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February 2021

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Bitcoin

It’s not just the value of bitcoin that has soared in the last year – so has the huge amount of energy it consumes. The cryptocurrency’s value has dipped recently after passing a high of $50,000 but the energy used to create it has continued to soar during its epic rise, climbing to the equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of Argentina, according to Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a tool from researchers at Cambridge University that measures the currency’s energy use.

Guardian 27th Feb 2021 read more »

News

Engie – Belgium

Engie reports €1.5bn loss after €2.9bn charge on Belgian nuclear assets.

FT 26th Feb 2021 read more »

Engie wrote down its Belgian nuclear assets by EUR 2.9 billion due to the planned closure of its Belgian reactors by the end of 2025 and recorded an operating loss of EUR 1.1 billion for 2020. The French energy company said on Friday that he had decided to stop “all the preparatory work which would make it possible to extend two units [Doel 4 and Tihange 3] by 20 years beyond 2025 because it seems unlikely that this extension can take place, taking into account technical and regulatory constraints. ” In 2003, Belgium decided to definitively close its 6 GW nuclear fleet by the end of 2025, with the first reactor due to close next year. Engie’s Belgian subsidiary, Electrabel, operates the country’s seven nuclear reactors.

Montel 26th Feb 2021 read more »

News

Borealis to cut emissions at Finnish facility through £15m energy efficiency upgrade

Chemicals giant Borealis has unveiled a new €17.6m (£15.1m) investment into regenerative thermal technology that will reduce facility emissions from heating while also saving around 60GWh of energy annually.

The technology will remove up to 18,000 tonnes of carbon emissions once it is completed in 2023. Copyright: Borealis

The technology will remove up to 18,000 tonnes of carbon emissions once it is completed in 2023. Copyright: Borealis

The investment will see Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) technology installed at its polyolefins plants in Porvoo, Finland. The technology treats air pollution and exhaust emissions in a move that will replace around 50% of the energy required to heat the facility’s operations.

The technology will remove up to 18,000 tonnes of carbon emissions once it is completed in 2023. Projected annual energy savings are approximately 60 GWh and it will be combined with two long-term purchase power agreements (PPAs) to source energy generated from Finnish wind farms.

The PPA’s will see the facility source 13% renewable electricity, with Borealis trying to reach 50% across all its Hydrocarbon & Energy and Polyolefins operations by 2030.

“The varied measures being implemented at our Porvoo production location to help combat climate change are exemplary for the entire Group,” Borealis’s executive vice president for base chemicals and operations Martijn van Koten said.

“Part of our commitment to bringing about a carbon-neutral future means re-inventing for more sustainable living. We will continue to find innovative ways to protect the climate by reducing our own environmental footprint.”  

Energy legacy

In 2018, Borealis set the aim of reducing its carbon footprint by 360,000 tonnes of CO2e each year after achieving ISO 50001 certification.

The firm – Europe’s second-largest producer of polyethylene and polypropylene – reached the certification for energy management through a four-year partnership with risk management firm DNV GL that saw the two companies collaboratively develop and install a new energy management system at eight of Borealis’ key locations. The installation of the new system will help reduce Borealis’ carbon footprint by as much as taking 80,000 petrol cars off the road (360,000 metric tons of CO2 annually) – and has also seen the chemical corporation set a new energy efficiency target of using 10% less energy in 2020 than it did in 2015.  

More recently, Borealis became a Core Partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy. The company now works directly with the Foundation to develop and upscale innovative products and services that eliminate unnecessary plastics and ensure that plastics that are used are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.


Register for edie’s online masterclass on energy efficiency 

On 10 March at 1pm GMT, edie is hosting a 45-minute masterclass on energy efficiency in association with the Carbon Trust and BEIS. Expert speakers from both organisations will be presenting alongside BAM Nuttall’s carbon reduction lead Sarah Joliffe. 

This free virtual event will break down how technological innovations can be utilised to enhance your organisation’s energy efficiency approach and decarbonise industrial processes, through presentations and an interactive Q&A. 

Find out more and register here. 


Matt Mace

News

The Net Zero Business Podcast: Inside Ella’s Kitchen’s climate action plans

In response to the accelerated pace at which businesses are examining and setting net-zero targets to help alleviate the climate crisis, edie has launched a spin-off of the Sustainable Business Covered podcast. Up next, we speak to Ella’s Kitchen chief executive Mark Cuddigan.

All edie podcast episodes can be listened to via iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud

All edie podcast episodes can be listened to via iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud

Following on from the UK Government’s world-leading net-zero carbon commitment, edie’s new 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. 

In the latest episode, edie’s senior reporter Sarah George dials the chief executive of baby and toddler food brand Ella’s Kitchen, Mark Cuddigan. 

Ella’s Kitchen announced in late 2019 that it will strive to become a net-zero business by 2030. More than a year on, Cuddigan provides insight as to how the target was developed and how the business will need to evolve to meet this ambition. He also discusses how B Lab is bringing together certified B Corps like Ella’s to collaborate in solving key net-zero challenges. 

In this episode, Sarah makes reference to two upcoming online events from edie, both on topics that will be crucial to the net-zero transition. 

For more information on the 45-Minute Energy Efficiency Masterclass on March 10, click here. 

For more information about the Circular Economy Inspiration Sessions on March 25, click here.

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.

News

BlackRock Investment Institute: Tackling climate change will provide a financial boost, not a net cost

BlackRock’s insights arm is forecasting that the net-zero transition could create a cumulative output gain of almost 25% by 2040, if delivered in an “orderly” fashion.

The BII whitepaper charts particular opportunities in sectors like renewable energy generation, technology and healthcare

The BII whitepaper charts particular opportunities in sectors like renewable energy generation, technology and healthcare

The figure is the headline of the BlackRock Investment Institute’s (BII) latest Capital Market Assumptions whitepaper, which provides updated information on trends in low-carbon investment and climate risk disclosure, before providing predictions in these fields.

According to the paper, many economic projections regarding the low-carbon transition have overstated the net costs and understated the net benefits by failing to factor in the full extent of risks – be they physical (extreme weather events, sea-level rise) or transition-related (changing policies, changing market demands). This is despite the trend towards disclosure in line with the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations. 

It states that, if these risks are properly priced in, businesses and governments will be able to deliver a more “orderly” net-zero transition that minimises upfront costs and maximises benefits. Bodies that take note now could see a cumulative output gain of 25% by 2040, relative to taking no climate mitigation or adaptation action. The BII said in a statement that it “believes that tackling climate change will drive significant economic improvements over the coming two decades and that the commonly held notion that it has to come at a net cost to society is wrong”.

“Climate risk is investment risk, yet there are also significant investment opportunities in the transition to a net-zero economy,” the head of the BII Jean Bovin said. “By quantifying those opportunities, we can build portfolios that benefit from exposure to the transition, which is an integral part of our fiduciary duty to clients.”

The whitepaper acknowledges that some sectors are better-placed to undergo an uptick in financial performance and growth amid the low-carbon transition, simply because they are lower-carbon and their value chains are less exposed to climate risk at present. According to the document, the likely beneficiaries in changing investment trends for the next five years include technology and healthcare. The likely laggards include power and utility firms, especially those which draw a large proportion of turnover from fossil fuels.

The whitepaper is intended to be used as a “building block” for BlackRock’s approach to portfolio designs and requirements, so measures detailed could soon become mandatory for companies in the firm’s holdings.

BlackRock itself recently published new expectations for the energy companies in its portfolio. It is urging these businesses, along with those in heavy industry and other high-emitting sectors, to disclose the full extent of their emissions and set credible emissions targets in line with climate science.

The firm notably took voting action against 53 companies on climate grounds in the first half of 2020, including ExxonMobil and Air Liquide. It has stopped short, however, of changing its exclusions policy, despite criticism of its decision to continue investing in businesses that draw revenue from coal.

UK-specific forecast

When it first advised the UK Government on the costs and benefits of transitioning to net-zero by 2050, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) forecast net costs of 1-2% of GDP.

However, in light of rapidly falling costs in sectors like offshore wind generation, the CCC has now changed its forecast to 0.5-1% of GDP.CCC representatives stated, in events held to mark the launch of the Sixth Carbon Budget advice, that costs are likely to be on the lower end of this spectrum if its recommendations are followed.

The Sixth Carbon Budget advice outlines how the UK could deliver 78% reduction in absolute emissions by 2035, against a 1990 baseline. In comparison, the original Climate Change Act was headlined by an 80% reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2050. The UK Government is yet to formally respond to the advice.

Sarah George

News

UK introduces new mandate on sustainable petrol blends

The UK Government will mandate the introduction and use of a new blend of petrol containing up to 10% sustainable bioethanol from September this year.

From September 2021, E10 will be mandated across the UK, in a bid to reduce emissions from transport

From September 2021, E10 will be mandated across the UK, in a bid to reduce emissions from transport

The Government has run a consultation on how to make E10 – a lower-carbon fuel mixed with 10% ethanol – to become the standard grade of petrol at UK stations from 2021. Ministers believe that E10 can cut emissions from transport by 750,000 tonnes annually – the equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from UK roads.

From September 2021, E10 will be mandated across the UK, in a bid to reduce emissions from transport.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Transport Fuel Association commented: “There aren’t many opportunities for the UK to reduce its GHG emissions almost instantly – most take significant time and investment.  Introducing E10 is an exception, in that it can reduce carbon emissions from petrol cars almost overnight. 

“The British Bioethanol industry contributes so much to the UK economy.  It supports thousands of jobs both directly and in the supply chain, and as well as providing clean fuel, it produces an animal feed by-product.  It offers farmers a market for lower-grade wheat that can’t be used for milling and a local source of protein feed, meaning less soy-based feed needs to be imported from South America.”

Current petrol grades in the UK already contain up to 5% bioethanol, which is called E5. Integration of E10 petrol would boost the percentage to 10% and is already used in European countries such as France and Germany.

However, research suggests that the fuel may not be compatible with as many as 800,000 older vehicles. Analysis of the DVLA’s database by the RAC Foundation in 2017 found that 868,000 cars were unable to use E10 petrol in Europe.

Production efforts

Additionally, concerns exist as to the UK’s ability to produce bioethanol. The UK has three production facilities at Ensus, British Sugar and Vivergo which ceased production in September 2018. However, AB Sugar has since announced its intention to re-start operations at Vivergo in light of the new mandate.

David Philipson, Transport Technical Specialist at Cenex, said: “We estimate that using E10 petrol instead of the current E5 petrol could reduce road transport CO2 emissions by 2% annually, equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the UK roads.

“It’s important any introduction of E10 is brought forward with sustainability and public engagement at the forefront. Some older vehicles may not be fully compatible with E10: we estimate that 600,000 vehicles in the UK would be affected, though this number will fall as older vehicles are removed from the roads. Leading fuel suppliers have given express assurances that E5 will still be available to purchase at many forecourts for those concerned.”

The UK has moved its phase-out of new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030. Transport is the UK’s largest emitting sector, accounting for more than 30% of national carbon emissions. While this does include aviation, road vehicles account for around 19% of all UK emissions.

Under Theresa May, the UK Government had initially introduced the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales with a 2040 deadline. Following criticism from green groups, including its own Climate Change Committee, over the policy’s alignment with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target, Prime Minister Johnson moved in February to alter the deadline to 2035. 2035 is the date cited by the CCC in its initial recommendations framework on legislating for net-zero by mid-century. The deadline was then moved forward by another five years.

Matt Mace

News

Fragile Countries

A group of the world’s most fragile countries have called on rich nations for more help getting electric power to their people. In an open letter published on Wednesday, the leaders of countries like Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen called on rich nations, multilateral banks and the private sector to increase investment for distributed renewable energy systems, like solar panels on their citizens’ homes. Former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said her country’s experience shows small-scale solar and hydropower help “the needy, particularly in rural areas who have been neglected all of these years”. She said energy brings safety to homes, opportunities for distance learning to schools, technological advancement to hospitals and a chance for small businesses to expand.

Climate Change News 24th Feb 2021 read more »

News

Transport – Scotland

CAMPAIGNERS have warned that a Scottish Government commitment to cut traffic by 20 per cent has been put in reverse as car journeys continue to rise. The Scottish Government has committed to cut car journeys by 20% over the next decade as part of its updated climate change plan. But new statistics published by the Government shows that the number of motor vehicles registered in Scotland is at an all-time high of around 3 million and even before the pandemic, the distance driven by motor vehicles on roads increased by 8% over the past five years to reach 48.7 billion vehicle kilometres in 2019.

Herald 24th Feb 2021 read more »

News

Food and drink businesses meet carbon reduction goals five years early

The UK’s food and drinks sector has collectively slashed carbon emissions by 55% since 1990, surpassing a target set for 2025.

FDF members have also delivered strong progress on water stewardship

FDF members have also delivered strong progress on water stewardship

The latest research from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents more than 300 companies across the national sector, outlines corporate efforts to reduce emissions and improve sustainability across the value chain.

FDF’s ‘Ambition 2025’ strategy is headlined by commitments to help members reduce absolute CO2 emissions by 55%, against a 1990 baseline, and to support year-on-year reductions in food waste on a “farm to fork” basis.

The Federation has today (24 February) confirmed that the 55% target has been achieved five years ahead of schedule.

Additionally, FDF members have delivered strong progress on water stewardship. Between 2007 and 2019, members reduced absolute water consumption by more than 41%, while also reducing the amount of water consumer per tonne of product by 44.5%.

On food waste, FDF members are contributing to the UK’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. The latest data shows that Roadmap members have saved more than 180,000 tonnes of food from going to waste, equivalent to £300m. To date, 37 FDF members are signatories, while all FDF members are aiming to send zero waste to landfill.

FDF’s chief scientific officer, Helen Munday, said: “I am delighted to share these two reports more widely and highlight the excellent progress FDF members have already against the targets set. It’s incredible that we are half-way to reaching the end of this project is 2025 and we are seeing our members fully achieve some of the targets we set out in 2016.

“Despite the difficult year the industry has faced, sustainability and environmental initiatives have remained at the forefront of our agenda and this is clearly seen in the progress being made. We of course know there is more to achieve which is why we undertook the Mid-Term Review work, and can now present fresh, forward-thinking targets which we know our members are keen to embrace.”

Last year the FDF claimed that the UK’s food and drink manufacturing sector will be able to slash emissions by almost two-thirds by 2050, but will require further action and ambition from the government if it is to go further and align with the national net-zero goal.

The FDF’s report found that Scope 2 (power-related) emissions account for the majority of the sector’s carbon footprint, with 97% of its direct footprint attributable to natural gas and the majority of the remaining 3% accounted for by electricity. Of the natural gas sourced by the sector between 2012 and 2020, 80% was used in boilers and direct-fired ovens.

Matt Mace

News

Heat Networks – Scotland

HOLYROOD has passed new legislation on heating that could be “crucial” in Scotland’s response to the climate change emergency. MSPs unanimously approved a bill that aims to “accelerate significantly” the number of properties covered by heat networks. Such systems see networks of pipes transport hot water or steam to buildings, with this then being used to heat them. Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said heating buildings, which typically relies on gas or electricity, currently accounts for 21% of greenhouse gas emissions, the third largest source of these in Scotland. And he said there needed to be a “transformational change” in how homes and businesses are supplied with heat. The Scottish Government has set the target of having a million homes heated by low carbon or renewable sources by 2030 – with Wheelhouse adding that heat networks will have “a strong role, perhaps the predominant role to play, in achieving this”. Currently just 34,000 properties across Scotland benefit from such systems – which can save people almost a fifth in annual fuel bills, he said.

The National 24th Feb 2021 read more »

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