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Losses at Npower deepened in the first half of the year as an energy industry price cap forced it to cut bills and as customers continued to desert the troubled supplier. The Big Six energy company, owned by Innogy, of Germany, fell to an €81 million loss, compared with one of €18 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues fell by 3.1 per cent to €3.6 billion. Npower, which supplies energy to 2.3 million households in Britain, has been loss-making for four years, despite restructuring efforts and job cuts. It has warned previously that it is likely to incur a loss of about €250 million this year because of the price cap.

Times 10th Aug 2019 read more »



Danish energy giant Orsted has today announced a major expansion of its decarbonisation strategy, promising for the first time to make cuts in emissions from its supply chain. Orsted said it will cut indirect emissions, such as the emissions associated with making offshore turbines, by 50 per cent by 2032 against a 2018 baseline. It also promised to completely phase out petrol and diesel cars from its company fleet and replace them with electric vehicles by 2025.

Business Green 8th Aug 2019 read more »


Ørsted unveils ambitious new targets on supply chain emissions, fleet electrification

Danish energy giant Ørsted has unveiled new ambitions to reduce emissions from its ground transport fleet and supply chain, after drastically reducing emissions from power generations.

82% of Ørsted's power generation was classed as 'clean' in H1 of 2019, up from 71% in H1 of 2018

82% of Ørsted’s power generation was classed as ‘clean’ in H1 of 2019, up from 71% in H1 of 2018

The company has today (8 August) pledged to halve emissions from its global supply chain by 2032, against a 2018 baseline.

This ambition – the first from Ørsted which involves the supply chain, will cover activities such as supply chain logistics and the manufacturing of products such as blades for offshore wind turbines. It will also apply to the burning of natural gas sold to business customers, the installation of new turbines and the repair of existing assets.

At the same time, Ørsted has committed to fully electrify its fleet of ground vehicles by 2025. The company’s petrol and diesel cars and vans will be replaced with pure-electric models by this deadline.

The unveiling of the new goals came as Ørsted unveiled its half-year results to investors and media representatives at its headquarters in Denmark.

Speaking at the event, Ørsted’s chief executive Henrik Poulsen said the new decarbonisation commitments will build on the firm’s success in decarbonising its energy generation.

The company has reduced emissions intensity from power generation by 83% since 2006, largely by shifting its business model away from oil and natural gas and towards offshore wind. It is targeting a 98% reduction, against the same baseline, by 2025.

“We take a broader responsibility, not only for our own direct production, but also our suppliers,” Poulsen said.

“We have been working with our suppliers for quite a while to support them in reducing the carbon footprint of the different components that go into our wind farms. We will continue that focus and continue to work with them to make sure that they continue to accelerate their decarbonisation.”

Ørsted ‘s new commitments come at a time when 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 good news is that disclosure around the environmental impact of supply chains by corporates is becoming more common, with more than 110 of the world’s largest companies now requesting sustainability data from their suppliers through CDP, up from just 14 in 2008.

Sarah George


Arriva ‘on-track’ to meet ambitious decarbonisation goals

Public transport provider Arriva has revealed that it is “on-track” to achieve its decarbonisation ambitions across Europe, including a 2026 goal to reach zero emissions in Limburg, the Netherlands.

The firm's overarching and ongoing ambition is to “use as little fossil fuel as possible”

The firm’s overarching and ongoing ambition is to “use as little fossil fuel as possible”

The company this week revealed that it has electrified half of its Limburg-based fleet, which is 200 buses strong.

Arriva has additionally introduced 23 new fully electric buses the historic Dutch city of Leiden, where it holds the concession to operate all public bus services, since the start of 2019.

Elsewhere in Mainland Europe, Arriva has also delivered 13 new fully electric buses to the rapid transport system in Helsingborg, Sweden, and a further five to Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic, since the start of June 2019.

The moves build on Arriva’s overarching and ongoing ambition to “use as little fossil fuel as possible” across the business.

To date, the company has reduced the nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions of its average bus by almost 50% and the particulate matter (PM) emissions of its average bus by 60%, against a 2010 baseline. Arriva attributes this progress to increased investments in fully electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen buses, as well as newer fossil-fuel-powered models which comply with the Euro 6 emissions regulations. These moves have been compounded with training programmes that educate drivers on how best to drive for fuel efficiency, as well as TomTom telematics systems that provide drivers with instant feedback on performance.  

“Arriva is committed to reducing carbon emissions, both by encouraging more people to use public transport and by minimising our own environmental impact,” Arriva’s chief executive Manfred Rudhart said.

“By working closely with governments and partners, we’re introducing cleaner, quieter and more comfortable vehicles to our fleet across Europe in support of the climate change agenda and the transition to net-zero emissions.” 

Throwing carbon emissions under the bus

According to the latest electric vehicle (EV) outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the transition to electrification is likely to grip the global municipal bus market even faster than it will the passenger car, van and truck markets.

The body has predicted that fully electric buses will account for 81% of sales by 2040, as battery costs fall and hydrogen technologies become more prolific. A further key driver of this trend will be new carbon and air quality regulations being implemented across city-regions globally, such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

At a UK level, the UK Government has unveiled plans to purchase 263 new ultra-low emission buses for transport schemes across the nation, doubling the UK’s existing e-bus stock.

A total of £48m will be invested into new vehicles and infrastructure across seven towns and cities, in a drive to help the Government meet the aims of its Clean Air Strategy and Road to Zero plan. An additional £25m has since been added to the funding pot.

Sarah George


UK’s EV registrations almost triple as diesel sales tumble

Almost three times as many electric cars were registered in the UK this July than in July 2018, research from one of the nation’s largest automotive trade associations has concluded.

The SMMT claims that there are currently 80 "alternatively fuelled" car lines on sale in the UK, including 21 fully electric models 

The SMMT claims that there are currently 80 “alternatively fuelled” car lines on sale in the UK, including 21 fully electric models 

The data, recorded by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), shows that registrations of fully electric vehicles (EVs) were up 158% year-on-year, from 880 in July 2018 to 2,271 in July 2018.

Hybrid-electric vehicle registrations were also up by 34.2% within the same timeframe, while a whopping 331% increase in registrations was recorded for mild hybrid-electric vehicles with diesel capacity.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) registrations, however, were down 49.6% year-on-year. The decrease comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) altered its Plug-In Car Grant last Autumn, to reduce its grant for EV buyers by up to £1,000 per customer while removing some plug-in hybrid-electric models from the scheme altogether.

Nonetheless, SMMT claims that EVs accounted for a record proportion of overall UK car registrations last month, while new diesel car registrations were down by more than one-fifth (22.1%) year-on-year.

These trends come amid trying times for the UK’s car industry, with total July 2019 car registrations down 4.1% from the year prior. This drop off is being widely attributed – at least, in part – to Brexit, with automakers scrambling for reassurances that post-Brexit Britain will become a thriving hub for future product lines.

Commenting on the SMMT’s findings, the organisation’s chief executive Mike Hawes said that EVs are now on track to double their market share to 2.2% in 2020.

“Thanks to manufacturers’ investment in these new technologies over many years, these cars are coming to market in greater numbers than ever before,” Hawes said.

“If the UK is to meet its environmental ambitions, however, Government must create the right conditions to drive uptake, including long-term incentives and investment in infrastructure. The fastest way to address air quality concerns is through fleet renewal, so buyers need to be given the confidence to invest in the new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs, regardless of how they are powered.”

Driving towards net-zero?

Hawes is just one of many high-profile business figures to have urged the UK Government to do more in supporting businesses to decarbonise transport, after it enshrined a legally binding net-zero target for 2050 into law earlier this summer.

Transport it widely viewed as the Achilles heel of national decarbonisation efforts. It overtook the power industry as the most carbon-intense sector in 2016 and saw its emissions rise by 2% last year, with the main source of emissions deriving from the use of petrol and diesel.

In order to change this trajectory, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended that the Government brings its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel sales forward by at least eight years. Ministers had refused to move the date before net-zero was legislated and are yet to provide an update on whether their stance has changed.

The CCC has also criticised the Government’s existing strategy for decarbonising road transport and spurring the e-mobility revolution, called ‘Road to Zero’. The body has said that Ministers are failing to confirm financial support to domestic and business customers seeking to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) after 2020, invest into EV charging infrastructure and associated power system upgrades or require automakers to set long-term climate targets. Similarly, WWF’s head of climate and energy Gareth Redmond-King said that Road to Zero showed a “failure of climate leadership”.

Sarah George


Google targets carbon-neutral hardware deliveries

Tech giant Google has unveiled a new string of sustainability pledges for its hardware, including a commitment to make all customer shipments carbon-neutral by 2020.

The commitment covers all shipments to and from customers, for whole devices as well as replacement parts and accessories 

The commitment covers all shipments to and from customers, for whole devices as well as replacement parts and accessories 

The commitment will see Google re-develop internal planning systems to ensure goods such as phones, tablets and speakers are sent locally, and invest in ground logistics teams using electric vehicles (EVs), while paying to offset any residual emissions from shipping.

Google has notably recorded a 40% year-on-year reduction in its carbon emissions for product shipments to and from customers between 2017 and 2018, putting it in a position to make offsetting financially viable. The extra cost of the carbon-neutral shipping will not be passed on to customers.

The company has also pledged to ensure that all ‘Made By Google’ products will include some proportion of recycled materials by 2022. Google already uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic across its range of Nest thermostats, with the new pledge set to boost its use of the material, as well as recycled metals.

“My job is to integrate sustainability into our products, operations and communities—making it not just an aspect of how we do business, but the centrepiece of it,” Google’s head of sustainability for consumer hardware, Anna Meegan, said.

“It’s an ongoing endeavour that involves designing in sustainability from the start and embedding it into the entire product development process and across our operations, all while creating the products our customers want.”

Tech transparency  

Google has been making consumer hardware since 2016, with its most popular lines including Pixel phones and Google Home Mini smart speakers.

In a bid to be more transparent about the environmental impact of these products, the company began publishing product-specific sustainability reports in 2018, including information around the raw materials, manufacturing process and logistics chain.

Google also offers customers and other stakeholders the chance to view the typical conditions that its supply chain staff are working in through a virtual reality (VR) experience called “Made By Me”. Using a smartphone and a VR headset, customers take an audio-visual 360-degree tour of Google’s Flex supplier factory in Zhuhai, China, and the Nyamurhale gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Similar moves across the areas of transparency, circular economy and low-carbon shipments are also being made by other big-name tech brands.

Apple, for example, has pledged to manufacture new closed-loop products by using only renewable resources or recycled materials that negate the need to mine materials, starting with tin and aluminium. Early signs of progress can be seen through the company’s new MacBook Air, which is made from a custom alloy made from 100% recycled aluminium. Apple is planning to open a dedicated material recovery lab this year.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is aiming to reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. Measures designed to assist with this aim include an increased internal carbon fee, advocating for stricter environmental policies through membership to the Climate Leadership Council and developing artificial intelligence (AI) products and services for uses across the low-carbon sector. 

Sarah George


Report: Economics of petrol and diesel in ‘irreversible decline’

Oil production costs must fall to $10-20 per barrel for petrol and diesel to compete effectively against renewable power in the transport sector, a new report has claimed.

The report concludes that getting the same amount of mobility from gasoline as from new renewables in tandem with EVs over the next 25 years would cost 6.2 to seven times more

The report concludes that getting the same amount of mobility from gasoline as from new renewables in tandem with EVs over the next 25 years would cost 6.2 to seven times more

BNP Paribas Asset Management said the economics of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles is now in “relentless and irreversible decline, with far-reaching implications for both policymakers and the oil majors.”

The analysis focused on the amount of energy that can be produced for each unit of capital invested.

Assuming an oil price of $60 per barrel, the report said wind and solar installations powering electric vehicles (EVs) can produce six to seven times as much as “useful energy at the wheels” when compared to petrol. They can also produce three to four times as useful energy as diesel.

For diesel to remain cost-competitive in the transport sector, the long-term breakeven price would need to decline to $17-19 per barrel of oil. For petrol to remain competitive, the price would need to fall to just $9-10 per barrel.

The report said the findings should be “a flashing red light on the oil industry’s dashboard”, adding: “We think the oil majors should be accelerating the deployment of capital into renewable-energy and energy-storage technologies and/or reducing re-investment risk via higher dividend payouts to shareholders.”

“The clear conclusion of our analysis is that if we were building out the global energy system from scratch today, economics alone would dictate that at a minimum the road-transportation infrastructure would be built up around EVs powered by wind- and solar-generated electricity,” it stated.

“And that is before we factor in the other advantages of renewables and EVs over oil as a road-transportation fuel; namely the climate-change and clean-air benefits, the public-health benefits that flow from this, the fact that electricity is much easier to transport than oil, and the fact that the price of electricity generated from wind and solar is low and stable over the long term whereas the price of oil is notoriously volatile.”

Writing in the Financial Times, Mark Lewis, global head of sustainability research at BNP Paribas Asset Management, said: “The oil industry today enjoys massive scale advantages over wind and solar. But this advantage is now one only of incumbency and time-limited.

“The simple truth is that the oil industry has never before faced the kind of threat that renewable electricity and EVs pose to its business model. For the first time, there is a competing energy source with a short-run marginal cost of zero, that is much cleaner environmentally and will be able to replace up to 40 per cent of global oil demand once it has the necessary scale.

“The economics of energy are now on the side of the angels.”

Tom Grimwood

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


Green Gas

There is enough grass in Britain to power every household if it were turned into renewable gas, according to Dale Vince, the founder of green energy company Ecotricity, The Stroud-based businessman said that Ecotricity plans to build its first grass-powered energy plant in Hampshire by the end of this year in a move to eliminate the demand for industrial farming waste. The project, which will cost Ecotricity £15m, is primed to be the first major investment by a UK company into this type of energy. “It is relatively new, we can basically make gas and put it into the gas grid in the same way that we can with electricity from renewables,” Mr Vince said.

Telegraph 3rd Aug 2019 read more »


Smart Meters

Smart DCC, the company which runs the UK’s smart meter infrastructure, has today unveiled a five-year plan to better support the UK’s shift to smart grids and electric vehicles through smart meter technology, while also easing the process of switching between domestic energy suppliers. Setting out Smart DCC’s purpose to “make Britain more connected so that everyone can lead smarter, greener lives”, the Business and Development Plan promises to deliver a host of improvements for smart meter users, energy suppliers and distribution network operators. These include proposals to boost innovation in energy networks by enabling data to be gathered safely from smart meters. This will help support the shift to EVs, smart grids and other low carbon technologies, it said. And, to aid smart meter research and development, Smart DCC plans to soon open its new test lab facility in Manchester, which will feature areas to work with customers on future innovation.

Business Green 5th Aug 2019 read more »



A request from a power network company for an additional £42 million of grid upgrades to support electric vehicles is likely to be rejected by the regulator. Ofgem said that it was minded to reject the proposal from Scottish Power Energy Networks, and other funding requests totalling £247 million. The regulator said, however, that it did plan to approve £75 million of requests, including £16 million for Scottish and Southern Energy Networks “for diversions required to facilitate the electrification of the Great Western Railway line”. Scottish Power Energy Networks argued that “significant reinforcement of distribution networks” would be required to accommodate the increased electricity demand for vehicle charging. Electric vehicles are an essential part of plans to cut carbon emissions. A spokesman for Ofgem said that spending agreements already included funding for the roll-out of electric vehicles and that this funding was for specific, not general, projects.

Times 3rd Aug 2019 read more »

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