regulations, despite the Government claiming it would do so after the zero-carbon homes policy was axed in 2015.

7) Business rates on solar panels have increased between three to eight-fold since 2017, according to the report, creating thousands of pounds in additional costs for businesses, schools, SMEs and hospitals each year.

8) Both onshore wind and large-scale solar have been excluded from the Contract for Difference (CfD) financial support mechanism since 2017. In the same time, planning permission for onshore wind farms has become “more difficult to obtain”, the report states.

9) The ‘Renewable Heat Incentive’ scheme is due to close in 2021 but no replacement scheme has yet been announced

10) The Government’s White Paper on ‘The future of the energy market’ was due to be published in the early months of this year, but is still yet to be published as we approach autumn.

The recommendations

To remedy the shortfalls, the report includes 10 key policy recommendations:

1) A Strategy for decarbonising heat: The report calls for the urgent development a clearer strategy for decarbonising heat that includes large-scale trials of different heating technologies, such as heat pumps and hydrogen gas heating, operating in homes and cities to build the evidence base required for long-term decisions.

2) Incentive scheme for energy efficiency home improvements: previous energy efficiency initiatives for households have failed because of “narrow” financial support. The MPs suggest that the Government should consider adjusting Stamp Duty so that it varies according to the energy performance of the home as well as the price paid for it. A ‘Help to Improve’ scheme should also be introduced by July 2020.

3) Plan for reducing vehicle emissions: The report urges the Government to bring forward the proposed ban on the sales on new conventional cars and vans to 2035 and reconsider financial incentives to assist the uptake of low-carbon transport. Increased uptake of public chargers and considerations into the emissions from the manufacturing of low-carbon vehicles should also be explored.

4) Support for onshore wind and solar power: The Government must ensure that there is strong policy support for new onshore wind power and large-scale solar power projects. The Government should ensure that national planning policy facilitates the re-powering of existing sites, with a clear planning permission framework for re-powering existing onshore wind farms in place by the end of 2020.

5) Review of the Smart Export Guarantee: The Government must review the Smart Export Guarantee― which has been named as the replacement for the Feed-in Tariff scheme ―by the end of 2020, and should be ready to include a minimum price floor if there is evidence of a lack of market competitivity.

6) Sustain nuclear power without growing the industry: The Government must make a decision on the future finance framework for new nuclear power by the end of 2019 in a way that sustains the market but doesn’t grow it. Consideration of the energy generation gap should be examined and renewables prioritised to fill the gap.

7) Removal of greenhouse gases: The Government should launch a consultation to inform the development of a future framework for managing and incentivising greenhouse gas removal on the scale required for net-zero emissions. This would include substantial private funding, so incentives and encouragement of the private sector should be prioritised.

8) Clear action on carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS): The Government should provide clarity on its CCUS plan, which could have the first plant live by 2021. Definitions on “deployment at scale”, “cost-effective” and what the milestones of the plan need to be ironed out.

9) Clean growth regulation of the energy market: The Government should consider amending Ofgem’s principal objective so that it includes ensuring that regulations align with the emissions reduction targets set out in climate policies such as the Climate Change Act.

10) Support for local authorities: The Government should support local authorities and members of the public in contributing to the UK’s net-zero target, including access to long-term finance, and central guides and an advice service for the public.

Industry reaction

Commenting on the report, Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said:

“Amongst a number of valuable recommendations, the report accurately highlights the need to focus on the hard to decarbonise areas of heat and transport. With the RHI ending in 2021 and no alternative route to market in place, we wholeheartedly support the view that decarbonising heat should be a top priority for the Government.

“As well as this, emphases on ramping up the switch to electric vehicles through incentives and a review of the Smart Export Guarantee after a year of operation are policies that will benefit not only the industry but the wider public. We also recommend the introduction of E10 to further tackle the concerning levels of vehicle emissions highlighted in the report.”

David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association said:

“Today’s report highlights how our system of private investment has helped make Britain a superpower of renewable energy, with carbon emissions now at their lowest level since 1888. We need to build on that to ensure our country takes the smartest, most innovative and fairest approach to deliver net-zero.

“We support the Committee’s recommendations for government to develop a heat strategy including large scale technology trials including both heat pumps and hydrogen gas heating, to make further commitments on CCUS and provide further clarity and support around decarbonising transport. We also welcome the Committee’s recognition of the work that the networks have already been doing particularly to develop smarter energy systems and committing to increase flexibility, and it will be vital for Ofgem to keep their focus on innovation into the next price control period.”

Bean Beanland, chairman of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association said: 

“We are pleased that the Commons Committee has urged the Government not to delay further the tightening up of Building Regulations to reflect both the reduction in the carbon intensity of grid electricity and the tighter emissions standards that are necessary for homes in a fabric-first approach.

“As well as wanting to see Building Regulations that better deliver the low carbon homes of the future, the GSHPA urges the Government to bring in a new support framework for low carbon heating beyond 2021, including a capital grant for the installation of heat pumps, with a target of 1 million installations a year by 2035. It is also necessary for Government to recognise that the energy efficiency retrofit of existing homes is a national infrastructure priority, and to bring forward policies to facilitate this.

STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association said:

This report is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature that is calling on the government to bring down barriers to solar and energy storage in the UK. With a legally-binding commitment to reach net-zero by 2050, urgent action is needed now. The solar industry is ready to deliver on a scale and must be recognised as part of the solution.

The Electric Vehicle Revolution Is About To Get Messy

August 21st, 2019 by at CleanTecnica

Those of us who have followed the electric vehicle market for several years (or, for some of you, decades) can easily get complacent about where the EV revolution is and where it’s headed. We can be lulled into a semi-sleeping state by monthly sales reports, by routinely seeing EV market share of 1–2% in some markets, 5–10% in others, and 50% in Norway. We can be blown away by the Tesla Model 3’s success, while at the same time underestimating what it means.

As Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently mused, it’s super hard for humans to comprehend exponential growth. Indeed, we are not good at thinking in exponential rather than linear ways. It’s one reason why there are popular riddles or tricks related to exponential growth. I’d argue that, in general, we are not good at forecasting, at processing changes that take more than a day to occur. Just think about some major changes in your life that you knew were coming — your brain probably couldn’t digest them, could absorb them until the changes occurred, and even then you might have needed a while to mentally adjust.

Getting practical for a minute, much has changed in the electric vehicle industry — beyond Tesla — that has gone under-noticed for various reasons. A new Nissan LEAF today is not much different in price from a new Nissan LEAF 7 years ago, in 2012. The big difference, the big evidence of change, is that the car now has much more range, more than double the range of a 2012 LEAF. The battery inside the Nissan LEAF is much better and holds considerably more energy despite coming at essentially the same price. The same thing has happened for other models or types of vehicles.

The thing that I think we get complacent about is that we inherently assume the battery technology is now settled and static. Of course, if we think about it, we know that’s not true, but we don’t think about it much. Our brains just accept today as reality. Just as the 73 mile LEAF of 2011 wouldn’t last long and range would more than double in 7 years, EV technology of today won’t last long. In 7 years, a LEAF could have much more range or be much cheaper.

While the LEAF has gotten much better in the past 7 years, Tesla has developed and rolled out the Model 3, a car that is much better than a 2012 Model S in many regards while also being significantly cheaper. In another 7 years, imagine what continued battery improvement will do for Tesla.

In 3–7 years, the Model 3 won’t be the only EV in its class that crushes any gasoline competitor. Nissan should have a model that does so, Volkswagen certainly will, Ford should, GM should, everyone should. If the don’t, they will struggle to stay in business.

Tesla’s vehicles will keep improving and Tesla will make more money on them as underlying prices come down. Elon has said they don’t plan to bring the Model 3 any lower than $35,000. That means reduced costs will put more money into Tesla’s piggy bank for additional investments/projects. Additionally, Tesla could end up rolling out a “Model 2” for $25,000–30,000. If the Model 3 looks like a disruptive top seller, imagine the Model 2! Who could sell a gasoline car at that point?

In general, much more of the public will soon find out that you can’t buy a gas car in most classes that can hold a candle to its electric competitors, and automakers still trying to push gasmobiles onto consumers will get burnt. Tesla will still be setting the pace for the industry, but that won’t be nearly as necessary. Other automakers will have mass-market electric vehicles that regularly rank at or near the top of sales charts (like they do in Norway today), because automakers know the technology is ready and they know that if they don’t sell the cars, a competitor will, and they will die.

Of course, we can assume some automakers are still not prepared, some continue to stick their heads in the sand, and they will be punished for it. Perhaps some of them will get bailed out by their respective governments. Others won’t.

Gasoline/diesel cars that come off lease or hit the used car market will struggle, since consumers won’t want to adopt cars that are costly to fuel, polluting, and expensive to maintain. Automakers that try to hold onto the gas/diesel era will file for bankruptcy or beg for government support. Tesla will continue seeing word-of-mouth sales light its future, while other electric vehicles will offer traditional options to go electric without compromise or worry.

And then there’s autonomy.

We see growing EV sales right now, and dropping gasmobile sales in some countries and globally, but what we don’t appreciate is that multipliers come into effect as the market changes. All of a sudden, an engine factory closes, an EV factory opens, a company folds, EV leaders gobble much more of the pie. As these things occur, more people find out about the revolution, and the revolution grows. As people’s preferred brands enter crisis mode, they look for new brands, and many find Tesla. Others catchword of VW’s hot new ID lineup, or Nissan’s electric crossover and sedan, or the new & improved Jaguar I-PACE. Of course, the automakers that evolve fast and intelligently will have a lot of opportunities to grow their market share.

The change is not just coming — it’s underway. The battery evolution that brought us the Model 3, a Nissan LEAF with 2–3 times more range than a 2011 LEAF, the Hyundai Kona EV, and the coming VW ID.3 will not stop. Batteries will keep evolving. We’ve already entered the crossover point where an EV beats its competitors in about 10 ways and doesn’t lose in any significant ways. We’ve already entered the vortex. As word of mouth blows around and awareness rises, the forces pushing us from 1% to 2% EV market share will become much more powerful and demand will start to skyrocket. At that point, things get messy.

A CleanTechnica Tesla Model 3 at Volkswagen HQ in California.

I wrote last night about Volkswagen’s opportunity to actually gain market share from the EV revolution. I knew it would be a controversial, divisive article, and it was. But there’s an underlying point, which is indeed still a question. Well, let me present it as a series of questions and answers:

Is it clear electric vehicles are the future? Yes. Does Volkswagen Group agree with that? Yes, I think it does.

Is it clear that it’s a big financial challenge for traditional automakers to switch to EVs? Yes.

Is it clear that battery supplies are critical to competing in the electric revolution, if that is indeed what it is? Yes. Is Volkswagen Group working to address that problem? It seems like it, but that’s not entirely clear.

Does Volkswagen Group realize that being able to thread these needles carefully and ramp up EV production quicker than the competition (other traditional automakers) gives it the best chance of survival and financial success? I think so, and I think that’s exactly what it’s aiming to do.

What do other automakers think that they need to try to aggressively thread this needle? Which automakers think there’s a bigger threat to slow-walking the EV transition than there is to accelerating into it? That’s the big fundamental question. Some are convinced Renault is intent on being a leader (or remaining a leader). I hope so, but I’d like to see a bit more evidence of that. Some are convinced Hyundai–Kia is intent on being a leader. I know they have done a great job building competitive EVs, but I haven’t seen strong evidence they are working hard to secure the battery supplies needed (in fact, they have been really bad at this so far) or that they have a solid EV platform for quickly rolling out EVs of various classes in a financially efficient manner. PSA Group, GM, and Ford all have their supporters, but solid evidence that they are focused more on ramping up than PR is limited and scattered. There was some hope Nissan would be intent on retaining its hold on the “top-selling EV in history” title, and adding some other titles to that one, but then it apparently committed corporate self-sabotage and seems to have abetted the illogical jailing of its #1 spokesperson and one-time corporate savior. It’s hard to have much hope for Nissan these days.

Looking at that long paragraph in total, who’s likely to jump into the messy transition most enthusiastically and come out on top? Who is looking at the pace of technological change and calculating that EVs will soon be so much more competitive than gasmobiles that the early majority will be driving millions of them home from European and US dealers year after year? Feel free to place your bets, and be sure to watch closely. I’ve got my own hunch, but I’m not yet placing any bets (beyond my bet on Tesla/TSLA).

Peer-to-peer energy trading could trigger earnings boon for DER, study finds

LO3's Brooklyn microgrid. Image: LO3 Energy

LO3's Brooklyn microgrid. Image: LO3 Energy

Peer-to-peer trading could enable those with distributed energy resources (DERs) to earn up to 37% more for their electricity, according to LO3 Energy.

The energy tech firm conducted a 12-month local energy marketplace (LEM) trial in Australia looking at the associated network and market charges of P2P, which it said is one of P2P’s main challenges.

Three scenarios were modelled - one scenario where neither buyers or sellers paid network charges, one where the costs were split between the two and one where all costs were charged to the consumer.

The modelling was conducted alongside Siemens, Sustainable Australia Fund, CommPower Industrial, Simply Energy and Dairy Australia.

It found that trading local energy within a community incurs fewer losses and is more cost efficient than transmitting power over long distances.

When the consumer paid the costs – a scenario LO3 said is most consistent with existing markets and regulation – they could potentially save 6-12% by buying locally. And those selling the electricity generated from DERs could make 18-37% more than they currently do.

The findings could increase the adoption of DERs in much the saw way that the economics of DERs themselves have accelerated demand from consumers, LO3 said.

LO3’s blockchain-powered energy trading platform was used in the trial, with the 100 participants paying a small fee to access the platform it intends to launch commercially later this year.

The firm is involved in 10 trials worldwide, including Centrica’s Cornwall LEM trial. However, in the UK P2P trading can only go ahead as part of Ofgem’s regulatory sandbox due to regulation restricting consumers to one electricity supplier. This creates barriers for P2P, where a consumer could be buying electricity from any number of neighbours.

Belinda Kinkead, director of LO3 Australia, said: “The study showed the community wanted to embrace new technologies, wanted to keep energy spend in the community and wanted to buy their energy more cheaply.

“The test results demonstrated that even under existing restrictions a local energy market delivers that. The next step is to get these markets set up and then explore regulation changes to provide even bigger benefits.”

Scottish Government reinforces 2021 landfill ban

Published on 19 AUGUST 2019 by 

Holyrood has restated its commitment to a landfill ban in 2021 – despite some speculation that the date could be pushed back to 2025, writes Lucy Pegg with additional reporting by Lucy Lewin.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government claimed that available evidence showed “significant progress” had already been made on meeting the 2021 target and most councils had long term or interim solutions in place.

The Scottish Government has reaffirmed its commitment to implementing a ban on biodegradable waste to landfill from 2021 (Stock photo)

The government statement comes in the wake of a letter written to the country’s Herald national newspaper. The letter was signed by former senior waste and environmental services staff at Scottish councils, who also suggested that the deadline was likely to change.

Colin Clark, Chris Ewing and John G Cunningham – previously of the Highland, Fife and Clackmannanshire* councils respectively – claimed in their August 5 letter to the Herald that the delay would be accompanied by a “fiscal measure”.

They wrote: “The 2021 landfill biodegradable waste ban illustrates perfectly the laissez-faire attitude of the government, which will over the coming days put the ban date back probably to 2025 (to coincide with the 2025 recycling and landfill target) doubtless with some lame fiscal measure which will not help.”

But the Scottish government defended itself against these comments, emphasising it was “committed to ending the practice of sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill.


Under the ban – which was passed under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations legislation in 2012 – no biodegradable municipal waste will be allowed to be sent to landfill sites from January 1, 2021.

Concerns that local authorities and commercial waste operators in Scotland have failed to make adequate preparations for the ban were raised in a Eunomia report to Holyrood in April (see story).

A Scottish Government spokesperson said they remained aware of these challenges, but those affected had been given adequate time to prepare.

They added: “It is therefore disappointing that there is uncertainty around the readiness of some councils. Our focus is on working with authorities who do not yet have a solution in place to identify ways in which they can comply with the ban. Further details will be available in due course.”

*Detail amended 14:30 19/08/2019

All the World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map

Published By 

All The World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map

The use of coal for fuel dates back thousands of years.

Demand for the energy source really started to soar during the Industrial Revolution, and it continues to power some of the world’s largest economies today. However, as the clean energy revolution heats up, will coal continue to be a viable option?

Today’s data visualization from Carbon Brief maps the changing number of global coal power plants operating between 2000 and 2018. The interactive timeline pulls from the Global Coal Plant Tracker’s latest data and features around 10,000 retired, operating, and planned coal units, totaling close to 3,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity across 95 countries.

On the map, each circular icon’s size represents each plant’s coal capacity in megawatts (MW). The data also highlights the type of coal burned and the CO₂ emissions produced as a result.

A Precarious Power Source

Throughout its history, coal has been used for everything from domestic heating and steel manufacturing, to railways, gas works, and electricity. The fuel played a pivotal role in powering economic development and had a promising future with a flurry of plant openings.

However, in 2016, coal output dropped by 231 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Combined with a rapid slowdown of new plants being built, total coal units operating around the world fell for the first time in 2018.

With the remaining fleet of plants operating fewer hours than ever, plant closures have been triggered in South Africa, India, and China—steadily eroding coal’s bottom line. Industry trends have also forced a wave of coal companies to recently declare bankruptcy, including giants such as Peabody Energy and Alpha Natural.

Can Coal Compete with Clean Energy?

Today, coal is experiencing fierce competition from low-priced natural gas and ever-cheaper renewable power—most notably from wind and solar. Further, solar power costs will continue to decline each year and be cut in half by 2020, relative to 2015 figures.


Source: Lazard

Natural gas surpassed coal as America’s #1 power source in 2016, with the total share of power generated from coal tumbling from 45% in 2010 to 28% in 2018. By next year, the role of coal is expected to be further reduced to 24% of the mix.

On the interactive visualization, the decline of coal is especially evident in 2018 as plant closures sweep across the map. The chart shows how several countries, notably China and India, have been closing many hundreds of smaller, older, and less efficient units, but replacing them with larger and more efficient models.

As of today, China retains the largest fleet of coal plants, consuming a staggering 45% of the world’s coal.

Use the above slider to see the difference between China’s coal plants in 2000 with projected future capacity.

Towards a New Reality

Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, and for every tonne of coal burned there are approximately 2.5 tonnes of carbon emissions. The International Energy Agency states that all unabated coal must be phased out within a few decades if global warming is to be limited.

Despite these warnings, global coal demand is set to remain stable for the next five years, with declines in the U.S. and Europe offset by immediate growth in India and China. The latter are the main players in the global coal market, but will eventually see a gradual decline in demand as they move away from industrialization.

total phaseout of unabated coal is planned by 14 of the world’s 78 coal-powered countries, with many of these countries working to convert coal capacity to natural gas.

As the price of premium solar generation drops steadily, and innovation in renewable energy technology becomes more prominent, the world is shifting its attention to a clean energy economy. A global revival of coal looks less and less likely—and the fossil fuel might very well one day become obsolete.

Editor’s Note: The map uses WebGL and will not work on some older browsers. The map may also fail to load if you are using an ad-blocking browser plugin.

Sustainable finance 'growing rapidly' in Europe

15 August 2019, source edie newsroom

Europe's sustainable finance market experienced "rapid" growth during the first half of 2019, despite a challenging end to 2018, new analyses have concluded this week.

H2 of 2018 was widely regarded as a difficult period for green finance, but the market is showing signs of resurgence

H2 of 2018 was widely regarded as a difficult period for green finance, but the market is showing signs of resurgence

The first of these analyses comes from Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Sustainable Finance Market Outlook for the second half of 2019. According to this report, Europe accounted for almost half (48%) of global sustainable debt insurance between January and July this year, with growth driven by both the corporate and government sectors.

Indeed, BNEF is predicting that at least $380bn of sustainable debt finance will be provided during 2019, after a record H1.

“The sustainable debt finance market is growing in volume, scope and popularity,” BNEF’s analysis states. “Record volumes of sustainable debt came to market in 1H 2019 – and the first half of the year is typically quieter than the second.”

Elsewhere, BNEF is predicting a continued comeback for the green bond market – particularly in Europe and the US – after green bond issuance fell 18% during the last quarter of 2018.

The green bonds market grew by a staggering 78% between 2016 and 2017, with national and institutional investors funnelling more than $150bn into low-carbon projects – but then experienced a quieter 2018. BNEF puts the resurgence of the market down to a “shift in market focus towards sustainability-linked loans”.

“Markets are scaling up and diversifying geographically, and in terms of sectors and bond asset classes,” BNEF's Outlook states.

Further analysis

This week has also seen financial services firm Morningstar release its own research on green finance, which concluded that sustainable funds pulled record levels of investment during the first half of the year.

The research looked at 2,323 open-end funds domiciled in Europe, all of which met Morningstar’s own criteria for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments. It found that H1 of 2019 saw a collective total of €36.9bn invested in these funds, up from €38bn during the whole of 2018.

Morningstar also considered the performance of the funds in its research, concluding that more than one-third (34.1%) ended July 2019 within the top quartile of performance for their respective sector. In comparison, just 14.8% were in the bottom quartile.

Newest (green) loan on the block

In related news, BNP Paribas has issued a new sustainability-linked loan to housing association The Peabody Trust this week.

The interest rate on the £75m revolving credit facility is linked to Peabody achieving social-impact-based results. Specifically, the organisation will have to deliver an agreed number of accredited childcare qualifications to local residents over a five-year period, to benefit from lower interest rates. The hope is that this will improve the local community by boosting skills and employment rates, while providing care for children.

BNP Paribas claims that the loan is the first to be issued within the UK housing association sector with embedded links to social purpose.

North East councils conclude £150m EfW plant contract

A consortium led by infrastructure and renewable energy solutions provider Acciona is to deliver an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Aberdeen, it has been confirmed.

The contract award for the £150 million Ness Energy project was ratified by Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils in March and has now been concluded.

The project will be capable of processing 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every year to generate electricity.

Acciona will be responsible for the design and turnkey construction, commissioning and the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the plant for a 20 year period, with a total budget of approximately €400m (£371m), including the EPC work (the turnkey engineering project) and the price of the O&M contract for the whole period.

For the operation and maintenance of the facilities for the entire duration of the contract, it will rely on the expertise of Indaver, a company specialized in waste management for over 25 years.

The project will provide a long-term, sustainable solution for non-recyclable municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the city of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, as new legislation will ban waste going into landfill in Scotland from 2021.

The Ness Energy Project will be housed in a former gas storage site on the East Tullos Industrial Estate in Aberdeen, where it will treat non-recyclable waste in a clean, sustainable and comprehensive way. It will also generate electricity for the National Grid and heating for households in the Torry district.

The plant will comply with Scotland’s Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations and will be regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), whose regulations are based on the strictest controls recently introduced by European directives.

Our Impact on Climate Change and Global Land Use in 5 Charts

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Our Impact on Climate Change and Land Use in 5 Charts


As the world population approaches the eight billion mark, it’s becoming clear that we’re impacting the planet in unprecedented ways.

Humans have made such dramatic changes to Earth’s systems, from climate to geology, that many are suggesting we’ve entered into a new epoch – the Anthropocene.

To better understand the challenges of this era of wide-sweeping human impact on the planet, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced a massive report covering land use and climate change.

According to the IPCC, the situation is looking more dire by the year. Below are a few of the key insights buried within the 1,400+ pages of the massive report.


Shifting Global Land Use

The scale of land use and loss of biodiversity are unprecedented in human history.

According to the report, roughly two-thirds of the world’s ice-free land is now devoted to human uses. Ecosystems, both forested and unforested, only account for about 16% of land today. Part of the reason for this dwindling supply of natural habitat is the rapid increase of agricultural activity around the world.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, global land use has shifted dramatically:

Global land use over time

Not only has land use changed, but so has farming itself. In many parts of the world, increased yields will primarily come from existing agricultural land. For example, wheat yields are projected to increase 11% by the year 2026, despite the growing area only increasing by 1.8%. Rice production exhibits a similar trend, with 93% of the projected increase expected to come from increased yields rather than from area expansion. In some cases, intensive farming practices can degrade soil more than 100x faster than the time it takes for new soil to form, leaving fertilizers to pick up the slack.

One of the most dramatic changes highlighted in the report is the nearly eight-fold increase in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers since the early 1960s. These types of fertilizers are having serious downstream effects on aquatic ecosystems, in some cases creating “dead zones” such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to the negative impacts outlined above, the simple act of feeding ourselves also accounts for one-third of our global greenhouse gas footprint.

Things are Heating Up

The past half-decade is likely to become the warmest five-year stretch in recorded history, underscoring the rapid pace of climate change. On a global scale, even a small increase in temperature can have a big impact on climate and our ecosystems.

For example, air can hold approximately 7% more moisture for every 1ºC increase, leading to an uptick in extreme rainfall events. These events can trigger landslides, increase the rate of soil erosion, and damage crops – just one example of how climate change can cause a chain reaction.

For the billions of people who live in “drylands”, climate change is serving up a completely different scenario:

“Heatwaves are projected to increase in frequency, intensity and duration in most parts of the world and drought frequency and intensity is projected to increase in some regions that are already drought prone.”

— IPCC report on Climate Change and Land, 2019

This is particularly worrisome as 90% of people in these arid or semiarid regions live in developing economies that are still very reliant on agriculture.

In addition to water scarcity, the IPCC has identified a number of other categories, including soil erosion and permafrost degradation. In all seven categories, our current global temperature puts us firmly in the moderate to high-risk zone. These risks predict events with widespread societal impact, such as regional “food shocks” and millions of additional people exposed to wildfires.

This IPCC report makes one thing clear. In addition to tackling emissions in our cities and transportation networks, we’ll need to substantially change the way we use our land and rethink our entire agricultural system if we’re serious about mitigating the impact of climate change.