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Tim Yeo: We have to take cost risks on low-carbon projects

The urgency of the climate crisis means that the world cannot wait for a decade or more to find out whether emerging technologies – such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) – will work, the former chair of Parliament’s energy and climate change committee has warned.

Yeo served as the Minister for the Environment and Countryside from 1993-1994; the Shadow Secretary for Environment and Transport from 2004-2005 and chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee from 2010-2015. Image: Policy Exchange

Yeo served as the Minister for the Environment and Countryside from 1993-1994; the Shadow Secretary for Environment and Transport from 2004-2005 and chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee from 2010-2015. Image: Policy Exchange

In a speech late last week at the 2019 forum of the New Nuclear Watch Institute, which he chairs, ex-MP Tim Yeo outlined his proposals for a European Green New Deal as an emergency response to the climate crisis.

“It’s very now clear that the decarbonisation of the power sector must proceed very rapidly if we are going to meet net-zero by 2050. We can’t sit around waiting for an economic form of CCS to become viable in 10 or 15 years,” he said.

Adding similar concerns over the timeframe for bringing forward large-scale storage, Yeo said the urgent nature of the climate challenge is a “big opportunity for the nuclear industry” which it has “got to seize”.

And while cost pressures must be taken into account, they must not dominate, he said: “Cost is obviously important but even more important than costs is cutting emissions on time. There’s no point developing cheap low carbon forms of energy that kick in in 20 years if we have already reached the absolute safe level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

“Sometimes we have to take risks on costs: delaying investment in low-carbon capacity is potentially even more damaging than paying high prices for one or two pioneering pilots.”

As an example, he said the admittedly “huge” contract for difference awarded to Orsted to build its North Sea offshore wind farm at Hornsey was justified by the prospect of lower costs in the pipeline.

The former shadow secretary of state for the environment also warned that the concept of a Green New Deal, which was endorsed by the Labour Party conference last month, must not become a “political football”.

“It runs the risk of alienating private business whose support is crucial to the solution of climate change: Government needs private business as their partner and not their enemy.

“No Green New Deal will succeed if it allows its agenda to be captured by the right or the left: any Green New Deal must be based on pragmatism rather than ideology.”

Recalling the original New Deal, which was launched by Democrat president Roosevelt to revive the US economy during the Great Depression, he said: “FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s was a series of emergency measure responding to a crisis which is exactly what the world needs now in response to climate change.”

Yeo also described as “unwise” a proposal by the European Commission’s technical expert group to discriminate against nuclear energy by excluding it from the taxonomy of favoured technologies that will enjoy access to its funds.

But he backed moves by the incoming commission president Ursula von der Leyen to tax goods coming into the EU, which are not subject to a similar emissions pricing scheme as that operating within the trading block.

Additionally, Yeo called on the EU and China to develop a common set of standards on combatting emissions which would put pressure on the rest of the world to follow suit, including the US, which this month began the process of formally withdrawing from the Paris Agreement

David Blackman

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

News

Just one in 10 of world’s largest energy firms have net-zero targets, report finds

Just 10% of the world’s largest 132 coal, electricity and oil and gas companies have set time-based commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, with just three companies also pledging to reduce indirect emissions as well.

Nine of the companies have set a 2050 deadline to achieve net-zero, while four set a date of 2025 or 2030

Nine of the companies have set a 2050 deadline to achieve net-zero, while four set a date of 2025 or 2030

With energy accounting for almost three-quarters of global emissions, the report has found that businesses within the sector are failing to align with the Paris Agreement by delivering net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The report was jointly published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, and the Transition Pathway Initiative.

Professor Simon Dietz, Professor of Environmental Policy at the Grantham Research Institute, said: “Climate science tells us that net carbon dioxide emissions must fall to zero to stabilise global temperatures, and that limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees requires global carbon dioxide emissions to reach net-zero around 2050.

“Although new corporate net-zero commitments are being made all the time, our analysis shows that we are starting from a very low base.”

Differing ambitions

The report examined the public disclosures of 20 coal companies, 62 electricity companies, and 50 oil and gas companies. It found that coal firms BHP Billington, Exxaro Resources, and South32, electricity companies CEZ, EDF, Endesa, Enel, E.ON, Iberdrola, National Grid, Ørsted, and XCEL Energy and oil and gas giant Eni had all set dates to reach net-zero emissions. However, the vast majority of companies across the sector have disclosed little information on decarbonisation plans aligned to climate science.

In total, nine of the companies have set a 2050 deadline to achieve net-zero, while four set a date of 2025 or 2030. National Grid and Ørsted have set targets for 2025 and Eni and Exxaro Resources have set goals for 2030.

BHPBilliton, Exxaro Resources and XCEL Energy are the only companies that have set net-zero targets for their indirect emissions (Scope 2 and 3), which include coal or gas extracted by the company and used by other firms.

Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, at the University of Oxford, said:  “Four years on from the signing of the Paris Agreement, our findings show that most of the world’s largest energy companies have yet to develop plans compliant with one of its key goals: to eliminate net emissions of carbon dioxide over the next three decades.

“This exposes investors to significant financial risk as implementation of the Paris Agreement leads to polluting assets becoming stranded.”

In September, green groups criticised the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry’s blueprint to contribute to net-zero emissions by 2035, claiming that the accompanying evidence fails to “leave fossil fuels in the ground”.

The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry (OGUK) published its Roadmap to 2035: A Blueprint for net-zero, listing the five key areas that industry, government and regulators must collaborate on to enable the sector to contribute to the UK and Scotland’s net-zero targets.

More recently, BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley and group chief economist Spencer Dale called for regional carbon prices that don’t just tax the producers, to enable the oil and gas giant to join the global transition to net-zero emissions.

Matt Mace

News

Qantas to double flight offsets as part of net-zero 2050 commitment

Australian airline group Qantas will invest $50m in sustainable fuel over the next decade and offset growth in emissions from international and domestic flights in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Qantas’ offsetting approach is currently the largest in the aviation industry, accounting for around 10% of customer flights. Image: Qantas

Qantas’ offsetting approach is currently the largest in the aviation industry, accounting for around 10% of customer flights. Image: Qantas

Qantas joins International Airlines Group (IAG) in becoming only the second airline to commit to net-zero emissions. It will invest $50m in sustainable fuel and Qantas, Jetstar, QantasLink and Qantas Freight will offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations from 2020.

The Group’s chief executive Alan Joyce said. “We’re effectively doubling our carbon offsetting program from today and we’re capping our net emissions across Qantas and Jetstar from 2020 so that all new flying will be carbon neutral.

“Qantas offsets all of its own travel needs and so do many of our customers. By matching their efforts, we’re hoping it will encourage even more people to offset and the program will keep growing. These short-term actions will go towards a longer-term goal of being completely net carbon neutral by 2050. It’s ambitious but achievable.”

Offsetting controversy

The doubling of carbon offsets is controversial. Many green groups have criticised the use of offsetting as a means for companies to avoid delivering any meaningful action on emissions reductions. The certification of carbon offsets is convoluted as many schemes offer differing prices. Up until recently, the certifications themselves were being questioned, although the introduction of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) has added some authentication to the system. VGS-certified offsets are audited according to the Kyoto protocol, for example.

Qantas’ offsetting approach is currently the largest in the aviation industry, accounting for around 10% of customer flights. Qantas and Jetstar will double the number of flights offset by matching every dollar spent by customers who voluntarily opt-in to the scheme.

The Group will also cover all net-emissions from Project Sunrise, a plan to operate non-stop flights from east Australia to London and New York, if the project is given the go-ahead. Existing projects benefitting from the offsets include protecting the Great Barrier Reef, which has seen the number of new corals fall by 89% after the climate change-induced mass bleaching of 2016 and 2017.

Qantas customers have offset 150,000 tonnes of carbon in 2019.

The group will also look to reduce its emissions through investments in more fuel-efficient aircraft and operations, such as flight planning to reduce fuel use and single-engine taxiing. Qantas will replace its Boeing 747 fleet by the end of 2020 with the more fuel-efficient aircraft that burn 20% less fuel.

Also announced today, Birmingham Airport has set a commitment to become a net-zero carbon airport by 2033, noting that it has a “big opportunity” to reduce emissions via onsite renewable generation and would also minimise the use of carbon offsets.


Be part of edie’s Net-Zero November

In light of the UK’s net-zero commitment and the huge opportunity this has presented to sustainability and energy professionals across the country, edie is running Net-Zero November: an entire month’s worth of content dedicated to informing and inspiring our readers to position themselves at the forefront of the net-zero revolution.

View all of our exclusive Net-Zero November content here

Make a net-zero-themed pledge on behalf of your business here.

Matt Mace

News

HGVs to be fuelled by ‘carbon-negative’ manure from 2021

Renewable fuel provider CNG Fuels has announced plans to become the UK’s first supplier of carbon-neutral fuel for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), offering a range of hydrogen, battery-electric technologies and low-carbon biogas from manure.

CNG Fuels supplies to high-profile companies, most notably the John Lewis Partnership

CNG Fuels supplies to high-profile companies, most notably the John Lewis Partnership

CNG Fuels is consulting on how its network of refuelling stations can accommodate the technologies and believes that biomethane from manure can act as a carbon-negative fuel and hopes to roll it out in the UK by 2021.

Manure gives off methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Using methane as an HGV fuel prevents it from going into the atmosphere, therefore reducing emissions as a result.

CNG Fuels chief executive Philip Fjeld said: “We want to help decarbonise freight transport and enable fleet operators to meet Net Zero targets now, supporting the UK’s climate targets.

“Renewable biomethane sourced from manure is currently the best low-carbon solution for HGVs, but we want to be ready to support our customers when other technologies are commercially viable for freight transport.”

The company currently sources biomethane from food waste and is securing new supplies to source it from manure to create net-zero emissions fuel on a well-to-wheel basis.

HGV rollout

CNG Fuels supplies to high-profile companies, most notably the John Lewis Partnership.

The John Lewis Partnership, which operates the John Lewis and Waitrose retailers, will convert its 500-strong fleet of diesel delivery trucks to be powered by bio-methane by 2028, announced on edie’s Mission Possible Pledge Wall last year.

John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners will convert their combined fleet of diesel lorries into vehicles powered by clean bio-methane over the next 10 years, according to the new pledge

The transition will reduce fleet emissions by more than 80% and save more than 49,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to the carbon footprint of more than 6,000 UK households.

John Lewis and Waitrose have together been early adopters of transport fuelled by compressed natural gas (CNG) and the duo is currently exploring the economic and environmental benefits of switching from diesel to the low-carbon bio-methane fuel.

Renewable bio-methane CNG can be up to 30% to 40% cheaper than diesel and can typically cut CO2 emissions by 85% as a result. HGVs such as the fleet trucks used by retailers haven’t benefitted from the electrification of the transport sector and alternative fuels are therefore desirable to help lower emissions.

Last year, the firms were operating at least 49 dedicated CNG trucks – some of which have a range of more than 500 miles. Both John Lewis and Waitrose expect the trials to create lower running costs that will generate between £75,000 to £100,000 in lifetime savings per truck, compared with a diesel equivalent.

CNG Fuels, the firm supplying renewable fuel to the Waitrose fleet, has opened a renewable biomethane refuelling station at Northampton to assist with the UK study.

The project has received funding from the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK and the refuelling station will open near to where Waitrose and John Lewis have their national distribution hub.

According to CNG Fuels, the Northampton centre can refuel more than 350 trucks a day and can use mobile trailers if the gas supply is cut off during an emergency. The company’s other station in Leyland, Lancashire has seen CNG demand increase 170% in a year.

Matt Mace

News

Landsec aiming to become net-zero business by 2030, sets 1.5C science-based target

Commercial real estate firm Landsec has launched an updated sustainability strategy for its carbon emissions, aiming to become a net-zero business by 2030 and reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 70% as part of a 1.5C science-based target.

A PV array at Landsec's Ludgate building

A PV array at Landsec’s Ludgate building

The company has reduced carbon intensity in its portfolio by 39.8% since 2014 and looks set to surpass a 40% target that was set as part of its previous science-based target.

The target has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the 70% reduction will be measured against a 2014 baseline.

The company will reduce the amount of energy to run buildings across its portfolio and install renewable onsite technologies such as solar. Landsec’s energy intensity target aims to achieve a 40% reduction by 2030.

Landsec’s director of corporate affairs Caroline Hill: “Landsec’s net-zero target may be set at 2030, but we’re making tangible changes to the way we do business now. We’re progressing our first net-zero building at 105 Sumner Street, we have solar PV installed on nine of our assets and we have set a new and stretching science-based target.

“It’s imperative that businesses set ambitious sustainability strategies which are in line with up-to-date climate science.”

Science based targets

The science-based target is part of a package of new commitments from Landsec to help them reach the net-zero status. The company will also introduce the calculation of a shadow price of carbon for all investment decisions, continue to reduce emissions associated with construction activities and all future developments will be net-zero schemes.

Landsec will also attempt to avoid high-carbon-intensity materials such as traditional steel and concrete and seek to use recycled content and low-carbon materials like engineered timber.

edie recently spoke to Landsec’s sustainable design and innovation manager Nils Rage, who explained how cooperation with suppliers was helping Landsec decarbonise its buildings. You can read the piece here.

More companies are targeting more ambitious goals, either through the SBTi or via the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) call for companies in the built environment to tackle embodied carbon.

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


Be part of edie’s Net-Zero November

In light of the UK’s net-zero commitment and the huge opportunity this has presented to sustainability and energy professionals across the country, edie is running Net-Zero November: an entire month’s worth of content dedicated to informing and inspiring our readers to position themselves at the forefront of the net-zero revolution.

View all of our exclusive Net-Zero November content here

Make a net-zero-themed pledge on behalf of your business here

Matt Mace

News

REA’s Nina Skorupska: Business holds ‘untapped potential’ to achieve net-zero

EXCLUSIVE: REA’s chief executive Nina Skorupska has claimed at an edie event that declarations of a ‘climate emergency’ must be backed up by robust net-zero emissions and clean energy strategies from business, to avoid the term becoming “greenwash or rhetoric”.

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Delivering a rousing keynote speech at edie’s SPARK 2.0 energy event in Birmingham on Wednesday (6 November), Skorupska called on businesses to take advantage of the “burgeoning flexibility” market that would enable energy managers to improve the business case for clean energy procurement in a way that is economically attractive for boards.

Skorupska congratulated delegates from UK businesses in the audience for being “world leaders” in spurring demand for renewable energy through their own decarbonisation strategies, but noted the need for businesses to do more than “dip their toe” into the net-zero transition.

During the speech, Skorupska claimed that net-zero strategies were essential in ensuring that businesses, local authorities and the UK Government didn’t just treat notions of climate emergencies as greenwash and that it spurred tangible change.

READ: What is a climate emergency?

From a business perspective, several of the UK’s largest corporates have also set their own pre-2050 net-zero or 1.5C targets, including the likes of BTSkanska UKEcotricity and Aldi UK and Ireland. This trend can be seen across the global business community too, with modular flooring firm Interface, engineering and electronics giant Bosch and container shipping giant Maersk among the global cohort of so-called “zeronauts”.

Businesses from all sectors and of all sizes have also been aiming to drive change outside of their own operations by lobbying the UK Government to legislate for net-zero. A coalition of 128 UK-based businesses, industry networks and investors wrote to Ministers demanding that a net-zero target for 2050 is legislated “immediately” and were told such moves would be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”.

However, Skorupska argued that businesses could go a lot further in accelerating the transition to a green economy that created new jobs, not just in the energy sphere, but also by unlocking low-carbon technologies that would end up shaping future policies.

Skorupska asked businesses to look beyond electrification in the areas that have been traditionally hard to decarbonise, such as heat and transport. The REA’s Bioenergy in the UK – vision to 2032 and beyond report, released in June outlines how bioenergy, for example, can be utilised to help the UK reach its fourth and fifth carbon budgets.

According to the report, technologies such as modern biomass boilers, biofuels and anaerobic digestion can create an affordable means to provide instant carbon reductions in areas such as heat and transport – sectors which have been notoriously difficult to decarbonise.

Net-zero manifesto

Skorupska claimed there was a “mountain to climb” to change public perceptions on the rapid need to decarbonise, but noted the roles that Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough had played in creating a general public that was demanding sustainable change from business.

That public perception is likely to have impacts on the upcoming election. In fact, a recent poll found that the majority of the UK public will be influenced by climate change in how they vote during the December general election and the REA is urging all political parties to adopt five manifesto pledges or risk missing the UK’s legally binding net-zero targets.

The REA has issued a five-point manifesto that urges political parties to ensure that funding and planning need to decarbonise is a central consideration of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office through an independent body with the ability to enforce Government to act on decarbonisation.

The manifesto additionally calls for renewable energy and clean technology to be central to a Net Zero Treasury, the reformation of Ofgem to ensure energy network operators modernise energy systems, support for local authorities to reach net-zero through ring-fenced funding, and delivering a just transition to developing a workforce that takes high-quality skilled workers from the fossil fuel sector into new green jobs across the UK.

Matt Mace

News

Five year contract marks milestone for Natural Power and E.ON

Leading renewable energy consultancy and service provider, Natural Power, has secured a five year contract to deliver HV support to E.ON UK. By the end of the contract term, the two businesses will have been working together for more than 20 years. Natural Power first delivered operational support to E.ON (formerly Powergen) in 2002 at the 24-turbine Bowbeat Wind Farm in the Scottish Borders, which at that time was Scotland’s most powerful wind farm. Alistair… Source: RealWire

News

Plans for zero-carbon industrial hub fleshed out in new roadmap

Drax, Equinor and National Grid have published a new roadmap fleshing out their plans to create the world’s first zero-carbon industrial hub in the Humber region by 2040.

Drax believes the project could capture 15% of the UK's current annual carbon emissions

Drax believes the project could capture 15% of the UK’s current annual carbon emissions

The report, produced by Element Energy, emphasises the region’s huge potential contribution to the UK’s climate change targets as the location of the country’s largest industrial cluster by carbon emissions.

The roadmap sets out proposals to build a demonstration hydrogen production facility in the region by 2025 and install carbon capture equipment on one of the four biomass units at Drax’s power station in Selby two years later.

The power station would form the anchor for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) network connected to storage sites in the North Sea. The pipeline would also transport carbon emissions from the hydrogen production facility, which would be used to feed a hydrogen network.

Over the late 2020s and the following decade, carbon capture equipment would be installed on the remaining three biomass units at Drax and hydrogen production would be scaled up.

The report says the project would help protect the 55,000 industrial jobs in the region and save businesses £27.5 billion in carbon taxes by 2040.

“The race to cut carbon emissions is one we can win,” said Drax Group chief executive Will Gardiner.

“This plan sets out a clear blueprint of how to get the Humber to net-zero – the impact of decarbonising the most carbon-intensive region in the country will make a major contribution to the UK reaching its world-leading climate goals.

“We need to seize this opportunity. Zero starts here.”

National Grid Ventures’ chief operating officer for global transmission Jon Butterworth added:  “The government has set out ambitious plans to develop the world’s first zero-carbon industry cluster by 2040.

“We believe this is a challenge that can and should be met. By working together across industry sectors, we can protect UK jobs, drive further economic growth and help the country achieve critically important climate goals that will significantly benefit current and future generations.”

Innovate UK recently launched two competitions worth up to £143 million in total to help create a net-zero industrial cluster in the UK by 2040.

Tom Grimwood

This article appeared first on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

News

edie’s next webinar: Scaling up energy reduction strategies in a net-zero world

edie’s next webinar will take place on Wednesday 20 November and will focus on the role of energy efficiency, new systems and behaviour change and the part that each can play in helping to deliver a net-zero world.

The webinar will be available to watch on demand afterwards for those who registered

The webinar will be available to watch on demand afterwards for those who registered

For some time, energy efficiency has been seen as one of the long term ‘quick wins’ of sustainability strategies and target meeting – but it is often overlooked for more technological solutions which can be expensive, resource intensive and difficult to put in place.

But when surveyed on the most important issue for their companies, energy leaders consistently placed energy efficiency and behaviour change as one of the biggest opportunities for their job roles.

This webinar, supported by BiU, takes the sustainability professional through the best approaches to energy efficiency in the 21st century, whether that be building fabric, energy management systems, or behavioural change, hearing from experts across a variety of sectors who have implemented such schemes to drastically reduce energy use and their carbon footprint.

—REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR HERE—

Delivered as part of edie’s Net Zero November programme of content, this webinar will look at how energy efficiency can be an integral part of delivering a net-zero carbon strategy, and remain a key element of sustainability programmes.

Speakers

  • James Evison, insight editor, edie (chair)
  • Representative, BIU

Discussion points

  • How businesses can scale up their energy efficiency strategies through utilising data and technology to create behaviour change and optimise building energy/heating – as well as modernise building infrastructure and fabric.
  • Beyond the quick win – looking at how to place energy efficiency at the heart of carbon reduction programmes
  • In practice: how businesses have applied energy efficiency strategies

The webinar will be available to watch on-demand for those who have registered and questions can be submitted before and during the session. Speakers will be announced in due course. Register for the webinar here.

edie staff

News

HUBER+SUHNER enters mining market with innovative solutions for critical communication infrastructure

The company’s established knowledge and expertise in fiber optic technology has proven to be key in the mining market and will be showcased at China Coal & Mining Expo 2019Drawing on its extensive experience in providing solutions for optical connectivity in harsh environmental conditions, HUBER+SUHNER is now leading the way in supplying the mining industry with innovative bespoke solutions that address the market challenges.Working with Ampcontrol, a key player in the industry for power solutions,… Source: RealWire

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