Discover Cleantech, Issue 1, December 2021

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ISSUE 01 | DECEMBER 2021 | ONLY £2.50



– pursuing the luxury of a green conscience



Discover CleanTech  |  xxxx  |  xxxxx

Dear Reader,

Discover CleanTech Issue 1, December 2021

Cover Photo Bentley

Published 12.2021 ISSN 2051-7718

Sales & Key Account Managers Vera Winther Anja Raschke Emma Noerregaard

Published by Scan Magazine Ltd.

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Contributors Mike Scott Jessica Holzhausen Georg Bieker Anna Turns Jon Hughes Anders Lorenzen

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

It is with great excitement that we invite you inside this very first issue of Discover Cleantech to explore a world that is bursting with technology and green ambitions. The creation of this magazine has been nothing but uplifting because even with all the causes for worry and despair in the context of climate change, talking to the people working and investing in change and transformation makes it difficult, impossible actually, not to feel hopeful. Hopeful that our children will still get to explore distant parts of the world, drive their dream car and enjoy the beauty of nature. And, that they will be able to do so in a world where doing any of these things will not harm the planet they live on. For this to happen, it is not an exaggeration to say that pretty much everything will need to change – the way we produce food, the way we travel, the way we build, and the way we power our homes. And it is changing. Solar electric cars, energy production that reduces atmospheric CO2, and towns that are powered by 100 per cent renewable energy – these are not dreams of a distant future, but very real products, business plans and stories that you can read about in this magazine. As you might have gathered, Discover Cleantech is not just about cleantech in a narrow sense, but about all the ideas, people and businesses that drive its development. Hopefully, what will also become evident when flipping through the pages, is how the activities of the different cleantech sectors, political institutions and private individuals are irreversibly interconnected. Whether it is a new international treaty, a high-tech innovation that can alter the carbon footprint of a global industry or a simple well-established method to turn the household waste of a single home into energy – it is all part of the transformation that we want to present. In our eyes, climate change is so big that the solution is not about doing one thing or the other – we need to do it all.

Signe Hansen Editor

Contents  |  Discover CleanTech

Contents DECEMBER 2021 30

COVER FEATURE The luxury of a green conscience - Bentley explores the combination of biofuel and electricity to offer all Bentley owners a greener conscience.


What should we expect from the cleantech markets of 2022 and beyond? Environmental journalist Mike Scott takes a look at the future after the COP26.


Weed or wonder crop? – a new innovation might turn hemp into a wonder crop that could transform the farming landscape.


Saviour or false prophet? – why does cleantech divide the waters and what is the role of the media in the conflict between tech optimism and tech scepticism.


SPECIAL THEMES: Electric Vehicles From the 19th century’s carriage-like electric vehicles to the luxury vehicles of today and the solar-powered wonders of tomorrow - we take a look at the past, present and future developments, possibilities and benefits of EVs.


Biogas Biogas and anaerobic digestion hold the potential to transform a range of sectors from public, private and agricultural waste handling to farming and HGV biofuels. This theme explores the many possibilities of the sector as well as the objections made against it.

REGULARS AND COLUMNS: 10 42 68 72 76 80 81 82 84

Structure of the Month Green City of the Month Law Firm of the Month Cleantech Products of the Month Sustainable Destination of the Month Book of the Month Column – Anders Lorenzen The Cleantech Calendar Writers of the Month.

Photo: Visit Skellefteå

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  3

Discover CleanTech  |  Cover Feature  |  2022 and Beyond

4  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Looking forward – what to expect from the cleantech markets of 2022 and beyond Where will cleantech and the sustainability agenda go in 2022? After the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, environment and business writer Mike Scott deciphers what major developments we might expect from the cleantech markets of 2022 and beyond. BY MIKE SCOTT  |  PHOTOS: KIARA WORTH

The market of green hydrogen is predicted to experience an explosive growth during the coming years. Photo: Scharfsinn86,

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  5

Discover CleanTech  |  Cover Feature  |  2022 and Beyond

Glasgow. Photo:

Photo: Paul Bradburn,

Ending a year of devastating extreme weather events around the globe, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow has the world on its toes trying to digest and decipher its implications.

The direction of travel is clear – 90 per cent of the world’s emissions are covered by some kind of Net Zero target, governments have been invited to submit even more stringent emissions reduction plans

next year, and a wave of new finance is about to be unlocked after COP26 finally agreed on the rules for global carbon markets, six years after they were first proposed in Paris in 2015. The momentum to decarbonise will continue to grow next year across the economy. One of the biggest growth sectors will be clean hydrogen – particularly ‘green’ hydrogen produced using renewable electricity and water. In 2020, the global installed capacity of the electrolysers used to create hydrogen was about 200 MW (megawatts). By 2025, it is predicted to be 30 GW (gigawatts).

November 2021, world leaders from all over the world gathered in Glasgow to sign an agreement that will affect the development of many cleantech markets.

6  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

“Nearly everything has doubled already this year in the world of clean hydrogen, and we expect the momentum to continue in the months ahead,” said Martin Tengler, lead hydrogen analyst at research group BloombergNEF. “More than 40 countries have now published a hydrogen strategy or are developing one. More than 90 projects are being planned worldwide to use hydrogen in industry. Electricity generators have almost doubled their planned hydrogen-fired turbine capacity since January.”

2022 and Beyond  |  Cover Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

BOOMING DEVELOPMENT IN THE CARBON CAPTURE AND BUILDING SECTORS With a number of coal-producing countries signing up to a deal to phase down the use of ‘unabated coal’, there should also be significant progress in carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), after years of little progress. “It’s going to be a probably three to five trillion dollar industry if you look at how much carbon capture is going to be needed around the world,” says Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. Buildings are responsible for about 40 per cent of global emissions and will be a major focus of climate action over the next few years as cities, construction companies, investors and occupiers look to make the sector more sustainable. That will involve measures all the way along the value chain, from low carbon concrete and steel to designing for reduced energy consumption, installing more renewable energy, energy efficient equipment and building management systems, right through to looking for ways to reuse materials at the end of the building’s life.

Photo: Scharfsinn86,

Buildings will also become much more integrated into the cities in which they are located, which in turn will be much smarter thanks to an overlay of digital infrastructure that will make everything more efficient, from transport to shopping to paying your taxes. “How our towns, cities and countries continue to grow really matters to the global climate crisis. We have to realise that what worked in the built environment and infra-

structure sectors in the past will not work in the future,” points out Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Champion for COP26. REDUCING AGRICULTURAL EMISSIONS More than 100 countries agreed to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 – a move that could have a significant effect on total emissions, because methane is more than 80 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as CO2 in the short term. December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  7

Discover CleanTech  |  Cover Feature  |  2022 and Beyond

Photo: Scharfsinn86,

While the spotlight will fall on the fossil fuel sector, methane is also a significant issue for the agricultural sector, particularly rice and livestock.

There will also be huge interest in substitutes for meat, dairy and fish, both plantbased and lab-grown products, as well as a boom in vertical farms.

Tackling the issue will not only involve new feed additives for cattle, such as seaweed, but also extensive IoT sensors and satellite monitoring to identify leaks. “Cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce nearterm global warming and keep it to 1.5°C,” says Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president.

All of this is set to happen at the same time as the continued acceleration of the rollout of renewable energy and energy storage, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Agriculture has other climate impacts, including from deforestation and the use of fossil fuel-based fertilisers. Agritech will be a big growth market in years to come, with plenty of opportunities to improve efficiencies using digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and more sophisticated irrigation technology, as well as lower tech solutions such as regenerative agriculture. 8  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

TURNING ATTENTION TO THE HARD-TO-ABATE INDUSTRIES Other forms of transport such as trucks, aviation and shipping will be harder to decarbonise, but a lot of work is going on to cut the impact of these sectors using technologies such as hydrogen, batteries, sustainable fuels and even – in the case of shipping – good old-fashioned wind power. Attention will increasingly turn to the socalled ‘hard to abate’ industries, such as steelmaking and cement, where carbon is

not just part of the fuel used to provide heat, but an essential component in the manufacturing process. Alternatives, such as electrification and the use of clean hydrogen, will start to scale up rapidly over the next few years. The war on plastic waste will become more organised, too, with innovations ranging from reverse vending machines to chemical recycling and capturing the material both before it reaches the sea and from the middle of the ocean. SUPPORT AND RESTRAINT With the impacts of climate change already becoming evident in the form of huge floods, wildfires, droughts and heatwaves across the globe, more investment will go into helping communities to adapt to climate change through measures such as flood protection, better prediction of natural disasters through measures such as AI and machine learning and early warning systems.

2022 and Beyond  |  Cover Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

Water resources are becoming increasingly scarce because of population growth and rising temperatures, so technology that allows water to be used more efficient-

ly will become more important throughout this decade. Jonquil Hackenberg, head of climate response at PA Consulting, says: “There is a virtuous circle where reducing water consumption and using water more efficiently reduces energy use and costs, resulting in lower carbon emissions and wider benefits to the environment.”

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE CLEANTECH MARKETS OF 2022, IN SHORT: A massive growth in the green hydrogen sector. Significant progress in carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). A major focus on the entire value chain of the built environment and infrastructure. Spotlight on the methane emissions of the fossil fuel sector and the agricultural sector. A big growth in the market of agritech. More work into decarbonising the transport sector, especially trucks, aviation and shipping, with the use of hydrogen, batteries and sustainable fuels. More focus on helping communities adapt to climate change. More tools to help reduce water consumption

With the growing awareness of the many negative impacts of livestock farming, the demand for meat substitutes is set to continue increasing. Photo: Chernetskaya,

Ongoing focus on the EV sector, plastic recycling, renewable energy and energy storage.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  9

Discover CleanTech  |  Green Structure of the Month

10  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Kö-Bogen II – Düsseldorf:

Europe’s largest green facade Eight kilometres of green hedges, some 30,000 plants in total, cover the surface of the Kö-Bogen II in the heart of Düsseldorf. But how can green facades help in the battle against climate change? Architecture writer Jessica Holzhausen asks ingenhoven architects, the firm behind the project. BY JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN  |  PHOTOS: INGENHOVEN ARCHITECTS

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  11

Discover CleanTech  |  Green Structure of the Month

With the Kö-Bogen II, ingenhoven architects has set the record for Europe’s largest green facade. But the greenery is not just a striking aesthetic feature, it also constitutes an essential building feature and contributes significantly to the improvement of the surrounding urban climate. In fact, green facades like the one on the Kö-Bogen II solve an increasing problem in the concrete jungles that still mark so many inner-city spaces – concrete surfaces create heat traps. Consequently, Kö-Bogen II’s facade hedges were chosen for their microclimate improving qualities: they protect the building against sun rays in summer, and by doing so reduce the overall urban heat in their surroundings. ”Conventional mineral and bitumen surfaces, especially in summer, store a part of the absorbed heat, emit it over time and make inner city spaces heat up even further. Greenery, on the other hand, functions as an energy converter, they are always slightly cooler than the air temperature,” says lead architect and office founder Christoph Ingenhoven. “This way, they counteract the inner-city heat effect.” Another widespread urban problem is that the sealed surfaces and lack of natural irrigation common in many cities, interrupt the natural water cycle and make places more prone to flooding in the extreme weather events that will become more common in a changing climate. This is a problem that can be helped by creating green roofs; they close a gap in the water cycle and naturally avoid overstressing the sewer system. Furthermore, the hedges bind carbon dioxide and dust, thus improving the air quality, and they store moisture and absorb noises. Green spaces in any form also support a higher biodiversity by providing living and breeding space for insects and birds. According to ingenhoven architects, the ecological benefit of the Kö-Bogen II hedges equals that of “approximately 80 fully 12  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

With eight kilometres of hedges, the Kö-Bogen II has Europe’s largest green facade.

Green Structure of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

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Discover CleanTech  |  Green Structure of the Month

grown deciduous trees”. In short, an intelligent green concept can provide a valuable mitigative effect of the results of the climate crisis, while also creating a better environment for people to live and work in.

to-technological concept for the building. (Phytotechnology is an emerging field that tries to find solutions for scientific and engineering problems by making use of existing properties of plants.)


One of the initial challenges of the ambitious planting project was to define the practical requirements of the hornbeam hedges. For instance, what kind of planting container was needed to support the 1.3-metre-high hedges, and how could the plants be supplied with nutrients and water? There were also maintenance aspects to be considered: for example, how to ensure that the hedges kept their shape and size. To make the hedged facade possible, the architects finally designed a separate support structure that is permanently fixed to the building.

As a native hardwood species, the hornbeam plants used for the Kö-Bogen II facade do not lose their leaves in winter. This means the façade of the building remains in great shape all year round, even though the plants’ appearance change slightly with the seasons. “Hornbeam hedges radiate in a fresh bright green during spring, in strong dark green in summer and gold brown during autumn,” explains Christoph Ingenhoven. Yet, choosing the right plant was not only about aesthetic; ingenhoven architects worked closely with Professor Dr Strauch from the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin to develop a phy14  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

The guiding principle through the different solutions was an improvement of the inner city’s climate and a sustainable upkeep of

the hedges. “In winter months the plants need to keep their leaves, without being evergreens. The water use of plants without active foliage is reduced to a minimum in winter, which means the threat of them drying out is significantly reduced,” says Ingenhoven. The chosen plants should of course not only be native to the region, but also non-toxic, easy in their upkeep and resistant to parasites and wind. Another important consideration was that the plants would not damage the façade with their roots. “Looking at all these factors already excluded a variety of plants – boxwood, ilex and cherry laurel because they are toxic, wine, hydrangea and field maple because they do not keep their leaves. Only the hornbeam fulfils all requirements,” says Ingenhoven. To ensure that the plants could be delivered to the building site with fully formed roots, a tree nursery started cultivating the

Green Structure of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

Green facades can help mitigate the effects of climate change in urban environments in several ways.

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Discover CleanTech  |  Green Structure of the Month

plants during the planning and construction phase about three years earlier. A PARADIGM SHIFT The Kö-Bogen II’s main part, a business and office building, has five stories and a trapezoidal shape with a sloped facade; together with its three-storey counterpart, it creates a dynamic entrance to the Gustav-Gründgens-Platz in Düsseldorf’s city centre. Included in the built environment around the structure are two icons of postwar modernism: the first, the Dreischeibenhaus, a 94-storey-high office and administration building erected between 1957 and 16  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

1960, and for many, a symbol for Germany’s post-war ‘Wirtschaftswunder’. The second, the Schauspielhaus building from 1970. “Kö-Bogen II is a contemporary response to these two historic landmarks, without competing with them,” the architects say. As part of an extensive urban renewal project, the Kö-Bogen II, however, cements a paradigm shift in urban planning and development towards a more people-orientated approach. Since the beginning of the automotive area, cities in Germany have often focused on infrastructure for vehicles instead of other means of transport,

creating parking spaces and elevated motorways instead of spaces for people to mingle in a healthier and more sustainable atmosphere. In Düsseldorf, an elevated motorway dominated the space around the Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, where the Kö-Bogen II is situated, and it is only since 2013 that the place has been reconnected with the Hofgarten, Düsseldorf’s large inner city green space and park. Ingenhoven, however, is convinced that urban green zones should be an integral part of architecture. “It has to be planned from the onset, and developing site-specific answers is essential,” he says.

Green Structure of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

INGENHOVEN ARCHITECTS Kö-Bogen II in Düsseldorf is not the only sustainable project ingenhoven architects has worked on. For decades, the architectural firm has made it its mission to give back as many green spaces as possible and has trademarked its supergreen® concept. Since 1992, the team around founder Christoph Ingenhoven has made the redesign of Düsseldorf’s centre one of its main goals, but the firm also works internationally on projects in Singapore, Japan and Australia.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  17

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE REVOLUTION – HAVE WE REACHED THE TIPPING POINT? After a hiatus of almost a century, the electric vehicle (EV) is silently roaring back into the global awareness, but can and should it pick up more speed? The newest numbers suggest that sales will keep accelerating, but interest organisations stress that the road must first be paved by improved infrastructure and political incentives. BY SIGNE HANSEN

Photo: Jonathan Weiss,

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EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

Many might be surprised to know that the history of the electric car goes back more than 100 years, but around the end of the 19th century, electric cars actually accounted for around one third of all vehicles in the U.S. However, a decade into the new century, improvements to the combustion engine began to push the electric car out of

Photo: istock

20  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

the market, and, as we know, for the next 100 years, the combustion engine ruled the road virtually unchallenged. Yet, today, the electric car is silently roaring back onto the roads all over the world. The catalysator, of course, is the public and political drive to decarbonise the automobile industry. With its ambition to phase out the sale of inter-

nal combustion vehicles by 2040 (2035 in leading markets), the COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100 per cent zero emission cars and vans was another proof of the direction things are moving. The declaration was signed by more than 30 nations and a number of cities and car manufacturers.

EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

But, says several organisations, even if sales are accelerating faster than expected, it is not fast enough. The International Energy Agency estimates that in order to keep the Paris agreement and the goal of a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C alive, a global phase-out will be needed by 2035. AVERE, the European Association

for Electromobility, agrees, stating that: “It is also highly regrettable that key nations – notably Germany and France – and key European industry players are absent from the list of signatories…We must set the scene today to ensure a mass shift to decarbonised transport. Governments must be ready to commit resources and pass policies to shape up the full ecosystem that enables the use of clean vehicles, from a fossil-free energy value chain, to user education, to a network of charging infrastructure adequate to answer the needs of electric drivers.” THE TIPPING POINT HAS COME While the question of whether it is fast enough is highly legitimate, it is indisputable that the transformation is picking up speed. In fact, the most recent BloombergNEF numbers show that global EV sales rose 80 per cent in 2021, with 5.6 million vehicles sold globally. Research from the same firm projects that 677 million battery-electric and fuel-cell passenger and commercial vehicles will be on the road in 2040. This will constitute around 40 per cent of all passenger vehicles. According to the BloombergNEF report (produced at the request of the U.K. COP26 Presidency) 7.2 per cent of new cars sold globally in the first half of this year were electric, up from 2.6 percent in 2019. The paper, however, agrees with AVERE that even though the indications look promising, the realisation of a zero-emis-

sion trajectory depends on governments, manufacturers and public and private institutions acting now to smooth the way. Upliftingly, some governments seem to heed the advice. After the COP26, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new legislation under which all new homes and buildings, as well as those undergoing major renovation, will be required to install electric vehicle charge points from next year. Talking on what he called a new green industrial revolution, the Prime Minister said: “As mayor of London, I tried to get London motorists to go electric and we put in charging points around the city. I must confess that they were not then a soaraway success, and they stood forlorn like some piece of unused outdoor gym equipment. But ten years after that, the tipping point has come, hasn’t it? UK sales of EVs are now increasing at 70 per cent a year. And, in 2030, we are ending the market for new hydrocarbon ICEs – ahead of other European countries.” Indeed, like the UK, many countries are now competing to present the most ambitious EV goals. The sector is, however, still led by Norway. In October 2021, the Nordic country saw the plug-in EV market share of passenger vehicles sales at a record-high 89.3 per cent. An uplifting number which, though the sector still faces many challenges, may be seen as a sign of what is to come as the electric car returns from its century-long slumber.

Left: The first electric car was designed more than 130 years ago. Right: In October 2021, EV sales in Norway, the world’s leading nation in EV usage, constituted 89.3 per cent of all passenger vehicle sales. Photos: istock

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  21

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

Photo: istock

Battery-electric vehicles – key to limiting climate change Georg Bieker, researcher for the International Council on Clean Transportation, sets things straight on the matter of the life-cycle emissions of electric vehicles. BY GEORG BIEKER

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EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

My organisation, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), recently completed a comprehensive study of the GHG emissions of combustion engine and electric passenger cars in China, Europe, India and the United States over their full life cycle – that is, from producing raw materials and refining fuels through manufacturing, driving and eventual disposal. The study looked not only at current conditions, like the average biofuel blends and the mix of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables presently used to produce electric power in those places, but also at changes we can fairly anticipate between now and 2050. The results are clear. No matter where you look, the life-cycle GHG emissions of battery-electric vehicles registered today are already much lower than those of any kind of vehicle with a combustion engine, including diesel and natural gas cars, as well as hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. For medium-sized vehicles registered in Europe today, the emissions of battery-electrics over their lifetime will be 66 to 69 per cent lower than for average new gasoline cars. In the United States, they’re 60 to 68 per cent lower; in China, 37 to 45 per cent; in India, 19 to 34 per cent. As the electricity mix comes to include more renewables, those differences will grow – to about an 80 per cent benefit for battery-electric vehicles.

and natural gas-powered cars do not provide any climate benefit over conventional gasoline cars, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are only of limited help. In the end, they too rely on fossil fuels, and the economically feasible supply of electrofuels and truly low-carbon biofuels will not likely ever be great enough to compensate. The energy demands of producing truly clean e-fuels from electricity and CO2 captured from the air are vast: it takes six times as much renewable electricity to produce e-fuels to burn in a combustion engine vehicle as it would to power that vehicle directly by charging a battery. Meanwhile, conventional food-based biofuels like corn ethanol and palm oil biodiesel offer hardly any emission benefit over fossil fuels, once the consequences of bringing more land under cultivation are factored in. And long-distance aviation and shipping will need all the truly low-carbon residues- and waste-based biofuels that can realistically be produced. In short, it will be possible to reduce GHG emissions from road transportation enough to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C within reach. But not every path will take us toward that goal. As time is running out, we need to keep our focus on those that will.


Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, a goal that was reaffirmed at the Glasgow climate conference in November 2021, will require fast and deep decarbonisation of every sector of the global economy. For transport specifically, that goal translates into a need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This is ambitious. But it is feasible, using technologies we already have: battery-electric vehicles and renewable power.

In addition to battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles can provide a similar reduction in GHG emissions, but – and it’s an important caveat – only if they run on hydrogen produced with renewable power. Natural gas-based hydrogen, which is cheaper and more available, offers far less benefit, also because of methane leakage during production and transport of natural gas. Compared to battery-electric vehicles, fuel-cell electric cars powered by renewable electricity-based hydrogen have the disadvantage of consuming three times more energy, which is due to the high energy losses in the conversion of electricity to hydrogen – and back to electricity. Other contenders fail to reduce emissions as much as we need them to. While diesel-

Georg Bieker is a researcher with the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-profit organisation that provides independent research and technical and scientific analysis to the public sector. He holds a PhD of Chemistry from the University of Muenster (Germany). Photo: Max Power

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  23

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

When in production in 2023, the Sion will be the first solar electric vehicle for the masses.

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EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

Let the sun drive you to work In early 2020, German Sono Motors closed one of Europe’s largest crowdfunding events with 53 million euros of payment commitments; November 2021, the company went public and, at the same time, reached 16,000 preorders for its electric car, the Sion. The reason for all the fuss? It is simple – sold at 28,500 euros and with 248 integrated solar cells, the Sion will be the first solar electric vehicle priced for the masses. BY SIGNE HANSEN  |  PHOTOS: SONO MOTORS GMBH

The market for electric vehicles is expanding rapidly. However, the challenges of charging infrastructure and cost still inhibit some potential buyers. Luckily, sometimes the solution is shining right down on the problem. Seeing this, in 2015, two 20-yearold engineering students built the very first predecessor to the Sion, a solar electric vehicle constructed with the skeleton of an old combustion-engine car.

Today, more than 16,000 people have pre-ordered the Sion, which is expected to go into production in 2023. This is not just because it is set to be one of the first solar electric vehicles on the market, but also because it will be the first affordable one and will include a sharing service which allows buyers to share both the car and the electricity produced by it. Ultimately, this reflects the recognition that even though

combustion engines must go and fairly-priced electric solar vehicles will help ensure that happens, in the end, if friends and family can share one car instead of each having their own, the benefits – social and environmental – will be even greater. “Our mission is solar on all vehicles. We believe strongly in electrification and solar is the boost the sector needs because, alDecember 2021  |  Issue 01  |  25

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

The Sion’s bidirectional charging systems allow for electrical devices to be powered by the car’s solar cells.

ready, energy is a scarce resource,” says Lars Löhle, director of business development at Sono Motors. “But on top of that, features like car sharing, ride sharing and power sharing will create a more holistic energy- and resource-saving concept.” REDUCING CHARGING CYCLES With 248 solar cells integrated into the entire body of the Sion – the doors, trunk,

roof and hood – the sun will add an average of 112 kilometres of driving range per week to the car’s maximum battery range of 305 kilometres. In other words, if you just use the car to drive to and from work, you might be able to do so without charging at all (in Germany, the average commute is 16 kilometres per day in metropolitan areas). “First of all, we want to reduce the charging cycles with our technology, to avoid

having to charge constantly. At the same time, with an average of 112 kilometres per week in solar energy, we can free some commuters completely from the charging infrastructure,” explains Löhle. During summer months, the Sion will be able to reach a maximum solar range of 245 kilometres per week, while during the darkest winter months it might go down to 35 kilometres per week. When charging via the grid becomes necessary, the Sion can reach 80 per cent in 35 minutes using CCS fast charging. It can also be recharged at any standard European charging station, via a regular home power socket or from another Sion. LEAVING THE COMBUSTION ENGINE IN THE PAST

The Icelandic moss in the Sion’s interior acts to naturally ensure a pleasant indoor ambiance.

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Founded in 2016 by the company’s two CEOs Jona Christians and Laurin Hahn, as well as Navina Pernsteiner, today, Sono Motors employs around 240 people. An extraordinary development made even more remarkable by the fact that the company is not, like many other companies of its kind, a spin-off from an existing car manufacturer. Rather, it is the result of the resolution

EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

of three young entrepreneurs to put combustion engines in the past. Removing the combustion engine of an old car and fitting its skeleton with solar panels, Christians and Hahn built the first basic prototype of a solar powered electric vehicle in a garage in 2015. After the foundation of the firm in 2016, the first two commercial prototypes were built with the help of crowdfunding, and after a tour around Europe, reservations started trickling in. Having recently gone public, the future looks sunny for Sono Motors, and the potential is, says Löhle, even greater when taking into account the expected developments within solar technology. “In the last decade, we have seen a huge price drop in PV (photovoltaic) solar and, of course, a huge increase in efficiency. But we also know from research institutes that, for the coming decade, we will continue to have huge developments in the efficiency of cells, and production costs will keep dropping on a yearly basis. That’s what makes it

The Sono app will allow all vehicle owners to share rides and vehicles.

The Sion will be produced at the old SAAB factory in Sweden using 100 per cent renewable energy.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  27

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

highly attractive; not only for car producers, but also for customers as it will keep decreasing the TCO (total cost of ownership), as well as other companies from the transport industry.” USE YOUR CAR AS A HOUSE BATTERY On top of the obvious advantages of solar power (longer driving range and less reliance on charging infrastructure), the

SONO MOTORS Sono Motors was founded by Jona Christians, Laurin Hahn and Navina Pernsteiner in 2016. Today, the company and its 240 employees are headed by CEOs Jona Christians and Laurin Hahn. The company is located in Munich, Germany. Sono Motors also works with solar integration and retrofitted solar panels on combustion engine vehicles for public transport and goods transport. The solar panels can power e.g. air conditioning in public transport or refrigeration in commercial transport, and extend the range of the vehicles.

28  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Sion offers the advantage of bidirectional charging. This means you cannot only charge your car from your house but also charge your house – and electrical devices – from your car. In this way, the car can be used as a sort of house battery, a way of reserving and getting energy to the grid, something which will be quite valuable in a world with renewable and less stable energy sources. Moreover, the possibility of bidirectional charging will enable energy sharing through the Sono app, where owners can mark their car as available for charging if they will not need the energy generated by its solar panels. Launched next year, ahead of the Sion, the app will, however, not just be for energy sharing, but will enable all vehicle owners to register and share their vehicle with others. In this way, the app will allow for fewer vacant cars filling up the streets (in Germany, cars usually stand unused around 96 per cent of the time.) “We are looking for an energy transition, and we see a huge market for a technology that allows for this kind of sharing. You will be able to use the car sharing app with any standard car – our goal is to not have more cars on the streets, but to use them more efficiently,” says Löhle.

Lars Löhle, director of business development at Sono Motors.

EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

THE SION The Sion is sold at €28,500 with a minimum down payment of €500 for reservations. Sono Motors expects to put the Sion into production in 2023. The Sion will be produced at the old SAAB factory in Sweden using 100 per cent renewable energy. The Sion has a LFP battery and a maximum driving range of up to 305km

Sono Motors was founded by CEOs Jona Christians (M) and Laurin Hahn (R) as well as Navina Pernsteiner (L) in 2016.

On top of the 305km battery driving range, the car’s 248 integrated solar cells provide an average of an additional 112km weekly.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  29

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

The luxury of a green conscience – Bentley explores the combination of biofuel and electricity Offering an electric-only range of approx. 40 kilometres and a full range of 700 kilometres, Bentley’s second hybrid vehicle, the Flying Spur Hybrid, elegantly illustrates how luxury, power, and cleantech can be combined. Furthermore, the model has demonstrated the potential of second-generation biofuels in offering a greener conscience for owners of traditional Bentleys, too. BY SIGNE HANSEN  |  PHOTOS: BENTLEY

Covering the 733 kilometre trip across Iceland in one stint on a combination of green electricity and second-generation biofuel, the Flying Spur Hybrid demonstrated the possibility of offering a cleaner conscience to owners of both hybrids, EVs, and traditional petrol fuel vehicles.

30  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

Crossing the whole of Iceland in one stint, Bentley’s second hybrid vehicle, the Flying Spur Hybrid, has demonstrated the power of combining renewable electricity and biofuel. The launch of the new hybrid vehicle is part of the brand’s Beyond100 strategy which includes switching its model range to offer exclusively plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles by 2026, and full electric vehicles only by 2030. However, during the Iceland trip, the hybrid also demonstrated the potential of Bentley’s research into second-generation biofuels that can be used without engine modification. Mike Sayer, head of product communications, says: “The focus on electrification is the backbone of our strategy as we launch our new hybrids and continue the journey to our first BEV (battery electric vehicle) in 2025. At the same time, we’re looking to become more sustainable in every single area of our business, and the potential of renewable second-generation biofuels can’t be ignored. The trip across Iceland is part of our research into the progress of such fuels, proving that genuine grand touring range can be delivered sustainably in our new Flying Spur Hybrid, without any modification needed to accept renewable fuel.” During the 733 kilometre trip across Iceland, the Flying Spur Hybrid was powered by a combination of 100 per cent second generation biofuel and geothermally-sourced electricity available from the Icelandic power grid. The combination meant an overall reduction of 45 per cent in CO2 emissions on a well-to-wheels basis over the course of the Iceland adventure.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  31

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  EV

With the capability to cover more than 700 kilometres when fully fuelled, the new Flying Spur Hybrid is the most efficient Bentley ever.

A CLEANER CONSCIENCE FOR ALL, NOT JUST EV OWNERS Following the Bentayga Hybrid, the Flying Spur Hybrid is the second hybrid to be launched by Bentley. However, with the trip across Iceland, the model also demon-

strated the possibility of offering owners of traditional Bentleys a cleaner conscience too. The fuel used during the trip conforms to the same EN228 standard as ordinary pump gasoline, yet it is created entirely from waste biomass (e.g. straw).

BENTLEY’S BEYOND100 PLEDGE In its Beyond100 strategy Bentley Motors has outlined plans to become a global leader in sustainable luxury mobility. With the promise to offer truly sustainable luxury, Bentley will reinvent every aspect of its business to become an end-to-end carbon neutral organisation as it embarks on its second century. The target is driven by a transformation programme across Bentley’s entire operations and products. This includes switching its model range to offer exclusively plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles by 2026, and full electric vehicles only by 2030. In 2018, Bentley’s production facility in Crewe became the first luxury automotive factory in the UK to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, certification that has since been renewed

32  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

twice. This followed two decades of implementing innovative solutions, including a water recycling system in the paint shop, local tree planting, installation of a 10,000 solar panel carport, taking the total number of on-site solar panels to 30,000, and a switch to renewable-only electricity sources. The Crewe facility will continue to improve its environmental operations. All suppliers have passed a sustainability audit, verifying their sustainability credentials. In the future, by the end of 2025, the company intends to reduce its factory environmental impact by focusing on energy consumption, CO2 emissions, wastewater, use of solvents in the paint process and becoming plastic neutral. This will result in a ‘climate positive factory’ by 2030, actively reducing level.

“Our Beyond100 strategy still targets being an all-electric brand by 2030. However, that doesn’t mean that renewable biofuels don’t play an important part in the near and long-term futures as we want our existing customers to be able to enjoy their gasoline-powered Bentleys in a responsible, environmentally sustainable way for many years to come,” Sayer explains. The 100 per cent renewable, second-generation biofuel used was developed by Coryton, who is supporting Bentley in its renewable fuel research. The production process sees waste biomass (e.g. straw) broken down using fermentation, leading to the creation of ethanol. Dehydration of the ethanol converts it to ethylene, which can then be transformed into gasoline through the process of oligomerisation – chaining short hydrocarbon molecules together to produce longer, more energy-dense ones. Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Matthias Rabe says: “We’ll continue working with such fuels in the coming months as part of our development process, with the end goal of a customer-facing solution.”

EV  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

CLEANTECH DISGUISED IN BRITISH ELEGANCE Looking at the exterior and interior of the Flying Spur Hybrid, Bentley’s ambition of proving that hybridisation does not compromise luxury or performance clearly projects itself. With an unperceivable blend between the internal combustion engine and electric motor, the carmaker has maintained its trademark refined serenity regardless of driving mode or style. However, to provide feedback to the driver, the instruments include information showing when the car is operating solely in EV drive, regenerating whilst deaccelerating or using the combustion engine. Furthermore, to enable the driver to manage the battery usage during a journey, the automatic Start-Stop switch has been replaced with a control for the three E Modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Mode and Hold Mode. EV Drive mode is engaged as soon

as the car is switched on and maximises the electric driving experience. This is ideal for city driving and for shorter journeys. “With the launch of the Flying Spur Hybrid, we now have a hybrid range at Bentley, and with this challenge (the Iceland voyage) we’ve proved the real benefit of a hybrid – the ability to have an unimpeded grand touring reach of more than 450 miles [724 kilometres), while still having usable electric-only range for urban environments. It’s truly the best of both worlds, especially when the use of innovative second-generation biofuel means a huge drop in CO2 emissions,” Rabe explains. The flow of energy can also be displayed via the infotainment screen where statistics can be seen and the timers for charging of the vehicle can be set. Additional e-motion information is available to the driver via the

instrument panel, heads-up display and centre screen, including range, battery level and charging information.

FACTS ABOUT THE FLYING SPURS HYBRID The Flying Spurs Hybrid’s new powertrain combines a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine with an advanced electric motor, delivering a total of 536 bhp (544 PS) and 750 Nm (553 lb.ft) of torque - an additional 95 bhp in comparison to the Bentayga Hybrid. The new Flying Spur thus becomes the most efficient Bentley ever having the capability to cover 700 km when fully fuelled. With high power reserves, superior torque and quick throttle response, the model passes 60 mph from a standstill in 4.1 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.3 secs).

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  33

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Feature  |  Weed or Wonder Crop

Weed or wonder crop? How hemp harvests could transform the farming landscape Imagine a crop that grows rapidly without agricultural chemicals, is not susceptible to pests, helps lock down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and proactively improves soil health. What if that miracle plant also had multiple useful applications, from textiles and construction materials to food and fuel? BY ANNA TURNS  |  PHOTOS: EHEMPHOUSE

This is not a pipe dream. Hemp is a crop that has been grown for thousands of years and now many farmers are rediscovering why it is so special. Industrial hemp production could aid the transition to a low-carbon economy. Nathaniel Loxley, co-founder of the British Hemp Alliance, says: “Hemp is such a fantastic crop and we’re only really just scratching the surface of what we can do with it in terms of carbon storage.” Hemp sequesters carbon as it grows, it regenerates soil health and helps retain water, plus it filters out waste in the surrounding soil, water, and air, so hemp makes an ideal rotation crop and will improve the yield of the next crop farmed on that land. Plus, hemp grows from seed to harvest in a hundred days so it’s quite possible that more than one crop can be grown within a single season. “Combining tech with regenerative agriculture is essential for hemp – we need the innovation in order to look at it as a future crop,” says Loxley. Now, a UK startup aims to do just that. 34  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

A SELF-SUSTAINING SMARTBOX eHempHouse has invented an innovative and portable hemp-processing machine known as the Smartbox that can be used off-grid to process hemp and generate its own electricity supply using solar panels. Each unit, about the size of a shipping container, takes the whole hemp plant and processes it into high-value hemp seed oil that can be used as a biodiesel (some of which can fuel the Smartbox’s own generator), fuel pellets or livestock bedding, and hemp seed cake which makes a great cattle feed. Sensors on each unit will collect real-time data to measure carbon sequestration – some experts hypothesise that hemp could absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than trees. Peter Miles, the company’s London-based CEO, aims to have a million hectares under hemp cultivation by 2030, with up to 80,000 Smartboxes in place. In 2022, the first eight Smartboxes will be piloted in Zambia and Zimbabwe, with plans to expand into Botswana, Mozambique and Rwanda soon after that. So why start in Africa? The reason is two-fold, says Miles:

Weed or Wonder Crop  |  Special Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

Could industrial hemp production aid the transition to a low-carbon economy?

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  35

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Feature  |  Weed or Wonder Crop

“In Africa, the agriculture is currently held back by two aspects – irrigation (there’s enough water, but getting water to the crop can be difficult) and access to processing facilities. It’s all very well growing a crop but if you can’t turn it into something viable, it won’t work.” He explains that eHemphouse’s Smartbox technology overcomes these structural issues. “We can place this mini factory right next to where you’re intending to grow the industrial hemp. That overcomes the processing problem. Also, the Smartbox produces its own electricity, powering the processing and irrigation.” TRANSFORMING UNDERUSED LAND On a 413-hectare organic farm in Zambia, eHempHouse is training-up local communities in regenerative agricultural processes and developing a farmers’ collective. Flower farmer Mundaya Isabelle Svungo has been learning how to farm organically with eHempHouse’s training programme in Zambia: “This is long overdue,” she 36  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

says. “I can actually farm organically using nature and everything around me, there’s no need to spend money on chemical fertilisers and, in fact, my crops will be even healthier, better and tastier.”

for building a decarbonised industrial base in Africa that hinges on sustainable development. We’re giving African farmers the means and technology to grow and process the crop in a profitable way.”

Much of the land in Africa is currently classified as ‘under-utilised’, too: “If it’s not forested or farmed but has medium-to-high potential for agriculture, hemp could be the ideal crop.” In collaboration with the government, small farmers who might not have their own land can be given access to this underutilised land along with a Smartbox, enabling them to cultivate hemp, turn it into high-value products and get an economic return. “That’s a catalyst for starting up wider hemp cultivation and creating a strong market,” says Miles, whose venture will tap into the carbon markets to help fund Smartboxes. “Any carbon credits sold can be invested in factories and more complicated processing facilities for turning the crop into paper, textiles, hempcrete and other building materials,” Miles explains. “That’s our plan

GETTING PAST THE LEGAL CHALLENGES Hemp farming is becoming more mainstream in countries such as the US, France, Nepal and India. But in some parts of the world, hemp legislation still lags behind despite a growing understanding of the environmental benefits this crop offers. The issue stems back to the myth that hemp is a narcotic. It is a plant that is closely related to marijuana, but it doesn’t have the same properties and will not get you high. In the UK, farmers have to apply to the Home Office for a special licence to farm hemp and those are hard to come by. It was legalised earlier this year in Zambia and as soon as the government issues licences, planting will begin. “What some people fail to understand is that for thousands of years, hemp has

Weed or Wonder Crop  |  Special Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

been used for all sorts of things – all the way back to Mesopotamia 8,000 years ago, it was used to make textiles, paper and rope. Yet for too long we’ve ignored hemp’s environmental benefits (and multiple uses) and instead demonised the crop,” says Miles, who works alongside British engineer Andy Neal, who is based in New York City, and Steven Putter, a South African agricultural specialist. MULTIPLE MARKETS With the right effort and investment, hemp could offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to cotton, which is notoriously an incredibly thirsty crop. “We need this shift to more regenerative agriculture to happen very quickly and create a hemp industry like China has,” adds Miles. Now the world’s biggest producer of hemp textiles, China only legalised industrial hemp a decade ago. In the UK, where the animal bedding market is in crisis due to a shortage of affordable wood chip imports, hemp could provide an easy, homegrown solution that’s three times as absorbent as conventional bedding material, according to Loxley. Each hemp processing box is configurable in different ways, depending on the market. In Africa, ‘semi-mobile’ Smartboxes can be placed near about 1,000 hectares of underutilised land, whereas in Scotland,

The self-sustaining Smartbox processes the hemp plant into high-value hemp seed oil that can be used as a biodiesel (some of which can fuel the Smartbox’s own generator), fuel pellets or livestock bedding, and hemp seed cake.

for example, where farmers grow smaller amounts of hemp, a truck-mounted Smartbox could move between locations as required. “If these Smartboxes can be adapted to suit different local needs, then I’m all for it,” says Loxley, keenly. The beauty of this model lies in the fact that the production of the crop feeds the

processing facilities to provide the products to build the market and it therefore has huge potential to be self-sustaining from the beginning, in Africa and elsewhere. As Miles states, “Understanding the utility of the hemp plant as a producer of products is the key.”

The Smartbox may help turn underused land in Africa into a valuable and sustainable source of income for locals.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  37

Photo: Chingyunsong,

38  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Cleantech and the Media  |  Special Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

Saviour or false prophet? – why cleantech divides the waters Investigating the potential positive power of cleantech communication, Signe Hansen, editor of Discover Cleantech, looks into the criticism of technological optimism and the media’s role in it. BY SIGNE HANSEN

As a young journalism student, some ten years ago, I read an academic paper on the media’s coverage of global warming. In the paper, the coverage was compared to the millennia meltdown hype, a prediction of catastrophic consequences which would soon prove itself ridiculous (well-forgotten now, the media and parts of the global scientific community predicted a widespread digital collapse due to the presumed inability of IT systems to format calendar dates after year 2000). I also remember feeling a strong inclination towards this interpretation of events – yes, perhaps the media and scientists were making up, or at least exaggerating, the prospect of global warming to sell or publish more papers, what a relief.

disaster-hungry coverage. Others blame newspapers for spreading the false hope of techno-optimism and thus encouraging a lack of ‘real’ action. Andreas Ytterstad, professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the Oslo Metropolitan University, has specialised in the media’s role in climate change: “For a long time, the discussion about the media coverage was one about false balance; the argument was that journalists should represent both sides of a story but tended Andreas Ytterstad, professor of Journalism and Media Studies, believes the media should not choose sides in the feud between technological optimism and the anti-technological movement.

Today, disheartenedly, no such relief is possible. If the broad consensus amongst scientists, media specialists, and politicians was not enough to prevent the casting of doubt over the reality of global warming, the obvious increase in extreme weather events all over the world would be. However, while the reliability of the facts reported is no longer up for discussion, the debate on the role of the media has not decreased. Analyses of the widespread climate anxiety amongst young people indict news channels of an overly gloomy and unproductive December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  39

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Feature  |  Cleantech and the Media

Photo: istock

to take on the view of the climate change believers more than the sceptisists,” he says, shortly before taking part in a panel discussion on the very same subject during the COP26. “Now, of course, those days are over and instead there is a greater awareness of how the media should facilitate the discussion to do something about climate change.”

Photo: istock

40  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

PRESENTING THE SOLUTIONS Indeed, with the problem of climate change irrevocably established, it has gradually become not just accepted but, at times, expected of the media that it becomes part of the solution. Many factors played a role in this shift. Among others the official declaration of a climate crisis by the UK government and the increasingly obvious an-

ger of the rapidly expanding global youth movement. As a consequence of the shift, the media, especially the segment presenting technological solutions, has become part of the discussion and, in the minds of some, part of the problem. “Amongst some environmentalists there is a tendency to say ‘we cannot have a technofix’; it is an anti-technological view, but it is way too simple. If we are going to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy, we are going to have to use a whole lot of technology. We cannot either be for or against technology – it is a useless dichotomy. Part of the solution is to reduce energy consumption by scaling down some technologies, but at the same time, you have to scale up other technologies as part of the solution,” stresses Ytterstad. It is a sentiment that is reflected in the ideas behind this magazine. “At Discover Cleantech we choose to be technological optimists, not because we think technology will

Cleantech and the Media  |  Special Feature  |  Discover CleanTech

fully not to be accused of distorting the picture through a hunger for news and sensation. When it comes to the tech-media, this means, says Ytterstad, not only covering the new and exciting innovations, but also being realistic about the timeline of the effect of such innovations and paying attention to the potential of existing solutions. “Obviously, when there is a new product on the market, it will get a lot of attention, but it is not always the very latest innovation that provides the best solution. It is often a question of implementing and presenting the already solid solutions we have.”

Photo: istock

solve everything, but because we believe that communication and awareness of the potential of new innovations and technologies are necessary for them to solve as much as possible,” says founder of Discover Cleantech Thomas Winther. KEEPING IT REAL Of course, when talking about the climate crisis, one has to use the word optimism carefully. But when it comes to the media, it is not the individual outlet’s promotion of optimism or despair that will decide the

value of its output, stresses Ytterstad. “The communication sciences will often discuss if we should communicate this or that way, but the climate crisis is so big there is not one way. It is better to realise that and work creatively to broaden the climate coverage, whether it is by spelling out pending disasters or presenting hopes, ideas and strategies on how we can slash emissions over the next decade.” Yet, when covering possible solutions to the climate crisis, the media must act care-

With a core objective to cover the potential of both new and old, high- and lowtech solutions to the climate crisis, this also rings very true to the people behind Discover Cleantech. “We want to shine a light on all the entrepreneurs dedicating their time and work to new innovations on the cleantech market, but also on the plans and ambitions of companies, and organisations investing in expansions and new applications of well-established solutions,” says founder of Discover Cleantech Thomas Winther. “It is a matter of creating awareness of the potential of new solutions as well as the investment and political initiative needed to fully implement already existing technologies.”

Photo: istock

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  41

Wooden buildings, pine forests and a giga factory – how a Swedish town is combining local traditions and modern technology in the name of sustainability With a 75-metre-tall wooden building towering above its town centre, one of Europe’s largest battery factories located in its suburbs and 480,000 hectares of forest encircling it, the Swedish town of Skellefteå is saturated by sustainable visions from the inside out.


The forests and waterways of Skellefteå provide the municipality with valuable natural resources as well as beautiful sceneries and wildlife.

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Skellefteå  |  Sustainable City of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

Sara Cultural Centre: At 75 metres, the Sara Cultural Centre is among the world’s tallest wooden buildings. The wood used in the construction has sequestered around 9,000 tonnes of carbon.

In November 2021, Skellefteå’s new industrial neighbourhood, Site East, was nominated for the Sweden Green Building Award, and it is not the first time the northern town has been noticed for its focus on sustainability and technology. In fact, when visiting, the previous Swedish Minister of Civil Affairs described Skellefteå as the place to visit “to understand how the world should change to a climate-smart way of life”. According to Karin Degerfeldt of Skellefteå Municipality, the development is largely down to two things – the expertise developed by Skellefteå’s business community and the county’s abundant natural resources. “The forests of Västerbotten have created jobs in forestry and given us important exports of high-quality wood products; our waterways have given us renewable energy. Good natural resources and the strong business community that developed the expertise of the municipality are the basis for Skellefteå’s sustainable development,” she says. When visiting Skellefteå, the town’s green credentials are easy to spot – or rather, hard to miss. Flying into the region, visi-

tors traverse the vast pine and spruce forests encircling the town and in Skellefteå airport, one of the world’s first fossil-free airports, a wooden air traffic control tower presents evidence of the town’s fondness for constructing in wood. Less obvious to the eye is the fact that the town is powered by an energy system that provides 100 per cent renewable energy from hydropower and wind. Moreover, 65 of the town’s 120 busses run on HVO and 40 on biogas from the town’s local biogas plant. A MIRACULOUS ECOTOWN In the heart of the town, the 75-metre-tall Sara Cultural Centre has become a symbol of Skellefteå’s dedication to sustainable and renewable development. Opened in the autumn of 2021, the 20-storey building is constructed in wood from the surrounding forests and includes a theatre, gallery, library, museum and the Wood Hotel. As one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world, it has attracted attention far beyond Sweden’s borders. At its opening, the UK’s The Guardian enthusiastically dubbed Skellefteå “a miraculous ecotown”, and the centre and hotel “beacons of what it is possible to do with timber.”

The enthusiasm is partly due to the fact that, reflecting Skellefteå’s long traditions of building in wood, the Sara Cultural Centre is realised with timber as a structural material, not just a surface layer. Consequently, the wood used in the construction has sequestered around 9,000 tonnes of carbon, more than twice the carbon emissions caused by operational energy and embodied carbon from the production of materials, transport and construction. Combined with a ground-breaking energy system developed by the local power company Skellefteå Kraft and solar panels on the roof, the design means that, over a period of 50 years, the building will be carbon negative (the building is expected to have a minimum lifespan of 100 years). HOME TO ONE OF EUROPE’S LARGEST BATTERY FACTORIES But it is not just the town centre of Skellefteå that is formed by sustainable visions. In the town’s award-nominated industrial neighbourhood, Site East, the newly opened Northvolt battery factory adds another layer to the tale. Based on local raw materials and renewable energy, the factory aims to not only produce but December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  43

Discover CleanTech  |  Sustainable City of the Month  |  Skellefteå

also recycle batteries to make “the world’s greenest battery”. In November, the factory’s lab successfully completed the first battery cell with 100 per cent recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt. Emma Nehrenheim, Northvolt’s chief environmental officer, says: “The recycling process can recover up to 95 per cent of the metals in a battery to a level of purity on a par with fresh virgin material. What we need now is to scale-up recycling capacities in anticipation of future volumes of batteries requiring recycling.” With an annual production capacity of 60 GWh (gigawatt hours, half of which will be recycled) and at the size of 71 football pitches, the gigafactory is one of Europe’s largest. The factory becomes part of the town’s growing cleantech industry which also includes the Green Flight Academy, a flight academy where the majority of training is carried out in electric aircrafts. But it is not all about brand new technologies, some of the town’s cleantech facilities have been around for decades. One of them is the Boliden’s Rönnskär smelter, which opened in 1960. Today, the smelter recycles around 120,000 tonnes of electronic material from most of Europe. During the process, the melting of plastic materials generates steam that is converted into

electricity or district heating for the plant and local area. Together with ambitious plans from the municipality, the cleantech industry has helped cement Skellefteå’s sustainable profile. “We’ve made sustainability a natural part of everything built in the municipality, no matter who’s building it. To achieve the goal of a sustainable society, a holistic view of urban planning is required in which resource management, good architecture and technical innovation are essential

FACTS: Size: At 7,174 kilometres, Skellefteå is Sweden’s largest coastal municipality in terms of area.

120,000 tonnes of electronic material yearly) and the Sara Cultural Centre, one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings.

Population. Just over 72,000 inhabitants live in the municipality.

The municipality operates 120 busses, 65 run on HVO, 40 on biogas from the town’s local biogas plant, and six are electric.

Location: Skellefteå is located in the county of Västerbotten in Northern Sweden, approximately 800 kilometres north of Stockholm and 250 kilometres from the border of Finland. The municipality is home to the new 60 GWh Northvolt battery factory, the Green Flight Academy, Skellefteå Kraft (which provides the town with the 100 per cent renewable energy), the Boliden’s Rönnskär smelter (which recycles around

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The town’s renewable energy sources are controlled by an intelligent energy network that ensures energy is directed or stored according to demand. In 2021, Visit Skellefteå joined the Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDSM), a global platform that helps destinations identify strengths and weaknesses.

parts,” says Degerfeldt. “Skellefteå inhabitants planning to build anything must also build for a sustainable Skellefteå.” A GREEN DESTINATION Clearly, Skellefteå offers rich opportunities for people within the cleantech sectors to find inspiration for a “climate-smart way of life”. But regular visitors may also enjoy exploring the town’s sustainable features. Tracks in the surrounding Boreal Forest are ideal for bicycle rides during summer, and during winter, visitors will be able to silent-

Skellefteå  |  Sustainable City of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

The newly opened Northvolt Gigafactory aims to produce the “world’s greenest battery”. Photo: Northvolt

ly track moose on Swedish Lapland’s first electric snowmobiles (due to arrive in the winter of 2022). “Actually, it is almost impossible not to take part in a sustainable lifestyle when visiting,” says Bo Wikström from Visit Skellefteå.

The purchase of electric snowmobiles is one of many steps taken to ensure the sustainability of Skellefteå’s tourism industry.

“Our foundation is an abundance of unexploited nature and vast forests around the corner, clean air and water, and our large assets of green energy. All this has influenced and helped our development, making it possible to arrive in one of the world’s first fossil-free airports and continue by fossil free transfer to one of the world’s tallest hotels built in timber, with a zero-carbon footprint. Regardless of the wishes of our visitors, our ambition is to share our Arctic lifestyle, doing good for the planet.” Consequently, many local tourism initiatives are developed in partnership with Visit Skellefteå and guided by the GSTC criteria (based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and developed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the criteria

serve as global standards for sustainability). “We believe that working together is the key to reaching the UN development goals and making destinations more sustainable. It’s an important tool to help us in this process and it is a way to improve

our agenda and strategy for sustainability, making it the top priority in everything we do,” says Wikström, and rounds off: “Now, we are part of a global movement to make our destinations more attractive, resilient and regenerative” December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  45

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

Photo: istock

46  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

“WE CAN’T THINK ELECTRICITY WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING” – WHY WE NEED BIOGAS At one and the same time fundamentally simple yet incredibly multifaceted, the role of biogas is still somewhat controversial. However, in the form of biomethane, bio-LNG, or biofertiliser, the products of anaerobic digestion (AD) could reform many sectors. We talk to one of the industry’s most passionate advocates and ask him why, with the EU 90 per cent dependent on imported fossil gas, biogas is still discredited by many. BY SIGNE HANSEN

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  47

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

Photo: istock

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

Ever since he opened his first biogas plant in Italy in 2002, Michael Niederbacher, vice-president of the European Biogas Association (EBA) and CEO of TerraX, has made it his mission to further the AD and gasification technologies that can help decarbonise our society. However, while he has opened 220 AD plants in 12 countries all over the world, Niederbacher is still not quite content; he wants more. First and foremost, he wants the world to understand that biogas is, and can be, much more than just a minor contributor to the electricity and heating market. In short biogas and AD, is, says Niederbacher, “the best, most efficient and cheapest way to save CO2 in the energy, agricultural and transport sector.” “For ten years, I have been driving a methane car, and that’s where I see the greatest potential for biogas in the near future, in bio-LNG [liquid bio-methane fuel] for heavy transport vehicles. Then next, it will be the maritime sector, then aviation and, lastly, hydrogen production; that is if politicians understand the potential.” However, as Niederbacher admits, the message is not always easy to get across, partly because the technology and its advantages are far more complex than a first glance reveals. “I think the first challenge is that biogas and AD seem too simple to be true - you put in biomass, heat it up, and then you get this big amount of energy – people say it is not possible. I think another issue is that like with other renewables, until recently, politicians just weren’t that interested,” says the CEO, who comes from an agricultural back-

ground, adding. “But the biggest problem we have, and always have had, is the perceived competition between food, feed and energy. On the one hand, it is understandable because if you are not an expert in agriculture, it is normal to think that you can produce only food, feed or energy; but it is misunderstood – we do have solutions.” However, while politicians may have been slow to come around to the benefits of biogas, new studies support the potential of significant biogas expansions. Studies made by the European Commission, IEA and Gas for Climate assess that in 2030, 35-44bcm (billion cubic metres) of the approx. 450bcm of gas in the EU’s gas grid could be biomethane (currently, only three of the approx. 18bcm of biogas produced in Europe is biomethane which can be injected into the gas grid). With biomethane offering the possibility of saving up to 202 per cent of GHG emissions compared to fossil fuels, the impact would be significant. BUT DON’T WE NEED FOOD MORE THAN ENERGY? One of the countries demonstrating that great leaps in biogas production is possible, is Germany. Home to nearly 10,000 of Europe’s 20,000 biogas plants, the country is estimated to be the biggest commercial producer of biogas in the world (though China has numerous small villageor even household-scale digesters). This is partly due to an extensive use of energy crops, something which is, says Niederbacher, less controversial than it sounds. “People don’t remember the situation 30

The biogas industry was originally focused on combined heat and power plants, but today, most new plants upgrade biogas to biomethane, which can be transformed to biofuel or injected directly into the gas grid.

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

Three years ago, the EBA was close to shutting its doors; today, the organisation has 150 members, including many large international corporations, and a strong voice in Brussels - it is really getting very interesting now,” says vice-president Michael Niederbacher.

years ago, but it was unsustainable; there was a surplus of food produced, and the state was buying up corn and exporting it cheaply to Africa, destabilising the local economies there.”

straw. Basically, we can use what the land gives us, all biomasses that you can imagine, not wood but all plants. On our list we have more than 200 feedstock types,” explains Niederbacher.

As a solution, around 15 per cent of the country’s agricultural land was taken out of production under the EU’s set-aside policy, and farmers were paid to lay the land fallow. Today, around 70 per cent of the feedstock for the country’s biogas plants comes from energy crops grown on the previously fallow land.

This also means that feedstock can be grown on all land, also in combination with food crops like it is done in, for instance, Italy, where legislation requires farmers to alternate from food or feed to energy crops. Indeed, second cropping is, says Niederbacher, a necessity if we want to save the planet. “If you get in a plane in wintertime, you will see that most of the land is not covered with crops, and if we want to save this planet, we need to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis – we cannot afford that the sun is shining, and we are not producing biomass. We need to cover the land with crops that increase biodiversity, increase the number of insects, and lessen aeolian erosion.”

But the use of fallow land is not the only solution to what could be a conflict between the need to grow either feedstock, feed or food. “The second great leap we saw in solving this conflict was the development of technologies to use different feedstock. We now have the treatment needed to enable the use of feedstock like 50  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

Michael Niederbacher, vice-president of the EBA and CEO of TerraX.

Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

SO, HOW DOES IT MAKE THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR GREENER? When it comes to the agricultural sector, biogas does not just offer reduced erosion and increased biodiversity but also the transformation of waste products such as straw and manure into energy. On top of that, Anaerobic digestion has two more significant benefits. Most significantly, a by-product of AD is digestate, a natural biofertiliser. “Of course it is desirable to be independent from the fossil fuel markets, but also from fertiliser prices. Normal production of fertiliser produces CO2, and it is dependent on phosphorus, so we need another way to balance the agricultural production, and AD production of biofertiliser is 100 per cent biological,” stresses Niederbacher. With current phosphorus deposits predicted to be depleted within 50-100 years, and many regions already unable to afford the use of phosphorus for land cultivation, this is a significant point when talking sustainable agricultural production. But there is another equally compelling argument to be made. The inclusion of feedstock crops, such as catch crops and cover crops, into food crop rotation can help re-

build humus in the soil, essential for plant growth and, crucially, carbon storage. “Agriculture is facing a critical decade, so it would be a good moment to open up the discussion to include the soil. Contrary to what people might think, if AD is done in an organic and sustainable way, it will actually enrich the soil instead of depleting it, increasing carbon content, humus and nutrient value, something which is highly needed in Europe. In other words, we can take CO2 out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis and biomass production and increase the CO2 that is returned into the soil through the cover plants and digestate biofertiliser. In this way, we have a BECCS – bioenergy carbon capture and storage – plant in a very efficient and cheap way,” says Niederbacher, and rounds off: “The solution to the climate crisis, in my opinion, is not far away – it is in the soil.” BUT AREN’T THERE OTHER MORE EFFICIENT RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES? While the potential of scaling up a sustainable biogas production is well documented, the question remains if biogas is finan-

cially viable if, and when, subsidiaries are phased out. This greatly depends on the application of biogas. Traditionally, most biogas sites were built as CHP plants with a combined heat and electricity production. In recent years, however, most new plants are upgrading biogas to methane for the transport sector, and the EU production of BioLNG is set to increase tenfold by 2030. “This will be the future,” says Niederbacher. “Bio-LNG or -methane for trucks. Then starting from 2025, when the maritime sector is to be included in the EU’s emissions trading system, I think that is where we will see the sector develop. Then, in the future, aviation.” As LNG heavy-duty transport in Europe is expected to reach 280,000 units in 2030, such an increase could prove essential in the journey towards reaching net zero in 2050. In fact, using a 40 per cent BioLNG mix with LNG would reduce the CO2 emissions from those trucks by 55 per cent, and this would only account for approx. ten per cent of Europe’s possible total BioLNG production. In the maritime sector, a 20 per cent BioLNG mix in large LNG-fuelled container vessels would reduce CO2 emissions by up to 34

Cover crops such as sweet white clover can help increase biodiversity and carbon sequestration while providing feedstock for local biogas plants. Photo: Alexan24,

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GHG reduction potentials of biogas and biomethane industries This infographic explains the different pathways in which biogas and biomethane industries are contributing to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. The sector has the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 10-13%. Total emission savings through the use of biogas and

biomethane can reach up to –240% compared to fossil fuels.


Carbon is captured by plants, such as intermediate crops, and stored into the soil and the plants itself.


Digestate is used as organic fertilizer, reducing the industrial production of mineral fertilizers and its associated emissions. The application of digestate as green fertilizer has the advantage of building soil organic carbon when compared to mineral fertilizer spreading.



Sewage sludge

Intermediate crops

Crop residues




Biogas Gas grid


Animal farming results in large quantities of manure, which naturally releases methane. These emissions can be avoided by using the manure for biogas production.

Waste collection

Manure treatment


During the methanisation process some methane can be emitted into the atmosphere. This remains marginal and will become even more so with technological development and increased monitoring.



Anaerobic digestion




Biogas and biomethane avoid the emissions produced by the use of fossil fuels in power, heat, mobility and in some industrial applications.

Mobility a.o. GHG


CO2 re-use

During the biomethane upgrading process, a big part of the carbon can be re-used for instance in e–fuels or permanently removed from the atmosphere.

Compared to EU fossil fuels, biogas production can, when the entire cycle of production is taken into account, save up to 240 per cent of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions; biomethane up to 202 per cent, and Bio-LNG can reduce emission by more than 80 per cent compared to fossil fuels, or even be carbon neutral or negative if produced from manure.

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

per cent. As BioLNG can be transported using the existing LNG infrastructure, this would require no further technological adaptations or additional costs. Together with the still lower prices of electricity and heat produced from wind and solar energy, this means that this is where many see the future of biogas. “The first biomethane plant we built was in 2015, but from that moment on, we have built more biomethane plants than biogas because the future is in the molecule, not in electricity,” Niederbacher stresses. CAN IT HELP PREVENT THE CLIMATE CRISIS? Taking all of the above into consideration, it is hard not to agree with Niederbacher that the apparent simplicity of biogas is slightly deceiving. There are its multiple uses, multiple feedstocks, various ways of growing or collecting feedstock, multiple ways of using the by-products of AD, its effect on the soil, and not least its role on the renewable energy market to take into consideration. But with electricity constituting only around 20 per cent of the EU’s primary energy usage, it is clear that a mix of energy sources are needed even if the share of electricity increases to 40 per cent as it is expected to in 2050. “The political class needs to change because we cannot think electricity will solve all the problems – we need to work together,” stresses Niederbacher.

According to the EBA, to optimise energy production, photosynthesis and carbon sequestration, agricultural soil should never be without crops. Photo: istock

BIOGAS – FACTS AND KEYWORDS Biogas can be produced via a biochemical process called anaerobic digestion of different kinds of biomass; the biomass used in a biogas plant is also referred to as feedstock. Possible feedstocks can be wastewater products, manure from agricultural production, organic industrial, agricultural and household waste, energy crops or any mixture of the above. Catch and cover crops are energy crops planted between two regular crops grown in consecutive seasons or between two rows of regular crops in the same season. The crops help prevent nutrient leaching and soil erosion

and increase carbon sequestration. They include a wide range of grasses, legumes and cereals, rape, turnips, millet, white sweet clover, sudan grass etc. The main components in biogas are methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). When separated from the carbon dioxide, bio-methane, can be injected into the natural gas grid. Another form of biogas is Bio-LNG, a biofuel. To make bio-LNG, the methane is separated from the carbon dioxide and then liquefied. This process increases the energy density 600 times and makes the biofuel ideal for heavy-duty and maritime transport.

Currently, over 60 per cent of biogas production capacity lies in Europe and North America. As the leading biogas-producing region, Europe has around 20,000 biogas plants, with the majority situated in Germany. Biogas can also be upgraded to hydrogen through steam reforming, a controlled combustion-free process involving heat, steam and oxygen. In 2050, the Gas for Climate and Eurogas studies estimate, the potential is for 95bcm of bio-methane to be produced, covering 30-40 per cent of the expected gas demand in Europe.

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

According to Philipp Lukas, the founder of the leading British biogas producer Future Biogas, the market for unsubsidised biomethane and CCS will see a massive growth in the coming years.

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

The not-too-distant future of carbon-negative energy production With 25 new AD plants and a unique carbon capture and storage (CCS) system; by 2025, British Future Biogas will not just produce biogas but actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Discover Cleantech talks to CEO and founder Philipp Lukas about his expectations for the biogas market and how the new CCS strategy might change it.


With the recent gas crisis and a reported 800 per cent increase in the demand for biomethane, the biogas industry in the UK may be facing a new and promising era. At Future Biogas, one of the nation’s largest producers of biomethane, Lukas is not just prepared, but excited for the opportunities of an unsubsidised biogas market. “There is a great market. All the big gas suppliers are looking to offer unsubsidised green gas to their corporate customers, and this means everybody is trying to build acquisition capacity,” he says, adding: “We think there is an opportunity to produce the green gas, and then add on carbon capture and sequestration. It will produce a more valuable output because suddenly we will be in the market of negative carbon certificates currently trading at £500 to£800 per tonne of CO2 permanently stored. No doubt this price will reduce over the next decade.” December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  55

Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

The CCS strategy is just the latest step in a successful decade for Future Biogas. Since its foundation in 2008, the company has built 11 full biogas plants and is, today, operating nine gas-to-grid plants supplying around 420 GWh (gigawatt hours) of biomethane to the UK gas grid (as well as one major electrical plant). A GROWING DEMAND FOR UNSUBSIDISED BIOGAS The UK’s heavy reliance on gas for heating meant it was severely impacted by the recent gas crisis. A by-product of the all of a sudden, all too obvious risk of relying on non-domestic fossil gas, was an increased attention on the potential of the national biogas sector. However, the gas crisis was just one of many developments to have contributed to an increase in demand. In the spring of 2020, CNG Fuels reported an 800 per cent increase in the demand for biomethane as large companies eyed the opportunity of getting closer to net zero through the low-carbon alternative for heavy goods vehicles. “The last 18 months have seen the market develop significantly. More and more corpo-

rations have net zero targets and are saying – how do I achieve it? I’ve done it with electricity, now I want to do the same for gas,” explains Lukas. “This means corporations are starting to look for genuine biogas produced without the aid of subsidies. That’s a market that’s developing very fast.” Luckily, thanks to the structure of the UK’s agricultural sector, the nation’s biogas market is well-prepared to scale up production. Unlike other markets, where smaller agricultural productions, regulations on feedstock, and incentive schemes have created a strong or exclusive focus on smaller and/ or waste-based biogas plants, the UK’s approximately 600 plants include 100 large gas-to-grid plants and a greater usage of energy crops. According to Lukas this is fortunate because even if all waste should go to AD plants, as is to be the case in the UK by 2030, the expansions in production capacity needed could not possibly be created by waste alone. “In the future, we will see the market go towards energy crops, the agricultural potential is just so much bigger. I think we can direct all food waste, and we

By ensuring a diverse rotation of cover and break crops, Future Biogas aims to ensure that nutrients are returned to the soil and a minimum of tillage is required allowing for more organic matter and carbon to be stored in the soil. Photo:

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

definitely should, (though, ultimately, what we need is to reduce food waste, not just send it to AD plants), but it is not going to touch the European gas use, even post the expected reduction,” stresses Lukas. BIO-CCS, A STEP CLOSER TO NET ZERO Future Biogas’ 25 new plants expected to be commissioned between 2024 and 2028, are, however, not just to meet the

increasing demand for unsubsidised biomethane. Having signed an MoU with Northern Lights, the world’s first cross-border, open-source CO2 transport and storage facility, Future Biogas also expects to initiate a brand-new CCS strategy by 2025. “Today, people are paying £60 to £90 per MWH (megawatt) for unsubsidised biomethane. We are targeting around the lower end of that, and we are targeting doing it

in conjunction with sequestration,” explains Lukas. “So, through AD you have a method for increasing the carbon you bring back into the soil by diversifying the rotation on farms, applying digestate fertiliser and minimising tillage. You then turn the produced biomass into green gas, and then you sequester and liquify the CO2 that, today, you have as a by-product, an off-gas stream, from biomethane production.”

The nine gas-to-grid biogas plants operated by Future Biogas supply around 420 GWh (gigawatt hours) of biomethane to the UK gas grid, enough to supply more than 40,000 homes.

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

In normal biomethane production, the carbon off-stream is simply vented off. As it is short-cycled CO2 sequestered by the plants grown to produce the biomass, this does not increase atmospheric CO2, meaning that the biogas is still carbon neutral. However, through the new biogas plants and the use of a CO2 recovery bolt-on system on existing plants, Future Biogas plans to recover approximate-

ly 200,000 tonnes of that CO2 annually. The CO2 will be liquefied and permanently stored under the North Sea in Norway. In this way it will create a reduction in atmospheric CO2 and consequently offer a way for companies to directly offset carbon emissions. The construction of the Northern Lights storage facility will be finished in 2024.

CARBON TAXES INSTEAD OF SUBSIDIES The proven efficiency of the UK biogas sector, the increasing demand, and the promising potential of bio-CCS seem to signal the beginning of a new era for biogas. This means, Lukas believes, that different incentives are now needed to create a more efficient, open and level marketplace. “Subsidies are a brilliant tool when creating a market, and with AD, there has been a whole raft of research and engagement in making AD plants and the whole industry better. It is great up to a point, but we are not going to make the energy transition if it is all supplied by subsidies, not while also subsidising fossil fuels in the many ways we do.” However, though he believes the biogas sector will thrive in an open market, he does have one important caveat. “The alternatives to biogas and biomethane are still too cheap because there is no real premium for the carbon you are emitting. At the moment, we are living in a world without carbon tax, so we have had to go down the route of subsidies. But if you properly price carbon, I am not saying that it is easy, but then, all of sudden, all renewables, or at least many more, have a chance of competing.”

FACTS Future Biogas was founded in 2008. Today the company is one of the UK’s biggest biomethane producers, producing enough energy for over 40.000 homes. By 2028, the company plans to build and commission 25 new biogas plants for biomethane production. The plants will become part of the company’s new CCS strategy. Future Biogas also intends to add Pentair CO2 Recovery Bolt-On systems to an additional 20 existing plants. In total, the strategy is to sequester 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, which will be sold as negative carbon credits alongside the unsubsidised carbon neutral biogas.

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

HomeBiogas – reducing waste and CO2 one home at a time With 10,000 biogas systems sold in over 100 countries, the Israeli company HomeBiogas has revived a simple but ingenious way to handle waste and produce energy off-grid. BY SIGNE HANSEN  |  PHOTOS: HOMEBIOGAS

In undeveloped regions, the HomeBiogas system and Bio-Toilet can solve two problems – the disposal of waste and the supply of cooking gas.

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

Having successfully completed its initial public offering in 2021, in 2022, HomeBiogas will be launching its industrial system and entering the commercial market. The following year, the Premium system with built-in heating elements is expected to be released as the company expands into new private markets. At the same time, HomeBiogas is continuing its work with governments and NGOs all over the world; recently, it won a UN tender to supply biogas systems for the treatment of organic waste at refugee camps in Africa. “I believe that the ability for any person or organisation to produce energy from leftover organic waste is not far away,” says CEO Oshik Efrati. Efrati founded HomeBiogas together with two friends in 2012. Shortly after, the company began working with governments and environmental departments all over the world to supply its systems to offgrid communities. 62  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

HOW IT WORKS With an anaerobic digester in which bacteria can break down organic waste, the HomeBiogas system allows its owners to transform household waste (or, with the HomeBiogas Bio-Toilet, even bodily waste!) into biogas. In this way, the HomeBiogas

system simultaneously enables people to reduce the quantity of waste sent to the landfill and to produce biogas for cooking or heating purposes. By converting organic waste into renewable energy on-site, HomeBiogas systems also

Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

reduce the damaging methane emissions from landfills (one of the leading sources of methane emissions). This way, according to HomeBiogas, each system saves over six tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. At the same time, the system produces bio-fertiliser that can be used in organic farming. “The bio-fertiliser is a by-product of our systems that can help you cultivate part of your food and reduce food miles. It’s a system that encourages you to reduce your carbon footprint with a simple, cost-effective and efficient solution,” explains Efrati. The appliance is a closed loop system, which means that after HomeBiogas customers purchase it, they can continue to generate

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

While reducing waste and producing energy, the HomeBiogas system also produces bio-fertiliser that can be used to support agriculture.

free biogas for years to come as long as the digester is fed with organic waste. BIGGER AMBITIONS

in 2022, the industrial-size HomeBiogas system will convert the large amounts of organic waste of restaurants, hotels and the like into renewable energy.

During the last decade, HomeBiogas has helped private farmers, off-grid communities and eco-enthusiasts all over the world reduce their CO2 footprint and waste production. Now, the company is getting ready to begin the next leg of the journey – the commercial market. To be released

According to HomeBiogas, the system can convert up to one tonne of organic waste a day, produce 1 million BTU (British thermal unit) of clean energy in the form of biogas and reduce carbon emissions with 2,000 tonnes a year.

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“This will reduce our dependence on fossil energy, as well as the environmental pollution and greenhouse gases resulting from the transportation and landfilling of waste,” Efrati says. NOT JUST FOR ECO-FANATICS The Industrial system is the last among a number of innovations launched by HomeBiogas over the years; in 2018, the company added the HomeBio-toilet to

Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

Oshik Efrati, founder and CEO of HomeBiogas.

With its new industry-scale system set to be released in 2022, HomeBiogas is looking to expand the global impact of its HomeBiogas systems.

its appliances. And, while turning human waste into gas for cooking might sound, well, slightly unappetising, the simple genius of the concept becomes clear when considering the following: in the developing world, more than three billion people still use wood and charcoal for cooking, while 2.5 billion do not have access to toilets. The first fact leads to unhealthy fumes, carbon emissions and economic strain; the second to unsanitary conditions

and the spread of diseases. In those locations as well as in the hundreds of refugee camps set up all over the world, HomeBiogas Bio-toilets can solve both problems. While continuing to work in this sector, HomeBiogas is, however, also expanding its solutions for private customers in new markets in the developed world, including North America. As part of this development, the company expects to release its

new Premium system in 2023. The system will include integrated heating elements to improve the function of the system in the colder climates of the northern regions (without heating elements, the HomeBiogas system requires an average day/night temperature of at least 20°C for the digestion to be successful).

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Discover CleanTech  |  Special Theme  |  Biogas

The UK biogas market: upbeat despite missed Net Zero opportunities by the UK government Jon Hughes, head of communications, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association looks at the UK biogas market in the wake of the COP26 and the UK gas crisis. BY JON HUGHES  |  PHOTOS: ADBA

There are currently 686 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants operating in the UK, with a combined biogas capacity of 2,721 megawatts.

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Biogas  |  Special Theme  |  Discover CleanTech

The message from COP26 is clear: We are at a point of no return in the climate emergency. We must act urgently. Specifically, we must cut methane emissions substantially by 2030. As countries set Net Zero targets and sign up to the Global Methane Pledge, the message from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) is also clear: “there’s no Net Zero without biogas”. Moreover, the UK’s gas crisis has revealed our energy network’s vulnerability to international supply. Recycling organic wastes into biomethane, a direct substitute for fossil natural gas, is a win-win option, both decarbonising our gas sector and improving energy security. There are currently 686 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants operating in the UK, with a combined biogas capacity of 2,721 megawatts. By avoiding methane emissions from waste and producing green gas and biofertiliser, the sector currently cuts the UK’s annual GHG emissions by one per cent. This could rise to six per cent by 2030, should all organic wastes be captured and treated through AD. As the country wakes up to the potential of biogas, the industry is moving from strength to strength. The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will soon launch the Green Gas Support Scheme (GGSS). Forecast to bring up to 150 million pounds per year to new AD plants, the scheme is designed to boost biomethane injection to the gas grid. It aims to support the development of approximately 45 new plants, producing over an additional 2.7 terrawatt-hour per year for heat. Meanwhile, the biomethane-to-transport sector is booming. A growing number of companies and municipalities are switching to biomethane-fuelled vehicles, from HGVs to buses, benefitting from cost savings and emissions reductions. Disappointingly, the Department for Transport (DfT) overlooked this success story in its recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan, instead focusing on a transition to road vehicles with zero tailpipe emission – i.e. electricity and hydrogen. Neither of these technologies are ready to use for heavy vehicles,

A growing number of UK companies and municipalities are switching to biomethane-fuelled vehicles.

where countless practical and commercial barriers prevent their immediate use. Conversely, the biomethane industry could fuel 97 per cent of the UK’s HGV fleet by 2030, cutting emissions by over 24 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. While biomethane HGVs emit CO2 from the tailpipe, the fuel may be considered carbon neutral, or even carbon negative when avoided methane emissions are accounted for (all carbon in biomethane originates from the atmosphere – CO2 is absorbed by plants via photosynthesis, organic feedstocks are converted to biomethane via AD, and this biogenic CO2 is released when combusted inside an engine). Another carbon-intensive sector where biogas can play a major part in reducing GHG emissions is agriculture. While the Government’s Environmental Land Management Scheme (in development) appears to prioritise land restoration over decarbonisation, policy seeks to increase the spreading of carbon-rich organic fertilisers, such as digestate, to improve soil health and productivity. Next, the Government must reduce methane emissions from livestock waste. With over 90 million tonnes of manure collected on-farm each year, policy must ensure these wastes are sustainably managed. By capturing these methane emissions, AD can help deliver 20 per cent of the UK’s contribution to the Global Methane Pledge – which the UK government signed up to at COP26.

AD is the key to delivering on the EU-USled Global Methane Pledge across farming, food waste and wastewater treatment. It is the cornerstone of common-sense action plans on methane from both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the EU and flagged as a readily available low-cost solution by the UN. Post COP26 and ahead of the Government’s Biomass Strategy, we hope UK policy makers will recognise the more comprehensive role biogas can play in delivering Net Zero across multiple sectors.

Jon Hughes, head of communications, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association.

ADBA The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) was established in September 2009 to represent the UK anaerobic digestion (AD) and bioresources industry and facilitate the industry’s growth. Today, the organisation represents over 300 organisations, spanning AD operators, equipment suppliers, finance specialists, farmers, academics, waste management companies, gas distribution networks and more specialisms.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  67

Discover CleanTech  |  Law firm of the Month  |  Castletown Law

International treaties must drive the change Government incentives, planning permissions and international treaties – the legislative framework is slowly but steadily changing the renewable energy sector. David Gilchrist, principal at the Edinburgh based law firm Castletown Law, talks to Discover Cleantech about the COP26 and what more is needed to decarbonise the sector. BY SIGNE HANSEN  |  PHOTOS: CASTLETOWN LAW

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Castletown Law  |  Law firm of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

With 20 years of experience in corporate and commercial law, David has worked extensively across the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors. Two years ago, he and a handful of like-minded specialists established Castletown Law. As the firm’s primary purpose is to support the decarbonising activities of the energy sector, the changing international legal framework on carbon emissions plays a significant role in the practice of the firm. Indeed, says Gilchrist, since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, the different pieces of international law signed have been vital in the development of the renewable sectors. “There is a lot of work to be done, but without those actions, we would not be in the place where we are today in regard to the renewable sector. The shift away from fossil fuel might be slow, but without the COP there would be none,” he stresses. “It is up to international governmental institutions to take the initiative necessary to coordinate the globally required action – the COP determinations are what underpin the other changes that go on in the world.”

pertise and experience essential to the various actors in renewable energy projects. “In markets like the EU and the US, the legal challenges tend to centre around planning permissions and financial incentives,” says Gilchrist. “Those issues exist in other jurisdictions too, but in Africa, for instance, you have a number of other challenges, some very different, like grid connection – and in many cases that infrastructure doesn’t even exist. Ironically, the lack of infrastructure can be a benefit, in that projects are not constrained by decades-old technology. In those circumstances, you need to start thinking about a decentralised grid and generating tech-

With a team of legal experts, Castletown Law specialises in the subsectors of onand offshore wind, solar, biomass, tidal stream, hydro, green hydrogen and energy storage. The company acts across multiple jurisdictions in Europe, the US, Middle East, Africa and South America. FROM EUROPE TO AFRICA Navigating the various governmental incentives and demands from different markets is one of the challenges that make legal ex-

David Gilchrist, principal at Castletown Law.

To support the decarbonising activities of the energy sector, Castletown Law specialises in the subsectors of on- and offshore wind, solar, biomass, tidal stream, hydro, green hydrogen and energy storage.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  69

Discover CleanTech  |  Law firm of the Month  |  Castletown Law

nologies which lie at the heart of the community, and that is becoming increasingly common.” Another issue in new markets is finance, as without a centralised electricity network and a governmental institution buying the power, it is difficult to produce the income security external financial institutions will require. “Finance is almost always the biggest issue, but if you have the demand and the correct framework, the financing tends to follow,” says Gilchrist. This means that in countries where it is not possible to secure this, mid-scale projects tend to be difficult to get off the ground; these are the projects which could prove 70  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

to be game changing for communities but are too small to attract investment from DFIs (development finance institutions) such as the World Bank and African Development Bank, where scale is far more important. Unfortunately, this is not always the solution required. Gilchrist says: “Or, at least it is not the solution to all of the problems.” NEW HOPE The subsectors of renewable energy that Castletown law works with primarily rely on well-established technologies like wind, solar and hydro power. Meanwhile, smaller projects within the main sector represent areas where significant work still needs to be done. Green hydrogen,

for instance, could provide the answers to many of the sector’s problems, but it is expensive to produce and, as a result, is still only done on a small scale. “It requires infrastructure that is not yet there, a lot of investment and new technology. It is not going to be the answer to the world’s problems tomorrow; it could take several years to resolve those problems, and we do not have that time if we are to keep the 1.5°C goal alive,” says Gilchrist, but adds: “Having said that, we could have said the same in respect to solar and wind 25 years ago, and in those areas, we have seen the right incentives and legislative frameworks drive innovation and investment, which in turn has

Castletown Law  |  Law firm of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

Located in Edinburgh, Castletown Law has had a strong focus on the developments of the COP26 and the implications for the legislative framework of the energy sector.

driven prices down. In the same way we might see changes effected by the Glasgow Climate Pact signed at COP26 as being a turning point in our fight against the climate emergency. The commitments to ‘phase down unabated coal (meaning coal can still be used with technologies such as carbon capture and storage) and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’ – and the last-minute intervention to water down the earlier commitment to ‘phase out’ coal completely, was seen by many as a bitterly disappointing end to COP26. However, the significance of the final commitment should not be underestimated; it was the first time fossil fuels have been mentioned in the treaties of the COP and a real shift in mindset.” December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  71

Discover CleanTech  |  Clean Products of the Month

Cleantech Products of the Month Cleantech can be many things – products specifically aimed at making your lifestyle or home more sustainable or innovations to make the products we must have more sustainable. Moreover, a product does not need to be ‘high-tech’ to be cleantech – it can be a simple idea that makes it possible to buy or do something we love in a more sustainable way. The products selected here, represent a bit of all of that. Clean, green and innovative, they can help you enjoy the cold winter months in a more sustainable manner. BY SIGNE HANSEN

ECOBEE SMARTTHERMOSTAT – MAINTAINING COMFORT, LOWERING ENERGY CONSUMPTION For most of us, living without heating is not an option during the winter months. But there are ways to save on energy consumption without cutting down on comfort. One such method is offered by the Ecobee SmartThermostat, with SmartSensor included. The smart thermostat can save up to 26 per cent on energy usage for heating, works with leading smart home ecosystems including Apple HomeKit, and comes with Siri and Alexa built-in for hands-free control. For even more efficient energy savings, the eco+ thermostat software adapts to your household schedule and automatically heats or cools when electricity is cheaper and cleaner. Just select your preferred savings level from five options and the thermostat’s schedule and settings will be optimised for you.

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Clean Products of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

AGRILUTION PLANTCUBE – FRESH VEGETABLES ALL YEAR ROUND More and more people are increasingly keen to adopt a healthy diet and live a responsible, sustainable lifestyle. But at times it can be hard to combine the two, especially during winter months, when it can be hard to find fresh vegetables grown locally. Allowing you to grow nutrient-rich greens (conveniently delivered in 30 different seed bars) in your own home, all year round, the Plantcube from Agrilution provides a solution that avoids transportation, plastic waste and excessive water usage. The Plantcube’s dynamic Osram LED Plant Light provides the plants with exactly the right wavelengths they need to thrive from seed to harvest, and a closedloop hydroponic watering system and integrated water reservoir mean the Plantcube requires 98 per cent less water than is used in conventional farming. December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  73

Discover CleanTech  |  Clean Products of the Month

PLANETCARE MICROFIBRE FILTERS – MAKING LAUNDRY WITHOUT MICROPLASTICS POSSIBLE We have all heard about microplastics and their harmful impact on everything from ocean life to our own health. Many of the microplastics originate from the synthetic fabrics in our laundry. But instead of replacing an entire wardrobe with organic cotton or wool, there is a more pragmatic alternative: PlanetCare microfibre filters. The filter is an external retrofit device for washing machines. It filters all the wastewater coming from the washing machine before it goes down the drain and out into nature. This way, the filter stops 90 per cent of all plastic microfibres, which shed every time we wash synthetic clothes (an average load of laundry releases over nine million microfibres into wastewater). Filters can be fitted to any existing washing machine in just ten minutes, without any special tools. It’s a passive device and doesn’t increase the energy use of the machine or use any chemicals. Filters use exchangeable cartridges, each lasting approximately 20 loads. When full, customers can return the used cartridges for refurbishment to ensure a fully closed-loop solution.

THE GROWING CANDLE – A SUSTAINABLE LIGHT TO BRIGHTEN UP THE WINTER There is nothing like a beautiful candle to brighten up the cold winter months, but while most candles are not major causes of pollution or waste, some, especially the nicely packaged and scented ones, can be the source of unnecessary waste and/or contain compounds toxic for your health and the environment. With a simple idea, the Growing Candle has ensured that this need not be a worry and, in doing so, has added an uplifting new feature to the traditional joy of a candle. The Growing Candle starts its life as a 100 per cent soy, naturally-fragranced candle with zero plastic packaging and leaves you as a repurposed pot of cheerful wildflowers with no waste to discard. Indeed, all the labels around the candles have seeds embedded into them. Once the wax is gone, you simply fill the beautiful container with soil, plant the label (just like any other seed), and grow yourself a delightful pot of flowers.

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Clean Products of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

TAIGA SNOWMOBILE – A SILENT, ELECTRIC CRUISE IN THE WINTER LANDSCAPE If you are a fan of exploring the winter landscape on a snowmobile, why not do it silently, gliding across the snow on the electric Taiga Snowmobile. Pushing the technological boundaries of their platform, the Canadian company has created this new category of snowmobiles, with up to 180 horsepower, fast charging and a battery range of up to 140 kilometres. Furthermore, Taiga snowmobiles are equipped with an advanced thermal management system that is capable of either cooling or heating the battery pack in order to ensure it performs optimally. This way, Taiga snowmobiles only lose fromone to five per cent charge in extremely cold temperatures. This means the snowmobile gives you instant torque, no matter the elevation, temperature or riding style. December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  75

Discover CleanTech  |  Sustainable Destination of the Month

Slow and sustainable travels Experiencing the Wadden Sea a different way Long sandy beaches stretch over kilometres along Juist’s shoreline, framed by dunes on the one side and crashing waves on the other. This alone makes the East Frisian island a special place. But what distinguishes Juist from other tourist destination is its eco-friendly approach. The island has made ‘sustainability’ a guiding theme for the tourism sector. BY JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN  |  PHOTOS: KV JUIST

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Sustainable Destination of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  77

Discover CleanTech  |  Sustainable Destination of the Month

Nature dictates the rhythm of life on this small island: 17 kilometres in length and only 800 metres wide at its widest point. Locals tenderly call their home ‘Töwerland’ in their local dialect – wonderland or fairy tale land. While the island also has an airport, most guests arrive by ferry that can only reach the island during high tide. “So people will from the very beginning of their journey attune to the rhythm of nature,” says Thomas Vodde, who is responsible not only for the island’s marketing but also for sustainable development. Cars are not allowed on the island and as it was done centuries ago, people and goods are transported with horse carts and carriages. Horse carts are even used for garbage collection on the island, or to transport heavy goods or furniture. There is only one great exception to this rule: fire services and ambulance. 78  |  Issue 01  |  December 2021

It is no wonder that everything is a bit slower on the island – intentionally. What has become internationally fashionable as the ‘Slow Movement’ has a long tradition on Juist. The island is a forerunner, when it comes to sustainable tourism and living. For many regular guests, the slower path of life is the reason they come here again and again. Whoever wants to get from one point to another must go by bike, on foot or use a carriage. Horses are therefore quite characteristic for the island and part of its unique atmosphere. “Even if this means we also have horse droppings on the roads,” says Thomas Vodde with a slight wink. Coastal air is already considered to be very healthy, but since there are no cars and no heavy industry on the island, it is even cleaner on Juist. The amount of CO2 found in the air for example is negligible. In

2010, Juist gave itself the title ‘Klimainsel’: a climate-friendly island. This is not only a statement, but a promise: “In 2030 we – as an island – intend to be climate-neutral,” says Vodde, which means the island must fully compensate carbon emission. Today the whole island already has a low carbon emission of 27,000 tonnes a year – including the ferry trips guests must undertake to reach and leave the island. This is not much when taking into consideration that the average German emits 11 tonnes of carbon-dioxide every year. 1,700 people currently live on Juist, but more than 130,000 visit every year. The tourism information is already climate-neutral: While still emitting 13 tonnes of CO2 every year, those responsible for the eco-friendly concept decided to compensate this carbon emission completely, reducing the carbon footprint to zero. Juist’s tourism informa-

Sustainable Destination of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

tion is one of only two in Germany that have gained this status so far. The climate-friendly approach even led to establishing a veggie-day where only vegetarian food is served on the island, because carbon-dioxide emission and food production are closely linked – and that is something the islanders want to make people aware of. Climate protection and sustainable living is something that has to include future generations. This is why there are not only courses in the local school and kindergarten, but also a children’s summer university dedicated to the topic of sustainability. It is their aim to introduce these vital ideas to children spending their holidays on the island as well. The local administration also offers businesses operating on the island advice on energy savings free of charge. Many hotels and bed and breakfasts have already installed solar panels or are using energy from eco-friendly sources only. Others have redeveloped the building into a low-energy house. To give tourists a better choice and to make this more transparent, the travel catalogue – also available online

– displays exactly what kind of measures a hotel has taken to make the business more climate friendly. Tourists therefore have a choice how climate friendly their holidays might be. For all these efforts in 2015, Juist has won the German prize for sustainability – one of many prizes the destination was awarded in recent years. The jury especially

mentioned the consistent and authentic sustainable approach. Juist is also among the top 100 green destinations and ranks 31st place among the top German tourism destination in Germany – outranking for example Sylt and playing in the same league as famous attractions like the Brandenburger Tor.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  79

Discover CleanTech  |  Book of the Month

Book of the Month Go Toxic Free


Have you ever felt a little lost trying to navigate the long list of chemicals printed in tiny letters on the back of your household products? If so, Anna Turns’ new book Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution may be just the help you need. With over 70 per cent of chemicals used in the EU labelled hazardous for health or the environment, it may be what we all need. Found in your kitchen cupboard, bathroom cabinet and garden shed, the chemicals of common household products may receive less media attention than plastic pollutants, but over 70 per cent of chemicals used in the EU have been labelled hazardous for health or the environment. Go Toxic Free does not just guide you on how to reduce these chemicals in your household, it also offers a thorough and factual presentation on the impact of household products, their raw materials, use and disposal. “Often, hundreds of different chemicals are involved in each production process, and many of them are not just harmful to us while in our homes, but poisonous to the planet before and after we use them,” writes Turns. In the first part of the book, Turns explains what a chemical is, what chemical-free ‘isn’t’ and what toxic really means. Usefully, she also highlights which kinds of wording and labels not to (automatically) trust, and which really can be trusted. The next five chapters take you through every room of your home and the potential chemical hazards hidden in everything from its furniture to its creams, clothes and sprays. In this way, the book provides a complete and straightforward path to creating a toxic-free home and reducing your chemical footprint; in other words – to make simple changes that will be beneficial for your own health as well as for the health of the planet.

Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution is published by Michael O’Mara Books 20 January 2022.

Anna Turns is a journalist specialising in sustainability issues with 20 years’ experience working in the media. She writes regularly for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Coast and Positive News, and contributes to Discover Cleantech. She has a BSc in Biology from Oxford University and, in 2017, she founded her own environmental campaign, Plastic Clever Salcombe. In 2020, she joined the Integrity Council for Provenance, which aims to combat greenwashing and create standards that better enable transparency.

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Blogger of the Month  |  Discover CleanTech

Finding optimism post COP26 Anders Lorenzen, the man behind A greener life, a greener world, a blog listed among Vuelio’s Top Ten Green Blogs in 2018, takes a look at the potential of consigning fossil fuels to history and reaching net-zero targets. His message is one of hope rather than despair. BY ANDERS LORENZEN

For the first time ever in the 27-year history of UN climate talks, at COP26 fossil fuels were mentioned in the final agreement. This shows that we are getting nearer to consigning the fossil fuel industry to history, even though there’s still a long way to go. Of those fossil fuels, coal will be the first to go. Many countries around the world have signed agreements to phase it out, led by European countries and the US. Even though the wording of the Glasgow Climate Pact was watered down in the 11th hour from phasing-out to phasing-down coal, the direction of travel is clear – coal is on the way out. Only three major countries seem to continue to be embracing the controversial energy source; India, China and Australia. Concerned activists, climate advocates and climate-vulnerable countries acknowledged some progress, but said that the agreement goes nowhere near far enough. Depending on what data set you read, based on current pledges we are on course for 2.4 or 1.8°C of warming – still some way off the now universally agreed target of 1.5. But we have moved the goalposts significantly from the Paris Agreement in 2015 when we were then on course for 3.5°C of warming. A GUIDE TO THE DIRECTION OF TRAVEL It would be a mistake to assume that the full and final solution to the climate crisis should only be found at the UN climate talks. Perhaps more accurately, the talks work as guidelines to the direction of travel. When planning for the future, governments, businesses and even individuals know it is both planetary and economic suicide not to ease reliance on fossil fuels and other heavy carbon products. But while focusing on big polluters and large companies heavily invested in fossil fuels to argue that capitalism as one of the creators

of the climate crisis has no role in tackling it, might make for dramatic headlines, it is plain and simple the wrong conclusion. It is ignoring thousands of companies around the world who in the last five years alone have made huge advances in cleantech and energy economies. HOW FAR WE HAVE COME SINCE PARIS When the Paris Agreement was celebrated in 2015, no one was talking about hydrogen as a climate solution, the idea of net-zero targets had not been invented, and offshore wind power was mainly a European venture. Though we must acknowledge that there are huge challenges - not least making sure that hydrogen is produced in a carbon neutral way – hydrogen has since emerged as a key climate solution, especially when it comes to decarbonising industries such as shipping and aviation, as well as heating. In the past few years, we have seen several hydrogen initiatives emerging, like the project in Denmark where large companies in a mixture of industries such as Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Maersk and Orsted are collaborating.

gies as a scam and unproven technology, it would be wrong to dismiss them. One company that has gained a lot of traction is the Swiss company Climeworks, which has installed a facility in Iceland that will suck CO2 from the atmosphere. While this pilot project only sucks out a fraction of the CO2 needed to make any serious contribution, scaling up of this technology and rapid commercialisation will be fascinating to follow in the coming years. When we discuss climate change, we talk about targets based in the future such as 2030, 2035 and 2050, but we view what is possible based on today’s technology capacities. But in this space particularly, innovation and advancements are moving faster than most sectors. While we shouldn’t become complacent and should not solely rely on technology to fix the climate crisis, looking at the last decade’s achievements and innovation in the clean energy and tech space ought to fill us with hope rather than despair.

MAKING PLANS FOR A ZERO-CARBON WORLD While it is important to be aware of greenwash tactics, countries, businesses and organisations have been busy setting net-zero targets. These might not be perfect, but they’re at least starting to make plans for a non-fossil-fuel industry world. But even though we are racing ahead to accelerate the clean energy and tech economy of the future, many analysts argue that this will not be enough, we still need to remove carbon from the atmosphere. While some NGOs and activists decry these technolo-

Danish-born Anders is a passionate environmentalist and the founder of A greener life, a greener world. He has contributed to various outlets on the topics of climate change, energy and broad environmental issues. He is a keen runner and lives in London with his partner and young daughter.

December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  81

Discover CleanTech  |  Events

Wind Expo Tokyo.

The cleantech calendar


– events you should not miss in the coming months January 2022 SOLAR ENERGY EXPO Solar Energy Expo is an international trade fair for the renewable energy industry. During the two-day event, exhibitors from Poland and abroad will present innovative solutions for the industry. The fair is an excellent opportunity to meet specialists from the renewable-energy sector and establish business contacts, as well as enable the promotion and sale of equipment in the field of solar, wind, water, geothermal and biomass energy. Date and location: 19-20 January 2022, Warsaw, Poland

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CLEANTECH FOR EUROPE SUMMIT – EIGHT YEARS TO SCALE This is one of a series of day events by Cleantech for Europe aimed at bridging the gap between the innovation and policy worlds. Each quarter, cleantech CEOs and investors share the stage with leading policymakers to make the most of the decade of action. Speakers include: Diederick Samsom head of EVP Timmermans Cabinet, European Commission; Anders Forslund, CEO, heart aerospace; and Danijel Visevic, Founding Partner, WORLD fund. Date and location: 12 January 2022, livestream from Brussels.

THE SUSTAINABLE SKIES WORLD SUMMIT The Sustainable Skies World Summit will provide a platform for industry experts, leading academics and governments from around the world to share insight, discuss and debate the barriers that face the aviation industry on the path to net zero. The summit programme will set out to find the fundamental answers at the heart of aviation’s sustainability question, driving honest conversations and debates from all corners of industry. Date and location: 25 and 26 January 2022, Farnborough, UK

Events  |  Discover CleanTech

CLEANTECH FORUM – FROM COMMITMENTS TO ACTIONS: THE SPRINT TO NET ZERO Connect face-to-face with new opportunities with the North American ecosystem and beyond through a string of keynote speeches and sessions assessing topical and timely innovation landscapes. At the event you can meet leading innovators, including companies in the 2022 Global Cleantech 100, and gain insight into trends and innovations powering a cleaner, cooler world. 75 per cent of the event’s 300 places are reserved for innovation companies and investors/corporates. Book before January to secure a ticket. Date and location: In Person: Palm Springs 24-26 January (300 limit), California, USA. On Screen: 24 January-11 February 2022

SMMT Electrified 2022.

cated exclusively to the topic of geothermal energy. The on-site trade fair brings together an average of around 3,600 trade visitors and 200 exhibitors from over 40 nations. Date and location: 17-18 February 2022, Offenburg, Germany.

Date and location: 23-24 February, London, UK March 23 - March 24 2022, Austin, Texas, USA

February 2022 ECOCITY WORLD SUMMIT Ecocity 2022 will feature a wide range of sessions, workshops and other learning opportunities in an innovative virtual format, showcasing the latest research and developments in urban design and city transformation practices. It brings together leading international experts, thousands of innovators, researchers, engineers, designers, policy makers, environmentalists, teachers and students. Date and location: 22-24 February 2022, online

long-duration storage, fire safety, policy goals, technology & digitalisation, revenue streams and financing projects, and more. The summit will include more than 50 speakers, participants from more than 30 countries and 20-plus sponsors and exhibitors. The event is co-located with Everything EV.

GeoTHERM expo.

March 2022 SMMT ELECTRIFIED 2022 SMMT Electrified will bring together 300 senior level representatives from automotive, charging infrastructure, battery supply chain, energy, fleets, logistics, government and consumer groups. At the event, panels will explore progress from the perspective of mass market adoption and luxury and commercial vehicles, whilst investigating policy, infrastructure and energy challenges from a national and international perspective. Speakers will include senior executives from vehicle manufacturers, policy makers and a host of experts from the automotive and aligned industries. Date and Location: 23 March 2022, London, UK



Europe’s largest geothermal trade fair with congress focuses on current developments in the industry and creates a platform dedi-

The key themes for the 2022 Energy Storage Summit include: front of the meter vs. behind the meter, solar-plus-storage,

THE WORLD BIOGAS SUMMIT AND THE WORLD BIOGAS EXPO The world’s leading trade expo dedicated to biogas co-located with the World Biogas Summit, the global thought-leadership forum on anaerobic digestion and biogas. Sign up for more information ahead of the event. Date and location: 2-3 March 2022, Birmingham, UK.

WIND EXPO TOKYO WIND EXPO is Japan’s largest trade fair and conference for wind energy. The expo will exhibit a wide range of cutting-edge products and technologies presented by around 300 exhibitors from the entire value chain of the wind energy sector. It will be held together with other fairs on the topic of energy at the World Smart Energy Week. Date and location: 14-18 March 2022, Tokyo, Japan December 2021  |  Issue 01  |  83

Discover CleanTech  |  Writers of the Month

Writers of the Month This issue of Discover Cleantech includes special features by:

MIKE SCOTT Mike Scott has 30 years of experience as a journalist, including nine years at the Financial Times. In 2006, he became a freelance writer and has since contributed to a wide range of publications including the FT, The Guardian, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Forbes, Fortune and Raconteur Media, whose reports appear in The Times and The Sunday Times. Scott specialises in the business and investment aspects of sustainability, the environment, climate change and other environmental, social and governance issues. Writing for corporate clients and think tanks as well as newspapers, he covers the entire spectrum of green issues, from the far reaches of nanotechnology to corporate sustainability. Mike recently won the Contribution to Climate Change Journalism award at the 2021 Sustainability Media Awards.

ANNA TURNS Anna Turns specialises in writing about sustainability, from climate change and renewable energy to marine issues, food and farming. As a freelance journalist and Oxford University biology graduate, she contributes regularly to The Guardian, Positive News, and The Independent. Turns also teaches journalism students at Plymouth Marjon University and has just published her first book, Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution. In 2020, Turns joined the Integrity Council for Provenance which aims to combat ‘greenwashing’ and create standards that better enable transparency.

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