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January 2021

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Ireland – Microgeneration

The Irish Government has launched a consultation on a new support scheme for microgeneration technologies. While there are a number of grant schemes for the deployment of renewable energy technologies in Ireland, there is no support mechanism for microgeneration technologies, such as micro-solar, micro-wind, micro-hydro and micro-renewable combined heat and power (CHP) plants with a maximum electrical output of 50kW. These microgeneration technologies would be designed to primarily service the self-consumption needs of the property where they are installed. The proposed Microgeneration Support Scheme would allow consumers to generate their own renewable electricity – for example from solar panels on their roofs – and receive a “fair price” when they sell the excess to the grid.

Energy Live News 20th Jan 2021 read more »

The Irish Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Communications has launched a public consultation on its proposed Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS), a new mechanism aimed at supporting the deployment of power generators based on renewable energy and not exceeding 50 kW in size.

PV Magazine 21st Jan 2021 read more »

News

‘A game-changing opportunity to fight climate change’: WEF pushes businesses on supply chain decarbonisation

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is urging businesses to do more to tackle their supply chain emissions, which often represent the bulk of their total climate footprint, and has published new advice on how to do so.

The average company’s supply chain emissions are estimated to be around five-and-a-half times greater than those generated by their direct operations

The average company’s supply chain emissions are estimated to be around five-and-a-half times greater than those generated by their direct operations

The guidance, released ahead of the original dates for its now-delayed Davos summit, outlines the major sources of emissions for the world’s eight biggest supply chains: food, construction, fashion, consumer goods, electronics, automotive, professional services and freight. Collectively, these supply chains are accountable for more than half of global annual emissions, according to the report.

Priority, most material sources of emissions, vary by sector. They include heat, chemical processes and the production and procurement of raw materials.

The report acknowledges that the business cases for tackling some of these emission sources are better than others. By using less material and increasing recycled content, for example, some businesses could mitigate CO2e at a rate of €10 per tonne. But the cost of mitigating one tonne of CO2e using carbon capture and storage (CCS) arrays or by switching to innovative fuels like hydrogen could be as high as €100 at present.

 The report urges businesses to consider how they can work with policymakers, regulators and other businesses to scale up emerging technologies and reduce costs. It also encourages businesses to update their forecasted cost-return models in line will falling costs in fields like renewable electricity generation and low-carbon steel.

However, the report also outlines some more general steps that all businesses, regardless of size or sector, can take to help decarbonise their supply chains.

Any business will need to gain more supply chain transparency to accelerate decarbonisation, the report notes. Without a baseline, meaningful and ambitious targets cannot be developed. The report also encourages more collaboration on co-funding emissions abatement, between end-user and supplier, and between multiple end-users sourcing from the same suppliers, and the development of financial incentives for suppliers to lower emissions.

The report also outlines the trend towards reconsidering geographical sourcing strategies to minimise emissions from transport. Many businesses have consolidated supply chains considering the impact of Covid-19, or to avoid hotspots for deforestation. On the latter, Mars, for example, is reducing the number of mills it sources palm oil from, from 1,500+ to fewer than 100.

Consultancy Boston Consulting Group worked with the WEF to collect the figures and to develop the action points.

“Supply-chain decarbonization will be a game-changer for the impact of corporate climate action,” UNFCCC high-level climate action Nigel Topping, former lead for the We Mean Business Coalition, said.

“Addressing Scope 3 (indirect) emissions is fundamental for companies to realize credible climate change commitments.”

Scoping it out

The average company’s supply chain emissions are estimated to be around five-and-a-half times greater than those generated by their direct operations, according to CDP. This makes Scope 3 emissions a key focus point on the road to net-zero, even though there has been a historic tendency not to account for them.

The good news is that companies are increasingly asking suppliers to measure and communicate information regarding their emissions, as well as their wider environmental impacts like water and waste. The number of companies calling on their supplier to disclose environmental data to CDP increased by 24% between 2019 and 2020.

It is believed that this trend could be attributable to the growing desire to set approved 1.5C-aligned science-based targets. Just a few years ago, only a handful of companies had made such commitments. Now, any big firms operating in nations with net-zero targets are striving towards this new measure of ambition.

The SBTi will require businesses to set Scope 3 targets if they wish to be classed as 1.5C compatible and if Scope 3 sources account for 40% or more of their annual emissions footprint. Such targets must have boundaries which address two-thirds of total Scope 3 emissions.

Sarah George

News

Scottish Policy

A LEADING energy company has warned that Scotland will not be able to scale up wind farms to meet climate targets without an overhaul of charging regimes that “penalises” projects north of the border. Currently, Scotland is planning or has installed around 740 MW of energy from offshore wind farms. But the Scottish Government hopes to scale up the infrastructure to between 8GW and 11GW by 2030 – by when a pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 75 per cent of 1990 levelswill need to be met. SSE has told MSPs that while the ambition from SNP ministers is welcome, charging rates by Ofgem add £3 per MWh as a Scottish “premium” as the power has to travel further to other parts of the UK meaning developers may think twice before agreeing to invest in Scottish projects. But Ofgem ha stressed that “homes and businesses in Scotland have benefited from lower transmission charges as the power is generated closer to where it is delivered”. Speaking at Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, Sam Peacock, director of corporate affairs and strategy for SSE, pointed to obstacles stopping the scaling up of offshore wind generation in Scottish waters – highlighting grid charging.

Herald 20th Jan 2021 read more »

News

Solar Councils

Since 2014, Portsmouth has invested more in solar than any other council in the UK according to new research. The Solar Centre utilised council data gathered through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests that explored council spending on solar installations since the 2014/2015 financial year. Portsmouth came out on top, with an investment of £4,995,707 up to 2020 in the technology. Portsmouth began a solar rollout scheme worth up to £10 million for council buildings in 2016. This helped it achieve a record amount of solar generation during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, with the council’s solar panels – which sit on schools, offices, community centres and housing sites – generating 1.3GWh of power. More recently, it has begun work on the flagship Portsmouth International Port solar and battery storage project, which is set to be the first UK port to have solar canopies and a megawatt sized battery installed as part of a renewable installation.

Solar Power Portal 19th Jan 2021 read more »

The London Borough of Merton has invested the highest proportion of council budget into solar energy since 2015, according to new analysis conducted by The Solar Centre. Using data gathered via freedom of information (FOI) requests, The Solar Centre ranked different councils according to how much they spent on solar energy between 2015 – 2020. With budget sizes varying greatly, the researchers referenced the investment against the available budget for ‘environment’ and ‘housing.’ Having conducted this analysis, the researchers found that the London Borough of Merton has spent the most on solar energy, spending over £1.4m in the past five-and-a-half years. Proportionate to budget, this was more than £130,000 per million. Overall, the city that invested the most was Portsmouth – with £4,995,707 spent in 5 years. Portsmouth has continued to invest and since this data was collected, they have built another large 250-kilowatt PV system, installed on Hilsea Industrial Estate in October 2020. Other factors that were looked at in terms of council involvement in solar projects were the number of council-owned properties fitted with solar systems and the amount of solar energy generated for council use since 2014/15. The researchers found that Newcastle has the most solar fitted buildings, with 1,032, but by far the most energy produced for council use was in Peterborough. They have generated over 295 million kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Environment Journal 19th Jan 2021 read more »

News

#SustyTalk: BNP Paribas’ Mark Lewis on market shifts for the net-zero transition

edie’s #SustyTalk interview series continues with an exclusive talk with BNP Paribas Asset Management’s chief sustainability strategist Mark Lewis.

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With edie readers working remotely or on furlough, this new series of video interviews keeps you connected to the inspirational business leaders who are continuing to drive sustainability and champion climate action from their own homes.

#SustyTalk is all about keeping edie’s loyal readers connected to sustainable business leaders across the world, whilst reminding us all that sustainability and climate action must go on through the current Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. 

The latest episode sees edie’s senior reporter Sarah George speaking with BNP Paribas Asset Management’s chief sustainability strategist Mark Lewis – also a member of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and a senior associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). 

Bringing his expertise in economics and research to the table, Lewis discusses market trends in the energy and transport sector and outlines his predictions for the coming years.

Lewis also speaks about the adoption of the TCFD’s recommendations in the financial sector and beyond. 

Lewis spoke to edie ahead of his appearance at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum in February. Lewis will be appearing on Day 1 (2 February) of the virtual Forum, as part of a session on the future of sustainable finance, also featuring experts from Scottish Widows, the London Stock Exchange Group, Aviva Investors Real Assets, WHEB Asset Management and Futerra.

Click here to see our catalogue of #SustyTalk video interviews


Join the conversation at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum 

From 2-4 February 2021, edie’s award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum event is returning in a brand new virtual format. This year, we are delighted to bring you speakers including former Energy Minister Claire O’Neill; current BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP and World Green Building Council CEO Christina Gamboa. 

This event will allow you to be connected with peers via face-to-face via video chats; be inspired by high-level keynote talks from industry leaders; be involved in a series of interactive panel discussions and live audience polls; and be co-creative in our interactive workshops, whilst also meeting leading technical experts in our dedicated virtual exhibition zone. Rooms, expo booths, private chats, bespoke stages and backstage passes – it’s all possible. 

For a full agenda and to register now, visit: https://event.edie.net/forum/ 


edie Staff

News

Smart Systems

An intelligent energy management system is being developed in Nottingham to optimise clean technology including a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), battery storage and solar. The data management solution is to use OpenRemote’s opensource internet of things (IoT) platform to enable the city’s energy managers to maximise the use of locally produced renewable energy and cut both carbon emissions and the costs associated with charging EVs. The chargers themselves are to have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) functionality, allowing for short-term energy storage and grid balancing. Whilst there has been no final decision on a supplier for these chargers – or for the battery storage element of the project, which is set to have a capacity of 500kWh – Nottingham already owns a range of vehicles capable of smart charging which will be integrated into the system first.

Current 18th Jan 2021 read more »

Traffic Technology 18th Jan 2021 read more »

News

EN+ Group commits to net-zero by 2050

Aluminium and hydropower giant EN+ Group has announced its intention to become a net-zero business by 2050, with a target also in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030.

The net-zero ambition will be delivered through the creation of an internal “climate change taskforce” led by chief operation officer Vyacheslav Solomin

The net-zero ambition will be delivered through the creation of an internal “climate change taskforce” led by chief operation officer Vyacheslav Solomin

EN+ Group is the latest corporate that has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The targets cover absolute emissions across all operations, including aluminium production plus heat and electricity production.

The targets – set against a 2018 baseline – are expected to be approved by the Science Based Targets Initiatives by the summer.

Lord Barker of Battle, Executive Chairman of En+ said: “Once again the En+ Group is showing ambitious sector leadership on the biggest environmental issue of our time. These climate change targets and the roll out of a detailed route map to meet them, are yet more tangible evidence of our commitment to lead the global aluminium industry into the low-carbon economy.

“We will achieve this transformation with relentless scientific innovation and a change programme driven right across the whole group. This will require continued investment in major scientific advances such as our pioneering inert anode technology and critical industrial process improvements, as well as the implementation of net zero initiatives for the hardest ‘last mile’ emissions.”

The group will engage with the UN Global Compact, a key partner of the SBTi, to ensure that the targets, which include a 35% reduction in emissions by 2030, are aligned to climate science. EN+ Group is part of the 9,500+ network of companies seeking to improve human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption through the UN Global Compact initiative.

The company had previously unveiled a raft of new CSR goals stretching to 2025 and relating to its environmental impacts. Those targets included reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% from smelters and 10% from refineries compared with 2014 levels, and cutting power consumption at select sites by 7% from 2011 levels.

EN+ Group already produces 6% of the global aluminium output, while the energy segment of the group is the largest independent power producer in Russia. The Group operates hydro-generating assets totalling 15.1GW of installed electricity capacity and 17 kGcal/h of installed heat capacity.

The net-zero ambition will be delivered through the creation of an internal “climate change taskforce” led by chief operation officer Vyacheslav Solomin. The Taskforce will report to the Executive Chairman, Lord Barker.

Renewables is a key new market for the Group to explore. The company has recently announced plans to build numerous small-scale hydropower stations on small rivers across Siberia, with the capacity of the projects set to total 200MW. According to Bloomberg, a deal has been struck for an 8MW Segozerskaya plant, (costing $125m) to provide for a data centre developed by DCLab Karelia with more deals set to follow.

The Group’s 2025 goals will also aim to improve the efficiency of its renewable generation assets. Targets are in place to enable the generation of an additional 2TWh of renewable energy – equivalent to more than 3% of the Group’s total hydro generation in 2018 – from the same volume of water passing through its facilities. The generated clean energy will be used to replace coal-fired generation for operation, subsequently reducing emissions by 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 annually, more than 10% of the Group’s energy segment emission levels.

edie recently interviewed Lord Barker on the edie podcast. Click here to listen to the in-depth interview covering, green policy, the coronavirus pandemic and the net-zero transition.

Matt Mace

News

IEA: Oil and gas sector must ‘lock in’ methane emissions reductions seen amid Covid-19 lockdowns

Methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry fell 10% year-on-year in 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed. But the body believes this is mostly because of lockdown restrictions, rather than heightened environmental ambitions.

The IEA is highlighting how methane leaks have environmental and financial costs - and how regulation is likely to get toucher in the near future

The IEA is highlighting how methane leaks have environmental and financial costs – and how regulation is likely to get toucher in the near future

The IEA has today (18 January) published the annual update to its Methane Tracker, revealing that oil and gas operations worldwide emitted around 70 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas during 2020. This figure was down from some 77 million tonnes in 2019, marking the biggest year-on-year decline in modern history. For context, the IEA estimates that the EU’s total annual energy-related CO2e emissions are seven million tonnes.

According to the report, this reduction was not because oil and gas majors are investing in the education, infrastructure and technologies needed to reduce methane leaks – it was simply because they slowed production. Due to restrictions on international travel and nation-specific rules for sectors that consume large quantities of fossil fuels, such as heavy industry, oil demand was around 9.3 thousand barrels a day lower in 2020 than 2019.

With this in mind, the IEA has published a regulatory roadmap and a toolkit, designed to guide both policymakers seeking to update regulations on methane from the oil and gas sectors, and oil and gas firms looking to reduce their methane emissions. On the former, the IEA is keen to see nations including commitments on methane in their updated Paris Agreement Pledges ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year.

“The immediate task now for the oil and gas industry is to make sure that there is no resurgence in methane emissions, even as the world economy recovers, and that 2019 becomes their historical peak,” the IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol said. “There is no good reason to allow these harmful leaks to continue, and there is every reason for responsible operators to ensure that they are addressed.”

Spotlight on Total

In related news, multinational energy major Total has withdrawn its membership to the American Petroleum Institute (API), citing climate grounds as the core reason. The API has lobbied for a rollback of tighter regulations on methane emissions in the US; against subsidies for electric vehicles and against rising carbon prices in recent years.

Total said in a statement that the trade body’s lobbying activities, requirements for members and finance plans got against its support for Paris Agreement alignment. The company notably committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 across its operations and products –  covering Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions – in 2020. It has said it will move the target date forward if possible.

Total’s statement also reveals misalignment between the API’s approach to carbon pricing legislation, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and renewable energy development. On the latter, Total is aiming bring 35GW of new renewable energy production capacity online by 2025 by investing some $3bn per year. This week, the business secured a 20% stake in Adani Green Energy Limited.

The statement from Total raises questions as to whether other oil majors will leave the API, given the growing movement towards setting net-zero targets in the sector. Other members include Royal Dutch Shell.

Sarah George  

News

Orchard Street targets net-zero across £4bn portfolio of buildings

Commercial property investment manager Orchard Street, which manages retail units, offices and industrial facilities worth more than £4bn, has outlined plans to reach net-zero ahead of the UK government’s 2050 deadline.

Pictured: The Bauhaus office block in Manchester, which is WELL Gold certified

Pictured: The Bauhaus office block in Manchester, which is WELL Gold certified

The plans were made public through the firm’s latest 2020 Responsible Investment Report. According to the report, Orchard Street will be able to publish a transition strategy later this year, detailing how five of its highest-emitting buildings can become net-zero by 2030. Learnings from these buildings can then be applied across the broader portfolio.

Occupiers’ emissions represent more than 90% of Orchard Street’s total annual carbon footprint. With this in mind, its net-zero strategy focuses more on its managed buildings than its direct operations.

To ensure that decarbonisation work starts across the broader portfolio as soon as possible, the business is targeting a 25% reduction in occupier carbon intensity by 2025. Occupiers will be supported to improve energy efficiency through retrofitting, digital technologies and behaviour change schemes. Targets will be reviewed and could be updated in 2022.

Orchard Street will also apply stricter carbon requirements to sites it develops in the future. 2020 saw the business secure planning permission for a carbon-neutral industrial site in Surrey and an industrial redevelopment site in West London which has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grade of A+.

The Responsible Investment Report additionally outlines the firm’s plans to report in line with the with TCFD’s (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures’) recommendations. Orchard Street claims it is already following most TCFD recommendations but is looking to enhance disclosure with scenario analysis – the process of assessing likely climate risk costs in a range of warming scenarios – from this financial year. 

 “As a non-listed firm, we are not obligated to make disclosures at this level, however we fully believe it is the right thing to do to highlight our serious approach to ESG,” Orchard Street managing partner Philip Gadsden said. “As we deliver on our commitments in 2021 and launch both a net-zero carbon 2030 transition strategy and a new corporate Responsible Investment Strategy aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, our commitment to upholding the highest standards of transparency and accountability whilst meeting the needs of our people and communities will align us with best practice and is the right long-term positioning for our firm.”

TCFD trends

The TCFD surpassed 1,000 supporters for the first time last year. As of February 2020, corporations with a combined market cap of $12trn and investors with $138.8trn of assets under management collectively had made commitments.  Pledges to support the TCFD recommendations had increased by 50% between 2018 and 2019, and even more rapid growth is expected year-on-year for 2020.

But adoption has not been without its challenges. The TCFD has recorded a mixed picture in terms of the quality and quantity of information disclosed, with notable discrepancies between sectors. While organisations in the energy, materials and built environment sectors have greatly improved the quality of reporting in recent years, the average quality increase since 2017 is just 6%. All sectors seem to find scenario analysis one of the most challenging aspects.

This gap between talk and action will need to be closed quickly – not only for the sake of businesses looking to avoid climate risk in the mid-to-long-term but because of changing legislation. From 2023, all publicly listed UK companies with a premium listing will be required to “comply or explain” with the TCFD’s requirements. Rules will then be tightened and extended further in 2025, subject to consultation.


Join the conversation at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum  

From 2-4 February 2021, edie’s award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum event is returning in a brand new virtual format. This year, we are delighted to bring you speakers including former Energy Minister Claire O’Neill; BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP and World Green Building Council CEO Christina Gamboa. 

This event will allow you to be connected with peers via face-to-face via video chats; be inspired by high-level keynote talks from industry leaders; be involved in a series of interactive panel discussions and live audience polls; and be co-creative in our interactive workshops, whilst also meeting leading technical experts in our dedicated virtual exhibition zone. Rooms, expo booths, private chats, bespoke stages and backstage passes – it’s all possible. 

For a full agenda and to register now, visit: https://event.edie.net/forum/ 


Sarah George

News

EVs & Heat Pumps

Across the north of Scotland and central southern England alone, the number of electric vehicles (EV) is likely to increase to over 5 million by 2050. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has published two new reports looking at the impact of net zero targets – 2050 in England and 2045 in Scotland – on the uptake of low carbon technologies and their impact on the grid. These found that the number of EVs is likely to increase from around 30,000 currently in its distribution area to over 5 million. Similarly, the number of heat pumps will grow from 32,000 now to over 2.47 million.

Current 15th Jan 2021 read more »

Norway has more electric car owners per person than any other country, and more than half of cars sold there last year were pure electric – up from just 1pc a decade ago. The country is on track to meet its goal of phasing out sales of new combustion-engine cars by 2025 – promising carbon reductions and lessons, perhaps, for the UK as it tries to do the same five years later.

Telegraph 17th Jan 2021 read more »

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