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September 2021

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WSHP – District Heating

The renewable arm of Star Refrigeration – Star Renewable Energy – is sponsoring a site visit to the Queens Quay water source heat pump in Clydebank. With the capacity to deliver up to 5.2MW of heat at 800C, the water source heat pump (WSHP) for district heating is the largest of its kind in the entire in Scotland. It was developed and delivered through a collaborations between West Dunbartonshire Council, Vital Energi and Star Renewable Energy. The heat pump works by leveraging ambient heat from the Clyde Estuary and using ammonia heat pumps to capture that energy, which makes it an extremely low-carbon method of heat generation. In fact, it is expected to produce less than 5% of the emissions associated with gas-burning alternatives, while its coefficient of performance is in excess of 3.0 (or three units of heat produced for every unit of electricity consumed). Housed on the site of the former John Brown’s shipyard, it will service existing buildings and new builds over the coming years, providing 95% of heat demand and 82% of peak demand. The impressive environmental credentials of the Queens Quay heat pump make it an excellent location for a site visit for delegates to the Low-Carbon Heat Conference 2021. Organised by Scottish Renewables and schedule to take place on the 23rd of September 2021, interested parties are invited to register online and make their own way to the site, which is conveniently located near to Clydebank train station and offers good parking access. Once present, visitors will be treated to a guided tour of the energy centre, the abstraction chamber, the two heat pumps at the site and given an overview of the district heating scheme which will provide heat to 1,200 private homes, businesses and public buildings including West College Scotland, Clydebank Leisure Centre, the Town Hall and Clydebank Library.

PRWeb 17th Sept 2021 read more »

News

MPs call on Bank of England to improve green finance approaches

MPs across all political parties have jointly written to the Bank of England, warning that it is failing to appropriately support the green economy by not pivoting away from the fossil fuel industry.

The MPs are warning that the Bank is failing to consider the impacts that biodiversity loss and the climate crisis will have on financial stability

The MPs are warning that the Bank is failing to consider the impacts that biodiversity loss and the climate crisis will have on financial stability

In total, more than 50 MPs have signed a letter sent to the Bank’s governor Andrew Bailey. The MPs are calling for regulations to be heightened and strengthened in regards to financing fossil fuels, with more support demanded for the green economy.

Organised by campaign group Positive Money, the letter has been supported by Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey, former pensions boss Baroness Ros Altmann, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

“Finance has been identified as a COP26 priority by the UK, so we need to get our own house in order,” Lucas said. “That starts with the Bank of England setting out clear rules to penalise fossil fuel lending and encourage the essential investment in sustainable infrastructure and green jobs.” 

The MPs are warning that the Bank is failing to consider the impacts that biodiversity loss and the climate crisis will have on financial stability moving forward. Indeed, the Banks’ own disclosure to climate-related issues shows that its assets are currently aligned with a pathway that is twice that of the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Disconcerting disclosures

Earlier this year, the Bank of England faced scrutiny from MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). An EAC inquiry on the green recovery from Covid-19 found that the Bank’s corporate bond purchasing was not aligned with the Paris Agreement.

This accusation came after Greenpeace and other climate campaigners accused the Bank of England of backsliding on its green finance commitments. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Report confirmed that the Bank has been offering – and will continue to offer – support packages to large companies without environmental conditions. They also make no direct reference to climate change.

The Bank of England has also released new information on the requirements of its upcoming climate stress tests, which will require large banks and insurers to measure and disclose climate-related risks.

The new guidance confirms that the stress tests will apply to 19 of the UK’s largest financial firms in the first instance, regarding the end-2020 balance sheet. These firms will be required to disclose climate-related risks to their portfolios across the axis of physical risk and transition risk, in three scenarios.

Matt Mace

News

Renewables – Transmission charges

Scottish renewables progress hampered by grid connection charges, MPs say. The Scottish Affairs Committee has today called for transmission charges and grid investment to be equally shared across the UK to help strengthen the Scottish renewables sector.

Scotsman 17th Sept 2021 read more »

SCOTLAND’S renewable energy sector is being held back by UK grid connection charges, a cross-party groups of MPs have concluded. The Scottish Affairs Committee is calling for an urgent review of the costs which it fears is also putting the country’s green power industry at a disadvantage compared to the sectors in England and Wales which pay no or lower fees. Under the current system, charges apply to connect to the grid in Scotland, but in Wales developers are actually paid to connect to the grid. In a report published today, the Commons committee said the issue will affect the development of renewable projects in Scotland as it reduces confidence in investment, which can create jobs and deliver a just transition.

The National 17th Sept 2021 read more »

News

UK’s net-zero progress ‘too city-focused’, councils warn

A group of 36 county councils has called on the UK Government to provide more funding that enables areas outside of cities to reach net-zero emissions, warning the decarbonisation across key areas such as buildings and transport is slowing in these regions.

The Network argues that cities have received “a disproportionate amount of funds for climate action”

The Network argues that cities have received “a disproportionate amount of funds for climate action”

The new warnings come from the County Councils Network (CCN), which is made up of all 23 county councils in England and 13 county unitary authorities. The CCN claims that efforts to reach net-zero by mid-century could be undermined if it continues to primarily focus on urban decarbonisation.

The CCN warns that emissions in England’s rural areas have decreased to their slowest rates since 2005 and more policies are required to accelerate carbon reductions. The 36 areas in CCN membership have reduced their carbon emissions by 30% between 2005 and 2020, compared to 39% for England’s largest cities and London, and 37% for urban areas in the rest of the country.

The Network argues that cities have received “a disproportionate amount of funds for climate action”, even though England’s eight largest cities (excluding London) would take more than seven years to create the same level of emissions in one year in counties.

CCN’s climate change spokesperson Cllr Sam Corcoran said: “To date, the government has disproportionately focused on the cities, and it has not adequately considered the specific issues in England’s rural and county areas. Our emissions are decreasing at a slower rate than anywhere else, and there is a real risk the government undermines its own net-zero target unless county areas receive funding that addresses the size of the challenge they face.

“It would be counterproductive to the country’s climate change efforts that funding should be taken from those areas and given to counties – instead the total pot should be increased. County areas can be proud of what they have achieved so far, but net-zero cannot be achieved on a shoestring. This report makes some key recommendations on how government can better define and equip councils to accelerate their efforts.”  

Specific challenges

The CCN warns that existing funding from the Government is insufficient to deliver nationwide decarbonisation. Council leaders are concerned that they will have their ability to ignite changes “seriously undermined” unless funding is ramped up.

Separate research from WWF also notes that committed spending from the Government is well below the required rates in order to meet its legally binding net-zero emissions target set for 2050.

The Climate Change Committee estimates that approximately 1% of GDP annually is required to help deliver the net-zero transition. However, WWF’s research warns that so far, policies add up to just 0.01% of GDP.

Councils claim they have specific issues that differ from urban efforts to decarbonise. More residents are reliant on cars, for example, as there are fewer public transport options. Indeed, transport emissions from counties have fallen by 5% compared to 10% for the rest of the country and just 38% of electric vehicle (EV) registrations occur in these areas, despite them being the home of almost half of England’s population.

Analysis from the IPPR, meeting net-zero should create universal access to public transport for all rural areas and a principle rule that everyday needs be accessible within a 20-minute walk, cycle or public transport trip. The IPPR estimates that investment in walking and cycling during this Parliament should be at least £6bn.

A recent poll of councillors also revealed that more than a third of councils in the UK are not confident that they’ll be able to meet public commitments to reaching net-zero emissions.

A poll of 1,061 UK councillors, carried out in November 2020, by the independent non-profit Icebreaker One found that 36% are not confident that their council will meet public commitments to net-zero emissions.

In total, 89% of respondents had a net-zero target ambition in place, but more than one-third felt they did not have sufficient data and information to set out detailed and informed roadmaps to net-zero. Respondents cited a lack of data on retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient as a key barrier to net-zero, despite the Government launching a £65bn investment framework into the sector.

Matt Mace

News

Advertising industry launches net-zero training qualification for workers

Workers in the advertising sector will soon be able to access new training qualification programmes to create a better understanding of how the sector can reduce emissions and promote sustainable products and services as part of the wider net-zero movement.

The training will be available online to all ad professionals, in the UK and internationally, via the IPA’s CPD platform

The training will be available online to all ad professionals, in the UK and internationally, via the IPA’s CPD platform

Last year, trade body the Advertising Association has launched a collaborative initiative to support the UK’s advertising industry to reach net-zero within a decade.

Called Ad Net Zero, the scheme is being delivered as part of a partnership between the Association, IBSA and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

It helps companies to adopt a five-point framework for reaching net-zero 20 years ahead of the UK Government’s national target, comprised by the Association’s Climate Working Action Group. Representatives from the likes of UnileverThe Guardian and Sky – which all have net-zero targets – sit on the Group.

The Ad Net Zero campaign will be launching its first training qualification for advertising professionals as part of a 2-day Global Summit in Glasgow to coincide with COP26.

The training will be available online to all ad professionals, in the UK and internationally, via the IPA’s CPD platform.

The campaign has also developed a Best Practice Guide for all businesses in the advertising supply chain to help track, measure and reduce their carbon emissions. The guide will be published at the Summit for everyone in the industry to access for free.

IPA’s director general Paul Bainsfair said: “To accelerate the system change we need to make right through the advertising supply chain, we have been working hard and fast to bring the industry’s first training qualification and Best Practice Guide to market. As we near the completion of the first year of a decade of essential change for our industry, these actions are central as we help everyone who works in advertising to focus the industry’s huge influence on promoting a more sustainable way of living.”

In May this year, the sector launched the AdGreen carbon calculator, which will enable organisations within the advertising industry to measure the carbon impact of their projects and to identify the highest carbon-producing activities free of charge.

The industry is introducing a new voluntary levy that sees advertisers contribute a small sum of the cost of production to cover the operation costs of AdGreen. Already, some of the most recognisable advertising agencies such as adam&eveDDB, Havas UK, Havas Studios and Mullen Lowe Group (representing IPG) have agreed to the levy, while corporates such as Unilever and Nestlé have also agreed to pay the levy in relation to their advertising.

These organisations have also joined the AdGreen advisory board to support members that are looking to become more sustainable. Already, more than 750 members have completed a free online training course aimed at educating those within the sector about climate-related risks through the context of the industry.

One of the major roles the sector will have is alleviating concerns of greenwash.

Experts have repeatedly claimed that greenwashing has become more common in recent years and that this trend will only accelerate in the coming years, as consumer and investor demands for sustainable products outpace corporate action. A recent survey of 1,000 people by Futerra found that most want to choose more eco-friendly options, but more than two-fifths think companies make it harder to do so, despite their sustainability commitments.

The International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) hosts annual website “sweeps”, where brands are examined to remove potentially fraudulent, deceptive, or unfair online conduct.

The annual sweep of corporate websites has found that four in ten are providing information on environmental criteria that could be considered misleading and potentially breaking consumer laws.

Matt Mace

News

Ferries

Orkney’s European Marine Energy Centre to test green solutions for ferries and cruise ships. A cutting-edge project that will test drive green hydrogen technologies designed to slash the environmental footprint of the maritime industry is set to get under way in Orkney.

Scotsman 16th Sept 2021 read more »

News

‘Reduction-first approach’: WorldGBC updates net-zero buildings commitment

The World Green Buildings Council (WorldGBC) has today (15 September) unveiled an update to its longstanding Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, that aims to ignite a “reduction-first” approach to decarbonisation to halve emissions from the sector by 2030 and tackle lifecycle emissions.

the WorldGBC is now calling for businesses to account for the whole lifecycle impact of all new buildings and major renovations by 2023

the WorldGBC is now calling for businesses to account for the whole lifecycle impact of all new buildings and major renovations by 2023

The WorldGBC first issued its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment in 2017, calling on companies in the built environment sector to ensure all existing buildings by 2050 operate at net-zero carbon.

The commitment has been signed by more than 140 entities, including 109 businesses, 28 cities and six states and regions. Collectively, they account for more than 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

The WorldGBC has now updated the mandate to account for the role that tackling embodied carbon can have as part of a “reduction-first approach to decarbonisation”.

In 2019, WorldGBC has issued a report outlining how companies in the sector can focus on both operational and embodied carbon to reach net-zero emission buildings by 2050.

The report notes that operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) account for 28% of the built environment sector’s 39% contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining 11% derives from embodied carbon emissions found in the material and construction processes across a building’s entire lifecycle.

The updated mandate still calls for all building assets within direct control to account for all operational carbon emissions by 2030. However, the WorldGBC is now calling for businesses to account for the whole lifecycle impact of all new buildings and major renovations by 2023, with a commitment also in place to track and report business activities that influence the indirect reduction of whole life carbon emissions.

The WorldGBC’s chief executive Cristina Gamboa said: “The update to the WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment elevates the ambition for the building and construction sector to go further and faster to decarbonise. It sets a target for compensating for emissions associated with buildings and construction, and the tangible social and environmental co-benefits of this approach creates a powerful catalyst towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Achieving our vision of sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere means acting now to tackle upfront carbon, whilst planning with whole life carbon in mind.”

The updated Commitment attempts to prioritise aggressive reduction-first strategies, but the Council does not that residual emissions will need to be compensated via offsets. The new commitment notes that fossil fuel consumption and emissions from supply chain processes will still need to be balanced in the short term through a reliance on offsets.

Building demand

The Commitment also accounts for the BuildingToCOP26 Coalition’s calls that emissions from the global building stock needed to be halved globally by 2030, with net-zero achieved for all lifecycle emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Fortunately, demands for green builders are growing. Of the commercial property professionals to have responded to a global survey of more than 4,000 decision-makers in the built environment space, more than half (55%) saw growth in demand for sustainable buildings over the past 12 months.

The survey was conducted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the World Built Environment Forum to form RICS’ latest annual sustainability report.

In the commercial property sector, respondents were asked about investor and occupier appetite for buildings considered ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’. Globally, 55% of respondents said demand had risen. The sharpest increase in demand was seen in Europe, with 69% of respondents reporting increased demand. Even in the Middle East and Africa region, where demand growth was the lowest, 39% of respondents reported increased demand.

Commenting on the new commitment, Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Climate Action Champion: “With the buildings sector accounting for 40% of global emissions and 50% of resource consumption, the need for urgent action is critical. WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment provides a bold approach for businesses looking to be a front runner in decarbonising emissions from buildings by 2030.”

Matt Mace

News

Gas Prices

Natural gas prices in the UK and the continent of Europe hit record highs due to tight supply ahead of winter, causing serious economic damage to industry and concerns about weather shortages. UK previous day prices rose 7% on Tuesday to over £ 1.65 per therm, almost triple the level at the beginning of the year and rose 70% in early August alone. Since gas is the key to power generation, it also pushes record electricity prices. But what caused the gas crunch before winter heating demand began in earnest? How does it affect the home? Concerns over supply shortages began in the protracted cold winters that depleted natural gas storage. This is usually replenished in the summer when the demand for heating evaporates significantly.

However, storage filling is not occurring at the pace traders wanted in 2021. Russia Sending Less gas To Europe because of intense debate in the industry. These range from the need for Russia to replenish its own storage to suspicions that it is trying to pressure European governments, including Germany, to approve highly controversial start-ups. Nord Stream 2 Gas pipeline. Europe has also phased out coal plants in recent years, limiting the opportunity to switch fuels when prices rise. Record carbon prices also make fuel swaps less attractive, as coal emits more carbon dioxide when burned.

FT 14th Sept 2021 read more »

News

Dogger Bank: World’s largest windfarm’s operations base to be net-zero carbon

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm, off the North East coast of England, will have its new operations and maintenance (O&M) base constructed and operated under recognised standards for net-zero buildings.

Construction of the base is scheduled for later this year, with completion set for late 2022

Construction of the base is scheduled for later this year, with completion set for late 2022

Equinor’s Dogger Bank Wind Farm, expected to be the world’s largest offshore windfarm once operational, will have it’s O&M based constructed in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework.

The facility, to be located at the Port of Tyne, will be fitted with solar panels to enable onsite renewable generation, electric vehicle (EV) charging points for staff and will be built using low-carbon materials that meet UKGBC energy efficiency classifications.

An internal carbon price has also been introduced. Consideration of the price is rated alongside the market costs of materials, which has enabled the design team to strengthen the financial case for selecting low-carbon materials.

Equinor’s vice president for the Dogger Bank windfarm Halfdan Brustad said: “With the capability to generate electricity for millions of homes, Dogger Bank Wind Farm is being built on a scale never been seen before in offshore wind. The project will make a real contribution to decarbonising our electricity system, and help the UK meet its net-zero targets. 

“This modern and attractive facility will support over 200 people working directly on Dogger Bank, and be a proud base at the heart of the North East for teams working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm.”

Construction process

The UKGBC’s framework has two stands – one for construction of the building and another for operations. Equinor has confirmed that the O&M base will be certified against both applications. CBRE will work with the project team to assist material selection and carbon accounting. The O&M base has been designed by international design practice, Ryder Architecture.

Construction of the base is scheduled for later this year, with completion set for late 2022, ahead of wind farm operations starting in 2023.

Around 200 people will be based there or offshore to operate and maintain Dogger Bank, which will be able to generate around 5% of the UK’s electricity and will be located more than 130km out to sea.

The windfarm has already confirmed that an “ultra-low emissions” jack-up vessel is being used to install the turbines and the Service Operations Vessels used during operations will be fitted with a hybrid battery system to reduce emissions.

Late last year, financial close was confirmed on two phases of Dogger Bank, with capital expenditure reaching around £6bn, which is the largest offshore wind project financing globally.

SSE Renewables and Equinor, the two firms behind the Dogger Bank windfarm, confirmed that the first two phases of the project will each require a total capital expenditure of around £3bn, including offshore transmission capex of around £800m per phase.

With a capacity of 3.6GW, Dogger Bank will be the largest offshore windfarm in the world when operational. It consists of three 1.2GW phases and construction began on the Dogger Bank Wind Farm in January last year.

Dogger Bank has secured 15-year contracts with the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) through the UK Government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) auction. This was achieved in September 2019, when the auction delivered record low-strike prices. As such, Dogger Bank A has a strike price of £39.65/MWh, while phases B and C have secured a strike rate of £41.61/MWh.

The Government is aiming to double the amount of renewable energy procured through its CfD scheme, with 12GW of wind and solar energy being targeted.

Matt Mace

News

Agriculture

A herd of cows has been “potty-trained” in an experiment that scientists say could pave the way for more environmentally friendly farms. Waste from cattle farms often contaminates soil and waterways and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and the acidification of soil. For this reason, toilet-training cattle has long been viewed as desirable, but several previous attempts have been unsuccessful. In the latest study, scientists tried a method they called the MooLoo approach to teach calves to use a toilet area in their barn, meaning that urine could be collected and treated.

Guardian 13th Sept 2021 read more »

Telegraph 13th Sept 2021 read more »

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