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November 2020

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North Sea energy sector requires ‘urgent investment’ to reach net-zero

Investment into net-zero technologies such as floating offshore wind and clean hydrogen could capture up to £125bn in annual benefits from the North Sea energy sector, but a new report has warned that jobs in the area could fall by at least 20% without incentivising policies.

The report warns that failure to support the already struggling sector could result in the UK becoming a buyer, rather than supplier, of green energy and technology

The report warns that failure to support the already struggling sector could result in the UK becoming a buyer, rather than supplier, of green energy and technology

New analysis by OGTC and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, published today (30 November), outlines that new policy that attracts investment into the North Sea energy sector could support 232,000 jobs as part of the net-zero target for 2050. This would deliver a 66% increase on current levels.

Investment into technologies such as floating offshore wind, clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) would deliver annual benefits of £125bn to the UK and form the basis of an economic recovery, by boosting returns by 200% compared to current levels.

This would require more than £400bn in front-loaded investment over the next 30 years, the report states.

OGTC’s Colette Cohen OBE said: “These detailed scenarios paint a picture of what the UK’s offshore energy system could look like by 2050. None are definitive, but they highlight the need to drive investment and innovation today.

“There are tremendous opportunities for the UK, but we need strong alignment and urgent action from industry, governments and regulators to realise these benefits.”

The report warns that failure to support the already struggling sector could result in the UK becoming a buyer, rather than supplier, of green energy and technology.

The Scottish Government’s Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2019-20 shows that the nation’s share of North Sea energy tax receipts fell by almost 50% over a 12-month period to £724m. This was attributed to a decline in production and the closure of certain plants.

The new report warns that North Sea sector jobs could fall by 20% “in the coming years” unless investment is funnelled into clean technologies. Focusing on the selection of technology could also reduce energy costs for businesses and households, collectively, by £154bn by 2050.

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP said: “I welcome this report and its ambitious vision to help transition the North Sea offshore oil and gas sector towards a Net Zero future. Protecting highly skilled jobs in the oil and gas industry is important to our net-zero aspirations, as we need the same skills, businesses and infrastructure to underpin net-zero solutions.

“That’s why we have committed to supporting the energy transition with a transformational North Sea Transition Deal and I look forward to working alongside industry to deliver on our world-leading target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The Government is aiming to support more clean technologies on the road to net-zero. Ministers recently confirmed that the fourth round of the CfD scheme will open in late 2021 and will aim to double the 5.8GW of renewable capacity procured in the previous round. Up to 12GW of renewables are being targeted to assist with the nation’s net-zero emissions target for 2050.

The number of technologies supported by the scheme will also be expanded in the latest round, with offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, tidal and floating offshore wind projects all eligible to bid. It marks the first time that floating offshore has been eligible for the scheme and the first time since 2015 that onshore wind and solar have been included.

As for CCS, the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan confirms an intention for the UK to become a “world-leader” in CCS technology and will target the removal of 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.

An additional £200m will create two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s, with another two set to be created by 2030. In total, £1bn has been committed, which will support 50,000 jobs in the UK’s industrial clusters.

Matt Mace

News

Renewables Supplies

The UK has halved the carbon intensity of its electricity system over the past decade, decarbonising twice as fast as any other major economy, according to figures contained in a new report from Drax Insights. The switch has been powered principally by the UK’s move away from coal to renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass according to the analysis, which was conducted by academics from Imperial College London. Renewable power generation has grown six-fold in the UK over the past decade, while output from coal power plants fell from 30 per cent to just two per cent of the electricity mix over the timeframe, helping the UK cut the carbon intensity of its power by 58 per cent. The performance represents double the reduction seen in other major economies over the same period, according to the report.

Business Green 30th Nov 2020 read more »

News

International Day of Action on Forest Biomass sees demand for subsidies overhaul swell across Europe

Biofuelwatch leads seventy five groups signing an open letter to BEIS opposing biomass subsidies; Cut Carbon Not Forests campaign continues to raise awareness and controversy among British public; EU petition brings together international NGOs to put an end to incentives for burning forest wood LONDON – 24th November, 2020 – Today is International Day of Action on Forest Biomass and opposition to biomass subsidies is mounting on policymakers across the UK and European member states…. Source: RealWire

News

Skanska’s EV policy and the UK’s largest community solar park: The sustainability success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

In a week dominated by lockdown tiers and Ten Point Plans, projects and initiatives which empower businesses to play their part in achieving a sustainable future, today, continued to launch and scale-up. 

ENERGY: Deal agreed for UK’s largest community-owned solar park

New solar power installations halved in the UK last year for the second year in a row, as the fallout of government subsidy cuts continued to shake the sector. But several recent reports have concluded that the UK investment environment is beginning to settle as the market adapts to a new subsidy-free era for solar. Subsidy-free solar projects are “coming of age” according to Aurora Energy Research, thanks to the falling costs and flexibility of co-located battery storage technology, according to a new report which claims that more than 5GW of solar capacity could be deployed in the UK without subsidies by 2030.

Building on this success is this week’s news that Low Carbon Limited has agreed a deal with Oxfordshire-based Low Carbon Hub for the 19MW Arncott Solar Park. Once built, the Ray Valley Solar project will be the largest community-owned solar park in the UK, generating 18GWh clean electricity per year – enough to power more than 6,000 homes.

Low Carbon’s chief executive, Roy Bedlow, said: “Delivering renewable energy at scale is a key Low Carbon objective and we are delighted to partner with Low Carbon Hub to make Oxfordshire’s community energy and smart grid ambitions a reality. This is our first subsidy-free solar project and we look forward to our long-term involvement through asset management to maximise the renewable energy output of the site.”

RESOURCES: Aldi goes plastic-free for cereal bags

Earlier this year, Aldi UK and Ireland pledged to halve the volume of plastic packaging it uses annually by 2025. The commitment will see 2.2 billion pieces of plastic removed from the supermarket’s product lines over the next five years, most of which will be single-use. This is equivalent to 74,000 tonnes in weight.

Aldi has this week confirmed that latest steps it is taking to help meet that target. The supermarket is introducing 100% recyclable packaging for own-brand cereal. The move will see Aldi replace the plastic inner bags holding the cereal with a recyclable alternative before the end of this year. It will result in the removal of approximately 650 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic annually – the equivalent to the amount of packaging used by more than 10,000 UK households in a year.

Aldi’s plastics and packaging director Chris McKenry said: “Making such a popular product range fully recyclable will have a huge positive impact. Our focus is to offer quality at the lowest price on the market, and we believe that means more than simply offering great products – we have to provide customers with environmentally sustainable options they can afford too.”

MOBILITY: Skanska rolls out electric vehicle policy for employees

Construction and property development giant Skanska has committed to reducing the carbon emissions of its UK business to zero by 2045, without purchasing carbon credits for offsetting. As an interim target on the road to 2045, Skanska UK is aiming to halve its total carbon footprint by 2030, against a 2010 baseline. This will require the company to cut its carbon intensity – the amount of CO2e it produces per £1m of revenue – to 130 by 2030, against a 2010 baseline of 351.

Such an ambitious target will require equally ambitious plans. As of next week, Skanska is rolling out a new transport policy which means the company will no longer offer pure petrol or diesel vehicles to employees. Instead, EVs and petrol electric hybrids – if more practical – will be offered.

Skanska’s UK president and chief executive Gregor Craig said: “We have heard of many commitments to reducing CO2 emissions in the construction industry over the last year. In the longer term there has to be a relentless focus on collaboration between contractors, their customers and the supply chain to make meaningful advances towards reaching our targets. However, we have to start turning the talk into action. That means having the determination to begin making things happen now.”

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Mount Anvil achieves Planet Mark milestone

The UK Government is placing the construction sector at the heart of its green recovery efforts, with the Summer Economic Update, Ten Point Plan and National Infrastructure Strategy all setting out the ways that the sector can champion long-term sustainability.

The opportunity is being grasped by those in the sector, including London-based property developer Mount Anvil, which is the first residential developer to achieve The Planet Mark New Development certification. As part of The Planet Mark’s partnership with educational charity the Eden Project, Mount Anvil has commissioned a sustainability outreach programme which will engage with a local primary schools on new low-carbon development programmes.

Mount Anvil’s head of pre-construction, energy and sustainability Mike Valmas said: “Our commitment to The Planet Mark New Development certification aligns with our investment into measuring the ways we can maximise space and biodiversity while also reducing the environmental impact of a building. It’s a great partnership and one that demonstrates our ongoing commitment to deliver environmentally and economically sustainable places.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: New campaign group launches to create 10,000 UK climate activists

Grassroots climate action has boomed through the school strikes movement, and the public has a multitude of ways to join the action. One such way is through Every One of Us, a new Community Interest Company (CIC) that has launched this week to create 10,000 climate activists in the UK.

Costing £3 a month to join, members get one informed action a week, in a two-minute low down, to tackle climate change. Through the process of member voting, donations will be to support selected green projects each year. Until membership reaches 10,000, the team will work without a salary so that every resource can go towards the growth of the community.

Co-founder Aimee Higgins, a former KPMG Director, said: “These next 10 years are the ones that count – there’s no time to waste. By December 2022, our aim is to galvanise 100,000 ‘Planeteers’ to join The Every One Club. That’s when we’ll start to have serious clout as a community, driving industry through our buying decisions, getting debates tabled in parliament and funding impactful projects with £2 million every year.”

Pictured: L-R, Aimee Higgins and Sonia Lakshman, founders of The Every One Club

Matt Mace

News

Aviation

Aviation emissions are harming the planet at a far more severe rate than previously thought, according to a major new study from the European Union’s aviation regulator which examines the climate impact of a number of lesser-understood emissions produced by jet engines. The analysis published this week by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) analysed the climate impacts of contrails – the line-shaped clouds produced by engine exhaust – in addition to the nitrous oxide (NOx), soot and sulphate particles, and water vapour relased into the atmosphere by jet exhaust alongside the well-documented carbon emissions.

Business Green 27th Nov 2020 read more »

News

Direct Air Capture

From the rocky outcrops of Iceland to the to the sunny plains of Texas, engineers are building giant machines to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It sounds like science fiction, but the companies behind this technology insist it could be a secret weapon in the fight against climate change. The world has dithered for too long over the task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and scientists agree global climate targets are slipping out of reach. To keep warming below 1.5°C – the “safe” climate threshold – and maintain the perks of modern life, the world will have to work out a way to remove between 100 and 1,000 gigatonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere during this century, experts say. In the UK, the captured CO2 is most likely to be pumped into spent oil and natural gas fields in the North Sea. There is little need to worry about it escaping once it has been stored, says Professor Haszeldine. “We know how to do this,” he says. “We know what the engineering is. And most importantly we know how to behave and remediate this if something does go a bit wrong.”

iNews 28th Nov 2020 read more »

News

Net-Zero Navigators Podcast: Meet Iberostar’s Dr Megan Morikawa

To mark Net-Zero November, edie is publishing a mini series of podcasts interviewing the trendsetters and trailblazers in the net-zero movement. Up next: Iberostar’s head of sustainability Dr Megan Morikawa.

Each episode provides a deep dive into a net-zero or carbon-neutral strategy in less than 30 minutes

Each episode provides a deep dive into a net-zero or carbon-neutral strategy in less than 30 minutes

Following on from the UK Government’s world-leading net-zero carbon commitment, edie’s spinoff podcast series, Net-Zero Business, hears from the trendsetters and trailblazers of responsible businesses. 

Since the UK Government set it’s 2050 net-zero target into law, more and more businesses are attempting to get ahead of the political curve by strengthening carbon and energy strategies and pledging to become net-zero businesses well before the 2050 deadline. 

The Net-Zero Business podcast is a monthly digest of shorter episodes, each featuring an in-depth interview with a sustainability lead at a business that has set a net-zero target recently. For Net-Zero November, we’re picking up the pace and publishing a new episode each week. 

This latest episode features an in-depth interview with Iberostar’s global sustainability office director Megan Morikawa. Iberostar is one of the largest hotel groups in Spain and recently outlined plans to become carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Iberostar plans to address at least 75% of its emissions in 2030 through nature-based offsetting and insetting – the process of sequestering carbon within its own operations and value chain.

Dr Morikawa outlines how the company plans to restore and create habitats across its locations – and its plans for engaging staff and visitors on its climate journey. 

If you missed our previous Net-Zero Navigators episodes for Net-Zero November, you can find them below: 

The edie podcast is available to listen to on Spotify. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and bookmark this page to see the full list of podcast episodes as they appear. Have a question about this podcast or a suggestion for future episodes? Email us at podcast@fav-house.com.

edie staff

News

Spending Review

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) remains disappointed with the UK Government’s lack of funding in tackling the climate emergency which, while there were some good points in its recent 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, has not provided the sort of resources it needs to deliver on the rapid carbon emission cuts the country needs. NFLA believes the resources from the Chancellor’s Spending Review announced yesterday are often in the wrong priority areas. The Chancellors Spending Review comes with a £100 billion series of measures in a UK National Infrastructure Strategy. Amongst the spending review pledges are £525 million of spending on supporting large scale nuclear and advanced nuclear technologies like small modular nuclear reactors. There is also a huge £27 billion pledged on road building, and £22 billion on just one rail programme – HS2 (in comparison with £17.5 billion to be provided on the upgrade of the rest of the rail network). In contrast, £1.1 billion is being provided on energy efficiency measures to ‘green’ buildings, around £1.9 billion on electric vehicle infrastructure and grants for zero and ultra-low emissions vehicles, a further £120 million will be invested for more than 500 zero-emission buses and £257 million on cycling infrastructure. There were also modest funding improvements on protecting the natural environment such as £90m from the Nature for Climate Fund and £40m for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. All these areas of new funding are welcomed by the NFLA, but priorities should be altered in reference to the likes of the excessive road budget.

NFLA 26th Nov 2020 read more »

News

Vattenfall

Anna Borg says she “fell into” a career in energy, but 24 years after starting work at the Swedish state-owned power business Vattenfall in her twenties, she has reached the top of the organisation. As its new chief executive since early November, she leads a business that provides power, gas and heat to millions in the UK and across Europe, making annual sales of about £15bn and employing 20,000 people. Like many in the industry, Vattenfall is now trying to provide energy with lower carbon emissions, selling off its German lignite coal operations in 2016 and phasing out coal as part of its long-term aim to become “fossil-free”. Borg embarks on the plan as the shift towards renewable energy rapidly gathers pace. Costs are falling, governments are legislating to try to mitigate global warming, and public opinion has swung behind a shift to green technologies. “The last component is that the financial markets are starting to consider anything fossil a risk,” says Borg.

Telegraph 26th Nov 2020 read more »

News

Report: Can the retail sector deliver a green recovery?

edie has published a new report detailing how retailers can build back better from the coronavirus pandemic by aligning long-term strategies with the need to combat the climate crisis, foster new innovations and ultimately spur a green recovery.

The report has been created in assistance with Reconomy and uses exclusive results from edie’s green recovery survey of 243 sustainability and energy professionals

The report has been created in assistance with Reconomy and uses exclusive results from edie’s green recovery survey of 243 sustainability and energy professionals

edie’s Mission Possible campaign has evolved to focus on the green recovery, with a new series of reports outlining the challenges that businesses in key sectors face in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, and the opportunities that the green recovery will bring. Up next, retail.

—-READ THE RETAIL GREEN RECOVERY REPORT HERE—-

As part of edie’s brand-new Mission Possible: Green Recovery campaign – which supports sustainability, energy and CSR professionals on our collective mission to drive a green recovery across all major industries in the UK – this latest series of reports will explore why a green recovery is so important for the respective industries being analysed; what a green recovery actually looks like for businesses large and small within those industries; and how sustainability and energy professionals can drive a green recovery from within.

The report has been created in assistance with Reconomy and uses exclusive results from edie’s green recovery survey of 243 sustainability and energy professionals. This retail report has also been produced with guidance from in-depth discussions with a steering panel of sustainability experts from some of the world’s most respected retail firms in the vanguard of sustainability leadership.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the lockdown period from March to the end of June in the UK was estimated to have cost nonessential retailers more than £1.8bn per week collectively in lost sales. As the UK emerges into some form of ‘next normal’, many retailers have taken the decision to reduce their estates and staff bases, including John Lewis and Harrods. Others, such as TM Lewin, Bensons for Beds and Laura Ashley have filed for administration.

As such, The retail sector has struggled to deliver a coordinated response to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns due, in part, to which organisations were deemed “essential” as part of national efforts to combat the spread of the virus.

This report features the results of the exclusive survey, insight from the steering panel and key boxouts on how collaboration, innovation, net-zero and the COP26 climate conference will shape the confidence of the sector in delivering radical decarbonisation. Importantly, the report highlights how a strong focus on net-zero and collaboration within the sector has created the building blocks to deliver a green recovery moving forward.

Additionally, viewpoints from Reconomy and the British Retail Consortium help set the tone as to why businesses can be optimistic when approaching the green recovery through net-zero targets and new business practices.

Click here to download the Retail Green Recovery report.

edie staff

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