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IONITY: Car giants and BlackRock plan €700m investment to scale rapid EV charging network

The automakers behind the IONITY venture – which is planning to create a “super” network of rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers across Europe – have announced an investment package aimed at quadrupling the project’s charging stock by 2025.

IONITY currently has 1,500 charging points across 400 locations, including 16 in the UK

IONITY currently has 1,500 charging points across 400 locations, including 16 in the UK

The €700m package, announced today (24 November), includes funding from all of the participating carmakers – namely BMW Group, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai (through Kia) and Volkswagen Group (through Audi and Porsche).

There is also funding from BlackRock’s Global Renewable Power platform, which this month became the first non-OEM firm to join the venture. The platform specialises in direct investments in projects that decarbonise the power and transport sectors, including wind, solar and EV infrastructure projects. Its third fund reached a final close this April with $4.8bn.

IONITY began installing its first chargers in late 2017 and now hosts around 1,500 charging points at 400 locations. With the new investment, this number should more than quadruple by 2025, at which point IONITY Is aiming for 7,000 charging points across more than 1,000 locations. Each charging point is 350kW.

“We continue to build upon simple, unwavering principles: no decarbonisation without electrification and no electrification without infrastructure,” a statement published on the IONITY website today reads.

The statement also adds that BlackRock’s entry as a shareholder “underlines the project’s attractiveness for investors”.

IONITY has confirmed it will change its planning and installation approach to meet the new targets. Future locations will have more chargers in one place than those already built – up to 12 charging points per location. Existing locations will also be upgraded with more charging points where possible.

For larger locations, the project has developed a new concept called ‘Oasis’ – a design for charging stations in which there is a protected garden environment at the centre, which can be used by motorists as they charge their cars, and a series of charging bays around the outside.

Additionally, IONITY has, to date, only installed charging locations on motorways. It will now add locations near major cities and other busy interconnecting routes.

A statement on the Oasis concept confirms that IONITY Is planning to “increasingly acquire its own properties and, depending on location, build and operate its own service stations”.  

Charging ahead?

According to Transport & Environment, there are, on average, five rapid EV chargers available to the public for every 100km of road route across the EU. This piece of research also found that there are, at present, around seven EVs in Europe for every public charger.

A far more rapid expansion of the public EV charging stock will be needed in the coming years if the EU and UK are to lay the foundations for their 2050 net-zero pledges. Additionally, issues with consumer accessibility and protections; grid infrastructure upgrades and ensuring that access is equal will need to be addressed. For example, the T&E study found that public chargers are far more readily available in countries like Norway and Germany than the likes of Spain or Portugal. And, within nations, access is generally better in large cities or on motorways than in more rural towns and villages.

Sarah George

News

Public Buildings

The UK Government has published a new ‘playbook’ detailing how it plans to decarbonise public sector buildings including schools, hospitals and prisons in line with national net-zero targets. The document, published today (23 November) by the Cabinet Office, outlines the practices which should be adopted to deliver the 78% reduction in emissions from the public sector estate that the Government has promised by 2035. Government-owned buildings notably account for around 2% of the UK’s total annual domestic emissions, or around 9% of the UK’s total annual building-related emissions. The Government’s estate is the largest in the UK. Guidance included in the document, which is intended for public sector organisations and government workers, covers all steps of decarbonisation, from updating energy and emissions audits, to securing necessary funding, to installing mature technologies and testing emerging solutions, to monitoring progress post-installation and, finally, offsetting residual emissions. There is advice for both new-build projects and for upgrading or retrofitting existing buildings – including listed and other historic buildings.

Edie 23rd Nov 2021 read more »

News

Almost all electric utilities and carmakers failing to decarbonise in line with 1.5C, says damning report

Just 7% of large carmakers and 2% of large electric utility firms are decarbonising at the pace required to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, according to a major new analysis of 80 corporates out today (24 November).

35 of the 50 electric utilities assessed will likely see emissions increasing in the short-term

35 of the 50 electric utilities assessed will likely see emissions increasing in the short-term

The study, conducted by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), CDP and ADEME, assessed the climate commitments of 50 large electricity firms and 30 major automotive firms, as well as their progress on decarbonising operations and products and services to date.

In the electric utilities space, almost all (98%) companies were operating in a manner inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature pathway. Only Orsted was found to be on track for keeping within its 1.5C carbon budget through to 2035.

Globally, the sector is on track to produce 57% more carbon within the next 15 years than it would need to to keep 1.5C alive. Firms in Asia and the US were generally weaker on decarbonisation than those in Europe. The report warns that things will likely get worse before they get better, with 35 of the 50 firms forecast to increase fossil fuel use and emissions.

In the automotive sector, only two of the 30 companies – Tesla and Renault – are operating in line with 1.5C and have credible plans to stay within their carbon budget through to 2035.

The report also raises concerns over slow progress on low-carbon vehicle manufacturing. In 2020, just 7% of the vehicles sold across the 30 companies assessed were low-carbon. While this is a notable increase from 2% in 2015, the proportion will need to reach 64% by 2030 in a 1.5C pathway, the report states,

Particular laggards include Honda, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, Ford and Toyota, which all saw low-carbon vehicles accounting for less than 1% of sales in 2020. The report additionally calls on VM, GM, Stellantis and SAIC Motor to accelerate progress, as they are the largest firms included in the report.

The report’s authors have described the findings as “red flags” that “could undermine the legacy” of COP26.

Just transition planning

Using the WBA’s research, the reports also assess the extent to which the 80 businesses are planning for a “just” low-carbon transition, in which worker and community rights and wellbeing are safeguarded and improved.

Automakers, in general, fared worse than the electric utilities. The average score for a carmaker in the WBA’s just transition assessment, out of a possible 16, was just 2.9.

The report concludes that the electric utilities sector has improved ambitions and actions and is now performing “well” overall. European firms were the best performers, with names including Orsted, SSE, E.ON, Vattenfall and EDF energy at the top of the benchmark.

SSE has notably already published a just transition plan to net-zero, ahead of the implementation of a UK Government mandate for large, high-emitting corporates to make this move. This will come into effect in 2023, it was confirmed at COP26.

The organisations behind today’s report are now calling on other nations to follow suit – and for other parts of the value chain to put pressure on high-emitting sectors.

“While policymakers are wondering if, when and how to address the question of companies’ transition plans alignment with 1.5C, these updated benchmarks prove once again that the world can’t only rely on private sector’s commitments to reach planetary carbon neutrality,” said ADEME’s coordinator for the ACT Initiative, Romain Poivet.

WBA’s decarbonisation and energy transformation lead Vicky Sins added: “With companies in these sectors lagging behind on both transition planning and in reducing net emissions, we need investors, governments, civil society and other actors to engage with these keystone businesses and hold them accountable for the gaps between ambition & performance right now, and not in the future.”

Sarah George

News

New Net-Zero Estate Playbook plots decarbonisation of UK Government’s buildings

The UK Government has published a new ‘playbook’ detailing how it plans to decarbonise public sector buildings including schools, hospitals and prisons in line with national net-zero targets.

The UEA's Enterprise Centre, pictured, is used as a best-practice case study in the report. Image: BDP

The UEA’s Enterprise Centre, pictured, is used as a best-practice case study in the report. Image: BDP

The document, published today (23 November) by the Cabinet Office, outlines the practices which should be adopted to deliver the 78% reduction in emissions from the public sector estate that the Government has promised by 2035.

Government-owned buildings notably account for around 2% of the UK’s total annual domestic emissions, or around 9% of the UK’s total annual building-related emissions. The Government’s estate is the largest in the UK.

Guidance included in the document, which is intended for public sector organisations and government workers, covers all steps of decarbonisation, from updating energy and emissions audits, to securing necessary funding, to installing mature technologies and testing emerging solutions, to monitoring progress post-installation and, finally, offsetting residual emissions.

There is advice for both new-build projects and for upgrading or retrofitting existing buildings – including listed and other historic buildings.

On new buildings, the report outlines how developers can meet the Future Buildings Standard, which will come into effect from 2025. There is also specific advice on topics including rooftop solar and corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy; building in energy efficiency and choosing low-carbon heating systems.

On this latter point, the playbook – unlike the recently-published Heat and Buildings Strategy – is technology-agnostic and points out that different solutions will suit different contexts. Whether developers are looking at heat pumps, district heating, biofuels or hydrogen, the report recommends that they undertake an updated assessment as soon as possible.

The playbook recommends that developers work with suppliers to procure low-carbon building materials and services, but stops short of setting a target for reducing embodied carbon. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) recently published what is thought to be the first UK-specific whole-life carbon roadmap for the sector, amid growing concerns that businesses are failing to address emissions from materials.

Crucially, the Playbook states that there will be “future versions” of the document with “further guidance” in the years to come.

For existing buildings, the Playbook acknowledges that most of the buildings which will be standing in the UK post-2035 and post-2050 already exist – so retrofitting will be needed at pace and scale.

The publication of the Playbook comes less than a month after the Government provided the first update to its ‘Greening the Government’ framework since the UK legislated for net-zero.

The framework had always included measures to reduce water consumption, waste and greenhouse gas emissions. It has now set stricter decarbonisation targets and sustainable procurement targets, and there are new requirements for departments to produce Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and plans for restoring nature.


Taking place THIS THURSDAY: edie’s online Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions

Readers interested in learning more about net-zero delivery for their own organisations are urged to register for edie’s digital Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions, taking place on Thursday 25 November.

Sustainability specialists from Pukka Herbs, EDF Energy, Virgin Media O2, Costain and the Zero Carbon Forum have been confirmed amongst the first speakers for this free-to-attend, half-day webinar event. Click here for full details and to register. 


Sarah George

News

Cobalt

How the U.S. Lost Ground to China in the Contest for Clean Energy. Americans failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, where the world’s largest supply of cobalt is controlled by Chinese companies backed by Beijing. Tom Perriello saw it coming but could do nothing to stop it. André Kapanga too. Despite urgent emails, phone calls and personal pleas, they watched helplessly as a company backed by the Chinese government took ownership from the Americans of one of the world’s largest cobalt mines. It was 2016, and a deal had been struck by the Arizona-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan to sell the site, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now figures prominently in China’s grip on the global cobalt supply. The metal has been among several essential raw materials needed for the production of electric car batteries — and is now critical to retiring the combustion engine and weaning the world off climate-changing fossil fuels.

New York Times 21st Nov 2021 read more »

News

Carbon Budgets

Should everyone have their own personal carbon quota? Calls grow for emissions allowances. Advocates propose every person in UK be given a monthly carbon budget to balance between heating, travel, energy and food – but could something so radical ever work in reality.

Independent 13th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Climate & Biodiversity

Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires rapid decarbonization and improved ecosystem stewardship at a planetary scale. The carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels would take millennia to regenerate on Earth. Though the timeframe of carbon recovery for ecosystems such as peatlands, mangroves and old-growth forests is shorter (centuries), this timeframe still exceeds the time we have remaining to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. There are some natural places that we cannot afford to lose due to their irreplaceable carbon reserves. Here we map ‘irrecoverable carbon’ globally to identify ecosystem carbon that remains within human purview to manage and, if lost, could not be recovered by mid-century, by when we need to reach net-zero emissions to avoid the worst climate impacts. Since 2010, agriculture, logging and wildfire have caused emissions of at least 4.0 Gt of irrecoverable carbon.

Nature Sustainability 18th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Irish Sea

Boris Johnson has shelved his dream for a bridge or tunnel connecting Northern Ireland with Scotland, after a review concluded it would be too technically challenging and expensive. The Prime Minister tasked Sir Peter Hendy, the Network Rail chairman, with launching a feasibility study into the idea as part of a wider investigation into upgrading connectivity across the Union.

Telegraph 20th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Ireland – Floating Wind

Shell reaches agreement to co-develop the Western Star wind farm with Simply Blue Group, as Scotwind consortium announces plan for research into environmental impact of floating turbines. Shell has agreed to acquire a 51 per cent share in a floating wind project off the west coast in Ireland, the oil and gas giant yesterday announced. The company has entered into a second partnership with ‘blue economy’ developer Simply Blue Group to co-develop the Western Star floating wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean. The deal, financial details for which were not disclosed, builds on a previous agreement between the two companies to jointly develop the Emerald floating wind project off the south coast of Ireland.

Business Green 17th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Bringing fashion industry emissions to net-zero by 2050 ‘a $1trn investment opportunity’, report finds

The global fashion industry is currently on a 3C temperature pathway and bringing it down to 1.5C, a new report has revealed, will take $1.04trn of investment in low-carbon solutions and moves to dramatically improve resource efficiency.

For most large fashion brands, emissions from production, manufacturing and materials will all be higher than from direct operations

For most large fashion brands, emissions from production, manufacturing and materials will all be higher than from direct operations

The report, co-authored by Fashion for Good and the Apparel Impact Institute, takes into account that the fashion industry accounted for 2-3% of global emissions in 2020 – and that this proportion could rise rapidly post-Covid-19 as the sector expands, without concerted decarbonisation efforts.

It estimates that more than $639bn will need to be invested across the value chain, by 2050, in low-carbon solutions that already exist. These include renewable electricity generation and procurement, energy-efficient heating and lighting, low-emission and zero-emission transportation, battery energy storage and improvements to building energy efficiency, as well as measures to reduce emissions on farms.

A further $405bn, the report states, will need to be invested in emerging solutions, such as low-carbon fabric processing innovations, material innovations, chemical recycling and agricultural technologies.

The report foresees a scenario in which existing decarbonisation solutions will deliver around half (47%) of the emissions reductions needed, with a further 39% driven by emerging decarbonisation solutions.

The remaining 14% of the emissions reductions needed can be delivered by addressing fashion’s resource consumption and waste problem; brands will need to slash overproduction, reduce waste throughout the supply chain and scale circular business models like repair. This is crucial for preventing pollution as well as lowering emissions; the Ellen MacArthur Foundation claims that a bin lorry of fashion is landfilled or burned every second, and that less than 2% of all garments produced annually by weight are properly recycled without downcycling.

As for the sources of the $1.04trn of investment, the report forecasts that only 5% of the total ($50bn) will be provided by government grants and by philanthropic organisations. The rest will predominantly come from the private sector, with only a small segment accounted for by government loans.

The report puts forward a string of policy recommendations to help catalyse this investment. It argues that more than $35trn of private capital is already committed to ESG investments, with this figure set to exceed $50trn by the end of 2025, but that “critical barriers” remain to the allocation of this finance.

Recommendations include properly pricing carbon; tax incentives for circular business models and low-carbon materials; measures to group investments so they are large enough for most investors; increasing green loan availability and ensuring trade deals are conducive to sustainable fashion.

There is also a communications piece; the report argues that more must be done to highlight the strong business case for low-carbon investments in the sector.

“This report reframes decarbonisation as an investment opportunity rather than a cost,” said the Apparel Impact Institute’s president Lewis Perkins.

“These proven, investable solutions require a tremendous amount of capital, and we now need to create the pathways for all forms of financial capital in order to bring them to scale.”  

A high-carbon sector

According to a recent analysis from non-profit Stand.earth, most fashion brands are failing to decarbonise their supply chains in line with their net-zero targets.

Many brands have set targets on their own, or are members of initiatives such as WRAP’s Textiles 2030 scheme, the Fashion Pact, coordinated by Kering, or the UN Fashion Charter, which had its targets updated in line with net-zero by 2050 and 1.5C at COP26.

Nonetheless, the analysis found evidence that dozens of large brands are failing to develop supply-chain-specific emissions targets, or to support suppliers to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and fossil-free fabrics. To this latter point, global virgin polyester production has doubled since 2000 and is on course to double again, with significant implications for emissions, according to the Changing Markets Foundation. 

Sarah George

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