'You did not act in time': Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs

23 April 2019, source edie newsroom

Read the full text of the speech Greta Thunberg gave to MPs at the Houses of Parliament, originally hosted by the Guardian.

Thunberg urged MEPs to

Thunberg urged MEPs to "wake up and take action" last week in Brussels. Image: Greta Thunberg

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.

Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.

You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.

Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.


Mass VPP rollout could save £32 billion worth of network upgrades, claims project consortium

Image: Moixa.

Image: Moixa.

Furthermore, the project holds the potential to cut domestic energy costs and slash emissions.

The Smart Local Energy System (SLES) project in Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea, first unveiled earlier this month, will establish a VPP aggregating domestic solar and battery storage, electric vehicle chargers, a marine source heat pump, a grid-scale battery and air source heat pumps.

The operational capacities and benefits of those technologies will be blended together using VPP software developed by battery storage firm Moixa under the three-year project aimed at showcasing its potential.

Moixa and other consortium partners on the project, including Flexitricity, PassivSystems, Connected Energy and Flexisolar, have claimed that not only could it cut energy costs by as much as 10%, but a nationwide rollout of the technology could offset infrastructure upgrades worth as much as £32 billion by 2035.

Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Moixa, said the project would showcase UK expertise in an emerging global smart grid market.

“This project will show how solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles at home and in the workplace can play a vital role in creating a smart, low-carbon, energy system, cutting energy bills, saving the country billions and helping to meet our climate targets.”

The first step of the project will see £7.2 million of its budget used to create a VPP with around 2MW of capacity, becoming the first in the UK to use both batteries from different manufacturers and electric vehicles.

Solar panels and batteries will be installed in 250 council homes in Worthing and Shoreham, coupled with 100 schools and council buildings, from Autumn this year to combine a further 4MW of generation and 4.2MWh of battery storage. Installations of strategically-placed EV chargers will follow from early next year.

The GridShare platform is to use machine learning and AI technologies to tailor their performance and maximise savings, which is expected to boost savings on home energy bills to around 40%.

More than 1MW of spare capacity from those installations will be aggregated using Moixa’s GridShare platform and entered into flexibility markets, before an additional 1MW of capacity is added as soon as electric vehicles are fully integrated.

Once all of the technologies are deployed, the VPP will boast 7.65MW of generation and 17MW of storage capacity, which will be aggregated and traded by Flexitricity, with Moixa also retaining the right to trade its own flexibility directly.

Steve Read, West Sussex County Council’s director of Energy, Waste and Environment, said: “The lessons we learn will help the government to plan ahead and adapt our national energy system to the fundamental changes taking place. These include the growth in renewable energy supply, increasing demand for energy from electric vehicles and other innovations, and the challenge of balancing energy supply and demand.”


Origami Energy scores hattrick of flexibility, energy trading pilot projects

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Origami Energy is to partner DNOs Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and SP Energy Networks (SPEN) for three separate trials on flexibility and peer-to-peer trading.

Alongside the previously-announced Project LEO, Origami is also working with Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) on project TRANSITION.

The project will focus on progressing the UK’s Smart Systems and Flexibility plan, testing market models for the trading of flexible network services and creating an interface to facilitate markets and release capacity.

This isn’t the first time Origami has worked with SSE, having partnered the utility's business supply unit for the launch of a virtual power plant in 2018.

A third project, FUSION, will be delivered by SPEN and Origami. The £6 million project is to explore commoditised local demand-side flexibility through a market based on the Universal Smart Energy Framework.

All three trials will use Origami’s technology platform to pilot new business models that allow energy trading, flexibility and aggregation.

The projects come as DNOs are looking to transition towards DSOs, with a more active role in managing local energy production and use. Investments and trials into flexibility are becoming increasingly common, with Western Power Distribution opening a tender window for flexibility last month, SSEN partnering with Piclo for its flexibility platform and UKPN pushing £12 million of funding into flexibility services.

Peter Bance, chief executive of Origami, said the technologies and competencies Origami is developing are “pivotal” to enabling “ground-breaking, real-world trials” that inform the future of local energy systems.

“Such energy systems, which balance local demand with local supply, are becoming globally relevant as grid operators around the world look to unlock the value of local network flexibility.

“Ultimately, the new generation of DSOs will be tasked with delivering a more reliable, available and affordable low-carbon energy supply. By developing our platform for local energy markets, we will ensure that everyone benefits from a smarter, more flexible energy system,” Bance added.


5 Major UK Businesses Powered by Renewable Energy

Electricity generation from renewable energy has been growing steadily (if not quickly) over the last 10 years. In fact, since 2009, it’s grown by across the United Kingdom and in Scotland, renewables beat all other sources including coal, oil, gas and nuclear to be the most used.

Of course, this is a step in the right direction as fossil fuels aren’t just depleting, they’re releasing greenhouse gasses that are harming our planet in devastating ways. (In case you haven’t heard, climate change is real).

Fortunately, businesses – which, by the way, consume a whopping 56% of the UK’s energy – are leading the way by going green using onshore and offshore wind, solar, hydro and bio energy to meet their electricity needs.

The Benefits of Going Green

While the main benefit of going green is a reduced carbon footprint, there are plenty of other incentives for businesses to clean up their act in terms of energy consumption.

To start, consumers prefer products made using renewable energy. It’s simple supply and demand.

According to a study conducted by analysts Kantar Millward Brown on behalf of Ørsted, 73% of UK consumers support businesses partly powered by renewable energy and 60% revealed a preference towards products with a green message on the label. It’s information like this – supported by the economic growth of sustainable products from companies like Ikea and Unilever – that drove global brewers Anheuser-Busch to place a renewable electricity label on all Budweisers brewed using 100% renewable energy.

But, for strategic business owners, it’s not just about using sustainability as a ploy for differentiation. There have to be financial incentives, too. Reduced operational costs are just one of those financial incentives.

With the cost of renewable energy decreasing 23% for onshore wind and 73% for solar since 2010, The International Renewable Energy Agency predicts that by 2020, these clean sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels. The UK government has also gotten involved to help drive costs down in order to increase uptake by creating schemes including Feed-In Tariffs and The Renewable Heat Incentive.

So, which UK businesses are leading the way towards a greener future?

Photo credit: Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

5 UK Businesses Powered by Renewable Energy

As a business owner, it can be difficult to make a leap into the unknown. Perhaps the best way to alleviate some of that apprehension is to lead by example.

Here are 5 UK businesses that are taking renewable energy seriously.

Sainsbury’s

Over the last several years, Sainsbury’s has revealed a number of initiatives in support of clean energy. Back in 2012, they partnered with UK energy company E.ON to deliver 100 MW of renewable energy to its stores. The goal? To reduce their absolute operational carbon emissions 20-30% by 2020.

Their commitment to sustainability persists as last year they announced that they’ll be deploying efficient, long-lasting LED lights in more than 450 stores. They’ve also invested in new aerofoil technology for in-store fridges.

Chase Distillery

While you may not have heard of Chase Distillery, you’re likely familiar with the founder’s other brand, Tyrells. And, where Tyrells might falling short in terms of sustainability when compared to competitors, Chase Distillery is leading the way. In fact, the distillery (specialising in gin and vodka) is on its way to being totally ‘off grid’.

How? Not how you’d expect…

Instead of using solar or wind energy, the drinks supplier is using the steam produced from putting the prunings of 200-year-old apple orchards in a boiler.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, has joined giants like Google and Microsoft as a member of the climate group RE100 which is committed to 100% renewable energy.

With a target of 25pc by 2020, the airport has already surpassed their goal as they became one of the first airports in the world to achieve 100pc carbon neutrality.

Scottish Power

After leaving carbon generation behind in 2018, Scottish Power is set to become the first major UK energy company to switch to completely clean energy. And, with all of its coal plants closed and the company’s final gas and hydro stations sold, they have no choice but to deliver on their promises.

So, what exactly have they promised? To double its clean energy sources and deliver cleaner and cheaper energy for Brits.

Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin have embraced renewable energy for years and it’s evident through the group’s investments.

Back in 2016, Virgin purchased the BMR Jamaican Wind Farm and more recently, they invested in M-Kopa, an off-grid solar company in Africa. Virgin has also made a point to set an example with its trains and aircrafts. Not only has Virgin Atlantic managed to cut carbon emissions by 20% over the last decade, Virgin Trains have pledged to reduce CO2 emission by 4% at each of their stations.

How Your Business Can Join The Revolution

With enough space you can become a net-provider to the energy grid by installing solar panels or wind turbines on your land, connecting the equipment with specific renewable energy cables to the wider grid.

Not enough room for that? Aim to be energy self-sufficient by installing panels or smaller scale installations on your building roof or in the car park, saving money on your annual energy bills in the process.

For those business owners who feel limited by space or lease terms, you can always switch to a green energy supplier at around the same cost as other, non-renewable suppliers. You can find a full list of green energy supplies in the UK here.

This post is supported by Eland Cables; image by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash


Despite good progress, 100 per cent low-carbon energy is still a long way off for the UK

The UK has made huge progress in decarbonising its energy mix, but the hard work has just begun, according to Durham University's Andrew Crossland and Jon Gluyas

In the past ten years the UK's electricity mix has changed dramatically. Coal's contribution has dropped from 40 per cent to six per cent. Wind, solar power and hydroelectric plants now generate more electricity than nuclear power stations, thanks to rapid growth. Demand for electricity has also fallen, reducing the country's dependence on fossil fuels. Thanks to these three factors, the carbon intensity of Britain's electricity has almost halved, from more than 500g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour in 2006 to less than 270g in 2018.

Progress has been so quick that a fully low-carbon power sector in Britain has transformed from a faint pipedream into a real possibility, according to the CEO of one of the UK's 'big six' energy companies. Indeed, the National Grid now expects to be able to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2025.

Already approaching that milestone on windy, sunny days, the country's first hours of 100 per cent low-carbon electricity could soon be here - but staying at 100 per cent throughout the year will be much more difficult to achieve. So what does the journey to decarbonisation look like?

Headwinds to decarbonisation

To paint the UK's energy future, it is important to first understand how electricity is generated today. The graph below is a visualisation of British electricity generation in October 2018. Periods of strong wind (in red) and sun (yellow) combined with nuclear power (green) meant that on some days, more than 75 per cent of electricity came from low-carbon sources. With solar prices still decreasing and the government recently agreeing a major deal for offshore wind to produce one-third of the UK's power by 2030, the country's first hours of low-carbon power could arrive within the next five years.

British electricity generation in October 2018 British electricity generation in October 2018 | Credit: Dr Andrew Crossland/MyGridGB

But the graph also highlights the other side to the UK's energy story. When the wind is weak and the skies dark, low-carbon sources provide less than 25 per cent of electricity generation. On average, low-carbon technologies accounted for more than 45 per cent of British electricity in 2018 - and almost half of that came from nuclear plants. Saying goodbye to fossil fuels quickly might mean accepting that the ever-controversial form of energy will play some role in the UK's electricity mix in the medium term.

Even with the aid of nuclear power, electricity consumption in Britain is set to increase dramatically in the coming decade. As electric cars continue their journey to the mainstream, traditional transport fuels will be replaced by electricity. The yearly energy demand of transport fuels is currently more than double the UK's national electricity consumption.

Similarly, plans to decarbonise the UK's heat generation - currently 66 per cent is generated by gas - by converting to electric heating systems will also place huge pressures on demand. During winter months, heat can consume more than three times the daily energy demands of electricity - and over a full annual cycle it constitutes 50 per cent of total energy demand. Collectively, these factors will move the goalposts for 100 per cent low-carbon electricity further and further away.

Powering through

While the huge efficiency increase of electric vehicles over internal combustion engines should cushion the impact of electric vehicles on the UK's energy future, the country will need to diversify its energy mix as much as possible to bring those goalposts back into sight. This means continued growth in wind, solar, hydro, biomass, energy efficiency and energy storage to carry the country through the calm, grey days. Precisely how much growth is needed depends exactly on the future of energy demand, but to give some perspective of scale, more than 80 per cent of the total UK energy supply, including electricity, land transport and heat, still comes from fossil fuels. The tens of billions of pounds already invested in low-carbon electricity is just the start of the UK's journey to decarbonised energy.

It also means seeking alternative, non-electric methods to replace fossil fuels in heat generation. Capturing waste heat from industrial processes, geothermal heat from the ground and heat extracted from water bodies could all limit demands on the electricity sector and make it easier to achieve more low-carbon heat and power. Southampton already heats much of its city centre geothermally - and many cities can and should follow suit. Recent work published by the BritGeothermal estimates that geothermal energy alone could meet the UK's heat demand for at least 100 years.

Concerted and sustained effort from both government and individuals is required if the UK is to achieve a low-carbon nirvana in heat, transport and power. State support of the renewables industry through ensuring long-term investment security and regulations to create energy-efficient and electricity-generating new homes will be essential in the UK's decarbonisation journey. The UK population will need to consume less energy individually, use energy more efficiently and use their voices and money to support renewable solutions. They will also need to elect representatives with a genuine ambition to decarbonise the country - rather than to commission new coal mines and fracking sites.

Large-scale changes are already in motion. Shell recently stated that it wants to become the world's largest electricity supplier and is among many oil giants investing heavily in renewables. While the need for new forms of energy presents big challenges for the UK it also offers a wealth of opportunities for the current generation to be part of an energy revolution. If the UK embraces the task, it could be joining Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway as low-carbon powerhouses before the middle of the century. As one specialist at the start of his career and another nearing the end of his, we say bring that challenge on.

Dr Andrew Crossland is an associate fellow at Durham Energy Institute, where Professor Jon Gluyas is the executive director.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Emissions Targets - Shortfall Increases

New stats reveal growing shortfall in government emissions targets

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The UK now looks all but certain to miss emissions reductions targets out to 2032, new statistics out today have revealed.

And the fresh projections compiled by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirm that “projected shortfalls” against the country’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets, for the periods 2023 – 2027 and 2028 – 2032 respectively, have actually increased compared to previous estimates.

This morning BEIS released its updated energy and emissions projections report for 2018, ultimately concluding that while it was now very likely that the UK’s emissions reductions would fall within the cap for the third carbon budget, it is now thought that for the fourth carbon budget the UK will fall short by some 139 MtCO2e, an increase of around 45 MtCO2e compared to last year’s projections.

And it’s a similar story for the fifth carbon budget, with the country’s shortfall revised upwards from 196 MtCO2e to 245 MtCO2e.

While there are uncertainties in the government’s modelling that could mean policies which affect decarbonisation throughout the 2020s over deliver, their development is not as such that they can be included in the projections.

The worsening of the country’s position with regards the fourth and fifth carbon budgets means that it is now the government’s consideration that the UK will get 95% and 93% of the way there respectively.

The damning statistics come just days before the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is expected to deliver its recommendation on establishing a net zero carbon deadline, and will likely attract the ire of green pressure groups and watchdogs.

Today’s report will also shine further spotlight on the government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), the document that was supposed to outline its vision for how those carbon budgets were to be met.

The CGS was scrutinised within the CCC’s annual progress report last year, which the government then responded to during last October’s Green Great Britain Week.

However Lord Deben, chairman at the CCC, was left unimpressed. At last year’s Solar & Storage Live Lord Deben slammed the government’s progress as “not good enough”, concluding that it failed to “produce the necessary steps which, by law, they have to reach”.

Curiously Lord Deben also raised the prospect of legal action being taken against the government for its lack of ambition, a prospect which becomes even more relevant given today’s statistics.

“It won’t be us that takes them to court, but I fear I will be first witness for the prosecution,” Lord Deben said at the time.


Funding secured for Bridgwater EfW plant

30 NOVEMBER 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Infrastructure investor, Equitix, and environmental investment firm Iona Capital, have announced the planned development of a £72 million energy from waste facility in Bridgwater, Somerset.

The 7.7MW Resource Recovery facility will process around 100,000 tonnes of commercial and municipal refuse derived fuel (RDF). Construction is expected to start in Q1 2019 and the plant to begin commercial operation in 2021.

The £72 million energy from waste facility will be sited in Bridgwater, Somerset

RDF

Waste will be supplied by Geminor UK Limited – a leading exporter and supplier of Refuse Derived Fuel – under a long-term waste supply contract. Geminor will supply 75,000 tonnes. [updated January 2019].

The project will be delivered under a turnkey design and build contract with STC Power SRL – a specialist in the supply of small-scale thermal energy plants. The company has delivered 20 facilities since 2001.

Pinnacle Power Limited has been appointed as the operations and maintenance contractor. Pinnacle Power is part of the Pinnacle Group and is a provider of construction and operations services for district heat and power projects.

According to Iona Capital, the facility is based on the conventional combustion of RDF with heat recovered via a boiler to generate power from a steam turbine. The grate use technology was consented earlier this year. The facility has secured a 15 year power purchase agreement with electric utilities firm, Engie.

‘Huge opportunities’

“This is a sector that we see huge opportunities in and are very excited to be working with our partners, Iona Capital, in developing this top-quality, high-impact facility.”


Geoff Jackson
Equitix

Nick Ross, director and co-founder of Iona Capital said: “We are very pleased to partner Equitix in the financing of the Bridgwater project which is the first of a number of planned investments in the EfW sector.”

Developer Bridgwater Resource Recovery secured planning permission for the facility in January 2015. Once completed, it will employ up to 25 full-time staff.

Equitix

Based in London, Equitix describes itself as a leading investment firm that manages over £3 billion. The firm’s investment strategy focuses on small to mid-cap infrastructure projects, predominantly located in the UK, covering a range of sectors with a focus on social infrastructure and renewable energy.

Iona Capital

Iona Capital has managed funds on behalf of institutional pension funds and invested these in long term projects within the UK bio-energy and low carbon markets.. It has offices in London and York.


Who’s right on residual waste?

30 MARCH, 2019 BY , MARK SMULIAN

According to Defra, policies laid out in the resources and waste strategy will result in all the UK’s residual waste being dealt with by 2035 through incin­eration and other methods. Not long ago, a Defra official told MRW: “Our evidence is suggesting that, when we meet future recycling targets in 2030 and 2035, recycling will leave no capac­ity gap.”

But the latest analysis of the UK’s capacity by Tolvik Consulting contra­dicts this. Its Filling the Gap report looks at the strategy in some depth, and concluded that the UK would still need to build around 20 mid-sized energy-from-waste (EfW) plants.

It is a complicated subject, prone to the vagaries of interpretation and pro­jected estimates of many datasets. These include, among others, changes in waste generation due to population and consumption patterns, Brexit, changing waste composition, recycling markets and waste crime.

At the end of it all, we have the same fundamental disagreement between industry figures and those of the Gov­ernment that has been rumbling on for many years.

Tolvik said the impact of compulsory food waste collections, harmony in household waste collections, extended producer responsibility and a deposit return scheme as proposed by Defra would reduce the existing amount of residual waste produced each year by around 3.3 million tonnes. The report said: “This is some way short of the 10 million tonnes a year reduction which is set out as a goal in the annex to the [Defra] strategy.”

Tolvik director Adrian Judge said: “We think there will be more residual waste than previously projected because we can see how much by modelling the strategy.” For the first time, Tolvik mod­elled the impact of bulky waste, outages on EfW capacity and geographical remoteness from EfW sites – which it collectively termed BOG – all material that must be landfilled.

“Just 10% of the UK’s capacity gap is located in northern England but it accounts for 37% of EfW capacity under development.”

Judge said: “If you take the increased tonnage of residual waste and the effect of BOG, you get to a seven million tonnes a year shortfall in EfW capacity.”

Tolvik found there was 16.2 million tonnes of potential EfW capacity at var­ious stages of the planning process, from proposal to construction. But it estimated that only 3-3.5 million tonnes of capacity could be built in the next few years, and at least half of the remainder “will never be built because it is too unrealistic in location or scale, so we will inevitably still need landfill capacity for a long time”.

The report also said there would be sharply increased transportation of residual waste around the country because the location of existing and pro­posed EfW plants was biased towards northern England while most of the waste was in the south.

It said: “While 30% of the UK’s capacity gap is in southern England, only 15% of EfW development projects are located [there]. On the other hand, just 10% of UK capacity gap is located in northern England but it accounts for 37% of EfW capacity under development.”

If left unchanged, this imbalance would lead to “a near doubling in the bulk haulage requirement for residual waste by 2025”, Tolvik concluded.

But where will investment for new EfW come from if the consultancy’s fig­ures are right? There is currently no political will to put public money into the technology, partly in reaction to public concern over incineration and partly because of the failure of Public Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes.

The collapse of Interserve, the group of support services and construction companies, with £480m of debt was in part blamed on its troubles building EfW facilities in Glasgow and Derby­shire. EY, Interserve’s administrator, said: “The company has been suffering from much-publicised issues from losses on certain legacy construction contracts, in particular in the EfW sector.”

PFI funding is now at an end, and chancellor Philip Hammond has launched a review into replacing it with a different method of getting private money to back infrastructure projects.

If the demand for residual waste treatment outlined in Tolvik’s report is really there, private equity may get more involved in the sector. There seems to be increasing interest already: in Novem­ber last year, investment firms Equitix and Iona Capital teamed up to back a £72m EfW in Somerset, to be operated and maintained by Pinnacle Power.

There have been other models put forward to fund EfW, including using blockchain technology.

GoGen has raised £3m so far by crowdfunding for a gasification plant. The Community R4C group opposed to the Javelin Park EfW project in Gloucestershire has launched a crowd­funding campaign to take up the legal battle and has already raised £10,000 of its £30,000 target.

New money, but old arguments.

residual waste

Source: Tolvik Consulting

Analysis excludes any EfW projects currently in development, irrespective of how imminent the planned financial close. ‘Total capacity’ includes EfW that is certain to be online, mechanical and biological treatment, co-incineration and estimated amount of material that will still need to be sent to landfill.


Hydrogen push in Australia

'The perfect storm': hydrogen gains ground on LNG as alternative fuel

With demand set to rise across the world, Australia is set to become a global primary producer of hydrogen

The greatest demand for hydrogen is likely to come from its use as a fuel for hydrogen-powered electric cars, long-haul heavy transport and public transport buses.
 The greatest demand for hydrogen is likely to come from its use as a fuel for hydrogen-powered electric cars, long-haul heavy transport and public transport buses. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images

In March, the Queensland University of Technology made history when it achieved the first export of a small quantity of clean, green hydrogen produced in Australia from renewable energy, to Japanese energy giant JXTG – proving that it was in fact possible.

Hydrogen is increasingly being seen as an alternative to LNG and other fossil fuels and Australia has a lot to gain from a new export industry, with companies such as Woodside Energy and Siemens already investing.

Each year the world consumes 55 million tonnes of hydrogen, a figure which is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade. As countries such as Japan and South Korea embrace hydrogen to rapidly decarbonise their economies in response to climate change, global demand is expected to rise by eight million tonnes as of 2030 and about 35 million tonnes by 2040

While hydrogen is used in the manufacture of glass, steel and fertiliser, the greatest demand is likely to come from its use as a fuel for hydrogen-powered electric cars, long-haul heavy transport and public transport such as buses.

And while Australia may not be able to make those vehicles, it has the potential to become a primary producer of hydrogenThe only thing holding it back is the pace at which it embraces the technology and build its industrial capacity over the next few years.

So far, the main roadblock has been political will. This seemed to have been resolved in February when the Coalition announced it would hold public consultations on establishing the new industry before the next election.

Labor has likewise set aside $1bn in funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to develop clean hydrogen technologies and an additional $90m for the Australia Renewable Energy Agency for research.

Support for a clean hydrogen industry has been a long time coming. In August 2018, Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, released a National Hydrogen Roadmap spelling out how Australia could develop a hydrogen export industry.

Finkel’s plan was adopted by COAG and the 30 companies currently working on hydrogen projects in Australia knew they had a future.

Dr Fiona Beck, a theoretical physicist working with an ANU team recently awarded $10m in funding to conduct holistic research into setting up a hydrogen export industry in the Asia-Pacific, compared the current state of hydrogen to the early days of solar.

“With hydrogen, there is really the feeling right now that it’s not just researchers and technologists talking about this. There is the alignment. The perfect storm,” said Beck.

She said in the past hydrogen faced objections from people who said it just was not possible. Like solar, the technology had been around since the 1970s, but it was only with a growing awareness of climate change and the need for a transition that the technology started to receive more attention.

A hydrogen powered bus is refuelled at a depot in London.
Pinterest
 A hydrogen powered bus is refuelled at a depot in London. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Broadly, there are currently three ways to make hydrogen. Brown hydrogen is is produced when the element is stripped out of fossil fuels such as coal, while blue hydrogen is produced from gas. Green hydrogen is produced from running an electric current through water using an electrolyser powered by renewable energy such as solar.

“The technology is ready today but has not been widely deployed in Australia,” Coleman said. “We view hydrogen production and export as a potential adjacent activity to our core business of LNG. We are also ideally placed to produce hydrogen in the north-west of Australia, where we have access to abundant sunshine for solar power.

“Blue hydrogen is the key to building scale and lowering costs in hydrogen transport and distribution, which will enable an earlier transition to renewable green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis of water, powered by renewables. The earlier we can shift, the faster we can reduce emissions.”

Martin Hablutzel, the head of strategy for Siemens – which manufacturers electrolysers, the main equipment needed to make zero carbon hydrogen – said the company welcomed bipartisan support for the industry and said demand for the company’s equipment is growing.

“What we need now is for Australia to fast-track green hydrogen projects of scale and governments to have a clear role in supporting this great new industry as it establishes,” Hablutzel said.

Where once their electrolysers were only capable of turning kilowatts of renewable energy into clean hydrogen, the company is now building larger scale devices.

Siemens will soon deliver a unit with a 1.25MW capacity to the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia. It also offers another unit capable of scaling up above 10MW, with plans for newer equipment capable of producing into the triple digits.

Other companies aren’t waiting either. Yara Pilbara operates a fertiliser plant on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia’s far north and is racing to commercialise hydrogen production in partnership with French company Engie. Hydrogen is a key ingredient in fertiliser and general manager Chris Rijkson says the company sees it as a way to decarbonise its range.

While the original plan was to build a test-site, about a year ago Yara Pilbara chose to skip straight to building a full-scale 100MW solar-powered commercial-scale green hydrogen plant with a 66MW electrolyser. If successful, it would be the first in the world.

“[With this] we could make our whole product portfolio carbon-free in the future,” Rijkson said. “On top of that, Yara is looking into what other options there are to produce fuel in the future.”

At this critical time…

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Landfill Tax rate rises to £91.35 per tonne for 2019

1 APRIL 2019 by Will Date

Landfill Tax rates have moved above £90 per tonne for the first time from today (1 April 2019).

The latest tax rates – which are currently the same for all areas across the UK – are: for standard rate material £91.35 and lower rate (‘inert’) material (qualifying fines with a loss of ignition of 10% or lower) £2.90 per tonne.

Landfill Tax
£ per tonne (England)
From 1 April 2020From 1 April 2019From 1 April 2018From 1 April 2017From 1 April 2016
Standard rate94.1591.3588.9586.1084.40
Lower rate3.002.902.802.702.65

The increase is in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI), rounded to the nearest 5 pence, confirmed by the Treasury in the Autumn 2018 Budget.

HMRC has also lined up a further rise in the standard tax rate from 1 April 2020 when it will jump £3 to £94.15 per tonne (see above table).

Landfill Tax

Landfill Tax is charged on material disposed of at a landfill site or an unauthorised waste site. As such, said the Treasury, it encourages “efforts to minimise the amount of material produced and the use of non-landfill waste management options, which may include recycling, composting and recovery”.

The tax was first introduced on 1 October 1996 to encourage waste producers and the waste management industry to switch to more sustainable alternatives for disposing of material.

There is a lower rate of tax (which applies to less polluting qualifying materials covered by two Treasury Orders) and a standard rate (which applies to all other taxable material disposed of at authorised landfill sites).

Previously, the Landfill Tax applied across the UK but from 1 April 2015 it was devolved in Scotland and from 1 April 2018 in Wales.

Landfill tax receipts 1999-2018 (source: ONS)

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility Landfill Tax is likely to have raised around £0.9 billion in 2018-19. Around 77.9% of this total from UK government landfill tax, with the remaining 17.1% and 5.1% coming from the Scottish landfill tax and Welsh landfill disposals tax respectively.