I can ignore the Brexit elephant no longer

Passion proves a winner for Aberdeenshire farmer

David Smith.

Scotland’s Orkney Islands may see electric plane service by 2021

Eight-seater two-engine propellor plane on a runway.

Enlarge / A Britten Norman Islander plane, similar to the kind used in the Orkney Islands to shuttle people short distances.

Up in the remote northeast of Scotland, residents of the Orkney Islands use small island-hopping aircraft to commute around the archipelago. The longest flight in the area is 15 minutes, traveling 33 miles from the city of Kirkwall to the island of North Ronaldsay. The shortest flight takes an average of 80 seconds to travel 1.7 miles between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray. That flight holds the Guinness World Record as the shortest commercial flight route in the world.

Now, Scottish airline Loganair and aircraft modifier Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are working together in the hopes of turning the Orkney Islands' 10 inter-island routes all-electric, perhaps even establishing the world's first all-electric commercial flight routes.

Electric planes are still something of a pipe-dream for environmentalists and technologists. Jet fuel is extremely energy-dense compared to batteries, and flight requires a lot of energy at little additional weight. Electric flight startups are either developing hybrid battery/jet-fuel planes or banking on the continuous improvement of batteries to make their visions viable years down the road. While the most optimistic see the advent of lithium-air batteries and engine efficiency improvement as a path to commercial electric flight, others have focused on decarbonizing jet-fuel synthesis.

But flights as short as those in the Orkney Islands don't need the same kind of energy efficiency as long-haul flights do. Cranfield told Scotland's Press and Journal that it believed it could simply modify the eight-seater Britten Norman Islander planes that Loganair already uses among the islands instead of designing an electric plane from scratch. Paul Hutton, CEO of Cranfield, said that he believed it would only take £10 million to create and safety test these specialty-use battery aircraft. Cranfield is seeking a grant from the UK government to support the project.

Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles told the Press and Journal that a three-year timeline is possible if grant funding is found for the project. That would make 2021 the earliest that all-electric commercial flights could be put into service.

Hutton told the BBC that the added benefit of electrifying the Orkney Islands flights is that there's an abundance of renewable energy, especially wind energy, already on the grid in the area. Charging a battery between flights is easily the greener option compared to burning jet fuel.

Local council likes this plan

Loganair operates the inter-islands flights on behalf of the Orkney Islands Council, which subsidizes transportation between the sparsely populated islands. Orkney Islands Council Leader James Stockan told the BBC that the council supports electrifying its inter-islands flights if they can be proven safe, because it could help save money on expensive jet fuel. "This is a community with a strong track record when it comes to innovation, and I am pleased that this pioneering project looks set to be developed in Orkney," Stockan said.

Though replacing the jet fuel burned by small island-hopping planes in a remote part of the world may seem like a drop in the bucket in efforts to reduce emissions, starting small is often a path to thinking big. If the shortest flights in the world can be flown successfully, gradually longer and longer commercial electric flights may someday be attempted.

Europe’s clean transport revolution continues

There is now a clear EU majority, led by the Nordic countries, for tougher targets on car emissions, writes Sanjeev Kumar. The big questions now relates to charging points for electric vehicles and whether they can charge fast enough, he writes.

Sanjeev Kumar is Director for Energy and Environment at Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), a consultancy.

The European Union is slowly but surely driving towards cleaner cars. EU governments, MEPs and the European Commission have begun compromise talks on carbon dioxide emissions targets for new vehicles, and their eventual decision could radically reshape the car market.

This represents a huge transformation for Europe. Even if the EU has been a driving force for global climate change policies, it has until now shied away from measures that might have a major impact on its carmakers.

But the political power lines have shifted in recent years, not only within the European Parliament but also inside the Council of Ministers.

Indeed, the current gap between MEPs and governments is relatively slim. EU environment ministers agreed in Luxembourg on October 9 to cut CO2 emissions by 35% for cars and 30% for vans by 2030. That was just days after MEPs voted at their October 3 session in Strasbourg to cut vehicle CO2emissions by 40% by 2030.

'Disappointed' EU capitals agree on 35% car CO2 cuts

EU environment ministers took until nearly midnight on Tuesday (9 October) to agree on a common position for car and van CO2 emission cuts for 2030 but several member states were left “disappointed” with the final agreement.

The current trilogue negotiations between MEPs, the Council and the Commission may be influenced by recent warning by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world is “running out time” on global warming. But MEPs already have a strong hand. Earlier this year, they successfully pushed the Commission and Council to raise the EU’s 2030 renewable energy and energy savings targets.

Even if the Council is more cautious, its target is still much higher than initially sought by Germany, Europe’s carmaking champion. Although the German government has warned about targets hurting exports and threaten jobs, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s SPD junior coalition partners are now siding with those seeking bigger CO2 cuts.

There is now a clear EU majority, led by the Nordic countries, for tougher targets. France, home to Renault, Citroen and Peugeot, has said it wants a 40% cut. And, as the local elections in Bavaria and Belgium showed on October 14, there is momentum behind green parties.

New direction

While officials hammer out the legal details, the EU’s direction is clear: climate change, local pollution and falling clean technology costs are driving deep changes in alternative systems. Intense competition across the value chain of clean vehicles from Japan, China, South Korea and US adds further pressure.

Emissions from transport are a priority because this is the only sector where the level is much higher than in 1990. Alternative fuels are used by less than 4% of cars currently on the road. Diesel, once promoted as the climate-friendly fuel, is now collapsing as a market. Indeed, most major carmakers are now investing heavily in alternative technologies, with China now leading the way in cheap electric vehicles (EVs)

There is also local pressure on both carmakers and consumers, with city authorities around Europe now enacting bans on dirty cars. Just days before the Parliament vote, on September 30, the Brussels capital region began imposing fines of up to €350 on drivers with diesel Euro 0 and Euro 1 vehicles. And at national level, governments are pledging to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars over the next few years: this month, Denmark said it would ban them by 2030, following pledges by France and the UK to do so by 2040.

Is Europe ready?

The big questions for the market are about capacity and infrastructure: are there enough charging points? There are currently just 100,000 charging points in the EU, but the Commission wants 2 million by 2025, a 20-fold increase. Can they charge fast enough? Some carmakers are already answering this: Toyota is working on an electric car battery with a much longer driving range and a much shorter charging time. And can electricity networks rise to challenge? The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports trans-European networks and infrastructures is actively addressing this issue, identifying missing links and bottlenecks to resolve.

But it is also an opportunity for Europe to capture EV market share. With Chinese, US and Japanese competitors gaining rapidly, it has to adapt. And the demand is there: a recent survey by campaigning NGO Transport & Environment found that 40% of Europeans say they want their next car to be electric or fuel cell-powered. While EVs currently have a market share of just 1.5% in Europe, their numbers are rising fast.

In this context, it’s not hard to see the economic as well as the environmental case for cleaner cars. And it is one that more environmentally-conscious MEPs and member state governments are finally winning in the EU’s corridors of power. It will take time to transform Europe’s car culture, but it is changing.

Fracking in the UK: what is it and why is it controversial?

Fracking restarted in the UK on Monday – the first such operation since 2011. The oil and gas firm Cuadrilla commenced work at a well in Lancashire after seeing off a last-minute legal challenge on Friday.

The aim is to extract shale gas to contribute to the country’s energy supply but environmental campaigners fiercely oppose it.

What is fracking?

It is short for hydraulic fracturing, a means of extracting gas or oil trapped in rocks deep underground. It is one of the technologies the industry has turned to as new sources of easy-to-extract oil become harder to find.

Fluid composed of water and chemicals, with added sand, is fired at high pressure into the rocks. This creates fissures that allow gas and oil to escape and be brought to the surface.

How big will it be?

That is hard to say. Several companies have bought up vast swathes of shale gas acreage, including Cuadrilla, the petrochemicals firm Ineos and IGas, but none are likely to produce gas at commercial volumes for a couple of years at least.

Estimates of how much shale gas the UK has vary, although the British Geological Survey believes there is more than 3.7tn cubic metres of gas in the Bowland shale – a formation that runs across most of north and central England.

There is far less certainty about how much of it could be extracted economically. Most industry figures are cautious about predicting a British shale boom and comparisons with North Sea oil are widely seen as fanciful.

Why is it controversial?

The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Lancashire.

The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Lancashire. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

For a start, any form of gas, while cleaner than energy sources such as coal, is still a fossil fuel and burning it is at odds with efforts to reduce carbon output. There are also specific concerns associated with fracking, such as fears it could contaminate the water table. It has been linked with small earthquakes such as those that took place in Lancashire in 2011, triggering a moratorium on the technique and ushering in tighter regulations.

One form of pollution that is often overlooked is the noise and emissions caused by the juggernauts required to bring water to fracking sites for injection into the ground.

Labour has a policy of banning fracking, the Scottish government has a shale gas moratorium and the Welsh government has promised to block any applications.

The industry argues gas is a key part of the UK’s transition from dirtier fuels such as coal to a low-carbon future, providing a bridge while renewable energy sources are increased.

Will it reduce energy bills?

Despite David Cameron’s claim that fracking would bring down gas prices, few expect the industry to grow to a scale where it has any significant impact on pricing.

The amount of gas likely to be produced from any fracking boom is not going to outweigh the effect of global markets for oil and liquefied natural gas, which the UK imports from Qatar and elsewhere.

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However, it could improve security of supply, insulating against the threat that gas imports could be disrupted or rise in cost because of geopolitical events, such as tension with Europe’s major supplier, Russia.

Bank of England calls on banks and insurers to step up climate risk oversight

Prudential Regulation Authority recommends that boards task a senior executive with managing climate risks

The Bank of England (BoE) will today step up calls for financial institutions to better manage climate risks, with the release of formal recommendations detailing how banks and insurers should identify a senior executive for managing climate-related risks.

In what is thought to be the first such move by a central bank anywhere in the world, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) is reportedly set to publish a draft supervisory statement instructing companies to ensure a senior figure is in place who can report to the board on climate-related risks and opportunities.

The bank is poised to warn that a failure to strengthen climate risk governance arrangements could resultin tougher regulations and the risk of penalties.

The move is the latest in a string of interventions from central banks to encourage more businesses to enhance their climate risk disclosure and will fuel speculation that reporting in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce of Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs) could become mandatory.

Only last week 18 central banks, including those of England, Germany, France, Japan and China, issued a statement warning financial risks arising from climate change are "system-wide and potentially irreversible if not addressed".

It also comes in the wake of green law group ClientEarth writing to a number of regulators and listed firms to warn legal action could soon follow if they fail to strengthen their climate risk disclosure practices.

Dr Ben Caldecott, founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford, said the recommendations from the PRA were part of a wider trend.

"The Bank of England is making clear that supervisory expectations are changing and that the regulator will now be factoring climate-related risk explicitly into different aspects of banking and insurance supervision," he said in a statement. "This is a logical next step as the Bank of England has repeatedly highlighted the potential risks to firm solvency and financial stability from climate change. Other regulators in the UK, such as the Financial Conduct Authority, as well as regulators internationally, will almost certainly follow suit."

He also stressed that ensuring senior executives take responsibility for managing climate-change risks and face board-level accountability for doing should "undoubtedly spur greater action". "Financial institutions now need to develop credible and robust plans for measuring and managing climate-related risks," he advised. "Among other things, they need to determine what analytical capabilities they require and how they intend to resource them."

Jon Williams, PwC Partner and a member of the TCFD, said significant changes were required across the banking and insurance sectors in response to the new recommendations.

"It's encouraging that some banks and insurers are now taking climate-related financial risks seriously, but there's still lots of progress to be made to ensure resilience through the transition to a lower-carbon economy," he said. "The PRA's own survey shows that whilst 70 per cent of banks see climate change as a financial risk, only 10 per cent of them are managing these risks comprehensively. The TCFD status report, published last month, also shows that the majority of banks are not disclosing on climate governance and find it challenging to integrate climate change into business strategy and risk management."

The intervention comes as a number of banks and financial institutions responded to last week's IPCC report on the urgent need for deep and rapid decarbonisation by warning investment markets would have to transform over the coming decades.

A note from banking giant UBS said investors could support the IPCC report's recommended goal of delivering a net zero emission global economy by 2050 by pursuing attractive renewable energy investment opportunities, supporting the transition to electric cars, and backing green financial instruments.

"By choosing sustainable investing options, investors can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions, along with other positive goals, without sacrificing economic returns," the note stated. "Green bonds, typically, have the same seniority as conventional bonds, yet their investment proceeds are ring-fenced for green projects, such as carbon reduction. BlackRock finds that a $1m investment in the bonds that form the Bloomberg Barclays MSCI Green Bond index represents over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 avoided, in addition to over 88 million litres of water saved, and other positive contributions."

Separately, credit ratings agency Moody's launched a new quarterly Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) themed research compilation - dubbed ESG Focus - which will pool together the agency's ESG research and green bond assessments.

And investment management firm Brooks Macdonald last week launched a new Responsible Investment Service, which will offer clients investment strategies that either avoid certain companies or sectors or seek to step up support for firms with strong ESG track records.

Meanwhile, the Natural Capital Finance Alliance (NCFA) published a report last week - entitled Connecting Finance and Natural Capital: A Supplement to the Natural Capital Protocol - which provides advice on how investors can better assess their impact on natural capital.

The latest green investment developments come against a backdrop of further reminders of the huge scale of the reforms that will be required to deliver a genuinely sustainable investment community.

A separate report last week from the US non-profit Consumer Watchdog revealed the top 10 US insurance companies continue to hold $51bn in fossil fuel assets, while eight out of 10 have not altered their investment strategies in any way to address escalating climate risks.

The report came as a new coalition of public-interest groups came together under the banner Insure Our Future to call on US insurance companies to divest from coal and tar sands companies.

National Museum focuses on saving planet with sustainability showcase

International climate experts this week issued the starkest warning yet about the perilous state of the planet and the urgent need for humankind to take major action to limit global warming.

It might seem an impossible task to many, but a new green showcase at the National Museum of Scotland could offer some hope for the future.

A programme of events being staged this week, entitled Our Green Future, will allow visitors to learn all about sustainability and eco-friendly living.

There will be a host of interactive and hands-on activities around wildlife conservation, renewable energy and recycling.

The museum has also scheduled a series of special Science Saturdays, which focus on themes highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths.

As part of the activities, members of RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch team showed off plastic litter found during beach cleans to illustrate the dangers to wildlife from man-made debris and to encourage recycling.

Clare Meakin, science engagement manager for National Museums Scotland, said: “We’ve run Science Saturdays on all sorts of different science topics like anatomy, coding, encryption and even viruses and bacteria.

“It’s fantastic to have both our curators and learning teams at these events, and also people who do active research or work in science careers that explore the world around us and look at how it’s changed over time.

“Our Green Future – the theme for our activities over half-term – will look at different aspects of our environment and what impact we have.

“We’ll be exploring more about plastics, what they are, how we use them and what we can do to reduce impact on the environment through our own actions. Scotland is a world leader in developing new green technologies, so we’ll be exploring renewable energy and we’ll be talking about nature’s recyclers and looking at some of our insect collections with our entomologist.”

Meakin said she believed the museum offered a unique opportunity for people get to grips with novel concepts and complicated technologies.

“Having something physically in front of you can really help to understand more about science ideas and new research and how that relates to our lives now and in the future,” she said.

Adam Ross, membership and engagement officer for RSPB Scotland, said getting up close and examining the rubbish found on beaches can turn up nasty surprises, particularly the length of time some commonly discarded items take to decompose.

“The likes of cigarettes can take years, although most people think because they’re made of paper they will disappear very quickly,” he said.

“Banana skins can be over a year as well. Things that people think are biodegradable often aren’t.”

Funding for the collaboration came from the ScottishPower Foundation.

Ann McKechin, trustee and executive officer for the organisation, said: “Both National Museums Scotland and RSPB Scotland have vast amounts of knowledge and insights into how we can make our lives more sustainable.” Our Green Future starts today and runs until Friday in the museum’s Hawthornden Court.

Fair Isle gets 24-hour electricity for the first time

There will be no more scrabbling for torches or lighting candles in the night on Fair Isle as the island gets a 24-hour electricity supply for the first time.

Residents of the island, which sits halfway between Orkney and Shetland and has a population of 55, used to have their power supply turned off between 11.30pm and 7.30am.

The three windturbines will be supported by solar panels and massive battery packs. PIC: Contributed.

The three windturbines will be supported by solar panels and massive battery packs. PIC: Contributed.

Electricity was powered by wind and two generators, with the costly diesel-run kit switched off overnight to save resources.

READ MORE: From Fair Isle to the Faroes, 150 years of the shipping forecast

While some residents built back-up battery supplies for their homes and businesses - including the island’s shop in order to keep its freezers running - many were left powerless throughout the night.

Now, a round-the clock supply has been secured with a £3.5 million renewable electricity system officially launched today.

READ MORE: Nurse wanted for one of Scotland’s most remote islands

Fair Isle Electricity Company (FIEC), the community-led organisation that led the energy project, hopes the stable supply will help to draw more people to live and work on the island.

Robert Mitchell, company director of FIEC who also runs the Fair Isle shop and post office with his wife Fiona, said the new system would save islander’s money given battery back up would no longer be required and generators seldom used.

Mr Mitchell said: We have had times in the past when the children were young and they wouldn’t be very well, they’d be having a bad night, and you would be trying to find a torch.

“Also, if we had an emergency here and a nurse was being called out to see a sick person that we had to get out of bed to go and put the generators on so we could go an alert the coastguard and so on.

“Power on the island has always been a major hurdle and now that has been overcome.”

Mr Mitchell said he hoped the new power supply would help boost the population of the island, which has fallen from just over 80 to 55 over the past 25 years.

He said: “The population has been in slow decline. You get families come and they might stay for a couple of years. Quite often they the reason is there is not enough income and they don’t like having the power go off.

“We asked all the islanders for help working out what was needed. We asked children who moved away what, if they moved back, what they would like to see. They said they would want 24-hour access to the internet.”

Other planned community-led projects on Fair Isle include the building of one and two-bedroom properties to offer good housing to single people and couples as well as improvements to the ferry service.

The new energy system combines three wind turbine generators, ground-mounted solar panels and battery storage with the generators to be retained for emergencies.

Diesel to run the equipment cost around £1,500 a month with transportation costs by ferry an added expense, Mr Mitchell said.

“It’s has been an ambitious project and is another step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive,” he added.

The new system was backed by £1.5 million from the Scottish Government and £250,000 from development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The 24-hour power system has been working for two weeks with the official launch of the project today.

Scottish Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse said: “Those of us living on the mainland of Scotland can often take reliable supplies of electricity for granted.

“This has never been possible for the islanders of Fair Isle.

“The reality of having, for the first time in their history, 24-hour supplies of electricity presents exciting prospects for the Fair Isle community, who will not only benefit from access to a reliable electricity supply around the clock, but also now have in place a new cleaner, greener energy system.”

Alan Rankin, Islands Operational Manager at National Trust for Scotland, which owns the island and most of the properties on it, said: “This is a big milestone for the community of Fair Isle.

“The new renewable energy system is going to make a massive difference to them all and to the future of the island. A huge congratulations to all involved in the project which the Trust was pleased to play a part in supporting.”

Joyce McMillan: Why politicians are failing to tackle climate change

The growing problems being caused by global warming show the need to curb our elaborate Western lifestyles, but politicians can’t seem to stop talking about economic growth in old-fashioned material terms, writes Joyce McMillan

It has been a bad week for those who hope – or ardently believe – that climate breakdown caused by human activity is not really happening. Just a month after hurricane Florence administered a savage battering to the coast and inland areas of North Carolina, hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida panhandle on Tuesday, while in north-east India, 300,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Odisha state because of a massive approaching cyclone. Ten people died in Majorca after unusually intense October rainstorms swept the western Mediterranean.

And here in Scotland, we are bracing ourselves again, just three weeks after storm Ali, for a new storm called Callum, which is expected to wreak some havoc down the western side of the country today. And comfort ourselves as we may with tales of dramatic weather events gone by, and of humanity’s perpetual tendency to imagine that the world is coming to an end, the story told by climate science, and emphatically repeated in this week’s latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is implacable, and profoundly alarming. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the planet, and we have been pumping out Co2 at unprecedented rates for almost two centuries now, creating a rapid change in the Earth’s fine climate balance which is evident in recent disrupted weather patterns, and will soon reach a level that our familiar ecosphere cannot withstand.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson: Real Conservatives fight climate change

So if we set the natural impulse of denial to one side for a moment – along with the politically motivated denial of right-wing environment-wreckers like Donald Trump – and accept that the IPCC’s dire predictions are accurate, what should we be doing to try to stabilise our climate? The answer, according to the IPCC, is simple. We need to stop using carbon-based fuels almost entirely over the next generation, and drastically reduce their consumption within the next 12 years; otherwise global warming will rise beyond 1.5 degrees centigrade, setting in motion feedback mechanisms that will lead to runaway change.

Nor are we short of technologies which can replace fossil fuels; it has been repeatedly demonstrated that we now have the ability to supply all the energy needs of the current global human population from solar and wind power alone. The forces stopping our rapid transition to a low-carbon and no-carbon economy are not technical or practical, in other words; they are psychological, and profoundly political.

And this is where the story becomes interesting, although not less frightening; for the truth is that even those governments which are fully signed up to the carbon reduction are still not moving at anything like the necessary pace. The Scottish Government, for example, is something of an international poster-child in tackling climate change, praised by the UN as “exemplary” in its approach to carbon reduction.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Scotland can lead the way on climate change if it acts now

Yet while Nicola Sturgeon once again trumpeted Scotland’s environmental credentials in her SNP conference speech on Tuesday – and while Scotland is undoubtedly one of the nations on Earth best placed to move rapidly to an economy based on renewable energy – she devoted only three lines of her 50-minute speech to the subject, and simply avoided any mention of what Scotland would actually have to do, in order to meet the IPCC’s climate schedule.

And this, as she has occasionally acknowledged herself, is because almost all of the easy, low-hanging fruit in carbon reduction has gone, with the closure of old coal-fired power stations. This week, a powerful report from the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project argued that just 100 large transnational corporations are now responsible for 71 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions; and that suggests that we are now entering a time-frame where saving the planet is no longer about individuals making tiny voluntary lifestyle changes, but about massive co-ordinated government action to confront those corporations, and to restructure our society so that climate-wrecking lifestyles are simply no longer available.

And of course, it is extremely unlikely that any government seriously seeking re-election will walk into the political hurricane involved in that task. Challenge Western voters’ right to drive around at will, or to eat a diet of meaty junk-burgers if they choose, and you run the risk of simply handing their vote to the next opportunistic climate-change denying populist. And any government that commits to confronting major corporations about their role in climate breakdown will not only risk a serious loss of investment and jobs, but will also be challenging more than a generation of dogmatic belief, across the West, that business knows better than government, and that the way to a bright future for us all is for government to stand clear, and leave corporations and consumers to get on with it.

Scotland’s Government is almost as good as they get when it comes to climate change, in other words. Yet it still cannot stop talking about economic growth, measured in old-fashioned material terms, as an unquestioned good; it cannot stop building roads, in which it invests far more than in public transport; it does not confront Britain’s archaic landholding system, which sells off the very life-sustaining fabric of the country on a global open market; and it dare not, in most areas, confront the big corporations which are trashing our world for short-term profit.

So of course, I am not optimistic about the chance of Scotland, far less the world community as a whole, making the decisions on climate change that now have to be made, to avert disaster. What I know, though, is that our hope of finding our way through this crisis-point in human history will depend first on our ability to name the obstacles we face, and to confront them honestly and squarely. The brute fact is that our elaborate Western lifestyles probably cannot survive this crisis in their present form; and that the current imbalance of power between government and a turbo-charged form of global capitalism makes the necessary change impossible within the time-frame before us. And once we fully acknowledge that – well, there is just a chance that the tectonic plates of our society can begin to shift, and that the juggernaut of the economic system we have built can be halted and re-engineered, before it crushes us all.

Funding Secured for UK’s First Hydrogen Injection System on a Ferry

Innovate UK have granted £430,332 of funding to design and integrate a hydrogen diesel dual fuel injection system onboard a commercial ferry.

Members of the HyDIME consortium at the kick-off meeting at Ferguson Marine (Credit Ferguson Marine)

The hydrogen to be used in the project will be produced by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, from the abundance of clean renewable energy sources available on the islands and will power a ferry operating between the main town of Kirkwall and the island of Shapinsay.

The 12-month HyDIME (Hydrogen Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment) project, formally started on 1st August 2018, will provide a stepping stone to de-risk and kick-start future hydrogen marine projects and contribute to reducing emissions within the maritime industry.

Led by Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, the project will be executed by a consortium consisting of Orkney Islands Council, High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and Lloyds Register. The project will apply, with Ultra Low Emission Mileage Company (ULEMCo), a globally unique technology in hydrogen dual fuel.

With the need to reduce harmful emissions, using hydrogen as a fuel is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to fossil fuels. Hydrogen/diesel injection technology is already being demonstrated within the automotive industry and can significantly reduce harmful emissions.

The aim of HyDIME is to prove the use of hydrogen/diesel injection technology in the marine industry. Ferguson Marine, in conjunction ULEMCo will develop the design of how this technology can work in tandem with existing systems to power auxiliary units onboard vessels.

Following this, the system will be physically integrated and will result in the UK’s first hydrogen injection system on this type of vessel.

Orkney is the ideal location for the HyDIME project. As one of the renewable energy leaders in the UK, Orkney offers the infrastructure to produce completely green hydrogen. On the Island of Eday, there is often a surplus of renewable electricity which, instead of being wasted, is fed into an electrolyser sited at EMEC’s tidal test facility. The electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, the former of which can then be stored and transported.

As part of the project, HSSMI will conduct a scale-up analysis and carry out a techno-economic assessment of the current system and of potential future scenarios. The aim is to determine if there are any other regions of the UK where similar hydrogen infrastructure could be implemented, leading to similar and larger projects to contribute towards growing the hydrogen economy in the UK.

Chief Naval Architect of Ferguson Marine Chris Dunn said:

“Over recent years Ferguson Marine has been at the global forefront of green marine propulsion technology development.  This exciting project is yet another positive step on that journey, joining up with world leading technology innovators to move us one step closer to our goal of delivering a zero-emission, hydrogen powered commercial ROPAX ferry by 2020."

Project Manager Tristan Coats of HSSMI said:

“HSSMI have a rich history within the automotive sector, and with a newly opened office in Glasgow, we are looking to transfer our learnings from this industry and our knowledge of advanced manufacturing into different sectors. We believe that developing a hydrogen economy within Scotland and the greater UK is essential for decarbonising transportation and energy production. HyDIME is an exciting first step on this journey."

Jon Clipsham, Hydrogen Manager at EMEC said:

"Orkney has an abundance of renewable electricity which the local grid cannot cope with. This led EMEC to look into alternative ways to store and use electricity so that Orkney’s wind, tidal and wave power potential could be fully realised. Having invested in an electrolyser to generate hydrogen from Eday’s tidal and wind resources, EMEC has been exploring various opportunities to support the development of a hydrogen economy on the islands. The potential for developing hydrogen powered vessels is one of the most exciting prospects, particularly given the number of carbon-intensive inter-island ferries located here. We’re really excited to be part of this project to create a ferry run on a carbon neutral fuel."

Orkney Island Ferries have said:

“Orkney islands council and the Ferry services are very proud to be part of this ground-breaking project; which may lead the way to reducing the many form of pollutants released when using hydrocarbons and lead onto communities producing some of the energy for their own transport.”

Source: https://www.fergusonmarine.com/