Study finds biomethane-fuelled cars are the most environmentally-friendly option

Study finds biomethane-fuelled cars are the most environmentally-friendly option

Study finds biomethane-fuelled cars are the most environmentally-friendly option

A recent study has revealed biomethane-fuelled cars are the best transportation option to preserve air quality. The research, conducted by IFP Energies Nouvelles in France, reveals that light vehicles running on biomethane are more environmentally-friendly than other technologies.

The study compares the carbon footprint of the lifecycle of compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane vehicles to that of diesel, gasoline and electric vehicles.

According to the European Biogas Association (EBA), this research pre-empts the intention of the European Commission to evaluate ‘the possibility of developing a common Union method for the evaluation of CO2 emissions throughout the lifecycle of these vehicles” in 2023.

Currently, the EU has agreed to reduce average CO2 emissions from new cars by 15% in 2025 and 37.5% in 2030. While these standards measure emissions produced by car usage (tank-to-wheel), they do not consider the full carbon footprint of the vehicles (well-to-wheel). The EBA claims this becomes ‘very relevant’ when comparing emissions from different types of low-carbon vehicles. For example, electric vehicles would be carbon neutral from a tank-to-wheel perspective, but the results differ with well-to-wheel.

A key takeaway from the study is that further biomethane upscaling is needed. The current capacity in France can only supply 100,000-150,000 vehicles. The study recommends a mix of green natural gas (known as bioGNV in France) and biomethane (60%-40%) up to 2030, which could power vehicles with a climate impact equivalent to that of an electric car.

Susanna Pflüger, secretary-general of the EBA, said: “The EEA and many other organisations are highlighting the urgency to decrease CO2 emissions from the transport sector. We have a responsibility towards the environment and our society, and we need to consider every option to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Renewable gas, together with various other renewable sources and low-carbon technologies, must all be part of the solution. The development and upscaling of these technologies will need a holistic, technology-neutral and long-term legislative framework to make this development possible.”

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

Huge renewables expansion needed to meet climate goals

Huge renewables expansion needed to meet climate goals

Huge renewables expansion needed to meet climate goals

The energy transition requires 10 times more solar and five times more wind power in combination with other technology to limit global warming and meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, according to DNV GL.

The company’s latest ‘Energy Transition Outlook: Power Supply and Use’ report finds that the energy transition is accelerating more quickly than previously thought, but the rate is still too slow to limit global temperatures rising by well below 2°C as set out in the Paris Agreement.

DNV GL forecasts temperature will have increased 2.4°C by the end of this century above the immediate pre-industrial period.

It added that the technology already exists to curb emissions enough to hit the climate target, but what is needed to ensure this happens are far-reaching policy decisions.
DNV GL recommends that several measures related to technology are put in place to help close the gap to reach the climate change goals.

Grow solar power by more than 10 times to 5TW and wind by five times to 3TW by 2030, which would meet 50% of the global electricity use per year.

There should be a 50-fold increase in production of batteries for the 50 million electric vehicles needed per year by 2030, alongside investments in new technology to store excess electricity and solutions that allow grids to cope with the growing influx of solar and wind power.

New infrastructure should be created for charging electric vehicles on a large scale.

More than $1.5 trillion of annual investment is needed for the expansion and reinforcement of power grids by 2030, including ultra-high-voltage transmission networks and extensive demand-response solutions to balance variable wind and solar power.

Global energy efficiency improvements need to be increased by 3.5% per year within the next decade.

Green hydrogen should be used to heat buildings and industry, fuel transport and make use of excess renewable energy in the power grid.

In the heavy industry sector there should be increased electrification of manufacturing processes, including electrical heating, together with onsite renewable sources combined with storage solutions.

There should also be more use of heat-pump technologies, improved insulation, huge rail expansion both for city commuting and long-distance passenger and cargo transport, and the rapid and wide deployment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage installations.

DNV GL said that by 2050 power generation from solar and wind energy will be 36,000 terawatt hours a year, more than 20 times today’s output.

China and India will have the largest share of solar energy by mid-century, with a 40% in China, followed by the Indian subcontinent at 17%.

Globally, renewable energy will provide almost 80% of the world’s electricity by 2050 according to the report.

Electrification will see increasing use of heat pumps, electric arc furnaces and an electric vehicle revolution, with 50% of all new cars sold in 2032 being electric vehicles.

But, despite this rapid pace, the energy transition is not fast enough. DNV GL’s forecast indicates that for a 1.5°C warming limit, the remaining carbon budget will be exhausted as early as 2028, with an overshoot of 770 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2050.
DNV GL Energy chief executive Ditlev Engel said: “Our research shows that technology has the power to close the emissions gap and create a clean energy future.

“But time is against us. Those technology measures can only be successful if they are supported by extraordinary policy action.
“We are calling for government policies to expand and adapt power grids to accommodate the rise of renewables, economic stimulus for energy efficiency measures and regulatory reform to accelerate the electrification of transport.

“Governments, businesses and society as a whole need to change the prevailing mindset from ‘business-as-usual’ to ‘business-as-unusual’ to fast-track the energy transition.”
The report indicates that the energy transition is affordable, with the world spending an ever-smaller share of GDP on energy.
Global expenditure on energy is currently 3.6% of GDP but that will fall to 1.9% by 2050.

This is due to the plunging costs of renewables and other efficiencies, allowing for greater investment to accelerate the transition, DNV GL said.

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

Bristol Airport switches to 100 per cent renewable electricity

Bristol Airport switches to 100 per cent renewable electricity

Bristol Airport switches to 100 per cent renewable electricity

In a significant step towards reducing its carbon footprint, Bristol Airport has switched to a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply. The announcement follows the recent publication of a carbon roadmap setting out how the Airport will become carbon neutral by 2025 for emissions within its direct control.

The new three-year agreement with global renewable energy supplier, Ørsted, will see the Airport’s annual electricity use of 17 million kWh powered entirely by renewable sources. Electricity is the largest contributor to carbon emissions from on-site airport operations. In addition to the electricity used in the terminal and other buildings, a growing number of aircraft stands are equipped with Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP), reducing the need to use diesel powered engines for essential pre-flight services. Over the duration of the contract an estimated 14,000 tonnes of carbon will be saved across the Airport site as a result of the move to renewables – equivalent to the emissions from driving 34 million miles in an average car.

Simon Earles, Planning and Sustainability Director at Bristol Airport, said: “From next month our terminal and other facilities will be powered by renewable energy – a significant step on our journey to carbon neutrality. There is more to do, but this is a clear statement of our intent to reduce our direct emissions.”

Ashley Phillips, Managing Director at Ørsted Sales (UK) Ltd said: “It’s exciting that an international airport like Bristol is placing such strong emphasis on sustainability. At Ørsted, we want to drive the transition to low-carbon energy systems in the UK, and support organisations like Bristol Airport that share this ambition of creating a greener energy future.”

As well as addressing direct emissions, Bristol Airport’s carbon roadmap includes a commitment to offset road journeys by passengers and explains how flights will tackled through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) – an international agreement aimed at stabilising emissions at 2020 levels.

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

The Conservatives have proved that the economy can benefit from going green

The Conservatives have proved that the economy can benefit from going green

The Conservatives have proved that the economy can benefit from going green

A Conference is always an exhausting experience! But it’s also great fun – my mum has always come with me, ever since I was a new candidate for the party, and in recent years, my sister, husband, eldest son and many of his friends all come along too, which gives us a great chance to catch up and for me to spend time with the many young Conservatives.

This year’s conference has a particular resonance for me, as I have a great opportunity to put forward my priorities as the new business secretary. I was delighted to be offered the role in the summer – after 25 years in the City, becoming the Government’s lead minister supporting our country’s thriving and innovative economy is a great privilege, and my previous experiences as environment secretary and energy minister impressed upon me the urgent need to address climate change.

The latter brings me straight in to one of my three priorities for this role: net zero. I’m proud that we have committed to end our contribution to global warming entirely and to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We have gone further and faster than any other G7 country in doing so, and being nominated by our UN Group to host the crucial COP26 talks next year is an endorsement of our leadership so far.

But there is more to do, and an abundance of opportunities when it comes to addressing climate change. The Conservatives have proved that the economy can benefit from going green – we’ve nearly halved emissions since 1990, while growing the economy by more than two-thirds.

There are opportunities both economically and environmentally in new nuclear, in carbon capture usage and storage, and in decarbonising our transport system. In the future, we could earn up to £170bn a year from exporting low carbon innovation, and by 2030 a third of our electricity will be generated by the offshore wind sector. I visited such a wind farm in Aberdeen recently, and was very impressed that just one turn of one wind turbine could power the average UK home for 24 hours.

In fact, our renewables sector is a true British success story, which will continue to thrive after we leave the EU. Over the last five years, investment in renewables has more than doubled, while the low carbon sector grew four times faster than the wider economy.

And that brings me on to another ambition: seizing the fantastic opportunities that await us when we leave the EU and become a more global-facing, free-trading nation. The UK has long been recognised as a science superpower – but we want to remain world-leading in new and emerging economic opportunities.

I want to build on our world-leading position by driving up productivity to create even more jobs, growth and opportunity across all four corners of the UK.

That’s why our modern Industrial Strategy leads with grand challenges in areas such as space, artificial intelligence and healthcare. We are working to support healthy ageing, with the aim of giving every one of us an extra five years of healthy, independent life by 2025.

To this end, we’ve recently announced £133m of investment on life-changing treatments and gene-based therapies for conditions including arthritis, cancer and dementia.

We’ve also announced our creation of a £200m project to examine and sequence the genetic code of 500,000 volunteers at the UK Biobank – one of the world’s most ambitious gene sequencing programmes ever. This genetic research will result in faster prevention, identification and treatment of some of the world’s most terrible diseases such as cancer, dementia and Parkinson’s.

This Conservative Government is also taking advantage of the opportunities provided by electric vehicles – which is why we recently announced £400m to develop rapid charging infrastructure points for electric vehicles, together with the Department for Transport.

Finally, a key ambition for me in this new job is that I want to make Britain the best place in the world to work and to live: ensuring that businesses are treating their workers fairly. I want to ensure that parents are enabled to spend time with their young children; to stop employers discriminating against their employees; and to put legislation in place to make it crystal clear to employees what their rights are.

We’ve already made steps to this end, too. In the Spending Review, the chancellor announced additional budget to enforce the minimum wage and proactively protect those most vulnerable of being underpaid. Our Good Work Plan offers the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights for a generation – including new rights for workers to receive a payslip and further protections for employees against exploitative or negligent employers.

Being business secretary provides me with the opportunity to, together with an amazing team, realise some of these ambitions and benefit the country in doing so.

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

The global transition to cleaner energy

The global transition to cleaner energy

Despite all the progress, we’re still struggling to hit the climate emergency brake.

As you might have heard, the planet is warming up, and in response, people are trying to switch to cleaner energy, to heat it up less, or at least more slowly. So how’s that going?

A report released Monday goes into that question in considerable detail. The Renewables Global Status Report (GSR), released annually by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21, a think tank), digs into the growth rates of various energy sources, the flows of clean energy investment, and the world’s progress on its sustainability goals.

It is a treasure trove of information. It is also … really long. 250 pages long. So many words!

In an effort to save you, the modern information consumer, precious time, I have gone through the report and extracted the 12 charts and graphs that best tell the story of clean energy as of 2018.

Before we get started, a few background facts on Cleaner Energy

First, we’re still moving in the wrong direction. Global carbon emissions aren’t falling fast enough. In fact, they aren’t falling at all; they were up 1.7 percent in 2018.

Second, we’re still pushing in the wrong direction. Globally, subsidies to fossil fuels were up 11 percent between 2016 and 2017, reaching $300 billion a year.

And third, the effort to clean up is flagging. Total investment in renewable energy (not including hydropower) was $288.9 billion in 2018 — less than fossil fuel subsidies and an 11 percent decrease from 2017.
This is all bad news. The public seems to have the impression that while things are bad, they are finally accelerating toward something better. It’s not true. Collectively, we haven’t even succeeded in reversing direction yet. Despite all the progress described below, we’re still struggling to get ahold of the emergency brake.

That grim context established, let’s jump in.

1) Renewables are pulling ahead in the power sector.

To start with some good news: The shift in the electricity sector has effectively become unstoppable. Globally, more renewable energy capacity has been installed than new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined, for four years running. Some 181 GW of new renewables capacity was installed in 2018; it now makes up more than one-third of global installed power capacity. These are mainstream power sources, here to stay.

2) Solar photovoltaics are leading the power sector charge.

As you can see in the chart below, additions of wind and bioenergy capacity have been fairly stable; hydropower is down a bit. The primary reason renewable capacity additions are growing is the rise in solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Of the new renewable energy capacity installed in 2018, 55 percent (about 100 GW) was solar PV; wind power had 28 percent, and hydropower 11 percent. The future of the world basically depends on solar continuing to boom.

3) China is leading the solar PV charge.

Why is solar PV rising so rapidly? Mostly China.
The graph below also shows rapid solar PV growth in the US, Japan (thanks to Fukushima and the subsequent shutdown of nuclear), and, more recently, India.

4) In fact, China is leading all the charges.

When it comes to energy, China is usually the biggest and the most, no matter the category. It was responsible for 32 percent of all global renewables investment in 2018. It was the lead investor in, and leads the world in installed capacity of, hydropower, solar PV, and wind.
(A couple of things to note on the graph below: Japan’s unusually high proportion of solar and the comparatively large role of bio-power in the EU and US.)

5) Renewable energy is starting to make a dent in electricity.

All the growth and investments in renewable electricity are starting to add up. Renewables represent more than a third of the world’s installed capacity and, as the graphic below shows, more than 26 percent of global electricity produced.
That said, hydropower, at almost 16 percent, makes up more than half the renewables total. What people tend to think of as renewables, wind and solar, make up only a combined 8 percent. Even in electricity, renewables have a long way to go.

6) Solar is creating the most jobs.

An important aspect of the political economy of renewables: Solar PV creates more jobs. It accounts for the bulk of the world’s renewable energy jobs, despite being a minority of renewable energy capacity. Wind, which leads solar in capacity, creates far fewer jobs. Solar PV is very labor-intensive.

7) But electricity is only part of energy consumption, and not the largest part.

Outside of electricity, good news is harder to come by. Where renewables are 26 percent of global electricity, they represent less than 10 percent (renewable electricity less than 2 percent) of heating and cooling and just 3.3 percent (renewable electricity only 0.3 percent) of transportation energy.

Heating and cooling, at 51 percent of global energy use, mostly run on natural gas and oil. Transportation, at 32 percent of global energy use, mostly runs on gasoline and diesel.

What’s worse, policy is still overbalanced toward power.

There are 169 countries, at the national or state/provincial level, that have passed renewable energy targets. Meanwhile, the report says, “only 47 countries had targets for renewable heating and cooling, while the number of countries with regulatory policies in the sector fell from 21 to 20.” Fewer than a third of all countries worldwide have mandatory building codes, “while 60% of the total energy used in buildings in 2018 occurred in jurisdictions that lacked energy efficiency policies.” Only about a quarter of industrial energy use is covered by industrial energy-efficiency policies.

It’s not much better in transportation, where “fuel economy policies for light-duty vehicles existed in only 40 countries by year’s end and have been largely offset by trends towards larger vehicles.”

Carbon pricing isn’t helping much either. “Carbon pricing remains acutely under-utilised,” the report says. “By the end of 2018, only 44 national governments, 21 states/provinces and 7 cities had implemented carbon pricing policies, covering just 13% of global CO2 emissions.”

This is the story in the US and in the world at large: Renewables are starting to make a dent in electricity, but they are lagging badly everywhere else.

8) Transportation is showing signs of rapid movement toward electrification.

While transportation is still dominated by fossil fuels, a shift is underway. In 2018, “the global number of electric passenger cars increased 63% compared with 2017,” the report says, “and more cities are moving to electric bus fleets.
Here, too, China is outpacing the rest of the world, though shoutout to the tiny country of Norway, whose aggressive EV Policies have it showing up in global statistics.

9) Cities are outpacing countries on clean energy.

There’s a special report within the report about the booming prospects for clean energy in cities worldwide. On average, cities — which represent 65 percent of global energy demand and house more than half the world’s people — use a higher percentage of renewable electricity than countries. Already, there are at least 100 cities around the world using between 90 and 100 percent renewable electricity. At least 230 have set a 100 percent renewable energy goal in at least one sector.

10) Progress is being slowed by fossil fuel subsidies.

Every year, the countries of the G20 get together, decry fossil fuel subsidies, and promise to roll them back. And every year, fossil fuel subsidies grow — rising 11 percent to $300 billion in 2017. “While at least 40 countries have undertaken some level of fossil fuel subsidy reform since 2015,” the report says, “fossil fuel subsidies remained in place in at least 112 countries in 2017, with at least 73 countries providing subsidies of more than USD 100 million each.”

Globally, that is “about double the estimated support for renewable power generation,” the report says.

And that’s just direct subsidies. As my colleague Umair Irfan reported, a recent paper from the IMF estimates total fossil fuel subsidies — both direct, in terms of tax and cash transfers, and indirect, in terms of unpriced environmental damages — reached $5.2 trillion in 2017.
And they are concentrated in countries where they will be difficult to root out.

11) Energy intensity is declining, but not nearly fast enough.

Every climate model that involves humanity hitting its carbon targets involves rapid declines in “energy intensity,” i.e., the amount of energy used to produce a unit of GDP. In theory, if you can reduce energy intensity fast enough, you can offset the natural rise in energy consumption (from population and economic growth) and even cause total energy demand to decline.

In theory, anyway. In reality, global energy intensity has declined just 2.2 percent in the past five years. That has not been enough to offset the rise in global energy demand, which crept up 1.2 percent.

Energy intensity is declining at around 0.4 percent a year. To hit midcentury global decarbonization targets, global energy intensity would need to decline by between 4 and 10 percent a year. That means the world needs to accelerate efficiency and electrification rates by about 10 times.

12) Renewables have a long way to go and a short time to get there.

So what does all this add up to? One (admittedly imperfect) way to mark the progress of renewables is to measure them against total final energy consumption (TFEC), which adds up all energy consumed worldwide.

As of 2017, fossil fuels were still providing about 80 percent of humanity’s energy, which is roughly what they’ve been providing for decades. Excluding traditional biomass, with all its problems around clearcutting, monocropping, and competing with food for land, you’re left with about 13 percent plausibly climate-friendly energy (different people may want to exclude other sources as well, but the larger point stands).

That 13 percent needs to get to 100 percent, or close to it, by 2050 — which is, you will note, just 30 years away. Thirty years ago, I was 17, listening to heavy metal and drinking wine coolers at barn parties. It doesn’t seem like that long ago.
Why is TFEC a flawed measure? Because a huge, huge chunk of that energy consumption is waste. If you look at a Sankey diagram of US Energy Use, which shows the origin and destination of all energy sources, you’ll see that fully two-thirds of the energy that enters the economy ends up “rejected,” i.e., wasted.

That’s because fossil fuel combustion is wasteful. Mining or drilling fossil fuels, transporting them, refining them, burning them, converting them to useful energy, using the energy, disposing of the waste and pollution — at every single stage of that process, there is loss. Burning fossil fuels, for electricity, heat, or transportation, inherently involves enormous levels of waste.

Renewable electricity, which will be the world’s primary energy source if it is to tackle climate change, is simpler. It involves no combustion and fewer conversions generally. Electric motors are simpler than combustion engines, with fewer moving parts, substantially lower maintenance costs, and much higher efficiency. Electrified heating and transportation sectors can be integrated into electricity grid operations, creating system efficiencies.

In short, economies running on renewable electricity will consume less energy because they will waste less energy. They might not consume two-thirds less — waste will never reach zero, and there will be some rebound effect that comes with greater efficiency — but they certainly won’t need to replace the full 80 percent fossil fuels is providing now. And renewable electricity will radically reduce overall energy intensity, even if all it does is substitute for current energy uses.

So the task ahead isn’t as daunting as it might appear from that last chart … but it’s still pretty daunting. Even if overall energy demand falls, all renewables will need to grow, rapidly, across all economies.

The world’s governments urgently need to look past the sparkly good news in the electricity sector and bear down on heating and transportation, where most of the energy is being consumed. Energy systems need to be rapidly electrified and integrated, which will require policy support at every level.

They could start by getting rid of those damn fossil fuel subsidies.

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

Whitelee Windfarm has been breath of fresh air in efforts to go green

Whitelee Windfarm has been breath of fresh air in efforts to go green

Whitelee Windfarm has been breath of fresh air in efforts to go green

An East Renfrewshire wind farm has been hailed as a “national success story,” a decade on from its official opening.

Whitelee windfarm is the largest onshore wind project in the UK, was created to significantly boost the number of homes powered by renewable energy. It began generating electricity in January 2008 and was officially connected to the National Grid a year later.

Whitelee Windfarm economic, environmental and social benefits

On Friday, a report was published into the economic, environmental and social benefits of the Whitelee Windfarm. It notes that it has generated enough clean, green energy to provide almost 90 per cent of total annual household electricity consumed by Scottish households and businesses.

  • The report also highlights that the wind farm is expected to provide a boost to the UK economy of more than £1billion, including almost £800million in Scotland.
  • The wind farm, in a rural location near Eaglesham, was found to have supported more than 4,000 jobs during its peak years of construction while sustaining around 600 jobs each year through its operation and maintenance.
  • Enough carbon dioxide is saved by the wind farm, the report notes, that it is the equivalent of offsetting two days’ worth of domestic flights to and from Gatwick Airport.

Lindsay McQuade, of ScottishPower Renewables, which owns and operates Whitelee Windfarm said efforts to achieve Scotland’s environmental targets can be achieved through working with industry and are underpinned through legislation.

“We know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of green energy and therefore should be part of Scotland, and the UK’s, low carbon, cost-effective electricity system,” said Ms McQuade.

“Since the passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008, a number of progressive policy measures have been put in place that has enabled Scotland to become coal-free.

“Working with industry and government, the same approach is now needed to ensure we continue to invest in much-needed renewable generation and thereby achieve this objective and support action to tackle the climate emergency facing us.

“Whitelee WindFarm is a great example of what effective policy can deliver. It’s a national success story.

“Every year, it produces the equivalent clean energy to power each and every electric vehicle currently in the UK, preventing over five million tonnes of carbon emissions had this energy come from fossil fuels.

“The decarbonisation of our economy, transport and heating systems can all be achieved through existing technology but that has to include onshore wind if we are to decarbonise by 2050.”

To speak with Powersystems, please contact us by...

Phone

01454 318000

Email

enquiries@powersystemsuk.com

Talk

Request a call back

Powersystems UK Delivering Greener Power Solutions

Pin It on Pinterest