Scotland to send millions of tonnes of waste to English landfills

Lack of EfW capacity in Scotland means waste will be diverted to English landfills, according to industry

Viridor’s Glasgow plant is “ramping up”
Viridor’s Glasgow plant is “ramping up”

A waste industry expert has told ENDS Scotland will be forced into sending up to a million tonnes of waste each year to English landfills because it does not have alternative options for dealing with the extra waste arising from its 2021 landfill ban on biodegradable waste.

Stephen Freeland, policy adviser at the Scottish branch of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), told ENDS that estimates from the Scottish government had found there would be a 950,000-tonne capacity shortfall. "Almost a million tonnes that has got nowhere to go," he said.

"Really we are looking at landfill in England – and there is nothing in the regulations to stop it – as potentially the only practical route until such time as the capacity gap in Scotland is closed," he said.

The comments come after the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) published minutes of a meeting between the association’s environment and economy board this week. COSLA said: "As it stands, it seems unlikely that the 2021 ban will be fully achievable. Work on delivery and on possible solutions will continue with future reports to the board likely."

COSLA says in the board document that it is working to establish a "realistic suite of options" that would enable all councils to meet the ban.

The Scottish government confirmed to ENDS that it was pushing ahead with the landfill ban, despite these concerns.

A spokesperson said: "We are committed to fully enforcing the ban on biodegradable waste to landfill as part of our commitment to a more circular economy. SEPA, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish government officials are working closely with councils to help them prepare for the ban, and will provide comprehensive guidance to help authorities plan properly for the implementation of the ban."

The Scottish government says the main alternative to landfill is energy-from-waste, but there is currently only about 100,000 tonnes of EfW capacity in Scotland.

A number of Scotland-based EfW facilities should come into operation in the next few months. Viridor’s Glasgow plant is "ramping up" after completing steam blowing last month, while its Dunbar EfW plant is also close to being officially operational.

Germany-based MVV also started construction work on new plant to serve Dundee during the summer, although that is expected to replace an existing facility rather than adding new capacity.

Suez also said in September its under-construction Haverton Hill EfW plant in the North of England could take Scottish waste.

Another option the Scottish industry could explore is exporting the waste as refuse-derived fuel to mainland Europe for energy recovery. However, Brexit and the resulting unfavourable exchange rates leave a big question mark over how viable this route would be, according to Freeland.

"There is no option but to send the waste elsewhere," he said.

Freeland added that the Scottish government hoped landfilling in England would be a  short-term measure but he said it would be "years" before the capacity gap was closed.

England faces its own problems with waste treatment capacity. The latest waste management figures from the Environment Agency, revealed an increase in landfilling for the fourth year running and a continued decline in landfill capacity. This is combined with concerns that Brexit might hamper England’s waste exports to Europe and China closing its doors on waste imports.


Funding secured for Bridgwater EfW plant

30 NOVEMBER 2018by 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.

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.


Orsted Plots $30 Bln Green Energy Investment

Orsted Plots $30 Bln Green Energy Investment

By Stine Jacobsen and Jacob Gronholt-PedersenWednesday, 28 November 2018 09:13
Denmark's Orsted will invest $30 billion in green energy up to 2025, it said on Wednesday, as it seeks to become one of a handful of future "renewable majors" leading a global transition from fossil fuels to green energy.
(Photo: Orsted)
(Photo: Orsted)

While renewable energy technology is now able to compete with traditional power sources, the industry remains vulnerable to changing political winds as governments around the world scramble on how to address climate change.

Orsted, the world's largest offshore wind developer, said it would have 15 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power capacity by 2025, up from a previous target of 11-12 GW and plans to further double capacity by 2030 to more than 30 GW.

One of the key drivers will be expansion in the nascent U.S. market, where it recently made two acquisitions to gain a foothold in both onshore and offshore wind.

U.S. President Donald Trump has blasted renewable energy as expensive, accused wind turbines of killing birds and ruining landscapes while vowing to revive the coal industry.

While Trump this week rejected projections from his own government that climate change will cause severe economic harm, many states have set ambitious targets to source energy from carbon-free sources.

However, so far the impact on Orsted's business has not been negative, its U.S. chief told Reuters.

"It has been quite positive under this administration," Thomas Brostrom said, pointing to efforts to remove red tape around environmental approvals and new auctions for acreage.

He said the efforts were driven more by consideration for energy independency and job creation rather than reducing carbon emissions.

Orsted is also betting big on growing in Taiwan, which with a big push to attract investments in renewable technology, has become a key battleground for the world's top offshore wind developers seeking a foothold in Asia.

However, Orsted acknowledged that offshore wind projects in Taiwan could face delays after voters last week decided against a government plan to abolish nuclear power.

The vote prompted Taiwan to scrap its target of having no nuclear power by 2025 and to review its energy policy, which since 2011 has been driven by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Before the vote, the island's offshore wind market was expected to expand to 5.5 GW by 2025, with government investments into onshore and offshore wind of $23 billion.

"It was not a vote to stop the nuclear phase-out," senior vice president at Orsted, Thyge Boserup, said.

"I think it's rather the speed of the phase-out that is up for discussion," he said.

($1 = 6.6081 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Jacob Grønholt-Pedersen Editing by Alexandra Hudson and David Evans)


Leading Estonian Energy Business sold to Infrastructure Fund

European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II invests in Utilitas, leading private Estonian energy group

The European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II SPSc (“EDIF II” or the “Fund”), a dedicated long-term infrastructure fund managed by First State Investments (“First State”), has become a financial investor in OÜ Utilitas (”Utilitas”), Estonia’s largest district heating company and a leading renewable power producer.

According to an agreement signed in Tallinn today, EDIF II has acquired an 85% shareholding in Utilitas with current shareholders and managers of Utilitas retaining 15% shareholding.

Utilitas is the largest district heating company and one of the largest renewable power producers in Estonia. The Company operates 521km of district heating networks and supplies heat to approximately 166,000 households in eight Estonian cities, including in Tallinn, the capital city.

Kristjan Rahu, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Utilitas said: “With EDIF II we have on board an acclaimed international infrastructure fund with many investments in Western and Northern Europe and access to international capital markets. Utilitas is the Fund’s first investment in the Baltics and the only investment in this region by a major international infrastructure fund to date. We look forward to a long term cooperation with EDIF II and the team at First State. Our goal is to ensure that Utilitas will remain in the forefront of green energy development as an efficient energy services provider to its clients in the region.”

Niall Mills, Partner, Infrastructure Investments at First State, said, “We are delighted that Utilitas is First State’s inaugural infrastructure investment in Estonia. Utilitas’ position as the leading operator of a sustainable, reliable district heating network with an increasingly strong focus on renewable energy production is especially attractive to us as a long-term investor. We look forward to partnering with our co-shareholders, management team and employees to further develop the company.”

In line with its integrated approach to Responsible Investment across all business areas, First State has focused on pursuing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals across all of its portfolio companies. In 2017, more than 50% of Utilitas’ energy production was produced from renewable sources and the company is at the forefront of innovation in the energy industry, making it a very natural fit with the Fund’s investment strategy.

The management and supervisory boards of all three subsidiaries of the group, AS Utilitas Tallinn, AS Utilitas Eesti and OÜ Utilitas Tallinna Elektrijaam will remain unchanged. Priit Koit will continue as the CEO and Kristjan Rahu as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Utilitas. The supervisory board will be reinforced by two new members, Gregor Kurth, Director at First State, and Andreas Greim, a district heating and energy expert with experience from Dalkia International, Areva and Électricité de France, as an independent member.

The transaction was financed by an international syndicate of banks consisting of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank as underwriters and HSH Nordbank.

“This transaction clearly shows that renewable energy projects, as well as ambitious Estonian companies are attractive for global investors and SEB is happy to support further development of Utilitas,” said Artjom Sokolov, Member of the Management Board of SEB Estonia.

Shareholders of Utilitas were advised by Superia Corporate Finance and Triniti Law Firm. First State Investments was advised by DC Advisory and Cobalt Law Firm.

About Utilitas
Utilitas is the largest district heating company and one of the largest renewable power producers in Estonia. The Company operates over 521km of district heating networks and supplies heat to approximately 166,000 households in eight Estonian cities, including in Tallinn, the capital city, Maardu, Keila, Rapla, Haapsalu, Kärdla, Jõgeva and Valga.  Utilitas produced approximately 1.7 TWh of heat and 263 GWh of renewable electricity in 2017.  Utilitas had consolidated sales revenue of €117m and total assets of €301m in 2017.

About EDIF II
EDIF II is a leading European infrastructure fund managing core infrastructure assets on behalf of its investors. The fund targets primarily energy, renewable, utility and transportation assets across Europe. Its investors are largely pension funds investing for long-term stable returns.


Research reveals regional disparities in energy revolution

Research reveals regional disparities in energy revolution

The research, commissioned by Drax Group, found that businesses and households in London and Scotland are better placed to take advantage of the benefits of the ‘energy revolution’, including cheaper energy bills, electric vehicles and smart appliances.  Meanwhile, the North of England and East Midlands lag furthest behind.

The report breaks down the energy revolution into 12 metrics for the power, transport and buildings sectors, to provide a barometer of national and regional progress. Achievement against each of these metrics is scored as ‘not on track’, ‘within 90% of target’ or ‘ahead of target’.

image001

 

The authors found London leads progress jointly with Scotland because its transport system is the country’s greenest. As public transport, walking and cycling are more dominant in London, a Londoner’s carbon footprint from transport is up to 2.5 times less than residents in other regions. The capital also receives 45% of national funds for rail electrification, resulting in the country’s lowest carbon emissions from rail. It is also cheaper, on average, to own an electric car in London than in any other part of the country. This is due to the average London driver travelling shorter distances and the exemption of electric vehicles (EV) from London’s Congestion Charge.

Scotland leads in the energy revolution with London due to its successful shift from fossil fuels to renewable generated electricity. The number of EV charging points in Scotland is also high compared to the number of vehicles. Despite the low population density, the average Scottish household is around 2km from a charging point, but with the lifetime cost of running an EV being the highest in Scotland and Wales, this is affecting uptake in these areas.

Residential homes in leading regions London, Scotland and the East are also more energy efficient, and more likely to score high A-C Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, and have fewer buildings rated F and G.

By comparison, all of the regions lagging behind, including Wales, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the north of England suffer from particularly low EPC ratings.  The cost of heating, combined with lower average incomes in these areas mean that fuel poverty rates are particularly high. As the country transitions to more electric heating in future, this is likely to result in increasing energy bills in these regions unless homes can be made more energy efficient, or the cost of electric heating can be reduced, particularly for vulnerable residents.

Imperial’s Dr Iain Staffell said: “Our research reveals that Britain is at risk of creating a two-tier economy, leaving millions of families and businesses less well equipped to enjoy cheaper bills and better health outcomes. Our concern is they will not be offered the same opportunities as people living in regions which are modernising their energy infrastructure.”

Research was conducted independently by researchers from Imperial College London and E4tech, facilitated by Imperial Consultants and commissioned by Drax Group.


Cracks in Hunterston Nuclear Reactor Core

More than 350 cracks have been discovered in an ageing nuclear power reactor at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, breaching an agreed safety limit and prompting calls for a permanent shutdown.

Experts have warned that the cracks could lead to a “catastrophic accident” releasing clouds of radioactive contamination over Glasgow and Edinburgh. But Hunterston’s operator, EDF Energy, insisted that the reactor was safe – and is bidding to relax safety standards so that it can be restarted.

Reactor three at Hunterston B nuclear power station originally started generating electricity in 1976, and is the oldest in the UK run by EDF. It has been closed down since 9 March 2018 so that its graphite core could be inspected for cracks.

The reactor was initially due to restart on 30 March, but the date has been repeatedly postponed as more cracks have been found. EDF is now hoping for permission from the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to fire up the reactor on 18 December.

The Ferret revealed in April that new cracks had been discovered in the reactor, but at the time neither EDF nor ONR would say how many. In May EDF said that 39 cracks had been found and they were “happening at a slightly higher rate than modelled”.

Now we can report that more than 350 cracks have been discovered in reactor three. According to ONR, 350 is the “operational limit” in the safety case that determines whether or not the reactor is allowed to operate.

EDF has told the local Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group that it was likely to propose to ONR that reactor three in future be permitted to run with up to 1,000 cracks. EDF has also closed down the adjacent reactor four at Hunterston to check for cracks, but hopes to reopen it on 30 November.

Whether or not ONR allows Hunterston reactor three to restart, and under what conditions, will have major implications for the life of EDF’s other nuclear power station in Scotland at Torness in East Lothian. It will also impact five EDF nuclear plants in England.

The 3,000 graphite blocks that make up the cores of advanced gas-cooled reactorssuch as those at Hunterston B and Torness are vital to nuclear safety. Their integrity enables the reactors to be cooled and safely shut down in an emergency.

But bombardment by intense radiation over decades stresses the blocks, producing cracks at the base of key slots known as “keyway root cracks”. If enough of the blocks fail, experts say, nuclear fuel could overheat, melt down and leak radioactivity in a major accident.

The independent nuclear engineer, John Large, has previously argued that Hunterston reactor three should be permanent shut down. Before he died on 3 November he was helping radioactivity consultant, Dr Ian Fairlie, prepare a presentation on Hunterston.

Fairlie, a former adviser to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, shared Large’s concerns. “I worked closely with John Large in the weeks before his untimely death,” he told The Ferret.

Large was concerned about the cracking causing graphite blocks to split, making the system of interlocking blocks in the reactor core less stable. “As a result, any untoward event such as a steam surge, sudden outage or earth tremor could result in a serious accident – a large release of radioactive gases,” Fairlie said.

If other safety systems failed at the same time, there could be a catastrophic accident – such as occurred at Chernobyl in 1986.DR IAN FAIRLIE, RADIOACTIVITY CONSULTANT

“If other safety systems failed at the same time, there could be a catastrophic accident – such as occurred at Chernobyl in 1986 in the former USSR. John was adamant that the Hunterston reactors should therefore not be restarted.”

News that 350 keyway root cracks have now been found meant that over 10 per cent of reactor three’s blocks had split, according to Fairlie. He said that EDF’s computer modelling had failed to predict such a high level of cracking.

He added: “EDF does not have a good handle on the ageing mechanisms inside the reactor. This means that reactor three should definitely not be restarted.”

Fairlie presented his findings to a recent meeting in Kilmarnock of the Scottish group of Nuclear-Free Local Authorities (NFLA). The group is intending to write to ONR’s chief nuclear inspector seeking a meeting, and to alert politicians at Holyrood.

“The analysis provided by Dr Ian Fairlie over increasing keyway root cracking of the Hunterston B reactors is of real concern,” said NFLA Scotland convenor and Glasgow SNP councillor, Feargal Dalton.

The increasing number of cracks was “particularly worrying”, he added. “It is absolutely critical that nuclear safety considerations are dealt with real care, and it is a concern that EDF’s computer modelling appears to not be giving them enough information on the wider safety and integrity of the reactor’s graphite core.”

Rita Holmes, chair of the Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group, accused EDF’s experts of getting their predictions wrong. “If safety were indeed EDF’s number one priority, then reactor three would remain shut down,” she argued.

“As it is EDF is seeking permission to restart an aged reactor, which despite huge efforts and high cost, failed to back up its current safety case. The Hunterston keyway root cracking was not predicted to be so progressed.”

Holmes questioned whether a new safety case allowing far more cracks would be any more reliable. “There’s a lot at stake if the experts are wrong again,” she said.

ONR confirmed how many cracks had been found. “A conservative assessment of the inspection results shows that the number of cracks in reactor three exceeded the operational limit of 350 cracks in the existing safety case,” said an ONR spokesperson.

“However, it should be noted that the safety case demonstrates a significant margin beyond this limit and safe operation was ensured.”

ONR declined to speculate about what it would decide on restarting the reactor. “We understand that EDF Energy is currently working on a revised safety case to justify a return to service of reactor three,” said the spokesperson.

“Once we have received the safety case from EDF we will fully assess it and permission will only be granted for the reactor to return to service if we are satisfied that it is safe to do so. This assessment will include consideration of the timing of further inspections.”


BEIS to allocate £60m for next CfD auction

'Genuinely bewildering': BEIS to allocate £60m for next CfD auction

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is set to finalise a draft allocation of £60m for the next Contract for Difference (CfD) auction, raising questions as to how the remaining £497m set aside for future auctions will be spent.

The publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further

The publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further

BEIS has today (20 November) issued its CfD Draft Allocation notice, allocating a £60m budget for “less-established” Pot 2 technologies, for the delivery years 2023-24 and 2024-25.

Earlier this year it was revealed that offshore wind and, for the first time, remote island wind providers would eligible to bid for contracts at the next CfD auctions, which will take place in May 2019 and then every following two years. The UK Government has set aside £557m for these auctions and, depending on prices, could deliver up to 2GW of additional wind capacity each year in the 2020s.

However, it appears that BEIS is set to impose a capacity cap of 6GW for the third CfD allocation round, with strike prices set below the record levels set in the previous auction. An administrative strike price for offshore wind has been set at £53-56/MWh, while the newly added remote island onshore wind technologies will have a strike price of £82/MWh for both delivery years.

Developers, green groups and politicians had welcomed previous results from the UK Government's 2017 CfD auction, which has seen the cost of offshore wind halve over the last two years to set a record low-strike price of £57.50 per MWh.

However, the publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further.

Greenpeace UK’s head of energy, Kate Blagojevic, said: “This is a genuinely bewildering move by the government that misses the opportunity to drive down offshore wind costs as fast as possible.

“They promised over half a billion pounds in investment, that was widely expected to be divvied up and made available in sizeable chunks over the next few years. But this first chunk is a pitiful sum that could end up limiting UK export potential and jeopardising our climate goals.”

Project pipeline

The UK Government expects the offshore wind sector to invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.

Project deployment has been aided by the record-low strike prices. Results published by BEIS show that 11 energy projects worth £176m annually were awarded contracts in the 2017 auction. Three offshore projects, the 1.4GW Hornsea Project Two, the 860MW Triton Knoll farm and 0.95GW Moray Offshore Windfarm (East), representing 3.2GW of new capacity, were awarded contracts.

More than 20 projects are in the planning process or awaiting permission, leaving some to question why the allocation budget hasn’t acquired more of the £557m fund set aside for these technologies.


Construction starts at Hooton gasification plant

8 NOVEMBER 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Construction starts at Hooton gasification plant

Aviva Investors has acquired the 240,000 tonnes capacity gasification facility which is being developed by CoGen in Hooton, Cheshire.

The purchase of the Hooton Bio Power facility by the Aviva asset management business comes in conjunction with the start of construction at the site this week.

Technology

The facility is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2021. According to Aviva, it will be the first project in Europe to use gasification technology provided by Japanese firm Kobelco Eco Solutions. And, it is also the first time the UK market will realise a gasification plant of this size, based on fluidised bed technology, CoGen notes.

Below:  An artist’s impression of the Hooton Bio Power facility

The Hooton Bio Power facility will be the fifth energy from waste (EfW) project from renewable energy developer CoGen and will be the first non-subsidised merchant gasification facility, the company says.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project will be delivered by power facility specialist, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC). BWSC will be awarded a full turnkey build contract as well as a contract to operate and maintain the facility for 15 years.

BWSC has previously built nine biomass-fuelled power facilities in the UK, most of which it also operates.

CoGen is overseeing the construction and operation of the facility as project manager on behalf of the project company. In addition, CoGen has a contract to fully manage the facility during the operational period.

N+P

Hooton Bio Power will be fuelled by “locally-sourced waste” using 240,000 tonnes of RDF each year supplied via a 15-year feedstock supply agreement (with an option for a further 10 years) with N+P Group (see letsrecycle.com story). It is expected to generate more than 200 GWh of electricity annually, according to CoGen.

Neville Roberts, managing director or the UK business, N&P Alternative Fuels Ltd, said the company has had interest from both councils and SMEs in contracts to supply the plant. Now that the plant has reached financial close, the next step for N&P will be to secure those contracts.

And, Mr Roberts said the company was keen to hear from local authorities and businesses interested in new contracts. “We want to engage with the best partners,” he added.

The facility will be developed on the Peel Environmental site, Hooton Park, the second Peel site on which CoGen will deliver a gasification plant. The first in the ongoing partnership was the recently commissioned 21.5MW Ince Bio Power plant at Protos in Cheshire (see letsrecycle.com story).

“We believe this transaction will create a positive legacy for the local community; converting waste into a resource that can offset the use of other fossil fuels and provide cost-effective, renewable power for local businesses.”


Allan Vlah
Aviva Investors

Commenting on the acquisition, Allan Vlah, director, Infrastructure Equity, Aviva Investors, said: “This project is an excellent example of our investment philosophy: working with market leaders in their respective fields, investing in a premiere technology with a proven track record, and structuring contracts to deliver a project designed from the ground up to produce the long-term, inflation-indexed cash flows valued by our investors.”

Ian Brooking, chief executive, COGEN, said: “The completion of the Hooton Bio Power deal represents a significant milestone for the UK Energy from Waste sector. The project underpins CoGen’s longer-term plans of developing regional scale merchant gasification facilities across the UK. We look forward to following the approach we took with Hooton as we begin to roll out more projects in our pipeline.”

Aviva Investors

Aviva Investors – the global asset management business of Aviva plc – says it has over £7 billion of infrastructure assets under management. The Hooton Bio Power transaction is the fourth equity investment in biomass/EfW by Aviva Investors. These include projects to develop biomass plants in Boston and Barry (see letsrecycle.comstory).


Hydrogen Powered Lorry for Europe by 2023

Nikola Motor showcases autonomous hydrogen-powered lorry for European market

Low-emission truck manufacturer, and ongoing rival to Tesla, Nikola Motor Company has unveiled a new autonomous, hydrogen-powered lorry that is set to roll out across Europe by 2023.

Expect production to begin around the same time as the US version in 2022-2023

Expect production to begin around the same time as the US version in 2022-2023

Nikola Motor Company’s new vehicle will come with a range of up to 1,200km and could go into production across US and European markets between 2022 or 2023.

While no pricing information has been revealed, the manufacturer is planning to deploy more than 700 refuelling stations for the vehicles across the US and Canada, as well as an undisclosed number in Europe to cope with demand by 2030.

“This truck is a real stunner and long overdue for Europe,” Nikola Motor Company’s chief executive Trevor Milton said. “It will be the first European zero-emission commercial truck to be delivered with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800Vdc batteries and a redundant 120 kW hydrogen fuel cell, all necessary for true level 5 autonomy. Expect our production to begin around the same time as our US version in 2022-2023.”

The HGV is the company’s third to date, with the previous version of the lorry proving popular in the US. Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has ordered 800 zero-emission, hydrogen-electric semi-trucks from Nikola Motors, for example, which can travel between 500-1,200 miles on one 20-minute charge.

However, the UK has some infrastructure work to complete before these vehicles will become attractive to businesses. Earlier this year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) called on the government to "step up" its support for the use of hydrogen to decarbonise the energy system across power, heat and transport.

The report cited concerns over the long-term use of lithium-ion batteries, which are the preferred choice for electric vehicles (EVs) and urged ministers to look to ways that hydrogen could perform a multitude of roles across the transport and energy spectrum.

At a commercial level, Shell Beaconsfield on the M40 will be the first UK site to bring hydrogen under the same canopy as petrol and diesel. The opening follows the launch of the first fully branded and public hydrogen UK refuelling site at Shell Cobham in February 2017. It forms part of Shell’s ambition to support a shift to low-carbon transport, which has seen the launch of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging systems at its UK petrol stations.

Nikola Tesla

It is expected that the Nikola vehicle will compete for a market share with Tesla’s all-electric semi-truck,which will benefit from a 2019 production date. Tesla’s truck has already gained orders from Wal-Mart and J.B Hunt and analysts have suggested that a 10% share of the market could be worth $2.5bn in annual revenue for Tesla.

Tesla’s semi-truck offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. This is in comparison to diesel trucks which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank. It can drive for another 400 miles with just a 30-minute charge from a “megacharger”, according to the company.

However, there are some still some legal issues to iron out between the two firms. Nikola Motors has filed a $2bn patent infringement lawsuit against Tesla, accusing the latter of violating patents for the design of its Nikola One fuel cell hybrid semi-truck. Recent reports suggest that this lawsuit may be facing a few “roadblocks”.


Inenco: business power prices to rise 50% over four years

Inenco says businesses may be paying 50% more in 2020 for power than they were in 2016.

The third party intermediary (TPI) has published a new cost forecast that illustrates how rising non-commodity costs and wholesale markets are driving up prices.

Over the last two years, non-commodity costs, which make up around half of business bills, have increased 25%, says the firm. Meanwhile wholesale prices have risen sharply this year with volatility also returning to the market.

The firm warns the impact of Brexit on Sterling could compound price rises while a rise in the Climate Change Levy in April also adds cost.

Changes to the Energy Intensive Industries threshold, which will reduce exposure to policy costs for more big businesses, could mean those levies are smeared across the rest of the market – adding another incremental increase to business bills.

Inenco’s cost forecast also looks further out to try and gauge how prices may rise in the longer term. It suggests bills may double by 2032.

While that presents an ongoing procurement challenge for those on tight budgets, the firm said the flip side is that rising costs could help build business cases for energy efficiency and demand-side management initiatives.