Has National Grid put another nail in gas’s coffin?

Who would be a gas generator? Despite the ejection of coal plants from the generation stack (and good riddance, I say), gas has got less and less of the wholesale energy supply market. It has been squeezed out between our growing renewables portfolio and the floor provided by nuclear, and it is increasingly missing out on lucrative high-priced periods because of the addition of gas engines and storage.

The situation has not been fatal, although it has certainly prompted a few closures, pushed along by the suspension of the Capacity Market as well as other uncertainties like the cost of carbon or of transporting gas.

Gas operators have survived by finding a new niche as the industry’s ‘go-to guys’. Balancing? Frequency response? Black start? Inertia? Gas operators have looked at their large rotating machinery and said “we can do that”, making scarcer energy revenues just a part of the mix of income.

What must have come as a very unwelcome shock is the news from National Grid that it wants to be able to operate the grid with all those services from other sources – renewables, storage, demand side response etc – at times when demand is covered by low-carbon generation. The newly independent Electricity System Operator has set out a road map to develop the necessary markets for ancillary services and it is aims to reach that goal by 2025.

What’s the problem? For all that gas plant have done to talk up the flexibility they can bring to the system, the fact is that they are not best placed to do it. They have done an excellent job of running plant as flexible units, even though they were designed to operate best at baseload, and gas turbine manufacturers have responded with upgrades that will allow them to be operated more flexibly – Uniper will be carrying out such an upgrade at its Enfield plant shortly. But all that cranking up and down places extra stress on the plant and ages it faster – and a battery, or a wind farm feathering its blades, can ramp up and down much faster. In open markets for ancillary services, gas will often be beaten.

Of course, that applies only when the wind blows or the sun shines. At other times – at the moment – gas will have far less competition.

Where does that leave gas? Lobbying against interconnectors, being queasily hopeful that nuclear reaches the end of its life (and perhaps that new nuclear is further delayed), fighting it out for what’s left of those revenue streams and hoping for a still, cold winter. It’s a hard model to build a business on – and it makes a Capacity Market that pays those plant to stay on the system throughout long periods of inaction even more important.

Who would be a gas generator? Fewer and fewer companies, is my guess.


UK oil & gas keeps rising. Clean Energy blueprint can reverse it

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In the UK the £2.3bn (=$2.9bn / €2.6bn) in new oil and gas subsidies introduced since 2014 will state-fund the addition of twice as much carbon as its coal phaseout saves, says a new report “Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction”. Can the UK call itself a climate leader if its existing policies push it over its emissions limits? It can, if you consider this: the UK took 16 years to become the world’s 5th largest oil producer after its first oil discovery in 1969. The same commitment can deliver a successful, affordable, job-creating transition (using only existing technology), writes Greg Muttitt of Oil Change International, one of the authors of this detailed policy report.

Our new report Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction reveals, for the first time, the climate impact of North Sea oil and gas extraction, and shows the way to a job-creating energy transition. To deal with the climate emergency, the UK needs to immediately stop approving new oil and gas drilling and redirect support to clean jobs and renewable energy.

The UK’s climate conversation has gained considerable urgency in recent weeks, in large part thanks to the work of Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers. Earlier this month, the UK’s Scottish and Welsh governments and the UK parliament declared a state of “climate emergency”. Also this month, the government’s official adviser, the Committee on Climate Changerecommended that the UK stop (net) emitting greenhouse gases by 2050 and Scotland do so by 2045. (We blogged about the Committee’s recommendation here).

Our new report, co-published last week with Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland, highlights a crucial piece of that needed action: stop expanding oil and gas extraction.

£2.3bn of new oil and gas subsidies

“We are working with the industry to ensure that we extract every drop of oil and gas that it is economic to extract.” – Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

Oil and gas extraction has been a consistent absentee from government climate policies over the years. While the UK remains a major oil and gas producer, no government has ever proposed restricting extraction to within climate limits.

In fact, the opposite has happened: the policy of both UK and Scottish Governments is to maximise oil and gas extraction, even though both governments aim to be seen as climate leaders. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has put it: “We are working with the industry to ensure that we extract every drop of oil and gas that it is economic to extract.”

To this end, the £2.3 billion in new oil and gas subsidies introduced since 2014 – mostly by Hammond’s predecessor George Osborne – will add twice as much carbon as the UK’s coal phaseout saves, according to analysis in our new report. And if that’s not bad enough, the government’s ambition through future subsidies is to double this additional oil and gas.

This is the cognitive dissonance at the heart of UK and Scottish climate policy. The very same day that the Committee on Climate Change published its recommendations for net-zero emissions in 26 or 31 years’ time, was the deadline for oil company bids for new 30+ -year licenses to explore for and extract oil and gas, in the latest licensing round. Another round is expected to be launched in the coming months, and another next year, and the following year, and so on.

The government must stop this new licensing, which adds yet more carbon to an overloaded atmosphere. When you are in a hole, you need to stop digging.

Fracking is opposed, North Sea oil isn’t. Why?

But it is not just governments: the media have generally treated oil and gas extraction entirely separately from climate change, and few commentators draw the connection. With almost all current extraction offshore, is it a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind?

In his classic social history of North Sea oil, Christopher Harvie observes that even in its ’70s and ’80s heyday, there were no miniature rigs in toy shops, no pubs named The Driller, no literature set offshore, not even a mention in the major political memoirs of the day. And now, we see, no North Sea in the climate debate.

Thankfully, people have found it easier to see the climate incompatibility of opening a new fossil fuel frontier with onshore fracking, and Scotland and Wales have effectively stopped the industry. But new oil and gas offshore presents the same dangers.

Oil drilling rigs in the Cromarty Firth, Northeast Scotland. IMAGE ©Elliottsday / Pixabay

Existing fossil fuel commitments already exceed warming limits

Oil Change International’s previous analysis has shown that carbon emissions from the oil, gas and coal in already-producing fields and mines would exceed the warming limitsset in the Paris goals, of well below 2 degrees, and pursuing efforts to keep to 1.5 degrees.

The carbon in these developed reserves is “locked in”, as the infrastructure has been built and the capital invested. Reducing those emissions requires shutting projects early, a task that can be economically, politically and legally difficult. The more fields and mines that are opened, the more will have to close early.

The UK has 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already-producing fields. The government and industry want to go further and extract 20 billion barrels.

Let’s assume (and hope) that at some point in the future, governments will eventually start to act at a sufficient pace to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. If in the meantime the UK and others have opened yet more fields and mines, they will all have to be closed that much faster, in order to stay within carbon budgets.

By continuing to license new oil and gas, the UK is either helping push the world beyond climate limits, or setting up a deferred collapse of the industry when sudden global emissions cuts finally come. A deferred collapse would be devastating for oil workers and for communities like those in the northeast of Scotland.

UK climate leader? What if every nation followed UK oil & gas

Clean Energy is now affordable

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Three different studies – by the Centre for Alternative Technology, by Stanford University and by Vivid Economics – have shown how the UK could be entirely powered by clean energy by 2050 or earlier. Three more studies – by the Technology University of Sydney, by consultancy Navigant and by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis – have shown how this could be achieved worldwide.

All six of these studies use only existing technology, showing that there is no practical barrier to a full transition. With wind and solar now cheaper than gas power in the UKand through much of the world, in all six studies, the transition is affordable. In fact, it could save consumers and taxpayers money, if governments stopped protecting the profits of fossil fuel companies.

If transformation of the energy system within 20 or 30 years sounds ambitious, bear in mind that with active government support, the UK became the world’s fifth largest oil producer just 16 years after the first oil discovery in 1969.

The Just Transition blueprint

Our report presents new modelling by Platform and Transition Economics of the jobs impact of an energy transition. It finds that for every oil and gas job affected by a managed phase-out of extraction, more than three new jobs could be created in renewable energy or energy efficiency retrofits of homes.

We detail the policies that would be needed to enable a Just Transition to a clean economy within the next two or three decades, including public investment, green industrial policy, protection of the rights of workers and investment into oil-dependent regions such as the northeast of Scotland.

We call on the UK and Scottish Governments to do and support four things, to meet their climate commitments while protecting livelihoods and economic well-being:

  • Stop issuing licenses and permits for new oil and gas exploration and development, and revoke undeveloped licenses;
  • Rapidly phase out all subsidies for oil and gas extraction, including tax breaks, and redirect them to fund a Just Transition;
  • Enable rapid building of the clean energy industry through fiscal and policy support to at least the extent they have provided to the oil industry, including inward investment in affected regions and communities;
  • Open formal consultations with trade unions to develop and implement a Just Transition strategy for oil-dependent regions and communities.

The choice facing the governments now has a parallel in the Brexit story. Either the governments must embrace the challenge and start addressing it in a planned and structured way, or if they keep deferring it, the UK may be forced to crash out of fossil fuels with no deal and no plan.

Now is the time to act. Now is the time to begin a managed phase-out of oil and gas extraction.

***

Greg Muttitt is the Research Director at Oil Change International


These 6 Charts Show How the World is Improving

Note form Agile Energy Admin: interesting charts but equally interesting would be the ones that show deforestation, pollution in our cities, the rise of asthma particularly in cities, loss of habitat and biodiversity, species that have become extinct, the build rate of coal fired power stations, the rise of renewable energy (or not compared to the coal stations) the use of hydrocarbon based growth accelerators (fertilser) in agriculture, etcetera. So it is not all positive when we look at trends other than those directly benefiting the human species. Like most things in life there is no free lunch.

View a high resolution version of this graphic
These 6 Charts Show How the World is Improving

These 6 Charts Show How the World is Improving

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

It only takes a few minutes of cable news to get the feeling that the world is heading into a tailspin.

Endless images of homicide investigations, natural disasters, car crashes, and drug busts fill the airwaves on a daily basis. It’s upsetting – but also certainly captivating for the average viewer.

In fact, the news cycle thrives on fear and violence, so mainstream networks find a way to fill up 99% of programming with these singular events. It’s addicting and sometimes anger-inducing, but is it representative of what’s really going on in the world?

Good News Happens Slowly

Today’s infographic comes to us from economist Max Roser of Our World in Data, and it highlights six megatrends that show that in many important ways, our world is improving drastically.

The one commonality of these six indicators? They all happen slowly and incrementally, but are more evident with a long-term perspective.

Each family lifted out of poverty, each classroom that gets built, and each village gaining access to basic vaccinations may not seem significant on a scale of billions of people – but over decades, these gains add up to create a richer, more educated, and healthier world and a very powerful statistical story.

Six Global Trends

Here are the six big picture trends pointed out by Roser, using data collected over hundreds of years:

1. Extreme Poverty
The portion of people in extreme poverty – making less than $1.90 per day – has dropped like a rock over the years. Back in 1940, about 75% of the world was in extreme poverty – today, that number is just 10%.

The most potent recent example of this is China, where access to free markets have enabled 700 million people to be lifted out of poverty in just over 20 years.

Poverty in China

It’s also worth mentioning that statistics for this category are done using inflation-adjusted international dollars, which take into account inflation over time as well as exchange rates. Non-monetary forms of income are also included in the calculations.

2. Basic Education
In 1820, only a privileged few were able to get basic schooling. Since then, millions of classrooms and schools have been added around the globe, and the numbers are staggering. In relative terms, we’ve gone from 17% of people having a basic education to 86% today.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of this, also from Our World in Data:

Level of education of world

3. Literacy
Following a similar trend line as basic education, literacy has risen from 12% to 85% over roughly two hundred years. In absolute terms, these numbers are even more impressive. In the 1820s, there were only about 100 million people that could read that were 15 years or older. Today, the number stands at 4.6 billion.

4. Democracy
While the world has been having some short-term setbacks when it comes to freedom and democracy, the overall trend line is still impressive over the long run.

In 1900, only 1 in 100 people worldwide lived in a democracy – and today, the majority (56 in 100) can say they live in a country with free and fair elections.

5. Vaccination
Vaccinations for diseases like whopping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria were unavailable for most of the 200 year chart. However, today around 86% of people globally are vaccinated against these basic and devastating illnesses.

6. Child Mortality
Even as far back as 1920, it used to be that over 30% of infants would die before they hit their 5th birthday.

Since then, developments in housing, sanitation, science, and medicine have made it so that death is a much rarer occurrence for the youngest people in our society. Today, on a global basis, child mortality has been reduced to 4%.


A Future with Hydrogen?

Submitted by Jacobs on 14th Jan 2019.

With a global shift to clean energy growth, is hydrogen part of the decarbonising solution? In this article we explore what’s driving the need for change and some of the work underway to test the vision of a future with hydrogen.

Carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 650,000 years1. Arctic sea ice is dropping by an average of 12.8 percent per decade2 and other impacts range from extreme weather events and rising sea levels, to increasing ocean acidification and global temperature rise.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning about the serious threat posed by climate change and the considerable difference in the impacts that we can expect to see with 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming. The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC highlighted that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC requires rapid and far-reaching changes in all aspects of society, including land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

As Jacobs grows its sustainability work, we continue to partner with clients around the world exploring opportunities to deliver a more sustainable and equitable society and protect our natural ecosystems. No matter the challenge, we’re providing deep technical and market knowledge and digitally-enabled solutions to help tackle some of the world’s big issues. Particularly, in cities spaces where there are tough challenges around air quality, connectivity, mobility and placemaking.

The U.K.’s Climate Change Act 2008 has a 2050 target to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels. With heat being the most difficult decarbonization challenge facing the U.K., meeting this target implies decarbonising nearly all heat in buildings and most industrial processes. This is driving different initiatives, fuels and technology combinations to be explored to see which have the potential to make a significant contribution.

The U.K. Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) set up its Energy Innovation Portfolio to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, clean, cost-effective and reliable energy technologies by the mid-2020s. It’s looking at innovation needs across nuclear, renewables, lower carbon and more energy efficient industry and residential and other priorities.

The potential of large-scale hydrogen conversion to significantly reduce carbon emissions

Heating and cooling U.K. homes accounts for about half of all energy consumption and a third of carbon emissions. And about 80 percent of homes use natural gas (methane) for heating and cooking3. One of the options being explored is to replace methane with hydrogen, as hydrogen releases no carbon dioxide when converted to heat. A U.K.-wide conversion to hydrogen gas could reduce heat emissions by at least 73 percent as well as supporting decarbonisation of transport and localized electrical generation4. This offers a major step towards meeting the U.K.’s carbon reduction targets. BEIS is considering several options, from how hydrogen could be produced sustainably at scale, through to what it would cost to change. With experience across hydrogen production, transmission and transportation, Jacobs is part of this cutting-edge work, involved in a series of projects that offer the potential to deliver world firsts.

BEIS commissioned Jacobs, along with partners Element Energy and Cardiff University, to complete analysis on the potential use of full hydrogen for industrial appliances, as part of the Hy4Heat program. The Hy4Heat feasibility study is exploring whether it is technically possible and safe to replace natural gas with hydrogen in residential and commercial buildings and gas appliances. The team is investigating the potential future conversion of industrial heating appliances to hydrogen, including costs, technical and commercial requirements, timeframes, safety and other considerations. This specific work package will provide an evidence base for the Hy4Heat program, inform future government decisions regarding potential energy pathways and outline the kind of hydrogen trials and appliance development work required, ahead of any potential decisions around industrial conversion to hydrogen.

The ground-breaking “H21 North of England (NoE) report” released (November 23) in the U.K., sets out how 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses in the north of England, currently heated by natural gas, could be converted to hydrogen and made emission-free by 2034. Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Cadent, in partnership with Equinor, have developed a H21 North of England concept design study. Jacobs provided technical expertise relating to hydrogen pipeline modelling to this detailed plan for the decarbonisation of circa 14 percent of U.K. heat through conversion of the North of England. The full NoE report also provides a vision for rollout of the hydrogen economy across the U.K. This important study explores how an expansion of the hydrogen economy could work and informs future strategies for a range of challenges to create a new era in low carbon heat and transport for the U.K. More information is available here.

The availability of low-cost bulk hydrogen in a gas network could transform the potential for hydrogen vehicles and, via fuel cells, support a decentralised model of combined heat and power and localized power generation.

Leveraging our expertise in hydrogen, reformer technology and CO2capture, Jacobs’ work in this area is not confined to the U.K. We are also providing a feasibility study for Equinorto evaluate the possibilities for building a hydrogen production plant, including CO2 capture, liquefaction and export facilities, at Eemshaven in the Netherlands. The hydrogen will be supplied as fuel to an existing natural gas-fired power plant that will be converted into a hydrogen-fueled power plant designed to lower the plant's carbon emissions at a large scale and to a future hydrogen market via a hydrogen pipeline and storage facilities. The liquefied CO2 will be shipped to Norway for off-shore storage.

Collaboration of expertise, innovation and vision is crucial to accelerating energy transition and developing sustainable economies that are more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. Our Netherlands operation joined the Dutch Energy Transition Coalition in 2017 as businesses came together to support the acceleration of energy transition across the country.

Hydrogen’s role in the future of transport 

With approximately 70 percent of the world population forecast to live in urban areas by 2050, fast and reliable transport connectivity, both within and between urban areas, is essential for the movement of people and goods, and ensuring geographical distribution of growth. The challenge for city leaders is to lay down the frameworks which allow this development to take place. With city congestion at an all-time high, air pollution is an increasing concern – and hydrogen offers the potential of another alternative as a low-carbon transport fuel in the future. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles convert compressed hydrogen into electricity to power the electric motor.

Published last year, Shell’s study5 on the future of hydrogen in the transport sector, jointly produced with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, said that in 2050, 113 million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) could save up to 68 million tonnes of fuel and almost 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions, making a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in the transport sector.

Exploring hydrogen-powered train technology, for example, Jacobs recently worked on a Hydrail Feasibility Study Report with Metrolinx, a Government of Ontario (GO) agency that manages and integrates regional transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. With the support of Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the Jacobs-led team determined it is technically feasible to use Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFCs) as a power source for electrifying the GO rail network, which carries more than 70,000 passengers annually.

Taking the green hydrogen economy one step closer to be circular

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) also just launched a new project to explore how circular economy approaches can be applied to optimise the efficiency of hydrogen production and stimulate the development of a local oxygen market in Orkney. The project aims to identify potential applications for the commercial use of oxygen and heat as by-products of the hydrogen production process, ultimately developing a circular business model for hydrogen. The work is being supported by Zero Waste Scotland and delivered by Jacobs as part of the circular economy business support service, an initiative supported by funding from both the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the $92 million (£73m) Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.

EMEC has been producing ‘green’ hydrogen since 2017 using renewable energy from local wind and tidal resources to power an electrolyser, splitting water into its chemical components: hydrogen and oxygen. However, the cost of producing hydrogen is high as roughly one third of input energy is lost as oxygen and low-grade heat during production.

This cost is driving business innovation to increase the efficiency and circularity of the process by identifying end applications for heat and oxygen by-products. Local industries such as aquaculture, horticulture, diving, health and aviation all use oxygen as part of daily business. Integrating locally produced oxygen into the supply chain will increase island resiliency and reduce the environmental impact of businesses currently getting oxygen delivered from the U.K. mainland.


How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

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How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…

Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.

Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.

Pliable Properties

It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.

The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Inexpensive
  3. Plentiful
  4. Easy to Shape
  5. Durable
  6. Flame Retardant

Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.

This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.

Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy

Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.

Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.

Timeline:

  • 1916
    Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
  • 1941
    Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
  • 1960
    About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
  • 1970
    Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
  • 1980
    Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
  • 2000
    Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
  • Present
    The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts

Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation

Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.

For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.

Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.

Oil and the EV Future

Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.

In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.

Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.


Gas-addicted Scots have Europe's worst record on renewable heat

By David Leask Chief Reporter, The Herald

Centrica operates gas terminals near Barrow and has operations in Morecambe Bay

Centrica operates gas terminals near Barrow and has operations in Morecambe Bay

SCOTLAND has Europe’s worst record on renewable heat.

New statistics reveal the country – despite an excellent record on clean electricity – remains dangerously dependent on burning climate-change-causing gas to stay warm

Only six per cent of all heating in Scotland is sustainable, just a tenth of the proportion in Sweden, the best performing nation in the EU-28.

The low figure was revealed in official govt figures just after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon country declared a climate emergency.

Now they are turning their attention to how we power our cars, buses and trucks and how we heat our homes, businesses and public buildings.

Fabrice Leveque, of Scottish Renewables, is confident that the country can make the change - to meet Ms Sturgeons's target of net zero carbon by 2045.

Mr Leveque, a heating expert, said: "The challenge is significant, but Scotland is well placed to take it on, with our abundant resources of renewable energy and the cleanest electricity in the UK.

"With the right leadership from government and public appetite for change we can make the change to cleaner heating in time, and realise new economic opportunities along the way."

Scottish politicians - despite a recent slowdown in installing new renewable electric capacity - have routinely highlighted the dramatic switch north of the border to clean electricity.

The Annual Compendium of Scottish Energy Statistics backs up their boasts. Renewable electricity accounted for just over 70 per cent of gross consumption in 2017, the second highest figure in the EU, just behind Austria and just ahead of Sweden.

Moreover, Scottish figures between 2007 and 2017 improved faster than any other nation across the bloc, rising by 50 percentage points. Nuclear power was, in the year, still the biggest single source of electric energy, at 36 per cent. Wind came just behind, meaning more than half of the power generated (a different figure than the amount consumed thanks to exports) was renewable.

Scotland's central heating systems are usually gas-fired and a race is on to provide simple solutions to enable householders to replace their current boilers - as and when they are due for an upgrade - with electric ones.

Glasgow has just announced that it is aiming to become Britain's first zero-carbon city, with the backing of ScottishPower. Edinburgh has a similar ambition, but without the support of southern Scotland's main power generator and distributor.

But their biggest problem will be increasing output to enable transition and meet new demand, from electric vehicles and boilers as they come on line.

Mr Anderson in early May, said: “We need to generate more power and that power has to be renewable. We need to double production and quadruple renewable production.

“The cost of that renewable power is coming down every month. We stand ready to invest.”

But there are problems. Mr Anderson said his main concern is the current lack of appetite from the UK Government for onshore wind, despite public support. Scotland will need more wind farms and bigger turbines to get anywhere close to staving off its share of the climate catastrophe.


THE CLIMATE TURNINGPOINT: WHERE ARE WE NOW?

 

From edie.net 17th May 2019 https://www.edie.net/downloads/The-climate-turning-point--Eight-sustainable-business-gamechangers-for-2020/386?utm_campaign=All%20exprom%20-%20April%20&utm_source=AdestraCampaign&utm_medium=Email

 

The first carbon budget (2008-12) has been met, and the UK is currently on track to outperform the second and third carbon budgets leading up to 2022 - but it is not on track to meet the fourth, which is for the period from 2023 up to 2027. We are at a climate turning point, where a 2 degree (C) temperature rise shifts from being a risk to a reality.

However, hitting the emissions targets required to halt this new reality to at least 1.5C or below has been broadly successful until this moment - at least from the UK’s viewpoint. Based on the latest figures from the Committee on Climate Change, measured from 1990 levels, emissions have now fallen by 43% overall - but outside of power and waste sector, cuts have plateaued.

The main drivers for emissions reduction have still been from electricity generation, which have fallen by 59% between 2008 and 2017, and the shift away from coal usage and better energy efficiency measures from lightbulbs to building performance. The remainder of the economy needs to catch-up, fast.

More than 40% all UK CO2 emissions are still linked to the construction and operation of the built environment – and although the level fluctuates due to building growth cycles – the overall level of emissions has decreased from 1990 levels, according to the UK Green Building Council.

However, heating of buildings accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s emissions alone – and when you consider 80% of buildings existing in 2050 have already been constructed – the challenge for the UK construction sector is huge.

Despite the UK progress in some areas of power and waste, globally atmospheric CO2 concentrations have continued to rise and now exceed 400 parts per million. This is against the equally worrying backdrop of only 16 countries from the historic Paris Agreement setting goals for emission cuts that clearly match their nationally determined contributions.

The time for change is now. In October 2018, YouGov revealed two-thirds of UK businesses were yet to set emissions targets. But all is not lost – the same survey revealed 73% of respondents claimed sustainability was “very important” to their brand.

This illustrates the gap between ambition and action – and the need for businesses to speed up their approach to adopting the ‘gamechangers’ that will help them scale-up low-carbon, resource efficient solutions.

Companies have taken action, including through the Science based Targets (SBTi) initiative, which provides companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring that, as a result, they reduce the potential temperature rise to at most 2C. But only a handful of companies have undertaken such a target to date.

Alongside the SBTi, companies are also committing to longer term ‘net zero’ goals which aim for firms to have no impact on the climate at all, in terms of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, by the middle of the decade.

Private sector target setting has been matched by the UK Government, which has set out ambitious plans through its Clean Growth Strategy that aims to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy throughout the 2020s with a plan to be carbon neutral by 2050. Many companies, as can be seen in this report, have taken the bull by the horns and begun radical climate action. Now is the time for game changing opportunities to become the new normal.

“DESPITE THE UK PROGRESS IN SOME AREAS OF POWER AND WASTE, GLOBALLY ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATIONS HAVE CONTINUED TO RISE AND NOW EXCEED 400 PARTS PER MILLION.”


New report reveals health impacts of plastic pollution and rubbish on world’s poorest people

 

A new report has revealed for the first time that one person is dying every 30 seconds in developing countries from diseases and illnesses caused by plastic pollution and uncollected rubbish dumped or burnt near homes.

The new figures were released today in a report called No Time to Waste: Tackling the Plastic Pollution Crisis Before it’s Too Late by international relief and development agency Tearfund, in collaboration with conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Institute of Development Studies and waste management charity WasteAid. The report looks at the health impact of plastic pollution and rubbish on the world’s poorest people for the first time.

It found that each year between 400,000 and a million people (at the upper end one person every 30 seconds) are dying in developing countries from illnesses and diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and cancers caused by living near uncollected waste and plastic pollution.

The report calls on multinational companies to fundamentally change their business models by committing to reporting the number of single-use plastic items they distribute in developing countries by 2020, and halving this by 2025.

Sir David Attenborough OM FRS , the internationally renowned naturalist and broadcaster and a vice president at Fauna & Flora International – “This report is one of the first to highlight the impacts of plastic pollution not just on wildlife but also on the world’s poorest people,

“It is high time we turn our attention fully to one of the most pressing problems of today – averting the plastic pollution crisis – not only for the health of our planet, but for the wellbeing of people around the world.”

“We need leadership from those who are responsible for introducing plastic to countries where it cannot be adequately managed, and we need international action to support the communities and governments most acutely affected by this crisis.” said Sir David, a vice president at Fauna & Flora International.

Globally two billion people, (one in four), don’t have their rubbish collected, often leading to disease and death. When rubbish isn’t collected it often builds up in rivers and causes flooding, which can lead to diarrhoea and a host of infectious diseases.

Often the only other way to dispose of waste is to burn it in the streets, with the resulting fumes being extremely damaging to health as well as – in some countries – being the single largest source of carbon emissions, contributing to climate change.

Dr. Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy & Influencing Director at Tearfund said: “Today Tearfund launches our new Rubbish Campaign, which calls for urgent action from four multinationals – Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.

“They sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected, in the full knowledge that people will have no choice but to burn it, discard it in waterways or live among it.

“The CEOs running these multinationals can no longer ignore the human cost of single-use plastic – fundamental changes to business models are urgently required. There is no time to waste.”

Elisabeth Whitebread, Programme Manager, Marine Plastics for Fauna & Flora International said: “This report is a wake-up call to industry about the interconnected threat that plastic pollution poses to marine and human health. While the findings are shocking, this is not an unsolvable problem.

“As a first step, companies can commit to a full audit of product life cycles, including supply chains, so we can identify where plastic is polluting the environment and bring it to a stop.”

Patrick Schröder, Research Fellow at Institute for Development Studies, said:

“Plastic pollution is damaging our planet and our lives. The current model of ‘take, make, use and dispose’ is unsustainable. Businesses, governments and citizens need to embrace a ‘circular economy’ that promotes sustainable consumption and production and reduces environmental impacts.

“There are a growing number of examples of the circular economy in action – particularly across Africa and Asia – and we need to learn from these initiatives to inform and scale future efforts to tackle this pressing global challenge.”

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement at WasteAid added: “The problems caused by plastic packaging waste are universal, with people and wildlife everywhere being seriously affected.

“Large companies place vast amounts of single-use plastic into communities that don’t have waste management, with significant and growing planetary health impacts. As this report shows, we cannot recycle our way out of plastic pollution – we need systemic change.”

Sir David Attenborough will introduce the report later today at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in London.

Download the full report.


Blockchain ‘evolving past a buzzword’ as ABB unveils new peer-to-peer energy trading pilot

Image: ABB.

Image: ABB.

Blockchain is no longer just a buzzword in the energy sector, ABB has claimed, after the technology provider unveiled a new pilot testing its use in peer-to-peer energy trading.

ABB has partnered with Italian utility Evolvere to use blockchain technology it developed in conjunction with Prosume, which allows for transparent and secure peer-to-peer energy transactions.

The pilot will see the combination of ABB inverters and the tech firm’s ABB Ability digital solution and is to explore how blockchain technologies and applications could transform the market for smart grids.

ABB said the use of blockchain-ready inverters could allow utilities, aggregators and energy company to cut both Capex and Opex project costs, accelerating business cases for subsidy-free renewables.

If successful, the firm intends to ensure that all inverters in the same class are blockchain ready.

Leonardo Botti, global head of product management at ABB, told Current± that having been clubbed together with artificial intelligence and augmented reality as a tech-driven buzzword, blockchain was now playing an integral role in new projects.

“It’s clearly a trend of the way the market is going. All the utilities and energy companies are look at this space,” Botti said, adding that its maturation was occurring far earlier than even some of the industry’s most optimistic timeframes.

Giampiero Frisio, head of ABB’s smart power business, said that the project was borne from the changing way in which consumers harness their energy.

“Prosumers, who use their own photovoltaic systems, are looking at how they can not only produce and use the energy they create, but also review how they can then share any excess energy between neighbors, communities and the wider grid.

“The Evolvere project has allowed us to develop viable and proven solutions for the market in anticipation of new dynamics and regulatory frameworks coming in to place for blockchain technology. We are excited to be on this journey as we write the future of energy,” he said


UK100 and the zero carbon approach in local authorities

Members of the UK100 network of local authorities have pledged to convert to using 100% green energy by 2050. Janet Wood spoke to the network’s director, Polly Billington, about taking a local approach to energy.

Ofgem should have more‘sandboxes’ (projects where temporary derogations are permitted) and they should “not be stuck at the demonstration level – get them bigger”

My hunch is that the regulatory framework has probably run out of road

There is a long way to go for local leaders in understanding the rapidly changing energy landscape and how theycan formally engage with it

I’m not convinced that the DNOs/DSOs know what their business model will be yet in the new environment, so they are trying lots of things out

April cover

Download the full interview New Power Report 122 April UK100