Tag Archives: low carbon

Electromobility

Green, sustainable, clean and quiet are normally not the characteristics that people link to automobile travel considering its CO2 emissions, dependency on limited petroleum reserves, and clogged highways. With electromobility however, this seems possible.

Vehicles that run on electricity have low emissions and are directly linked to smart grids, enabling them to not only consume power, but also to provide mobile storage of energy acquired during periods of high electricity generation from renewable sources, sunshine or high winds. In terms of high demand, they can feed electricity back into the grid. In other words, electromobility’s greatest potential for climate protection is the interaction with renewable energies and sustainable mobility.

In the US, plans are shaped for a million electric vehicles to be on the road in the US by 2015. The cities of Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco will be the first to adopt electromobility, creating a benchmark for other cities. The U.S. plans to take the lead in electromobility, explaining the government investment exceeding $140 billion.

In general, the demand for innovative technologies is increasing. The company Siemens already offers a wide range of products and solutions for the electromobile market such as:

  • Smart grids
  • Charging infrastructures
  • Components for electric cars
  • Coordinated software portfolio

It is expected that electromobility will be increasingly adopted by city authorities to shift towards a smarter way of moving people around cities. We are excited to see how this will develop in the upcoming years.

 

 

 

ADI for the development of next generation virtual power plants

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK Government’s innovation agency, awarded their match-funded grant to a consortium set up by technology innovation firm the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI). This consortium included industry partners  such as ENER-G, Flexitricity, Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks. ADI is based in Saltaire, employs 12 staff, and has a customer range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to corporates. They aim to help digital technology companies innovate.

The £100,000-worth of funding has been won by a project led by ADI to explore the development of “the next generation of virtual power plants”. These centrally-controlled plants will use clusters of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, small-scale generating capabilities at locations such as hospital and business parks, to bolster supply when they are not operating at capacity. The big idea behind this is that they want to help meet peaks in energy demand.

John Eaglesham, chief executive of ADI and managing the initiative, said that ADI s very excited to work together with some of the UK’s key smart grid industry players in addressing the challenge of future energy supply. The project will shore up electricity supply and they will also examine new solutions for low carbon and low cost heat distribution. This could incentivize the UK CHP industry to provide more CHPs in areas where current UK Government incentives have fallen short.

Dave Harson, programme manager at ADI, added to this that this is a completely new business area for ADI. So it’s also quite exciting for them to work in this area where they haven’t previously done any research in.

The feasibility study of ADI will try to find new ways of increasing overall security and efficiency of the electricity system, and decarbonising energy supplies across the UK as demand increases.  The study is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

Mr Harson also said that these assets are already around, they already exist anyway. So we need to tap into those and use them, use that capacity, so we don’t have to invest in other carbon-generating capacities to meet the demand. ADI will also include a large number smaller-scale CHP generators into a virtual power plant because they want to achieve “improves flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to improve resilience of supply and potentially reduce the need to large utility projects”.

Up until 2010, ADI used to receive public sector funding from Yorkshire Forward. But Harson said that business is good for the moment and ADI is now operating independently of any of that type of grant money. The grant they receive from their key partner the Technology Strategy Board is one to fund specific projects, as well as doing commercial work with other customers.

Chris Marsland, technical director at ENER-G, said that the project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of CHP generators to complement and reduce the need for reinforcement of the electricity network. The benefits of this could include greater use of clean electricity supplies, reduced domestic heating costs and less need for electricity infrastructure investments. So the project will benefit the industry and the consumers alike, while reducing carbon emissions.

The project will perform business and technical modeling based on data from UK Power Networks’s London electricity network. They use ENER-G CHP generator and software and a central control system provided by Smarter Grid Solutions. UK Power Network is also leading Low carbon London, a £30m programme that’s largely funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, to help develop smart electricity networks in Britain.

TSB and DECC R&D Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are funding five new projects that are researching and developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These government-backed projects want to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use so they are using research and development to speed up the adoption of energy systems using hydrogen en fuel cell technologies.

They want to develop whole systems and they want to show that fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies can work together with other energy and transport component such as renewable energy generation, refueling infrastructure and vehicles. So energy and transport components can be integrated with the fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies. These technologies can also be used in low carbon energy systems and transport.

Mark Prisk, Business Minister, said that the UK has innovative business developing world-leading hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The UK wants to capture a share of the global market by developing a coherent capability and vibrant industry. If they are in the position to capture that share of the market, they will be able to attract international partnerships and inward investment. This will also cause a growth of the national economy and create job opportunities. These five new projects complement the already joint government/industry project called UK H2 Mobility. This project is currently evaluating potential roll-out scenarios for hydrogen for transport in the UK.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said that hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies are at the cutting edge of new low carbon energy solutions. It is important to see how these technologies can be integrated with other energy and transport products and it are these new and exciting government-supported projects that will look into that. He also said that he is looking forward to seeing the results.

The five new projects were selected through a competitive process and will be led by Air Products plc, BOC Ltd, ITM Power (Trading), Rutland Management Ltd and SSE plc. The projects will:

  • Create the UK’s first end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system. This will be centered around a fully publically accessible, state-of-the-art 700 bar renewable H2 refueling station network across London (Air Products Plc).
  • Deliver solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s exiting public access H2 refueling station. This will happen via an electrolyser. And its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC Ltd).
  • Integrate an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy on the Isle of Wight. This will enable zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as transport fuel for a range of vehicles (ITM Power).
  • Demonstrate a viable solar-hydrogen energy system through the 24/7 provision of green electricity and heat. The benefits will be shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey (Rutland Management Ltd).
  • Demonstrate a whole renewable hydrogen system, connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid. This is in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire wind farm. They want to explore the grid impacts and energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide green hydrogen produced to power a fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc).

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added that these innovative, large-scale demonstrators will show how fuel cells and hydrogen technologies can be adapted, developed and integrated to provide real-time and real-world low carbon solutions. These projects will also show how the Technology Strategy Board can help the UK businesses to accelerate the development and commercialization of technological innovations.

A grant funding of £9 million is provided by the Technology Strategy Board and DECC. This means the total value of the projects, including contributions from the industrial partners, is in excess of £19 million. The projects are building on previous Government support for fuel cells and hydrogen systems, accelerating the process towards commercialization.

Can the UK offer a clean, secure and affordable power sector?

The UK Government has a plan to save energy in homes by overhauling the electricity market.  But they are warned that this overhaul will not ensure the UK has a secure, clean and affordable power sector. If they overhaul energy provision, they will probably want to reform the market. This will bring in long-term contracts that pay a steady rate of return for energy from new low-carbon generators. But this is needed to deliver the billions of pounds of investment needed for energy infrastructure to keep the lights on.

The upfront costs of energy efficiency measures for homes can be covered by a ‘green deal’ that has been brought in. This also includes companies providing energy-saving measures for poor households.

But some consumer, industry and environmental organizations like the University of Exeter, energy giant SSE, Consumer Focus and environmental charity WWF issued a warning that the measures were inadequate. They said that government policies will not deliver the large energy savings that are needed to cut greenhouse emissions and secure that UK’s suppliers are secure.

They said that developing low carbon power and energy efficiency measures would hit consumers, and in particular the people on a low income. The renewable energy sector in the UK would not have the certainty it needs to deliver investments and jobs in the UK with the plans that the government has now.  They said one of the main efforts of the government should be to try and make energy more affordable for everyone.

Energy efficient measures should be funded by the revenues raised through carbon floor prices. So energy companies have to pay a minimum price for the credits they have purchased to cover their pollution.

So it was needed for the long-term contract for low-carbon electricity to be reviewed. They have to make sure that the contracts are suitable for renewable energy, as the scheme has been primarily designed to support new nuclear reactors.

Nick Molho, of WWF-UK, said that everyone is coming at this from different perspectives, but everyone wants the UK to succeed in developing a clean, secure and affordable power sector. They are deeply concerned that Government proposals now are just not up to the job.

UN Conference on sustainable development

On the last conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago, countries could sign the UN framework convention on climate change. This convention should have stabilized global annual green house gas emissions at 1990 levels. And since the industrialized nations have done  most polluting to the atmosphere, the convention has placed the biggest responsibility to lead by example on these countries. And now that the United Nations is holding another conference in sustainable development, it are these rich countries that need to prove the most.

But the convention isn’t really working. Annual global emissions have continued to rise and the rich countries didn’t lead so far. Rich and poor countries took pledges for action by 2020, but it still seems like the world is heading towards a global warming of 3°C or more. That means there will be temperatures that the earth hasn’t seen for about 3m years.

While approaching this new summit, poor countries are sceptical. This is because it are always the rich nations that express lofty ambitions but they don’t seem to be able to keep up to their promises. An example is the Kyoto protocol that the US and Canada signed, and they weren’t able to honor their signature.

So these rich countries will need more than just words to restore the trust of poorer countries. They are tackling climate change but they are taking their time and in the meantime, they are also criticizing the developing world. But they don’t realize that these ‘poor’ countries are also taking steps in finding solutions to climate change. Some of them, like China, India, Mexico, Brazil and other emerging powers, even have ambitious plans to tackle problems like deforestation and emission. So it’s normal that they’re sceptical when looking to the richer countries since they are the ones who are actually implementing their plans.

And it’s not fair. These poorer countries are most exposed and vulnerable to the impact of climate change, but they have done least to raise the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. So they must, with the small budgets they have, fight poverty, develop and grow economically and now also manage the risks of climate change. But when they invest in a low-carbon economy, they will also need a clear and credible policy and they can start building new technologies and markets. This will all help to create the only truly sustainable growth path for the future and it might even help these developing countries to get out of the depression of their own making.

So it is up to the rich countries to accelerate their own actions but also support the developing countries with technologies and resources.