Snippets for 2 July 2020



Change is in the air and sometimes you get a glimpse of a new and more sustainable future. The moment, you realise that something fundamental is taking place. The confluence of a pandemic that shows no end in sight and emerging new technologies and thinking, has seen shifts that until now seemed to be bogged down by the inertia of business as usual.


This issue of Snippets examines the emergence of Green Hydrogen as a likely fuel of the future. Whilst the use of renewable electricity is still going to be preferable, its Achilles heel is always going to be large-scale storage and the intermittent nature of generation.


A number of European countries have decided that Green Hydrogen is going to be part of the future energy mix, with Denmark signalling that despite the inefficiencies of energy conversion, it is still going to expand renewable electricity generation in order to create Green Hydrogen. And California is thinking the same, by placing orders for new hydrogen capable turbines.


We also examine the emergence of another form of large scale electricity storage in the construction of a 250 MWh liquid air battery. Even the large oil companies like Shell and BP can see the writing is on the wall for oil, with dividends being slashed.


Also in this issue we discuss how we need to transform our cities in order to reduce emissions. In this case we look at Auckland, as it is a representative example of a medium-sized city facing challenges in reducing emission from urban transport due to a growing population, low housing density and high levels of car dependency. With e-bikes potentially being part of the transport solution.


We wrap up with the part that nature has to play in reducing emissions and how much soil can contribute to sequestering carbon. And it is not just soil; for example, coastal wetlands can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise, and well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides, etc.

Hydrogen made with renewable electricity (Green Hydrogen) is increasingly seen as the fuel of the future for sectors with particularly stubborn emissions, such as heavy industry and aviation. Like New Zealand, Germany is looking to be global leader in the associated hydrogen technologies, and the government has set out a National Hydrogen Strategy (NWS) with a 9 billion euro budget, which as well as reducing emissions, aims to support the German and European economic recovery to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more.....







However, it is not only Germany that is looking to produce Green Hydrogen in the European Union. Denmark has reached a deal with the Netherlands, where Denmark is to sell their excess renewable energy output to the Dutch and they then use those proceeds to invest in Green Hydrogen production, something that the Dutch have more experience in. This collaboration is aimed to help the Netherlands meet their 2020 renewable energy target. Furthermore, Denmark has signaled it will continue to aggressively add new offshore renewable generation. Read more.....





Although Hydrogen fuel is being touted as having a very important role in the future energy mix, currently there isn’t enough available to replace coal and gas fired generation. However, a new natural gas turbine has been specifically designed and purchased in Utah as part of a comprehensive plan to sequentially transition from coal, to natural gas and finally to renewable hydrogen fuel. Although the turbine will initially consume natural gas, it will be replacing coal-fired units and the goal is to transition to 100% Green Hydrogen no later than 2045. Read more.....




The transformation of the worlds energy sector to renewables requires suitable storage, and the construction of a 250MWh liquid air battery, with capacity to power 200,000 homes for 5 hours, is a significant development. The project will use excess renewable electricity to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand is higher, the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine that generates green energy back into the grid. Best of all, they can be located anywhere. Read more.....






The transition away from fossil fuels has been advanced by the Spanish Government, which has approved an ambitious draft climate law immediately banning all new coal, oil, and gas extraction projects, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and laying out a pathway to generate 100% renewable energy and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Interim energy goals have been set to help achieve this ambitious target, e.g. road vehicles will have to have zero emissions by 2040. These measures could generate more than €200,000 million worth of investments and create up to 350,000 new jobs each year. Read more.....




Even the oil giants can now foresee the end of the gasoline age, and sooner than they previously envisaged. The changes in fuel use caused by the pandemic, has revealed for them a fundamentally different future. The global Covid-19 crisis may have already triggered a terminal decline for big oil. Accordingly, BP have reduced their forecast barrel price by 30%, meaning a lot of untapped oil will likely now stay in the ground, and Shell have slashed dividends by 75%, in its first dividend cut since the second world war. Read more.....






Climate action at the city level is critical to limiting global rises in emissions. Auckland is a representative example of a medium-sized city facing challenges in reducing emissions from urban transport due to a growing population, low housing density and high levels of car dependency. Improvements will be required in cleaner forms of transport, both private and public and building up, not out, avoiding urban sprawl and reducing the need to travel greater distances. Trade-offs between environmental and welfare outcomes will need to be considered in order to ensure cost-efficient policies. Read more.....




And e-bikes could play a big part in the decarbonisation process. E-bikes offer a low carbon transport mode with a number of advantages: ease of storage, no problems finding or paying for a parking space, low maintenance and certainly less financial outlay to purchase. E-bikes are almost 8 times more efficient than a medium sized hybrid car. Perhaps incentives to purchase an e-bike need consideration in order to reduce a city’s emission footprint! Read more.....








There is a movement within the agricultural sector to increase carbon sequestration in soils. The world’s land actually holds 1,500 gigatonnes of Carbon, or two to three times more than the atmosphere, and is capable of sequestering far more. Increasing soil carbon has many benefits above and beyond locking away carbon. Those benefits include healthier soils, reduced inputs and lower fuel overheads among others. In France it is estimated 20-30% of farmers practice minimum tillage techniques and 5% practice conservation agriculture. It really is a win-win situation.Read more.....





Around the globe there are increasing instances where people have started to look for nature based solutions to address climate change, rather than seeking engineering solutions. At its heart is having an understanding of the value of nature in economic terms, embedding nature based solutions into planning and encouraging investment in those solutions. For example, coastal wetlands can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise. Well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides. Green space in cities can alleviate heat stress and reduce flooding.Read more.....





This week we have a few innovation articles for you, with a theme of renewable energy innovations:

  1. Perovskite crystals could underpin cheap renewable energy

  2. Two-faced’ solar cells generate a lot more power

  3. Water Vapor in the Atmosphere May Be Prime Renewable Energy Source

  4. Energy Vault Named Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum as It Offers an Economic Way to Store Clean Energy and Deliver Dispatchable Power

  5. How do you save clean energy? This company plans to pump it underground.




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