September Newsletter: The standout stories so far

October 20, 2020
By: Onset Advisors

September was a month of new commitments, plans and strategies to reduce carbon emissions. China announced during the United Nation’s 75th General Assembly that it will scale up its climate commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. And South Africa became the 18th country to submit its low emission development strategy to the UN, which is aimed at reaching net zero emissions by 2050. (Engineering News Record)The European Commission (EC) unveiled plans to cut greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels), requiring an increase in clean energy investments of about €350bn ($444bn) per year. EC President Ursula Von der Leyen explained that revisions will be needed on EU directives on renewables, energy efficiency, energy taxation and the bloc’s Emissions TradingScheme carbon market. (Recharge News)These commitments come in the context of a 20% decline in global energy investments in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Business 20 (representatives of the business community across the G20) issued ajoint statement calling on G20 leaders to accelerate clean energy transitions for a resilient recovery. (Zaywa)Other notable news stories included:

Accelerating the expansion of offshore wind energy in the BalticSea

Eight Baltic Sea countries and the EC signed a joint declaration to foster mutual collaboration in the context of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP). Signatories to the Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Declaration are Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.The BEMIPHigh-level Group will draft a work programme for offshore wind development in the Baltic Sea, including consideration for hybrid offshore wind projects, smart grids, energy system integration and digitalisation.The Polish Wind Energy Association (PSEW), host of the declaration event, is particularly bullish on the future impact of this initiative. “Poland can build a new sector of the economy around its emerging wind industry and become specialised in manufacturing of selected components of offshore turbines. We hope for offshore wind to become Poland’s primary export industry, and for Polishcompanies to be strong links in the international supply chain for offshore wind”, said Kamila Tarnacka, Deputy CEO of PSEW. (Saur Energy International)advisors

New investments in Green Hydrogen in New Zealand, the Netherlands and the EU

GNS Science has received a NZ$8.4m grant from the New Zealand government o develop an affordable system of water electrolysis called polymer exchange membrane (PEM). According to GNS Science, PEM is better suited to working with the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy, in contrast to the more commonly used alkaline electrolyser. However, PEM systems rely on catalysts based on noble metals that are rare, expensive and suffer from inefficiencies. The research team aims to overcome these barriers with the development of new, high-performing materials. (NZ Herald)

In the Netherlands, Orsted is collaborating with fertiliser company Yara to produce their ammonia from green hydrogen. The anticipated 100MW electrolyser will use renewable energy from Orsted's Dutch offshore wind farms to supply Yara's Sluiskil plant,

located in the province of Zeeland. Orsted expects the project to be operational in 2024/25, if the required public co-funding is secured and the right regulatory framework is in place. (reNEWS.biz)

Green hydrogen could get a further boost in the European Union, as EC President Ursula Von der Leyen recently called for NextGenerationEU money to be spent on industrial “hydrogen valleys” where clean H2 would be produced and used at scale. It is expected that 37% of the €750bn post-COVID economic stimulus fund (NextGenerationEU) will be spent on European Green Deal objectives. (Recharge News)

Re-skilling workers in Europe for a renewable energy future

Over half of offshore oil and gas workers in Scotland would be interested in renewables and offshore wind if given the option to retrain, according to a survey of the workforce produced by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace UK and Platform. These organisations are calling for the UK and Scottish Governments to sit down with workers to shape policy together to steer COVID-19 recovery packages and the energy transition. (reNEWS.biz)

SolarPower Europe and Google announced a new partnership that aims to raise awareness of the job opportunities in the solar sector. SolarPower Europe will provide introductory courses in partnership with Grow with Google. These courses will be available in multiple languages across Europe. (PV Magazine)

Local manufacturing disappointment in Scotland as BiFab loses out to Fluor Corporation

BiFab failed to win any of the work for the Seagreen array being built off the east of Fife. All of the platforms for its 114 turbines are being manufactured in China and the United Arab Emirates. Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) Renewables, the energy firm developing the Seagreen wind array, said it had worked hard to ensure some of the work went to a Scottish contractor, but blamed the price gap between the Chinese and the Fife yards. (BBC)

This news comes on the tail of SSE Renewables choosing Danish company MHI Vestas to build the 114 turbines needed for the Seagreen array, and the building of blades going to a company on the Isle of Wight. (Daily Record)

The Just Transition Fund gets the green light in European Parliament

Inter-institutional negotiations are expected to start as soon as possible, on setting up the Just Transition Fund (JTF) to mitigate the social impact of greening the economy. On Wednesday 16 September, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted Parliament’s position on the Commission’s proposal on the JTF. MEPs also confirmed key provisions outlined in the draft recommendations by the Regional Development Committee:•“Providing support to people, the economy and the environment,•Creation of a ‘Green Rewarding Mechanism’, allowing 18% of the total JTF resources to be allocated to member states that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions more quickly than others,•A share of 1% of the total amount will be allocated for islands, and 1% for the outermost regions,•A co-financing rate of up to 85% of costs for eligible projects across the EU,•Possibility to transfer resources from other cohesion funds on a voluntary basis, advisors

New investments in Green Hydrogen in New Zealand, the Netherlands

  • Broadening the scope to include microenterprises, sustainable tourism, social infrastructure, universities and public research institutions, energy storage technologies, low-emission district heating, smart and sustainable mobility, digital innovation, including digital and precision farming, projects fighting energy poverty, as well as culture, education and community building.
  • A derogation for investments in activities related to natural gas, for regions heavily reliant on the extraction and combustion of coal, lignite, oil shale or peat, if they qualify as ‘environmentally sustainable’ in accordance with the Taxonomy Regulation and comply with six additional cumulative conditions.”

In addition, only 50% of the national allocation will be available for countries which have not yet committed to a 2050 national target for climate neutrality, until such a target is adopted. (European Parliament)

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