Discover CleanTech, Issue 5, November 2022

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ISSUE 05

The Airlander - Get ready to cruise the skies

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PLUS INTERVIEW – IS SHELL REALLY GOING FULL THROTTLE ON RENEWABLES? NAVIGATING THE GREEN TRANSITION – THE CONSULTANCIES THAT CAN HELP GREEN HEATING – SHOULD WE WAIT FOR THE SILVER BULLET?

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Contents NOVEMBER 2022 6

COVER FEATURE British Hybrid Air Vehicles has created an aircraft that looks unlike any other, but what will its role be in the green transformation? We take a look at the fantastical looking Airlander, and for our part, all scepticism is gone – we’re ready to get onboard!

SPECIAL FEATURES 14

Thomas Brostrøm, executive vice-president for renewable generation at Shell, says his employer can only go as fast as society goes in the green energy transformation. But is the fossil-fuel giant really going full throttle on renewables? Anders Lorenzen attempts to find out.

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But what will we do at night? Due to the intermittent nature of sun and wind energy, this is the question many people ask when discussing an energy grid powered by renewables. Jason Deign explores ten innovative ways to store energy

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2022 has been a year like no other – a number of uplifting green legislative acts and commitments have been countered by war, climate disasters and a global energy crisis. Award-winning business and sustainability reporter Mike Scott investigates what it will mean for the cleantech markets of 2023.

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Green Heating – is there a silver bullet? As the energy crisis continues and winter looms, we look at what technologies offer a solution and why they are, in some regions, still struggling to gain a foothold.

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Denmark cut its gas consumption by 17 per cent so far this year. We explore the technologies and techniques used by the Danes, their government and energy providers to get there.

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THEMES 32

Solar. The last decade has seen an incredible development within solar photovoltaic technology; we talk to some of the industry leaders to see where they and the field are heading. With an intro by cleantech specialist Jason Deign.

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Cleantech consultancies. As the green transition gathers momentum, companies in all sectors are facing increasing pressure from clients, financiers, lawmakers and even employees to implement sustainable business models. But what does this even mean and how is it done? We speak to three consultancies that help their clients tackle the challenges of the green transformation.

REGULARS AND COLUMNS 28 66 78 82 94 97 98

Law Firm of the Month, Potter Clarkson Cleantech Manufacturer of the Month, Delta-Q Cleantech Company of the Month, KEBA News Cleantech Products of the Month Book of the Month Writers of the Month June 2022

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Dear Reader,

Discover CleanTech Issue 5 November 2022

Cover Photo © 2019 Hybrid Air Vehicles Sales & Key Account Manager Vera Winther

Published 11.2022 ISSN 2753-8729

Publisher: SCAN CLIENT PUBLISHING SCAN MAGAZINE LTD. The News Building, 3 London Bridge Street SE1 9SG, London

Published by Scan Magazine Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email: info@scanclientpublishing.com

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Signe Hansen

For further information please visit www.discovercleantech.com

Copy-Editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Mercedes Moulia Contributors Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit Jason Deign Mike Scott Linnea Dunne Anders Lorenzen David Hunt

© 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.

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If I had to choose one word to define the last months, it would be turmoil. Political mishaps, inflation, war, geopolitical power battles and skyrocketing energy prices – the turmoil has had various colours, and the cleantech market has not escaped it. But amidst the turmoil, the sector has also seen promising news, including a massive 369 billion US dollars of federal funds earmarked for climate and energy issues in the US, new legislative acts in the EU and a reimposement of the lifted fracking ban in the UK. Indeed, as the protests of climate activists become increasingly visible, lawmakers more ambitious and investment more targeted, even fossil fuel conglomerates are now widely acknowledging where the biggest profits are to be made in the next decade. “When you look at how competitive renewables is, where public perception is – it is clear where we are going and it is also clear where Shell is going,” Thomas Brostrøm, EVP of renewables at Shell, tells Anders Lorenzen on page 14. He is just one of the numerous thought-provoking leaders within the cleantech sector we talk to in this issue. In the solar section, we present the visions of industry leaders within the various layers of the solar photovoltaic market. And in our special features, our talented cleantech and business reporters explore everything from novel ways to store energy to the cleantech markets of 2023. The best news is, that despite the turmoil of 2022, within the sector, the message is clear – the cleantech revolution will not be disrupted; if anything, recent events will create further momentum to decarbonise. Thus, as always, creating this issue of Discover CleanTech has been nothing but an uplifting and inspiring experience, and we hope reading it will be too.

Signe Hansen Editor, Discover CleanTech


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From the past or the future? – the Airlander has arrived Looking at the Airlander 10, it is difficult to not feel a little sceptical – the aircraft looks more like something from a sci-fi movie than the ride taking you to your next weekend destination. However, after a talk with Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the company behind the eye-catching aircraft, Discover CleanTech is more than ready to get onboard. BY SIGNE HANSEN

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At the first sight of the Airlander 10, you may struggle to determine if it belongs in the future or in the past – perhaps most of all it looks like the mode of transport a fantastic team of cartoon heroes would use in a quest to save the world. And in a way it is. Or at least, as Mike Durham, chief technical officer at HAV more modestly says, it is the creation of a team that “is keen to be at the forefront of change”. “The aviation industry has to get its act together and start dealing with the environmental challenges the planet is facing,” he stresses, adding: “It is important that we understand that and understand that passengers won’t stop flying – it’s become part of what it means to be human.” Indeed, the growing aviation industry may benefit from the Airlander’s unique features which, by combining the buoyancy of helium with aerodynamic lift and vectored thrust, reduce carbon emissions to one quarter of a regular aeroplane. For the Airlander 10 model as it is now, with four combustion engines, the goal according to Durham is to have a zero-emission aircraft in the air by 2030. NOT AN AIRSHIP, NOT A PLANE To most people, the characteristically large hull of the Airlander is likely to evoke images of the airships of the past; that is not what it is, however. Whereas an airship typically operates very close to equilibrium, meaning they are neither heavier nor lighter than air, but buoyant, hybrid air vehicles are typically heavier than air and, though much bigger, the shape of the hull is more like that of an aeroplane, designed to produce an aerodynamic lift. This means that, unlike airships, the Airlander can carry more weight than is offset by its lifting gas, helium, and have greater flexibility and manoeuvrability. Compared to an aeroplane, the benefit is that three quarters of its weight is being carried by helium, meaning that no fuel energy is required to keep it up, whereas an aeroplane has to keep pushing itself up. 8 |

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Currently, the baseline Airlander 10 has four combustion motors, which results in an aircraft that produces just 25 per cent of the CO2 emission per passenger per kilometre compared to an aeroplane, but as soon as the aircraft is type certified, it will go into a modification programme to remove two engines and replace them with hybrid-fuelled electric propulsion motors, reducing emissions by 90 per cent compared to a standard aeroplane. To this end, HAV has been working with Collins

Aerospace and the University of Nottingham (UoN) to develop a suitable electric propulsion technology. The hybrid Airlanders are scheduled to be in the air in 2026, and by 2030, the plan is to go fully electric, reducing emissions to zero. The large volume of the Airlander’s hull is part of the reason why the aircraft provides an ideal platform for electric propulsion powered by hydrogen fuel cells. “One of the challenges of electrification is how to

“You will have the choice of getting there fast and dirty, or you can take an Airlander; it might take half an hour longer, but you will have a clean conscience.” – Mike Durham, chief technical officer at HAV

The Airlander will be slower than regular aeroplanes but will provide passengers with a premium experience and a significantly reduced - with time even eliminated - CO2 footprint. Photo: Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd/Design Q Ltd

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store enough energy to reach the desired range, and compared to aeroplanes, we have much less volume constriction and hence more space for the storage of hydrogen fuel,” explains Durham. Another advantage, of course, is the overall low energy consumption of the aircraft, allowing longer ranges on less fuel. Currently, the Airlander 10 has a range of up to 3,000km, can stay in the air for five consecutive days, and carry a load of up to ten tonnes. COMFORT AND A CLEAN CONSCIENCE It all sounds almost too good to be true, and indeed there is one aspect where the Airlander will never be able to compete with a regular aeroplane, and that is speed. While the Airlander only produces a quarter of the CO2 of a plane, it also only travels at a quarter of the speed,


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In city to city transport, the Airlander could offer many advantages compared to aeroplanes.

around 120-30 km/hr. This means that when it comes to passenger transport, the aircraft will be most advantageous on shorter routes. “You have to pick the routes,” stresses Durham. “One of the benefits is that we don’t need to operate from a conventional airport – we can operate from a green field or water. We see our mobility as a sort of ferry or train service, and that gives us an opportunity to reduce the time we are on the ground and the time it takes for passengers to get to and on the aircraft. But probably we are best suited to passenger operations below 200-300km distances; that would mean you would be in the air for two or three hours, but you would not spend time in an airport taxying.”

When looking at city centre to city centre transport time, tests show the Airlander to be only a little slower than a plane, but on the other hand, the CO2 footprint of the journey is significantly reduced, or even eliminated. In Durham’s words: “You will have the choice of getting there fast and dirty, or you can take an Airlander, it might take half an hour longer, but you will have a clean conscience.” He goes on to stress that the form of city centre to city centre transport that the Airlander can offer will be especially well-suited to cities located next to water bodies on which the Airlander can land. As the Airlander needs very little in terms of landing infrastructure – a plain area of around

600 metres to take off and land on and mast to moor to are all it takes – there is also a reduction in terms of the CO2 footprint of the built structure compared to the runways and airports of aeroplanes. Of course, a clean conscience may not be enough to persuade all passengers, but even travellers who perhaps don’t pay much attention to their carbon footprint may still be swayed by the Airlander’s charms. On top of being much more CO2 efficient than planes, it is also more comfortable. Travelling at a typical altitude of 6-8,000 feet, the aircraft is not pressurised, which provides a more pleasant and comfortable travel environment. Moreover, as the engines and propellers of the aircraft November 2022

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The Airlander above Cardington, Bedfordshire, where it has been tested through several years.

will be about 60 metres away from passengers, the noise level will also be significantly reduced. Lastly, the aircraft’s spacious payload structure – the full-length main cabin (excluding flight deck) comprises 2,100 square feet of floor space – offers air operators great flexibility in terms of layout. “In air, passengers will also have a tremendous view of the ground, with panoramic windows, and there will be no vibration and little noise. It will be a very serene way of flying, and space wise it will be much like a premium environment, so again you might be in the air a little longer, but it will be a much more pleasant environment to be in,” stresses Durham. WHEN CAN WE GET ON ONE? If you still think the Airlander sounds like something from the future, rest assured 12 |

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that it is very real, and soon it should be cruising the skies of Europe. Recently, it made headlines in the British and Spanish press when the Spanish Air Nostrum Group reserved ten hybrid Airlander aircrafts for delivery in 2026. And, according to Durham, the company is negotiating with a number of other customers in experiential tourism and air transport. He also foresees many other applications for the aircraft. For instance, while the Airlander has little potential in regard to long-haul passenger transport, the ease with which the aircraft can be scaled up in size allows for interesting prospects when it comes to the transport of freight. “We have seen some opportunities from that sector, and we are talking to businesses about a larger version of the Airlander, the Airlander 50, which will carry 50 tonnes of payload

instead of 10. It will be even more fuel efficient than the 10 because the size of the aircraft does not increase five times, that’s one of the oddities with lighter-than-air – the bigger it is, the more efficient it is,” explains Durham. The chief technical officer even sees a potential for an even bigger aircraft to start continental freight as an alternative to boat transport. “As it is now, you either have to fly it in an expensive aeroplane, in which case it will arrive in six hours, or send it with a boat, which means it will arrive in about a week. With the Airlander, there’s the opportunity of creating a middle market, where you get there in a day or a day and a half. And unlike passengers, most freight is happy to spend a couple of days in the air,” he jokes.


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Photo: Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd/Design Q Ltd

Among other suggested applications for the aircraft, which flies at a maximum height of 20,000 feet, are weather surveillance, security surveillance and defence. Indeed, with the aircraft’s many unique characteristics, it is, says Durham, just up to the aviation industry how to best make use of it. “Our headline ambition is basically to deliver an aircraft that is substantially more efficient with regard to energy use than aeroplanes. Beyond that, it is for the aviation industry to decide how they want to utilise us.”

Chief technical officer, Mike Durham, has been with HAV since the company’s start in 2007 and has been working with lighter-than-air aircrafts for around 30 years.

THE HISTORY OF THE AIRLANDER: The history of the Airlander goes back to 2001 when the original hybrid aircraft design, SkyCat, was patented. In 2007, SkyCat was acquired by HAV, and in 2009, the company was awarded a contract to design an aircraft for the US Department of Defence’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicles programme. This led to the development of a full-size prototype which flew for the first time in New Jersey in 2012. At the premature dissolution of the programme in 2013, HAV decided to purchase the demilitarised aircraft and disassemble and transport it to England. During 2014, the company undertook an extensive work programme to reclassify the prototype as a civil aircraft, named Airlander 10. Over 500 modifications were made during the course of the next few years, and on 17 August 2016, Airlander 10 successfully completed its maiden flight in the UK. During initial test flights, a too steep landing and a mooring accident caused damage to the first prototype. The HAV team was, however, not deterred and in 2018, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) awarded Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd a Design Organisation Approval and a Production Organisation Approval, meaning the company is approved to design and manufacture an aircraft. In March 2022, the EASA released the certification basis for airship-based aircraft designs developed in collaboration with HAV and other European manufacturers of buoyant aircraft. This had to be done as no certification standards existed for this type of aircraft. The standards will allow HAV to work towards a Type Certification, which certifies the aircraft’s ‘airworthiness’, and is a prerequisite to putting the Airlander 10 into production. This typically takes between three and five years, depending on the size and role of the aircraft, but as HAV has already completed much of the flight test programme and closely collaborates with the regulators, it anticipates that the Airlander will be in service from 2026.

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Shell’s 25-megawatt Qabas solar plant in Oman. Owned by Shell, Sohar Solar Qabas is the company’s first utility scale, photovoltaic (PV) solar project in the Middle East and in Oman. Photo: Haitham Al Farsi

Thomas Brostrøm, EVP, Global Renewable Generation, Shell:

We can only go as fast as society goes As one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, Shell is not exactly the first name that springs to mind when talking cleantech. However, according to the company’s vice-president for renewable generation, Shell is ready to become a leader in renewables. Discover CleanTech asked Brostrøm if this means Shell is now going full throttle on the energy transition.

INTERVIEW: ANDERS LORENZEN. ADDITIONAL TEXT: SIGNE BENN HANSEN PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHIC SERVICES, SHELL INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

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Noordzeewind Offshore Wind Farm Wind Turbines. Photo: Stuart Conway

Most people know Shell primarily as a fossil fuel company and, if environmentally minded, probably greatly laments the vast environmental impact caused by the oil and gas industry over the decades. Adding to this image, recently, the conglomerate has faced legal actions for its lack of ambitious climate policies; in May 2021, as a result of a lawsuit brought by Friends of the Earth, a court in the Hague ordered Shell (then named Royal Dutch Shell) to cut its global carbon emis-

sions by 45 per cent by the end of 2030, compared with 2019 levels. In the last year, the company has faced another legal action, but has also launched several ambitious carbon reduction targets and called for systemic government-led change. In what could be seen as another step in the right direction, in 2020, Shell poached Danish Thomas Brostrøm, who was then heading up Ørsted’s offshore wind adventures in the US, to head its renewable solutions. Today,

“Had I personally wished we started five years earlier? Yes – but we are where we are now. And we are on a very good path, that’s for sure.” – Thomas Brostrøm, vice-president for renewable generation, Shell 16 |

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In Brostrøm’s own words, his brief at Shell covers what he calls classic renewables – including onshore wind, onshore solar, offshore wind and batteries.


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“...literally all countries with a coastline are looking at offshore wind, and that presents tremendous opportunities”. – Brostrøm Brostrøm is Shell’s executive vice-president for renewable generation, a role that, in his own words, covers onshore wind, onshore solar, offshore wind and batteries. Keen to get into Brostrøm’s thoughts on his and Shell’s role in the green transformation, we ask him how ambitious his employer really is when it comes to the global clean energy space. “We are ambitious – we were the first oil and gas major to unveil a net-zero ambition with a 45 per cent decarbonisation target by 2030,” he replies. But he is also keen to underline what he sees as an important point; the limitations set by the general pace of change. “Right now, we are accelerating our investments into renewables and low-carbon business-

es. But it is also worth noting that we can only go as fast as society goes – if we shut down our petrol stations tomorrow, it would be a problem for society. But we do try to push it. We try to push our customers to demand more green solutions, then we can also transition our company faster. Otherwise, it is very hard for us to do that. But we are phasing down our off-stream business while investing heavily in renewables and gas, because we believe gas to be a transition fuel to renewables for some time,” says Brostrøm, who is, however, also keen to stress that the energy giant is not just entering the renewables market now. “We have been at this for a few years now; we are accelerating, but it is not a new area for us,” he says, citing a series of wind power

projects developed in the Netherlands by Shell, and he continues: “Right now, we have two very large projects in the US – our Mayflower project and Atlantic Shores project. Outside the US, Shell also has the world’s largest floating offshore wind-power project in South Korea, and we have taken some early-stage position in the floating offshore business in Asia,” THE FATE OF RENEWABLES IN A TIME OF INSTABILITY Recent years have not been short on global shocks: the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis – all events that have made some countries row back on climate targets. So, what does the Shell renewable chief think of the effects of such

Aerial view of the Silicon Ranch Solar Farm, Tennessee, USA. This solar farm in Selmer, Tennessee generates 30 MWdc (megawatt direct current), enough to power 4,000 homes. 2018. Photo: Stuart Conway

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about the direction of travel; it is just a question of how fast it will happen, but I do think that in 10-15 years we will see the benefits of countries who are now doubling down on renewables,” he stresses. Looking at consumers, of course, energy providers are weathering an extremely tricky climate at the moment. Brostrøm, for his part, is not afraid to say he believes “we should be prepared to pay a higher price for energy if it is going towards a more sustainable world”. AREAS OF GROWTH

Shell retail site, North Carolina, USA, 2010. Photo: Kent Smith

storms on the renewables market, and how does he plan to weather them? “It’s a dilemma – when you talk about energy, you often talk about a trilemma, it has to be sustainable, be affordable, but also reliable, this is what we are looking at right now,” says Brostrøm, and acknowledges

that in the short- and mid-term, LNG and gas will be needed to bridge the transition to renewables. “At the same time, you see big global players such as the EU and the US doubling down on renewables, and you absolutely need that; it will just be some time before you see the renewables penetration taking place. But there’s no doubt

Shell Aviation – Liverpool Airport aircraft refuelling vehicle using Shell SkyPad. Photo: Ed Robinson

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Looking at the renewables market, there are a number of utility companies, like Brostrøm’s previous employer Ørsted, that have already established themselves as major key players. But Brostrøm does not believe the rapidly growing clean-energy space is anywhere close to being saturated. “The market has been maturing over the course of the last 10-15 years, so now I think you’re looking at 50 gigawatts (GW) give and take, and the plan is to take that to 300-400 GW by 2030, so it is a good time to enter the market, as everything is opening up all over the


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“But it is also worth noting that we can only go as fast as society goes – if we shut down our petrol stations tomorrow, it would be a problem for society.” – Brostrøm

Perdido offshore Deepwater Platform, May 2018, Gulf of Mexico, USA Gas. Photo: Stuart Conway

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Mars B Olympus tension leg platform (TLP), deep-water oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, USA, 2013. Photo: Mike Duhon Productions

world,” he says, and continues with an example of how much the offshore wind market has changed in recent decades: “It used to be a tiny market around the North Sea, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. And now, literally all countries with a coastline are looking at offshore wind, and that presents tremendous opportunities”. Indeed, wind is one of the sectors Brostrøm is most excited about, both when it comes to the technology and its effects. “Offshore wind is a huge catalyst for jobs – whether it is operating a wind farm, or in the sup20 |

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ply chain of building wind turbines; that is a massive catalyst. It is important for governments to accelerate the green transition. And it fits our business model well, as we can use our experience in the offshore oil and gas sector,” he says. “When I started, we were looking at three megawatts (MW) machines – now we are looking at 15-20+ MW, and the capacity we get from the turbines is so much bigger and has been driving down costs.” A LEADER IN RENEWABLES? As the conversation continues on to the huge potential entailed in Asia’s ener-

gy-hungry economies, Brostrøm remarks that population growth is one factor contributing to the huge and rapidly expanding markets for energy in both Asia and Africa: “Right now, there’s growth all over the world – it started in Europe, then North America and is right now expanding to literally everywhere,” he says. Thus, Brostrøm confidently claims, Shell is, with its existing global presence, perfectly positioned to become a key leader in renewable energy. “We are a global company that has markets in most places in the world, and already having a presence somewhere


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enough to invest in renewables and move away from fossil fuels. Not surprisingly, Shell’s renewables vice-president does not completely agree; more surprisingly, he also does not totally disagree. Asked if Shell was late in investing into renewables, Brostrøm replies: “To some extent, yes, if you were to compare us to

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Ørsted, but if you were to compare us to where the business and industry is at, not at all. Because we are just getting started. There is so much more to get done, we will catch-up – give it some time.” He goes on to finish: “Had I personally wished we started five years earlier? Yes – but we are where we are now. And we are on a very good path, that’s for sure.”

“When you look at how competitive renewables is, where public perception is – it is clear where we are going and it is also clear where Shell is going.” – Brostrøm Shell’s 25-megawatt Qabas solar plant in Oman. Owned by Shell, Sohar Solar Qabas is the company’s first utility scale, photovoltaic (PV) solar project in the Middle East and in Oman.

makes it easier to come into a market.” Listing a recent example, he explains that Shell has been acquiring several African solar companies, and in the Indian market, the company has acquired Spring Energy one of the leading solar and wind energy companies there. “When you look at how competitive renewables is, where public perception is – it is clear where we are going and it is also clear where Shell is going,” he says DID SHELL ARRIVE AT THE RENEWABLES PARTY TOO LATE? Of course, to most climate advocates the likes of Shell have not been nearly quick November 2022

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Ten Striking New Solutions for Energy Storage

Form Energy has found a way to use water, air and iron for energy storage. Photo: Form Energy

But what will we do at night? As we move to grids based on solar and wind power, the ability to store energy becomes increasingly critical to counteract their intermittent nature. As often highlighted by cleantech sceptics, it is one of the most obvious challenges the renewable energy sector faces, but it is also one with many striking new solutions. Cleantech reporter, Jason Deign, explores ten novel ways of storing energy for use on the grid. BY JASON DEIGN

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Ten Striking New Solutions for Energy Storage

An ESS flow battery is lowered into place. Photo: ESS Inc.

Today there are two main ways to store energy. One is pumped hydro, which involves connecting two reservoirs at different heights. When there is an excess of electricity on the grid, it is used to pump water uphill from the lower to the higher reservoir. Energy is produced by letting the water flow back downhill. Pumped hydro is the most widely used form of energy storage today, in terms of available capacity around the world, but developing more 24 |

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of it is restricted by the availability of sites that could support the reservoirs needed.

hours or days on end, is prohibitively costly and impractical.

The other big source of energy storage today is in lithium-ion batteries. This is a versatile technology that is used in everything from digital devices to electric vehicles. However, it is subject to concerns over materials’ availability, so using lithium-ion batteries as a major grid storage asset, for example to power cities or countries for

Because of the limitations of these two major storage technologies, the search is on for alternative concepts that can store massive amounts of electricity at relatively low cost. There are plenty of options, from chemical storage systems that work similarly to batteries and thermal systems that store electricity as heat, through to


Ten Striking New Solutions for Energy Storage

ESS INC: FLOW BATTERIES Flow batteries are electrochemical storage systems where chemical energy is stored in liquids that are pumped across separate sides of a membrane to produce electricity. The liquids can be relatively cheap and commonplace. USA company ESS Inc, for example, uses a mix of iron, salt and water. This means storage costs are low. And because storage capacity of the system depends on the amount of liquid, or electrolyte, flow batteries can be equipped with massive tanks that will allow them to store dozens of megawatts of energy that can be delivered for hours on end.

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including Cemex, one of the world’s biggest cement makers. ENERGYNEST: THE THERMAL BATTERY Another company looking into concrete for storage is EnergyNest of Norway. However, rather than exploiting gravitational energy, EnergyNest is using a mix of concrete and steel, called Heatcrete, to store heat. EnergyNest’s Thermal Battery is modular, scalable and designed for industrial applications. It is made from abundant, recyclable and non-hazardous materials that are easy to acquire, which means storage can be made locally and transportation can be kept to a minimum.

FORM ENERGY: POWER FROM RUST Few things are cheaper and easier to get hold of than water, air and iron. And Form Energy, a company backed by investors including Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, has found a way to use them for energy storage. Form Energy’s iron-air battery systems essentially charge up by turning rust into metallic iron and discharge by reversing the process. Its first commercial products are designed to store up to 100 hours of electricity at a time, “at system costs competitive with legacy power plants,” says the firm. ENERGY VAULT: GRAVITATIONAL ENERGY IN CONCRETE BLOCKS

mechanical concepts that rely on gravity in a similar way to pumped hydro. Here are ten of the most promising – and the companies working with them.

Energy Vault of Switzerland has come up with a version of pumped hydro that does not need massive reservoirs and can be installed in a city block. Instead of using spare electricity to pump water uphill, it uses the energy to lift concrete weights up a tower. These can then produce electricity by spinning generators as they are lowered back down. The idea has caught the eye of numerous corporate investors,

HIGHVIEW POWER: LIQUID AIR ENERGY STORAGE UK-based Highview Power has found a way of storing energy in thin air. At least, the medium starts out as thin air in the beginning. Highview Power uses excess energy to cool it down to a liquid, shrinking the volume in the process so it can be stored in industrial tanks. When the energy is needed again, the system simply lets the liquid air warm up. As it does this, the air expands and can be used to drive a turbine. Not only is the storage medium completely free, but most of the equipment used by Highview Power is available off the shelf. HYDROSTOR: COMPRESSING AIR TO STORE ENERGY Air does not need to be cooled to a liquid for it to store energy. You can simply compress it inside a reinforced tank or underground cavern. That is the approach being taken by Canadian technology developer Hydrostor. The company is one of several pursuing adiabatic compressed air energy

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storage, where the heat that is given off by the compression process is stored to power the warming up phase during discharge. Hydrostor says its systems can last for more than half a century with no replacements. MGA THERMAL: PILOTING MISCIBILITY GAP ALLOY Like EnergyNest, Australian startup MGA Thermal is looking to store thermal energy – but in a more advanced medium. The company says it has invented a material called Miscibility Gap Alloy, where

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metallic material is embedded in a matrix made from reprocessed scrap. Upon heating, the metallic material melts and retains thermal energy. This is then released again as the matrix cools. “Think of an MGA block like a choc-chip muffin,” says MGA Thermal. “When heating a muffin, the chocolate chips melt yet the cake structure itself stays solid.” MALTA: THERMO-ELECTRIC ENERGY STORAGE While several companies are looking at ways to store heat, Malta of the USA is

Highview Power’s Pilsworth pilot plant. Photo: Highview Power

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going one further. Not only does it store heat, in molten salt, but also cold, in anti-freeze. This combination means Malta, which at one point was backed by X, the moon-shot technology incubator at Google’s parent Alphabet, can achieve much higher rates of energy efficiency than other thermal storage contenders. ARES: ENERGY STORAGE BY THE TRAINLOAD Among the companies looking to develop gravity storage concepts, Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) stands out for


Ten Striking New Solutions for Energy Storage

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The upper reservoir at the Gorona del Viento pumped hydro project in El Hierro, Canary Islands. Photo: Marta Fernandez/Animam.

its simplicity. Rather than build reservoirs or towers, it plans to simply use excess power to drive a train uphill, then recover the energy on the downhill run. In 2020, the company was said to be developing a 50 MW merchant energy storage project at Gamebird Pit, a working gravel mine in Nevada, USA. The project was expected to involve 210 train cars on a closed set of ten multi-rail tracks. EOS ENERGY STORAGE: A DIFFERENT KIND OF BATTERY While the battery industry clearly faces many competitors, some companies are still committed to batteries – just not lithium-ion ones. Eos Energy Storage of the USA has spent more than a decade developing a zinc hybrid cathode battery that uses more common materials than lithium-ion. Despite slow progress, the company listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2020 and has seen growing orders in the last year. Eos says its batteries can provide up to 12 hours of energy. AND FINALLY… When it comes to serving the grid, the energy storage industry is every bit as diverse as the renewables sector, with

wildly different technology concepts vying to serve electricity networks worldwide. Which ones will win out remains to be seen and will largely depend not only on costs but also on whether grid operators and energy providers trust a company or an idea that does not have much of a track record. At the same time, there is a consensus that for very long periods, such as the average wintertime week or two a year in Europe when there is little wind or sunshine, most of the technologies today will struggle to manage. For these periods, the likely solution will be to use hydrogen produced from renewable energy. This ‘green’ hydrogen could be made in bulk using offshore wind and then stored in caverns, as natural gas is stockpiled today. That said, green hydrogen might also be needed for a range of other uses, such as providing a feedstock for fertiliser or powering shipping and aviation, so it too might only be used for energy storage in a limited number of situations. Whatever the case, it is a good thing there are so many ways to store energy – and companies bringing the concepts to market. November 2022

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Potter Clarkson

Where IP strategy meets a passion for synthetic biology – to combat food insecurity and climate breakdown A law firm might not seem like the most obvious place to start when it comes to the battle against climate change, but a step on the road to success it most certainly is. Discover CleanTech spoke to Potter Clarkson patent attorney Sara Holland about her passion for synthetic biology, the work of a patent attorney, and why scientists need solid IP strategies to change the world for the better. BY LINNEA DUNNE, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH POTTER CLARKSON

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“We can make pretty much anything from biology, bypassing the need to take fossil fuels out of the ground.” – Sara Holland, Potter Clarkson patent attorney

But after 13 years in a lab, she knew she needed a change. A Potter Clarkson career talk later, she applied for a job at the firm, and quickly that preconceived notion of patent attorneys as dull and dry was turned on its head. “We really do care, deeply,” Holland asserts. “I remember talking about climate change when I was at school, and here we are, still talking about it – and what have I done? In this job, I get to help start-up companies hopefully make a difference.” SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY – FOR A GREENER FUTURE

Biotechnology can produce an array of food products and feedstock in more sustainable ways. Photo: iStock.com_mladenbalinovac

Patent attorneys are a serious, boring bunch, perhaps even a bit scary – right? Before joining Potter Clarkson as – you guessed it – a patent attorney nine years ago, Sara Holland worried as much. With a PhD in engineering artificial yeast chromosomes, she had spent seven years as a postdoctoral research fellow investigating mechanisms of metal toxicity, high on the thrill of scientific discovery and covering a breadth of aspects of fundamental biology.

Among Holland’s fields of expertise, and indeed areas she is most passionate about, is synthetic biology. “It’s a technology we all need for our societies to be greener,” she says, explaining that scientific research into biology has been busy for a long time mapping out how microorganisms work. Now, it is at a stage where enough is known that researchers can make bacteria and yeast do what they want them to. Programming biology is another term for it, and the outcome includes food products such as meat substitutes, other sustainable sources of protein, and even plastic degradation. “It’s still early,” says Holland. “Some big companies have been using microorganisms for years, but things are stepping up a gear. There have been big advancements in computing power; sequencing is a lot cheaper than it used to be, and basically, we can make weird and wonderful stuff we couldn’t do before – all in sustainable ways. We can make pretty much anything from biology, bypassing the need to take fossil fuels out of the ground.”

With the threat of climate change evident in countless ways across the globe and fuel costs soaring, fears that our food security is increasingly precarious are growing. Synthetic biology has huge potential to be part of the solution – but scientists have a job to do in bringing public perception with them on that, acknowledges Holland. “The public perception of the synthetic side of things is based on a misunderstanding and a lack of appreciation as to how biotechnology can be green. People will say, ‘I don’t want my meat grown in a jar, I want it from a cow’ – but it might be something we just have to move towards if we want to make an impact on climate change. I don’t think you can be ‘green’ and for the planet, and be anti-biotechnology.” “People perhaps grew up surrounded by headlines about ‘Frankenfood’ – but really, the notion of GMOs and what something being ‘genetically modified’ means needs to change,” Holland continues, adding that the entire food chain can gain from this technology, thanks to inventions such

With a PhD in engineering artificial yeast chromosomes, Potter Clarkson patent attorney Sara Holland is passionate about synthetic biology.

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GMO crops. Photo: iStock.com_gerenme

“I don’t think you can be ‘green’ and for the planet, and be anti-biotechnology.” – Holland as microbes engineered to help protect arable crops and lab-grown beef cells taking the animals out of the equation entirely. “There’s an animal welfare argument there too – no killing of animals.” ALL THINGS IP So what does a law firm have to do with it? Holland’s title perhaps speaks for itself, but not every company she works with needs patents, she explains – and much of it comes down to IP strategy. “Patents are a big part of it. If you spend years and loads of money bringing a product to market, you’ll likely want to protect your idea to stop other people doing exactly the same thing,” she says. “The problem with patents, however, is that they’re made public, so you might choose to protect your idea by keeping it a secret instead. It all de30 |

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pends on your business model and a number of different factors. That’s what intellectual property and IP strategy are about.” Holland works with all of the above within the biotechnology department, or what she lovingly refers to as “hardcore biotech”. As a firm, Potter Clarkson has expertise in everything from cleantech to agritech, life sciences and therapeutic biotech, and while all the attorneys work on their own niche area of expertise, a lot of the work is interdisciplinary. Many clients are start-ups, companies with founders who are scientists, who do not know much about IP at all. For Holland, the work then involves a lot of education around all things IP, as well as helping the scientists get the data they need for patent applications, which in turn help them bring in

funding, since investors want to see solid IP strategies and patents. Alongside the patent attorneys, Potter Clarkson is also home to a team of trademark attorneys who work with the same clients to protect their branding, and then there are IP solicitors – a team that has grown significantly in recent years. Whatever the situation, the firm works very closely with its clients. It is that thing of really caring, of genuinely wanting to help other scientists make a difference. “We don’t just react; we try to be proactive in our work with these companies,” says Holland. “It wouldn’t be fair to put all the decision-making on them. We try to work with them to make sensible decisions – to set their IP strategy and truly support their business. I absolutely love it.” Web: www.potterclarkson.com LinkedIn: /company/potterclarkson Instagram: @potterclarkson Twitter: @PotterClarkson


ALL CLEANTECH EVENTS IN ONE PLACE www.discovercleantech.com

If you're looking for the complete overview of all the cleantech events taking place next year, look no further. Discover CleanTech’s brand-new events section has everything you need to know about upcoming cleantech events, including dates, locations and descriptions. With this information at your fingertips, you can make sure you are on top of all the goings-on that could help further your career or business in the cleantech industry.


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How photovoltaic technology is changing the entire electricity system It is used to power everything from pocket calculators to space satellites, and it can be found everywhere, from the rooftops of South Africa’s shantytowns to the lakes of China and suburbs of Europe. Panel by panel, photovoltaic (PV) solar power is changing the way we consume, generate and think about energy. BY JASON DEIGN

A 15 MW PV plant owned by Blue Elephant Energy in North Holland. Photo: Blue Elephant Energy.

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“PV has become incredibly more economical over the past decade.” – Tim Kallas, chief investment officer at Blue Elephant Energy Located near the Gobi Desert in the Qinghai province of China, the 2.8 GW Golmud Solar Park is today the world’s largest solar farm. It is likely to expand even further in the coming years as China aims to reach 16 GW within the next five to six years. Indeed, solar PV technology has come a long way since 1839, when French physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel demonstrated that two plates of platinum or gold in a solution would produce a tiny current in the presence of sunlight. This photovoltaic effect was found to occur with other materials as well, and by 1950 Bell Labs in the USA was creating the first solar cells based on silicon, a vastly cheaper and more available material than gold. The 1980s and 1990s saw the first attempts to use PV as a power source for 34 |

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homes and businesses, although to begin with adoption of the technology was hampered by its high cost and low efficiency. Then China got in on the act. China’s PV production capacity shot up from 50 MW a year in 2004 to 23 GW a year in 2012, an almost 46,000 per cent increase over just eight years. This helped to cut the cost of PV modules by 65 per cent between 2008 and 2011, just as the technology was gaining in terms of efficiency and the search for ways to decarbonise the energy system was picking up speed. Today, “PV has become the cheapest or at least one of the cheapest sources for clean energy,” says Tim Kallas, chief investment officer at Blue Elephant Energy, which develops, acquires and operates solar parks and wind

farms in eight countries across Western and Central Europe. “Over the course of the last few years, solar PV has become more efficient as the technology has developed and bigger factories provide for economies of scale,” he says. “PV has become incredibly more economical over the past decade. It has surpassed fossil fuels.” A VERSATILE TECHNOLOGY As well as being cheap and reliable, PV is arguably the most versatile form of electricity generation on the planet. It can be used anywhere there is sunlight and can scale from a single panel to the millions used in some of the world’s biggest renewable-energy plants. These features have led to booming demand for PV across all markets


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and customer sectors, from homeowners to major energy suppliers. “Solar PV generation increased by a record 179 TWh (up 22 per cent) in 2021 to exceed 1,000 TWh,” says the International Energy Agency in a September 2022 tracking report on the technology. “It demonstrated the second largest absolute generation growth of all renewable

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technologies in 2021, after wind. Solar PV is becoming the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in most of the world, which is expected to propel investment in the coming years.”

and the uncertainty around energy, it’s making people really go for solar panels. We see high demand in Europe, but after February it’s just taken off everywhere, in all markets.”

Demand for PV “has gone crazy,” S&P Global’s solar manager Josefin Berg tells Discover CleanTech. “With the electricity prices we’ve seen, especially in Europe,

The biggest global market for PV is in China, followed by the USA and India, Berg says. Natalia Ordóñez, head of development and construction at Exus Manage-

Floating PV is becoming popular in Asian and European markets where there is not much free land. Photo: dreamstime.com

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ment Partners, an independent investment and asset management company focused on the renewable energy sector, says the company sees “significant potential” for solar energy in Europe and globally. “There isn’t any region to watch in particular, as we are seeing a rapid roll-out of solar almost everywhere, as it becomes increasingly apparent that utility-scale PV provides the lowest cost when adding new electricity capacity, particularly with the ongoing rise in natural gas prices,” she says.

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there is not one big innovation, but several evolutions over the years which contributed to the increasing attractiveness of solar,” says Kallas at Blue Elephant.

Kallas. “The ground reflects the sunlight to the back part of the module. Obviously, the back provides less energy than the front, but it is still quite significant.”

One example is the growing affordability and reliability of tracker systems. “With a tracker, your solar system can follow the sun over the day, versus a fixed system which has the same tilt the entire day and has the maximum output at midday,” Kallas says. “A tracker can increase the production of green energy significantly in the mornings and in the afternoons.”

Another factor that could further drive PV adoption is a streamlining of permitting processes in regions such as the European Union (EU). “Given the emergency caused by international energy prices, the EU is committed to help speed up renewable energy projects, making it easier for companies to build wind and solar farms,” says Laurent Jouvin, director of operations and energy management at Exus Management Partners.

SOARING GLOBAL DEMAND Experts predict the global growth of PV will speed up even more in future. Partly, this is because the technology is getting better all the time. “From our point of view,

Photo: iStock

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A second major PV innovation has been the introduction of bi-facial modules. “Bi-facials convert the sunlight from the front and the back of a module into clean energy,” says

For example, he says: “The Spanish government has recently approved a new


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package of measures within the framework of its national plan, which includes an acceleration of temporary procedures to determine the environmental approval of new projects in low- or moderate-sensitivity areas. With these new measures and the ease in planning processes, in coming years we expect to see a huge deployment of renewable energy across Europe.”

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“...we are seeing a rapid roll-out of solar almost everywhere...” – Natalia Ordóñez, head of development and construction at Exus Management Partners

SPREADING TO NEW AREAS Kallas at Blue Elephant says PV is not only being installed more often, but also in more and more places. “Solar is being deployed in locations which have not been thought of in the past,” he says. One example is PV being deployed over water. Floating PV is becoming popular in Asian and European markets where there is not much free land and “has the advantage that you can use the surface of a lake which could not have been used otherwise,” says Kallas. “It has positive side effects as it decreases evaporation [and] keeps water temperature lower, which might be beneficial to fishes and the ecosystem.” Another trend is agri-PV, where crops are grown under solar panels on farmland, giving farmers two sources of income for the same piece of land. But perhaps the most significant trend related to PV is taking place on the rooftops of private homes around the world. Here, homeowners are using PV to create their own power, supplementing or even replacing the electricity they used to get entirely from the grid. These so-called ‘prosumers’ “are not just consumers; they also produce and control their own energy, while providing flexibility to electric utilities,” says Scott Koehler, vice president of global strategy, innovation and marketing for digital grid solutions at Schneider Electric. “Prosumers also seek to increase reliability, sustainability and cost savings through prosumer resources, such as solar, energy storage, electric vehicles, smart devices, smart panels and offset certificates.” A PROSUMER REVOLUTION PV forms the heart of prosumer energy systems and is leading to profound

Blue Elephant Energy’s 7.7 MW Schiersfeld solar farm in Germany. Photo: Blue Elephant Energy.

changes in global electricity distribution systems. “We can expect electric power systems owners and operators to transition to a ‘grid to prosumer approach’, to provide organisations the ability to address their sustainability goals and to progress along their digital transformation,” Koehler says. Because prosumers can send electricity to the grid as well as receive it, they are forcing the development of resilient bi-directional smart grids that offer “not only a more efficient way to manage energy, but the potential to decentralise, decarbonise and stabilise power systems,” he says. “Smart grids will be able to support a 70 to 80 per cent decarbonised power generation mix, incorporating clean energy from microgrids, solar PV and wind farms,

powering businesses towards a net-zero future amid growing consumer pressure on firms to become more sustainable.” These grids, with PV as a major source of distributed generation, will not only help to reduce carbon emissions, but also deal with some of the impacts of climate change. Koehler foresees “a prosumer revolution, potentially putting a greater share of the energy supply back into the hands of consumers and businesses, with a baseload from larger providers. “The combination of increased local power generation capabilities, plus digitally enabled remote diagnostics and repairs, will provide a smarter, decarbonised and increasingly resilient ‘weather-agnostic’ grid,” he says. November 2022

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Mounting Systems looks to become the number-one supplier of substructure constructions for photovoltaic systems in Europe. Seen here, the company’s new flatroof system FD3.

Mounting Systems is headquartered in Rangsdorf near Berlin.

Mounting Systems – made in Germany Made in Germany, the solar racking from Mounting Systems has proven its robustness in more than one sense, having weathered the storms of the solar market to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of substructure constructions for photovoltaic systems. Indeed, the company has gathered a reputation that has brought even competitors to its client roster. BY SIGNE HANSEN, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MOUNTING SYSTEMS

Since 1993, Mounting Systems has provided not just high-quality mounting systems for rooftops, commercial facilities and solar parks, but also an unmatched service package to its customers, installers, wholesalers and planning offices. “Today in the industry, everybody looks to the past and says – how did you survive? That’s the first question, because Mounting Systems is the only manufacturer, not just designer, but manufacturer that stayed 38

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in Germany,” says Maria Stefanidou, sales director at Mounting Systems, and goes on to explain: “Partly, it’s because we’re the only company that has a full package for the wholesaler; we do their showroom, planning, renderings – everything, which means they don’t need to have their own marketing team.” Another key to the success of Mounting Systems has been the ability to maintain its production in Germany. As a matter of

fact, the company has not just been able to maintain, but to expand its manufacturing facilities in Rangsdorf. And with a firm financial foundation, it offers reassuring long-term stability for customers.

TRAINING AND ONLINE TOOLS On top of marketing services, Mounting Systems provides a wide range of training offers. Often, new customers are invited to the company’s showroom in Cologne, where a big installation space allows them to see and feel the brackets and clamps of the systems live. During collaborations, the firm will send out an expert team to train sales staff at new branches, while also offering free online courses as well as planning and layout tools. “Every product needs a layout regarding wind load and static configuration; we offer the training and pay the license for our customers to use the required planning programme,”


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Mountings Systems’ solar racking is designed and manufactured in Germany.

Stefanidou says. “We train them to understand the entire PV system and the importance of the load on the roof. The mounting is the cheapest but most important part of the system – if you do a wrong calculation, the wind might come, and you lose the whole thing.” To ensure this never happens, Mounting Systems has a technical centre with a construction team that assists customers with statics and layout. The team also travels to customers to offer onsite training in all of the company’s markets, which include most European countries. In some countries, however, the products of Mounting Systems are sold under the brand name of competitors. “That’s one piece of the cake,” says Stefanidou pragmatically. “Our goal is to become number one in Europe, and that also means working with competitors – it’s a good puzzle. We have the chance to become market leaders and to do that knowing how to deal with competitors is key – we do it by becoming their friend. It’s a very nice feeling too – we cover the business together and promote the quality of the German product.” E-Port Home Single & Double.

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BayWa r.e. has built 156 solar parks and manages around 4.5 GW of capacity worldwide.

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BayWa r.e.: leading the way in the fast-moving solar market BayWa r.e. is one of solar energy’s global heavyweights. Part of German conglomerate BayWa AG (the ‘r.e.’ stands for ‘renewable energy’), the company has built 156 solar parks and manages around 4.5 GW of capacity worldwide. Jason Deign speaks to Santiago López, managing director of BayWa r.e. in Spain, about the company’s experience in solar and developments in the market. BY JASON DEIGN |

PHOTOS: BAYWAY R.E.

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BayWa r.e. has its origins in Germany’s wind industry, with Etaplan, a precursor of the company, supporting the development of the first large-scale project in North Friesland from 1990. By 2007, the business was building megawatt-scale solar farms in Germany, and in 2010, it entered the Spanish market. For the last decade, BayWa r.e. has been one of Spain’s most influential solar developers. In its first year in the market, it developed the country’s largest rooftop solar array. In 2019, it again broke new ground in Spain with the sale of the 175 MW Don Rodrigo plant, the first subsidy-free project of its size in Europe. More recently, BayWa r.e. has taken advantage of a booming market for power-purchase agreements (PPAs) in

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Spain, signing PPAs with electricity distributor Holaluz in February and consumer products giant Nestlé in April 2022.

How would you summarise BayWa r.e.’s trajectory globally? BayWa r.e., which is the renewables part of BayWa AG, our German corporate owner, was created in 2009. Our growth has been incredible. We now have around 3,400 employees across some 30 countries. The renewables business is making around 3.6 billion euros. We have traditionally been about photovoltaics [PV] but we quickly got into wind. Now we are innovating in both areas. In wind, offshore. And in solar we are active in new technologies such as floating solar and hybrid plants, incorporating wind and storage.

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We are also taking our first steps in hydrogen, which is in fashion now.

Are most of those 30 countries in Europe or spread across the globe? In terms of megawatts in our portfolio – we are up to around 10.5 GW globally – most are in Europe. We are in the American market, active in the USA and Mexico and with a presence in Central America, and we are also active in Asia Pacific. We are well positioned in Australia and are starting out in countries such as Thailand, in solar as well as wind.

Where are you seeing the greatest growth potential? Our core business, our main market, is still Europe. In Europe we are seeing expo-

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nential growth over the next three or four years in Spain and France. Spain, first, and France, second, are where we see most growth potential. Italy and the UK are both mature markets where we are still growing and Germany, of course, remains our main hub. In the USA we have high expectations, and then there is Asia Pacific.

such as the use of trackers, improvements in PV panel technology and the use of bifacial panels, which allow you to produce energy from both sides of the panel and thus increase the output of a plant.

What are the advantages of PV for the global energy transition?

Trackers allow the panel to always face the sun, for optimum production. We started with single-axis trackers and have now moved to dual-axis trackers, which move in all directions. Single-axis trackers are quite simple and dual-axis trackers are more mechanically complex, so you must consider the cost-benefit of using each. Bifacial solar is a newer technology, arising in the last eight to ten years, and it is increasingly being implemented as standard.

PV has advantages for a wide range of customers, from those looking for self-consumption to companies signing big PPAs. The only downside of solar compared to, say, wind, is that production falls at night. It’s an obvious limitation that can be compensated with batteries. Within solar, there have been many advances,

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To what extent are these innovations being used in the industry and in your plants?

Practically all new projects have bifacial technology. Improvements in the technology have allowed those panels to have almost the same cost as mono-facial, and obviously they improve production.


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What kind of improvements do you see with these innovations, compared to a standard plant? It depends on the project. But generally, you can get an eight to ten per cent improvement with a single-axis tracker. With a dual-axis tracker you could get up to 15 to 20 per cent. With bifacial panels, without doing much to the ground, you would be talking about three to five per cent. This could be higher if you paint the ground or treat it in a way that improves reflectivity. Then there are new materials that are helping to improve the performance ratio of panels slightly. What is important is to carry out a pre-construction study, using various tools to simulate the levels of production you can expect at a site with a given technology and configuration. The technology is helping us, but what has the greatest impact is our track record in the industry and our ability to use our experience on older

plants to inform the design of new ones. That’s something we do well at BayWa.

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Santiago López, managing director of BayWa r.e. in Spain.

Our development and operations and maintenance teams work closely together to make sure day-to-day experience is used in the design of new plants.

How can you stop large volumes of solar from overwhelming the grid, as is starting to happen in places such as California and South Australia? We know batteries are the best option today. They work well at residential level although the numbers still don’t quite work out at utility scale, say 200 MW upwards. There is now a lot of talk about hydrogen. You have the famous ‘green’ hydrogen, which is made using renewable sources. At BayWa we already have a small plant in Germany, so we’re working on this technology for the future. We think hydrogen is going to make a lot of difference in de-coupling the point at which you produce energy and the point at which you inject it into the grid.

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Solar

The company that helps solar plants see the sun every day Wherever you are in the world, outside the poles at least, the sun comes up every day. Knowing that their prime resource is available daily should make things easy for solar plant developers. But the amount of solar energy a plant can capture is vital to its viability – and something developers must estimate with care. BY JASON DEIGN

To help them get it right, both before a project starts and once it is operating, Solargis of Slovakia, has been providing accurate solar data, software systems and consultancy since 2010. Today, the company, with around 100 employees and offices in Bratislava, Toronto and soon Singapore, has one of the world’s best databases on solar resources, with a resolution down to 250 square metres updated in real time at sub-hourly intervals. It offers a range of products for solar plant developers and operators. One is a prospecting tool, which helps companies understand the solar potential of a given site before it is chosen for development. Another provides a time series of solar radiation and meteorological variables, which plant owners and operators can use to model energy production and understand expected year-to-year variability. One particularly valuable tool compares the yield from a plant with what you would 46 |

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Photo: iStock


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Solar

Solargis’ headquarters in Bratislava. Photo: Solargis

expect based on the amount of sun it has received. This can help plant owners and operators to see if shortfalls in production are caused by less sunny conditions than usual – or are the result of a problem such as panel degradation or shading from nearby vegetation.

drola and NextEra Energy. They rely on Solargis to make sure their power output calculations are just right and not too sunny. “Wind and solar are great,” explains managing director Marcel Suri. “The only issue is short-term intermittency, which needs to be managed.”

Solargis’ data has been validated at more than 200 locations around the globe and is used by about 1,000 companies across roughly 100 markets. Customers include major solar developers such as Enel, Iber-

A GROWING NEED FOR DATA To find out how much sunshine you should expect at a given location, you can look at satellite images taken over the years. But what you see from space might not

“There is definitely potential for solar to play a more significant role in the energy transition, but we need to understand how we will cope with seasonal and short-term variability.” – Marcel Suri, Solargis managing director 48 |

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be what you get on the ground, particularly in areas where airborne dust or water vapour is common. Because of this, it is important to validate satellite data with readings taken from the surface. Improving the accuracy of forecasting has become more important as the solar industry has matured. Today, says Suri, PV is often combined with storage systems such as batteries. The owners of these hybrid plants need to work out not only when they might be able to make the most of the solar resource but also when it might make sense to send electricity to the grid or store it in batteries. On top of this, different solar companies have different ways of operating, which means it is hard to offer a one-size-fitsall forecasting service. Hence, Solargis is increasing the proportion of software solutions and consultancy services it offers, compared to pure data.


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How solar energy is spread across the world. Image: Solargis

“You need much more sophisticated tools and data analytics in order to prepare projects to meet the needs of the offtaker,” Suri says. This is leading Solargis to develop new energy simulation applications that can be used to improve solar plant design. “The same family of tools can help you monitor performance of the project and sell into energy markets,” says Suri. IMPROVED FORECASTING TOOLS He sees standardised forecasting software being incorporated directly into data acquisition and monitoring systems so that solar plants can respond automatically to changes in weather and climate. Longer term, a challenge for solar plant owners and operators is that historical weather patterns may become less and less relevant because of climate change. Suri says that factors such as increased cloud cover are unlikely to have a significant

impact on production, maybe reducing output by just a few percent at the most. The big risk from climate change, he says, is of severe weather events, such as high winds or flash floods, which could wreck a plant. “Today, hail could be of a size which could completely destroy PV modules,” he says.

future. “There is definitely potential for solar to play a more significant role in the energy transition, but we need to understand how we will cope with seasonal and short-term variability,” Suri says. Solargis managing director Marcel Suri. Photo: Solargis

Such impacts are of growing concern as solar power extends to new markets and environments that could be more susceptible to extreme weather. One trend in the market is for floating PV arrays, which could be adversely affected by typhoons, says Suri. This could increase project risks, although at the same time the distributed nature of solar projects could make them more resistant to climate impacts than traditional power plants. What is certain is that project developers and operators will continue to need accurate forecasting data for the foreseeable November 2022

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2023 in Cleantech

What will the major events of 2022 mean for the cleantech markets of 2023? For many parts of the world, 2022 has been a tumultuous sequel to two years of pandemic upheaval. Award-winning business and sustainability reporter Mike Scott looks at how the events of 2022 might affect the cleantech markets of 2023. BY MIKE SCOTT |

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The US which, today, only has one operational offshore commercial wind farm, located off the coast of Rhode Island, is set to supercharge its offshore wind to 30GW by 2030.

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2023 in Cleantech

We face some very difficult years, there is no question. But as we get through them, things are going to start moving extremely fast.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended energy markets globally.

In 2022, unprecedented heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods struck around the world, from Hurricane Fiona hitting Canada to 50C+ temperatures in India and Pakistan, via devastating flooding from Nigeria to Germany.

restrictions on supplies has led to shortages of fuel and left Europe scrabbling to procure enough gas on the world market to get it through the winter. Governments have also had to step in and limit price rises for consumers.

At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended energy markets globally, but particularly in Europe, causing massive oil and gas price rises. A combination of Western sanctions and Russian

A REMARKABLE PIECE OF POLITICAL SUBTERFUGE

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Meanwhile, in the US, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to regu-

late carbon emissions in the power sector because Congress had not explicitly given it that authority. This led many to fear that US progress on tackling emissions would grind to a halt. Yet, just weeks later, in a remarkable piece of political subterfuge, that authority was quietly inserted into the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a law that emerged quite unexpectedly from months of negotiations and deadlock in Congress. As unexpected as the Act


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Hurricanes, floodings and heat waves have brought climate change onto the doorsteps of millions of people all over the world.

itself was its scope – it earmarked 369 billion US dollars of federal funds for energy and climate change issues over the next ten years and is expected to encourage private sector investment of almost 3.5 trillion US dollars in the coming decade, according to an analysis by Princeton University. Its key measures include tax credits for everything from renewable energy and electric vehicles to hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. It also introduces fines for

Destroyed Russian war tanks on the streets of Bucha Ukraine after an ambush by the Ukrainian Army.

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2023 in Cleantech

While 2022 has disrupted the lives of many, business and energy experts predict it will accelerate the momentum to decarbonise our economy

methane leaks from natural gas production, which could have a significant and immediate impact on greenhouse gas emissions. FIGHTING MATERIAL MONOPOLY The invasion of Ukraine, having highlighted Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, also threw the spotlight on global reliance on individual countries for many of the materials that are key to the energy transition – most notably China’s dominant presence in the market for rare earths, but also in many of the metals essential to the batteries that power electric vehicles and energy storage. The IRA includes a number of provisions to encourage production in the US of batteries and the critical minerals they and other clean energy technologies use.

The impact of 2022’s combination of extreme climate events, war in Europe and a landmark piece of US climate legislation will be to supercharge growth in clean technology. A whole range of drivers point in this direction, encouraging growth in their own right, as well as putting wind in the sails of existing trends. DIFFICULT YEARS AHEAD The war in Ukraine, coupled with the recent OPEC+ production cut, will ensure that oil and gas remain many times more expensive than renewable energy technologies (nine times more expensive at the time of writing). This will increase the logic of installing more wind and solar capacity, both from an economic and an energy security perspective.

Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said recently that “from now on, all three elements of the energy trilemma – security, affordability and sustainability – are pushing in the same direction. We face some very difficult years, there is no question. But as we get through them, things are going to start moving extremely fast. The Great Energy Price Spike is going to give way to the Great Clean Energy Acceleration.” It was this energy price spike that smoothed the passage of the IRA, he argued. But solar and wind are already flying – according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, wind and solar now make up 11 per cent of global power generation and of the new power-generation capacity added

“We face some very difficult years, there is no question. But as we get through them, things are going to start moving extremely fast. The Great Energy Price Spike is going to give way to the Great Clean Energy Acceleration.” – Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance 54 |

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2023 in Cleantech

in 2021, solar was 50 per cent and wind was 25 per cent. And the US alone, for example, has a solar pipeline of more than one Terawatt waiting to be built – about the same as all the solar power capacity installed globally since the industry started. The US is also set to supercharge its offshore wind sector, from virtually nothing today to 30GW by 2030, helped by the rapid progress of floating wind technology. PROMISING PLEDGES Meanwhile, just as the Biden Administration transformed the US clean energy landscape, a change of government in Australia has led to a sea-change in the attitude of the world’s largest coal exporter. Foreign Secretary Penny Wong recently told a UN meeting that 83 per cent of Australia’s energy would be renewable by 2030 and it would become a “renewable energy superpower”. It is one of a host of countries looking to harness their abundant wind or solar resources to produce green hydrogen, which will continue its

spectacular growth in 2023. High fossil fuel prices mean that the development of blue hydrogen will be slower than it would have been otherwise. As well as decarbonising our energy system, the scarcity of energy also means it makes much more sense to introduce energy efficiency measures across the economy, which will be a strong theme in the year to come but, as always, less visible than other parts of the cleantech economy. The heat pump sector will accelerate as well, as the cost and environmental benefits become clearer. The economics point to a continued boom in sales of electric vehicles – UK figures recently released showed that it was 3.5 times cheaper to run an electric car than a petrol one – aided by rules to phase out internal combustion engines across Europe, North America and Asia. In addition, a number of cities and US states such as California have introduced their own bans, which will strengthen and hasten the decline in sales of petrol and diesel cars.

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ACCELERATING THE CLEANTECH REVOLUTION And while the physics of larger transport sectors such as trucking, shipping and aviation are more challenging, there are numerous initiatives to either electrify them or use hydrogen to fuel them. There will also be moves to ramp up the production of synthetic fuels, produced using green hydrogen and electricity, particularly for aviation. All of these trends will be driven not just by government policies, but also by the increasing number of net-zero pledges that companies have made. The RE100 pledges by 355 of the world’s largest companies (as of January 2022) to source 100 per cent of their power from renewable sources imply that these companies will need to buy an extra 246TWh of clean power by 2030 to meet their targets. It may look like 2022 has disrupted the cleantech revolution, but in fact it has accelerated the momentum to decarbonise our economy. November 2022

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Due to the global energy crisis, the hunt for green alternatives to replace oil and gas boilers has reached a new level of urgency. The bad news is, unlike what some politicians say, there is no silver bullet – the good news is the solution has been around for decades. We look at why heat pump technology, essential to the IEA’s roadmap to net zero, is still struggling to gain a foothold in some regions, including the UK, and whether a politicised hydrogen hype should take some of the blame. BY SIGNE HANSEN

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Heat Pumps

VAPOUR COMPRESSION CYCLE PROVIDING HEATING AND COOLING SIMULTANEOUSLY

Source: EHPA. llustration from the European Heat Pump Association.

With 1.4 million units installed, Norway is the uncontested world leader when it comes to heat pumps. In fact, the cold Nordic country has heat pumps installed in more than half of all households. But while Norway and the other Nordic countries are well ahead of the rest of Europe when it comes to heat pump adoption, the EU also saw a record high number of units installed last year. According to data from the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), heat pump sales grew by 34 per cent in 2021, reaching 16.98 million heat pumps installed in total. In terms of carbon reductions, this is good news as heat pumps now avoid over 44 million tonnes of CO2 in the EU, but according to re-

newable energy body REN21, much more could and should be achieved. “When you look at the heating and cooling sector which accounts for over 50 per cent of total energy consumption, renewable energy accounts for only 11 per cent,” says Rana Adib, executive director: “The recent energy crisis highlights how important it is to have a cost-effective, reliable and renewables-based energy system which is where heat-pumps play a critical role in Europe and beyond.” The recent growth has made the goal of the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, published in May 2022, seem within reach. Those targets require around 20

“The recent energy crisis highlights how important it is to have a cost-effective, reliable and renewables-based energy system which is where heat-pumps play a critical role in Europe and beyond.” – Rana Adib, executive director, REN21 58 |

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million heat pumps to be installed in the EU by 2026, and nearly 60 million by 2030. However, in the UK, despite a government set target of 600,000 heat pumps being installed every year by 2028, heat pumps are still struggling to gain a foothold. A MATURE CLEANTECH TECHNOLOGY When some regions are slower to switch to heat pumps than required by carbon emission goals, you might think it to be because the technology is new and people are hesitant to invest in it. But while the latter might be true, the former is not. As a matter of fact, heat pump technology has been established for more than 150 years, and the first ground-source heat pump was brought into use more than 70 years ago. Bean Beanland, director for growth & external affairs at the UK’s Heat Pump Federation, explains: “One of the things to know is that the first heat pump predates the first commercial boiler; neither were in the UK, but heat pumps came first by a small number of years.” Beanland, who has been a dedicated advocate for heat pumps for more than a decade, goes on to explain: “When talking to community groups, I often say – hands up those who have heat


Heat Pumps

pumps, and out of 50 people, one or two usually raise their hands. To that I reply – that’s great, but the rest of you failed the exam question, because you all have refrigerators, and they are built on heat pump technology. Heat pumps are everywhere – it’s one of the most common technologies around, and the science is very simple.” In short, the technology relies on what Beanland calls “school physics”, namely the fact that when a gas is compressed, it gets hot. The heat pump system uses the heat from the ambient air, water or ground to heat a refrigerant (which boils at very low temperatures), turning this into a vapour which is then compressed to increase the temperature. The opposite is done to create cooling and heat pumps can thus be designed to be used for both, a significant point as cooling loads often

exceed heating loads in new commercial buildings. If the heat pump uses the ground or water as its ambient energy source, the installation cost may go up, as underground or underwater loops or boreholes need to be installed. But the energy consumption goes down, as water and ground heat tend to provide higher and more stable source temperatures (the stability of source temperatures through the year also allows ground and water systems to provide passive cooling through summer months, a much more energy-efficient method of cooling). Thus ground and water systems are usually best-fitted for large housing projects, industrial sites, district heating, agriculture etc., while air-source heat pumps are mostly installed in private homes. But broadly speaking, a heat

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pump reduces primary energy consumption by 50-70 per cent depending on type and climate, and, when running on green electricity, can reduce emissions to zero. UP-FRONT COSTS AND LAGGING POLITICAL WILL One of the problems with heat pumps is capital cost. While the competitiveness of the running costs of heat pumps depends on the price of electricity, they are less than cheap to install, and for many that adds up to a negative economic incentive. “For commercial new builds, it is becoming the obvious choice, but some domestic house builders are still reluctant to install heat pumps because they think it’s more expensive, and they don’t think potential buyers will pay a premium. That’s a tragedy; that we’re continuing to make the problem worse by still installing gas in

Modern sustainable heat pump installation for heating water and houses.

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Heat Pumps

“One of the things to know is that the first heat pump predates the first commercial boiler; neither were in the UK, but heat pumps came first by a small number of years.” – Bean Beanland, director for growth & external affairs at the UK’s Heat Pump Federation.

new buildings because we don’t yet have a moratorium on the deployment of new gas systems,” says Beanland. The countries that have seen the most successful implementation of heat pumps have done so thanks to a number of factors, including different governmental incentives to replace gas and oil boilers, such as bans on new boilers, higher tax levies on gas, reductions on tax levies on electricity for heating and more. In the UK, several schemes have been in place to subsidise the cost of instalment. Currently, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) offers £5,000 in subsidies for homeowners to install an air source heat pump and £6,000 for a ground source heat pump. But Beanland, and others in the sector, believe the government needs to think in line of evening out the market by lowering prices of electricity for heating rather than handing out subsidies. “We currently apply environmental and social levies to primary fuels; on electricity that represents 23 per cent of the price, but for gas it is only 1.8 per cent, so we have a tax regime that encourages the burning 60 |

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of fossil fuels. We are asking for those levies to be moved; of course, ideally put on fossil fuels because that would sway people, but clearly if you did that overnight you’d drive a whole lot of people into fuel poverty. If government removed the levies and modified the mechanism that ties the wholesale price of electricity to the wholesale price of gas, the price of electricity would reduce significantly, and that would make heat pumps the cheapest form of heating,” Beanland says, adding: “Under the recently introduced price caps, the situation in the UK has changed to some extent, but the multiplier between gas and electricity prices is still too high to compensate for the capital costs of heat pump installation. HYDROGEN – THE WHITE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR Beanland’s objection to the efficiency of the current government scheme is justified in the figures from the EHPA, which reveal that the UK was bottom of the list when it came to heat pump installations in 2021. Actually, the numbers reveal that with current installation numbers, it would take more than


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Governmental support and strategies might be needed to ensure the heat pump industry can meet increasing demand and reach climate targets.

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600 years to reach the independent Climate Change Committee’s target of 27.2 million homes having a heat pump in 2050. There are, however, various factors, on top of price, contributing to a more pronounced scepticism to heat pumps on the UK market, one being that the housing stock is old and often badly insulated, making heat pumps less efficient. This is, Beanland points out, partly due to the previously incredibly low gas prices, reducing the incentive for better insulation and promoting what he calls “a wasteful attitude” towards heating. But poorly insulated houses are not the only consequence of a vast and historically cheap supply of gas. In the UK, an extensive gas network currently delivers gas into over 85 per cent of homes, and arguments against heat pumps are often voiced by organisations who would rather see the network kept

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Heat Pumps

“...some domestic house builders are still reluctant to install heat pumps because they think it’s more expensive, and they don’t think potential buyers will pay a premium. That’s a tragedy; that we’re continuing to make the problem worse by still installing gas in new buildings...” – Beanland intact in the hope that green hydrogen or biogas might someday replace fossil gas. One of the organisations voicing this view is the Energy and Utilities Alliance. In response to the government’s mini budget scrapping the cap on energy prices from April, CEO Mike Foster states. “While all this is happening, the Government’s own Boiler Upgrade

Scheme hands out £5,000 subsidies to the well off to change their heating, while millions struggle to pay their bills. It’s immoral in these difficult times and needs to be culled, with the money used more wisely.” He goes on to stress that rather than making the gas grid redundant, the solution is in the longerterm to switch away from fossil gas to a network filled with hydrogen.


Heat Pumps

This view was recently reiterated by the UK’s previous Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who stated that hydrogen was the “silver bullet” that could with “some adjustments [be] piped through to people’s houses to heat them during the winter.” CRACKS IN THE ARMOUR Unfortunately, according to many people in the cleantech industry, the white knight may very well never actually arrive, as green hydrogen is unlikely to be produced in the quantities needed to cover all the uses it is being touted for, and its properties, and likely cost, make it more suitable for heavy industry and heavy transport, than heating homes. At the World Hydrogen Congress in Rotterdam, the influential cleantech speaker and analyst Michael Liebreich told attendees he was recognising the signs of an economic bubble in the hydrogen sector, partly due to statements like that of Rees-Mogg. Liebreich then went on to point out the challenge of replacing the 94 million tonnes of hydrogen made from unabated natural gas and coal and emitting 830 million tonnes of carbon yearly with green hydrogen. This would, he stated, require 143 per cent of all the wind and solar installed globally to date. Liebreich is a prominent voice in the cleantech sector, and he is not the only one highlighting the dangers of pushing green hydrogen as the solution to everything from heating to transport and power generation. Commenting on his own peer-reviewed scientific paper on hydrogen, Jan Rosenow, a Principal and Director of European Programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), board member of the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and Honorary Research Associate at Oxford University’s world-renowned Environmental Change Institute, concludes: “Hydrogen for heating is a distraction: inefficient, costly and resource-intensive. This is what all independent studies conclude. My new peer-reviewed paper reviews 32 independent studies. Not one suggests a major role of hydrogen for heating.”

Not surprisingly, Beanland agrees: “In the background of everything, we have this supposed white knight of hydrogen, which is used to obfuscate people’s thinking – we better wait, we may have hydrogen. It makes it very difficult to persuade people to switch to heat pumps,” he says and rounds off: “We need hydrogen for lots of other things, but just the idea of burning anything at 1,000Co to deliver the 21Co required in most homes is problematic; why would you want to do that? It doesn’t make sense.” INTERNAL MARKET CHALLENGES Despite the obstacles, further growth is expected within the heat pump sector in the coming years, with the EHPA predicting that last year’s impressive figures could “skyrocket further next year”. However, within the sector there are concerns that government targets need to be followed by a consistent strategy on how

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to super-charge the sector to be able to meet the expected increase in demand and avoid supply or HR bottlenecks. Thomas Nowak, secretary-general of the European Heat Pump Association says: “Europe needs a heat pump strategy, and the industry [needs] an EU heat pump accelerator to speed up deployment and help Europeans get off fossil gas faster. Thus, as governments struggle to meet energy demands, the question that begs itself is whether politicians will, like Rees-Mogg, rely on the white knight of green hydrogen to come to the rescue – and in the meanwhile scramble to boost oil and gas independence through methods like fracking – or whether they will take the steps necessary to support the sector delivering a solution that is endorsed by energy experts and applied by millions in some of the world’s most sustainable high-income nations.

“We need hydrogen for lots of other things, but just the idea of burning anything at 1,000Co to deliver the 21Co required in most homes is problematic; why would you want to do that? It doesn’t make sense.” – Beanland Thomas Nowak, secretary-general of the European Heat Pump Association.

Bean Beanland, director for growth & external affairs at the UK’s Heat Pump Federation.

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Heat-saving Technologies

The heat-saving technologies behind Denmark’s reduced gas consumption Prompted by the concern about the war in Ukraine, the increased worry about the climate crisis, and the cost-of-living crisis, Denmark has cut its gas consumption by a whopping 17 per cent this year. Cleantech blogger Anders Lorenzen takes a look at how his native nation got there. BY ANDERS LORENZEN

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November 2022

Energy conservation, alternatives to gas and a rapid uptake in the installation of heat-saving technologies are all among the measures that have helped the Scandinavian country cut its gas consumption. As we take a look at some of the different technologies that have enabled Denmark


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Wood pellets have replaced gas in many of Denmark’s CHP plants. However, critics say the pellets do not provide a truly sustainable alternative. Moreover, in 2020 12.4 per cent of the wood pellets burned in Denmark came from Russia, meaning that prices have surged since the war.

ual gas boilers widely used in e.g. the UK. While there are still 412,000 individual gas boilers in Denmark, a government scheme was established this year to help Danes replace the boilers with other greener heating methods like district heating.

Underneath Copenhill (a large dry ski slope) the ARC waste-to-energy plant transforms waste to energy for electricity and district heating.

to reduce gas consumption, it is, however, worth noting these are gradual steps made over recent years by Danes as well as the Danish government; it has not been a quick fix. POWER PLANTS Denmark’s heat-power stations, better known as Combined Heat and Power Plants (CHP), offer numerous different ways to generate district heating, but generally, the heat is produced by excess heat from electricity production. Supplying two-thirds of Danish households, 1.8 million homes, the plants provide a substantially more energy-efficient heat source than the individ-

However, while district heating’s more centralised way of producing heat is significantly more energy-efficient, especially considering that in many cases it is a by-product of electricity production, the operation is not by default green. The Danish CHP plants are powered in many different ways, ranging from coal, gas, renewables and the burning of waste and biomass. One great advantage is the fact that they are linked to electricity production, which means they can tap into Denmark’s growing renewable energy capacity, and even before Russia invaded Ukraine and the energy crisis struck, many plants had started phasing out gas and installing solar cells, heat pumps and electric kettles. A large number of the plants have, however, switched to a more disputed source of renewable energy, namely wood pellets, which are, though considered a renewable fuel, not truly sustainable, according to environmental organisations. HOMEOWNERS Just as significant as the supply structure are the decentralised efforts Danes have

been making in recent years, and which have been sped up by concerns about the climate crisis, the price of gas and the war in Ukraine. In Denmark, the sale of heat pumps has been steadily increasing, and during the first three months of 2022, 8,952 new heat pumps were installed – this is equivalent to 86 per cent of the heat pumps installed during the first six months of 2021, data from the Danish Energy Agency shows. Furthermore, as the price of solar continues to drop, Danes in return continue to install more and more solar panels on their rooftops. This provides a perfect combo for heat pumps as, with both installed, the solar panels can be used to power the heat pump. Another factor making the heat pump extra energy efficient is the fact that Denmark’s housing stock is highly energy efficient, and thanks to generous government schemes, Danes have and continue to retrofit their homes with better insulation. On top of technological solutions, this year Danes also turned to good old-fashioned saving measures, such as turning down the thermostat by one degree C, something which was shown to reduce energy bills by five per cent. As this happens and Denmark rapidly intensifies its clean energy transition, gas is set to play an increasingly smaller role in the small nation’s energy system. November 2022

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Manufacturer of the Month

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Delta Q

Delta-Q is a world-leader in the field of industrial battery chargers, providing products that help various industries, including agriculture, become more sustainable and profitable.

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Delta Q

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Manufacturer of the Month

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Discover CleanTech

Keeping the world going – without downtime, but with a green conscience A world-leader in the field of industrial battery chargers, Delta-Q is on a mission. That mission is to keep the world running, quite literally – from the arable lands of Europe to the robotic space in North America – in a way that is both environmentally and financially sustainable. BY LINNEA DUNNE, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH DELTA-Q

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Delta Q

“Whether we’re talking about drones for seeding, weeding and picking, or other types of agricultural activity, robust, high-quality charging solutions will keep these systems up and running, continually.” Robert Stavrevski, director of business development at Delta-Q Technologies.

“Combust engines are inefficient. You have a lot of losses throughout the life cycle – from when you put everything together, through the use phase and all the way to the end-of-life stage and what happens after that. Look at the resources needed for an electric solution, and you’ll see that it’s far more efficient – not to mention the fact that you can go on using it in different applications time and time again,” says Robert Stavrevski, director of business development at Delta-Q Technologies. The steep curve showing the current rise in electricity costs may be unpleasant at best, but when you put it like that, electrification makes a lot of sense. In fact, Europe’s energy system needs to reach 60 per cent electrification by 2050, up from just 24 per cent currently, to achieve carbon emission neutrality. We need agriculture and food-related industries to remain

– Robert Stavrevski, director of business development at Delta-Q Technologies. strong and healthy, not only for our food security, but also for work; in the EU alone, they provide more than 44 million jobs. And yet, farmers are under huge pressure from governments to reduce emissions – so how is it all going to add up? Delta-Q is on a mission to help with exactly that. FROM GOLF CART CHARGERS TO THIRDGENERATION GAME CHANGERS Industrial battery charger manufacturer Delta-Q was founded in 1999 by three entrepreneurs in Vancouver, Canada, who saw a business opportunity for robust battery chargers for the golf cart market. “They saw that users wanted a simple life and needed up-time for their electric vehicles,” says Stavrevski. “Fast-forward to today, and we are supporting the majority of tier-one brands in the golf cars, floor care and AWP [aerial work platforms] segments.”

The first product, the QuiQ series, launched in 2003, featuring the unique robustness and high quality that are synonymous with Delta-Q today. Ten years later, the IC series was introduced, presenting new, innovative technology. In 2016, the company was acquired by the ZAPI GROUP – a constellation of tech companies focused on developing key components of the electric drivetrain. Last year, Delta-Q announced its third-generation battery chargers, the XV series, available on the market from early 2023. “This has been a big step for us,” says Stavrevski. “We have doubled the power and added more functionalities, combining a high-performance 3.3kW charger, a 500W DC-DC converter and an EV charging station interface – all in a compact package that’s only slightly bigger than the previous generation of chargers, volume-wise. Delta-Q is a market leader for this type of charger for this power level, as confirmed by the widespread interest and adoption within leading OEMs serving many EV markets.” Today, Delta-Q aligns its high-volume production needs with Flex (formerly Flextronics), an advanced electronics manufacturer with locations in Asia and North America. Flex embraces LEAN manufacturing practices, centring on waste reduction, increased customer value and continuous process improvement. SUPPORTING GREEN, PROFITABLE AGRICULTURE One contextual example that illustrates the power of Delta-Q’s solutions is agriculture. Huge shifts are taking place in pursuit of a more sustainable, more efficient industry, and a big part of that, explains Stavrevski, is the labour resources being used in a

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completely different way. “We’ll still need people, but instead of operating tractors, we’ll have fewer people carrying out these same tasks; not in the fields, but by controlling drones and machines, all thanks to significant automation,” he says. “Whether we’re talking about drones for seeding, weeding and picking, or other types of agricultural activity, robust, high-quality charging solutions will keep these systems up and running, continually.” As industrial equipment manufacturers swap combustion engines for batteries, the entire production chain becomes more sustainable, combating air and noise pollution, improving working conditions for equipment operators, and so on. With more than four million chargers in the field, Delta-Q is helping to reduce carbon emissions by a staggering one metric tonne. But it’s not just about sustainability in numerous environmental ways; this shift is making producers more profitable as well. As an example, Delta-Q’s market-leading chargers boast a more than 93 per cent energy-efficiency rating, which isn’t just an eco-friendly win but significantly lowers electricity costs for the end user too. While innovation is central to the company’s raison d’être, it’s all about what’s feasible and functional in the here and now. “We use new technology when there’s a business case for it, which means when it makes sense for us

“The right charger has a big impact”– Stavrevski as well as the end user,” says Stavrevski. “We closely follow what’s happening on the market and prepare with roadmaps that set out goals for future development.” He rounds off: “We’re constantly looking at how we can do things better in the future –

creating smarter solutions with higher efficiency, saving as much energy as possible, while still maintaining full power.” Web: delta-q.com LinkedIn: /company/delta-q-technologies Twitter: @DeltaQTech

CASE STUDY: VARTA® AND DELTA-Q Automotive and industrial battery manufacturer VARTA® has a strong reputation in the battery industry, having invested heavily in research and development as well as in the production of lithium-ion batteries for more than 30 years. Delta-Q, meanwhile, has invested in the lithium-ion charger market for over 20 years, designing and producing chargers and charge profiles to support developments in battery technology. Both companies are focused on the growth opportunities in the mobile robotics industry, and a shared time in the same industry forged an initial connection between them. As VARTA® was looking to establish a greater presence in North America, partnering with Delta-Q was a great move, providing exposure and recognition in the fast-growing mobile and industrial robotic space. A big trend within Robotics as a Service (RaaS), among other things, made the joint offering of a reliable battery and charger solution an appealing market advantage. HOW IT WORKS: VARTA® batteries and Delta-Q chargers both communicate using CAN bus, the communications protocol VARTA® uses with their Easy Blade and Easy Block batteries. CAN bus allows multiple batteries used in parallel to appear as a single battery to the industrial robot and the charger. It simplifies the interface to the OEM’s equipment, allowing them to focus on their product and its application. Since industrial robots mustn’t suffer significant downtime, fast charging or opportunity charging is a key attribute that VARTA®’s customers look for in their mobile robotic charging solutions – and Delta-Q fulfils this requirement.

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Getting everyone not just onboard but driving the train of change When faced with the task of improving not just the practice of your business but the health of our planet and the life of future generations, it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed, scared or hopeless even. But it need not be like this, says the award-winning consultancy team behind CIRCL8; no, making the world a better place should be easy, and if that sounds too good to be true, you need to keep reading. BY SIGNE HANSEN, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CIRCL8

When Monique Schmitz, managing director and co-founder of CIRCL8, says that making the world better should be easy, she means it. She does not, however, imply that reaching circularity or sustainability goals will not take work, time, difficult questions and changes, but that once you 70 |

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know that you are on the right path – the path that you have created for you and your business – and you know that results will improve both customer relations and profits too, making changes will feel good, easy even. “You should be able to go to work, and when doing your job properly

also be working towards a better world,” says Schmitz and asks rhetorically: “Who wouldn’t want that?” EXPERTISE, PASSION AND INSIGHT To achieve the above, Schmitz and her co-founder, Marcel Jacobs, a recognised


Cleantech Consultancies

and rewarded subject matter expert in sustainability, work closely with clients to uncover the aims, strategies and hindrances towards sustainability, and that they are successful in doing so is demonstrated by their broad variety of successful clients, from universities to manufacturers. But more so, it is documented in the passion with which Schmitz speaks of the role CIRCL8 plays in creating transparent value chains, ensuring that people are respectfully rewarded and that natural resources are preserved for future generations.

worked more like a typical consultancy, providing the possible solutions to their questions. But now we know that if we don’t get people onboard, get the right team set up, and have the right resources, it makes no sense to even get started. In the end, of course, we always get to the content, but now people are much more excited about it because they have a really clear picture of what their journey is, and they feel in control of it. It’s just a totally different approach,” Schmitz explains. NOT ACTING IS A NORMAL REACTION

“It’s about uncovering where the company is at, what it wants to achieve, who is onboard, what’s the boardroom’s approach and what are the limiting beliefs,” explains Schmitz, who has a successful career in business management and HR behind her. For many years, her background and experience spurred discussions with Jacobs on how to successfully transform a company. As a result, about five years ago, the two of them realised how powerful the combination of their different areas of expertise was and decided to use it to help businesses succeed on both environmental and business goals. “When we started, most clients were attracted by Marcel’s expertise, and we

Once CIRCL8 started its unique approach, it quickly gained a number of new clients through word of mouth. Most clients fall within the category of small and medium enterprises, and many are struggling to meet the rising environmental and social standards expected by customers, legislative bodies and sometimes even employees, and the potential for change is thus great. “If you look at it like a pyramid, you have the large enterprises on top, often they have a lot of experts, and they know how to act, to some extent. But the biggest impact is not there, because underneath them there are a gazillion small and medium enterprises, and many have no idea what to do,” Schmitz explains.

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“Through the years, we figured these are the people who need the help the most. Faced with just an expert like Marcel, they say: we don’t have the resources or the knowledge, they want to run for the door. And that’s a normal reaction when faced with something you don’t understand, to not act.” Combining their unique multi-stakeholder and joint-responsibility approaches with Jacob’s award-winning expertise and a thorough methodology, CIRCL8 thus takes the power of transformation to the next level; not just to help their clients succeed, but to help them inspire further change. Schmitz says: “Once people are successful, everybody wants to be a part of that, and that’s what we need if we want to make a better world.”

CIRCL8 also offers a highly-praised online programme in circular procurement and is working on a brand-new due diligence programme.

www.circl8.com LinkedIn: company/circl8/ support@circl8.com

LEFT: Monique Schmitz, a certified Thinking into Results business consultant from the world-renowned Proctor Gallagher Institute, has a successful career in business management and HR behind her. RIGHT: Marcel Jacobs, head of Social Sustainable Operations at Philip Morris International and co-founder of CIRCL8, is a renowned expert within sustainability and circularity, especially in the areas of sustainable value chains and sustainable and circular procurement.

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Satellite data and machine learning – the solution to deforestation comes from the sky

With the EU, US and UK in the process of banning products derived from deforestation, identifying and managing the impacts and risks within their supply chain is becoming critical for companies, and their financiers, that utilise imported soft commodities. Discover CleanTech talks to Frontierra, a consultancy firm that can help with just that. BY SIGNE HANSEN, PUBLISHED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FRONTIERRA

Using satellite monitoring to analyse and evaluate deforestation, reforestation and carbon dynamics in agricultural supply chains, Frontierra provides crucial services to companies that are set to be affected by legislation concerning deforestation. But companies unaffected by legislation are also showing increasing interest in establishing sustainable supply chains, says co-founder and director of Frontierra Lewis Rattray: “Currently, the size of a football pitch of forest is lost every second, and that is hugely detrimental to our environment – 72 |

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a lot of consumers are aware of that, and this has a considerable impact on decision making for the products they purchase. That’s why monitoring and reporting on deforestation within one’s supply chain can be very beneficial for marketing purposes – many companies are striving to become sustainability leaders within their fields, and being able to demonstrate that their product, anything from a coffee to a desk, is deforestation-free is a fantastic point to be able to market to an increasingly informed consumer base.”

The EU bill banning products associated with deforestation involves a range of commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, wood products, cocoa and coffee, and is likely to be expanded to other products, and the financial institutions that fund them. The bill was recently passed by the EU Parliament, with similar bills passed in Norway, California and New York. In the wake of rising consumer concerns, legislation is soon to follow in many more locations – including the US (at the federal level) and UK, where similar bans have been proposed.


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Using boundary data, satellite imagery and automated machine learning, Frontierra’s methods are not simple, but the results are communicated in an easily understood and utilised manner. Photo: Frontierra

Satellite imagery of Brazilian agriculture and forest frontier. Image: Copernicus data (2019)

MAKING COMPLEX DATA ACCESSIBLE

ers. “We have partnerships with a number of different platform companies, enabling us to offer a fully customisable solution to suit any budget and any client need, and we have experience communicating key metrics and results with clients in a way that is easy to comprehend and make use of,” stresses Rattray.

For organisations such as large food brands, analysing their own supply chain for association with deforestation can be an overwhelming endeavour. To undertake the task, Frontierra uses and generates farm boundary data, satellite imagery, automated machine learning and accuracy checks, making use of geospatial software. “There are a lot of satellite data analysis platforms and services, and many claim to do everything under the sun, however most only analyse deforestation at the regional level as opposed to within the supplier’s farms, and there is a distinct lack of people who actually undertake the analysis

and communicate the results in a manner that can be easily understood and utilised by everyday businesses,” stresses Rattray who has worked with geographic information systems and satellite data for various large organisations and national governments. In 2020, he co-founded Frontierra with Brigette Reid, an ESG expert with a background in green finance who received the Thrive Female Founders Award from SVG Ventures in 2021. Thanks to their varied backgrounds, they have created a solution that provides accurate, scalable information that can be easily actioned by businesses and financi-

A recently-passed EU bill bans products associated with deforestation and covers a range of commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, wood products, cocoa and coffee. Photo: Frontierra/Lewis Rattray

REFORESTATION AND CARBON-OFFSETTING The results are presented in a report and the geographic data provided for use inhouse; additionally, web maps can be created for internal and external communication purposes. The company uses the same tools and approach to monitor and report on reforestation and carbon-offsetting projects. “Many organisations and governments have made commitments to planting huge numbers of trees. These projects are rarely monitored and tree planting efforts often fail,” explains Rattray. “We work with organisations to remotely monitor reforestation projects enabling better management, improved outcomes for carbon sequestration and biodiversity, quantified metrics and increased credibility opening up opportunities for funding.” Indeed, when it comes to deforestation and reforestation, the best solution for organisations looking to measure and manage their impacts is likely to come from the sky. www.frontierra.org November 2022

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Photo: Dreamstime.com

Future-proofing organisations – sustainability and ESG through pragmatic, business-led solutions Sustainability is now a business imperative. From record heatwaves to devastating floods, and from water shortages to post-pandemic changes in how people are working, the evidence is growing that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are not just material to business, they’re essential. BY MIKE SCOTT, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GREEN ARCH CONSULTING

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ing to these factors – both to minimise the risks they present and to find opportunities in the changes that are coming. If businesses don’t act now, they will lose out to their peers that have done so; perhaps fatally.

And it is no longer possible to just pay lip service to the idea of sustainability – the demands of regulators are not negotiable, while investors and large customers are becoming increasingly detailed in their re-


Cleantech Consultancies

quests for information, not least because they have their own targets and commitments to meet. Consumers and regulators are more savvy about what greenwashing is and some of the biggest brands, such as Innocent Drinks and Unilever, have found themselves in the spotlight for using inaccurate or exaggerated language as a result. “The imperative to embrace sustainability is clear, then, but many companies don’t know what that means or what it entails,” says Emma Knight-Strong, founder of Green Arch Consulting, which helps businesses to embed sustainability into their strategies. “The language is increasingly complex – people hear terms like net zero, carbon neutral, natural capital, ESG being thrown around. But they are often misused and misunderstood.” “We help companies to understand what is going on, why it matters, why they should care about it and what they need to do about it. Wherever you sit in the supply chain, this will impact you,” she adds.

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in planetary limits and, therefore, is sustainable and successful in the long term.

portant to them and creating tailored strategic advice to maximise impact.

Data is one of the keys to understanding the impacts of sustainability issues on your business, and the impacts of your business on the wider world. “If you’re not measuring something, you can’t manage it,” says Brigette Reid, director of ANZ and Americas at Green Arch. “But this raises the questions of how you do it and who is responsible for it. You need to focus on the most material issues for your business, so you measure what matters.

It does this by providing practical, cost-effective solutions that work with the systems that organisations already have. Its services range from sustainability strategies, policies and processes to ESG due diligence and reporting, to training and coaching, and impact measurement and management.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on corporate culture,” she adds. “Writing a corporate sustainability or ESG policy is the easy part. Changing corporate culture and evolving your business takes effort.” DE-RISK & CAPITALISE ON OPPORTUNITIES Green Arch focuses on future-proofing the companies it works with, identifying the risks and opportunities that are most im-

“We have unique skill sets and experience – there are relatively few people that work in corporate sustainability that have environmental backgrounds alongside consultancy and in-house experience working for major financial institutions,” Knight-Strong explains. “Our commercial focus enables us to help our clients achieve the maximum impact possible from the resources available. Ultimately, it’s about promoting more sustainable, profitable returns over the long term.”

https://greenarchconsulting.com/

OPERATING WITHIN PLANETARY LIMITS To help companies get to grips with this new reality, Green Arch creates tangible steps for them to take, and pragmatic plans to make them a reality. “We work with clients to give them the skills and tools to be able to implement and own inhouse solutions,” Knight-Strong explains. “We enable them to have the confidence to have educated discussions with clients, understand sustainability and ESG principles, regulations and standards, and identify situations where they may need external support.” Fundamentally, sustainability is about ensuring that your organisation operates with-

Brigette Reid, director of ANZ and Americas at Green Arch Consulting.

Emma Knight-Strong, founder of Green Arch Consulting.

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Speaking and moderating at a cleantech retreat in Copenhagen, David Hunt surprisingly comes to the conclusion that Cleantech Venture Capitalists are all Marxists. Photo: Forward22

Cleantech Venture Capitalists are all Marxists. Who knew?! Recently I was fortunate to be asked to speak and moderate at a cleantech retreat taking place on a small manmade island off Copenhagen. The event, Forward22, organised by Rockstart, a cleantech accelerator and VC, was a small gathering of founders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors, bankers and NGOs, all active and committed to the cleantech and sustainable food sectors. I was surprised, but by no means shocked, when one of the sessions I was moderating, on ‘Rethinking Consumption’ as part of the ‘Driving the Energy Transition’ theme, turned a bit, well, Marxist! Sort of. BY DAVID HUNT

TAXATION As I write this, Taxonomy is a hot topic, with the UK government announcing debt underwritten tax give-aways that crashed the pound and irked the markets. It also prompted the Bank of England into action and will probably lead to much higher interest rates than we have been used to for many years. What’s this got to do with cleantech you may ask. It’s fair to say that tax is never popular, or paying tax is never popular at least. Yet one clear theme came from the discussion I was hosting; that 76 |

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taxation, on everything, was a radical and necessary action to help address climate change and to help reverse our current unsustainable ways of living. Mandatory taxes that ensure that ‘polluters pay’ and that we stop using the atmosphere and the environment as open sewers, free to trash. BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY Those on the island knew that technology isn’t the issue. As you will have seen and read in Discover CleanTech, technologies

exist to solve all of our clean energy and mobility requirements. Yes, they will improve (as all technology does) and they will get cheaper (as everything that scales does – just look at solar and batteries as an example), but we already have the products, technologies and solutions to dramatically and quickly head towards a net-zero economy. As many at the event were from the venture capital and banking sector, we also knew that there is no shortage of capital to deploy to fund the rollout of these technologies.


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IT’S ABOUT POLITICAL WILL AND HUMAN BEHAVIOUR If we have the technology, and we have the money, why aren’t we doing all we can to save our species, and many others, from extinction? One key element is of course political will, and politicians being unwilling to be unpopular (ironic, as they pretty much all are). But we also concluded that humans, at mass, do not make good decisions about our wellbeing or survival. Education we concluded was critical, but that we as humans couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing, even when shown the facts. The evidence supports this.

David Hunt is Founder and CEO of Hyperion Cleantech Group, parent of global executive search and recruitment businesses exclusively working in the cleantech sectors. He is a mentor for a number of international cleantech accelerators, host of the Leaders in Cleantech podcast, and a regular commentator on cleantech and talent issues in trade and the mainstream media. Here he writes on cleantech venture capitalism.

WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION So we had venture capitalists, bankers and entrepreneurs all advocating for a taxation on all products and services. Like a VAT or sales tax, the greater the environmental impact of the product or service, the greater the tax. So those who consume most, travel most, have the most expensive (and polluting) cars, houses, boats and lifestyles would pay the highest levels of tax. What’s more, that tax income would be well spent on a Universal Basic Income for all, and redistribution to aid the transition to a sustainable society, and to support developing countries in particular. NOT POPULAR

all its negatives, has made huge advances in renewable technologies, batteries and electric vehicles – being the global leader in all of these things – as it can mandate action and take that action immediately.

So, as advocates of clean technologies, and I assume, a transition to a cleaner, more sustainable world, would you agree or disagree with such a taxation? I’d be interested to hear.

So we had venture capitalists, bankers and entrepreneurs all advocating for a taxation on all products and services. Like a VAT or sales tax, the greater the environmental impact of the product or service, the greater the tax.

We recognised the ‘undemocratic’ nature of mandating such a tax on all, and of course how unpopular we would all be. We also agreed that being unpopular was a fair price to pay for helping to reverse the destructive course we are on as a species. And whilst our taxation wish was just that, we all agreed to be prepared to be the most unpopular in any room we occupied as we stood up for the need to radically change how we live, and to pay for the consequences of our choices. A SURPRISE OUTCOME It’s fair to say that the above wasn’t the outcome any of us expected from the conversation, but it was universally agreed on. It would be undemocratic, yet we would each speak up for democracy. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. China, for November 2022

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Cleantech Company of the Month

KEBA Energy Automation

Sparking change KEBA Energy Automation is a company leader in electric charging points. Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit explores what drives the Discover CleanTech company of the month, including how the firm is aiming to be carbonneutral by 2025. BY SUNNIVA DAVIES-ROMMETVEIT, PUBLISHED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH KEBA

When thinking about e-mobility charging points, one does not usually wonder about the charging units’ own carbon footprint; after all, they charge electric cars and are supporting to move the world away from fossil fuel dependence. Yet, there is an environmental cost of producing electric charging points, something which KEBA Energy Automation, a charging point forerunner, decided to change. “We’re putting ourselves to the test by having our company’s carbon footprint calculated,” explains chief executive officer at KEBA Energy Automation Christoph Knogler. “Our goal is to become fully climate-neutral by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, but one we simply cannot ignore,” he adds. Becoming carbon-neutral by 2025 is no easy feat, as Knogler acknowledges. To illustrate this, he explains what was involved in ensuring that the climate-neutral charging points, also known as wallboxes, became a reality. The firm started by collecting data on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated during production of the wallboxes, in order to know exactly what needed to be changed. Firstly, transportation emissions were reduced notably by using components made mainly in Europe – much closer to the Linz-based plant. Impressively, the wallboxes are now also produced with green energy alone, and the final packaging has also been changed in order to reduce emissions. “All of this resulted in markedly lower carbon emissions, but some remained. These were 78 |

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PHOTOS: KEBA

offset by investing in certified climate-protection programmes. All of these measures add up to a product that is 100 per cent climate-neutral,” Knogler says. KEBA’s aim to deliver carbon-neutral charging points to all customers by the end of this year indicates something further about the company, which has been in the e-mobility sector for over 13 years. The firm supports a bottom-up approach to locking in sustainability into what it does – with their Austrian headquarters flooded with natural daylight to save energy, as well as this latest carbon-neutral venture paving the way for future carbon offsetting milestones ahead. And the company is delivering on its promise: as of April this year, all wallboxes delivered to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic were carbon-neutral. “This shows that we live out our sustainability values,” says Knogler, “and we really feel that this is the way to reach carbon-neutrality by 2025.” SMASHED MILESTONES The electronics company passed two notable milestones this and last year. The firm sold 250,000 wallboxes in 2021, and impressively doubled that to 500,000 sales in just 20 months. “Thanks to our innovative, intelligent, but at the same time durable and climate-neutral charging solutions, we have strengthened our position as one of the leading European wallbox manufacturers,” Knogler says.


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KEBA Energy Automation

The KeContact P30 c-series has all the benefits of the a-series as well as communication interfaces that enable it to integrate charging with smart-home servers and photovoltaic systems.

These record sales point to the quality of KEBA’s charging wallboxes. For example, they have full offline capabilities, with data stored locally on the device, ensuring privacy. What’s more, it is possible to use all functions of the wallbox after a single purchase – instead of monthly service fees or any hidden licensing costs. Any defect with a wallbox, moreover, sees a guaranteed replacement of an equal or even higher-quality model within four working days. Additionally, with the new KEBA eMobility App, released this September, customers can enjoy full mobile control over their wallbox through their private local network. Not only does

this allow the customer to track all details and real-time data like time, energy and the power of the charging process, but it also allows one to personally configure their wallboxes to their own needs. “Our products are particularly valued by many charging park operators and companies, because they impress with their reliability, security and connectivity, and thus their excellent suitability for load management and the billing of the charged energy,” Knogler says. Indeed, the firm is growing from strength to strength, currently employing 2,000 employees in 16 different countries, with

“In order to implement the move away from fossil fuels as a whole, alternative clean-energy sources must penetrate all areas of mobility and all use cases.” – Chief executive officer at KEBA Energy Automation Christoph Knogler 80 |

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e-mobility increasingly a key industry for the electronics and automation specialist. In August this year, for example, KEBA partnered with Italian car manufacturer Automobili Estrema, announcing that it would be providing the carbon-neutral charging points for Automobili Estrema’s luxury electric car, the Fulminea. “In order to implement the move away from fossil fuels as a whole, alternative clean-energy sources must penetrate all areas of mobility and all use cases,” Knogler explains. “Our focus is on passenger cars in all their forms. Where there is demand, there should also be suitable emobility solutions.” This success looks set to continue for KEBA, with its solutions for electric charging points not only providing innovation and reliability, but durability and sustainability. “We are very satisfied that we can now call our wallboxes carbon-neutral products,” Knogler says. “It marks our ambitions of becoming carbon-neutral by 2025, and we are very excited about what the future holds for us within the growing e-mobility sector,” he adds.


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The first KEBA wallbox was presented in 2009, and the 250,000th was sold in 2021. Only 20 months later, KEBA celebrated the sale of its 500,000th wallbox.

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Towards a greener lithium production It is no secret that lithium production uses enormous amounts of water. To remedy this and increase the speed of production, Schlumberger, the world’s largest offshore drilling company, has announced a tie-up with water services specialist Gradiant. BY JASON DEIGN |

PHOTOS: SCHLUMBERGER

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Used in the batteries powering the world’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, lithium is in hot demand; but there is one problem – around 2.2 million litres of water are needed to produce one tonne of the metal. That is bad news for the communities that live near the world’s top lithium production centres. Most lithium today is sourced from a triangle spanning the highlands in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. Water is a precious commodity in these high desert areas, and the growing lithium demand for the electric vehicle industry is causing tension between processing concerns and local populations. 82 |

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The partnership between Gradiant and Schlumberger’s NeoLith Energy venture aims to solve this problem using a process called direct lithium extraction. Gradiant is providing technology that can concentrate lithium brine and generate freshwater rather than requiring the water to evaporate off, as happens in the traditional production process. “Proper natural resource management is essential in mineral production, and nowhere more so than in lithium,” says Gavin Rennick, president of Schlumberger’s New Energy business. “The unprece-

dented growth in demand for this critical mineral requires high-quality production without compromising sustainability. The integration of Gradiant technology into our direct lithium extraction flowsheet has been key in our strategy to improve sustainability.” IMPROVED LITHIUM PRODUCTION The companies claim Gradiant’s technology will also allow lithium to be produced much more quickly than is currently the case. Compared to methods that heat up brine to purify lithium, it will also use less energy and have a lower carbon footprint and up-


Schlumberger

underlies the production processes, which is then operationalised by machine learning and digital technology.” News of the Schlumberger-Gradiant collaboration comes amid growing awareness of the need to improve the sustainability of lithium extraction while vastly increasing output. Research by Simon Michaux, associate professor at the Geological Survey of Finland, shows current reserves of lithium are only about two per cent of what is needed for the global energy transition, and extracting enough at

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2019 rates of production would take more than 9,900 years. Govindan says he hopes the alliance with Schlumberger will help direct lithium extraction become more widespread as the need for the metal grows. “The sustainability impact of the integrated Schlumberger process, combined with Gradiant solutions, is a game-changer for the lithium production market,” he says. “This strategic partnership will enable the global expansion of Gradiant’s technology in this important industry.”

Gradiant is providing technology that can concentrate lithium brine and generate freshwater rather than requiring the water to evaporate off.

front costs. The water-saving process can be used in existing lithium-production operations as well as in new sites. As previously revealed in Discover CleanTech, mining developer Zinnwald Lithium is looking to extract lithium from a German mine as soon as 2026. “We are excited to be working with Schlumberger, with whom we are pioneering a new era of sustainable mineral resource recovery,” says Gradiant’s chief operating officer, Prakash Govindan. “This is made possible by Gradiant’s deep understanding of the complex chemistry that

Gradiant’s chief operating officer, Prakash Govindan (left) and Gavin Rennick, president of Schlumberger’s New Energy business (right).

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Wind power on the up thanks to climate-friendly policies The amount of wind power being installed worldwide is on the up thanks to climate-friendly government policies, but still falls short of what is needed. Wood Mackenzie, one of the world’s top energy-analyst firms, has upgraded its quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) forecast for wind power – although only by 1.9 per cent. BY JASON DEIGN |

PHOTO: ISTOCK

The increase, which could see 25.6 GW of wind capacity being installed around the world between 2022 and 2031, is mainly the result of policy decisions in Europe and, particularly, North America, says Wood Mackenzie research director Luke Lewandowski. The North American market outlook has improved largely thanks to the passing of the US’s Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark piece of legislation that includes record spending on clean technologies. “The Inflation Reduction Act establishes long-term investment stability in the US, with more than five GW of the 6.8 GW upgrade QoQ expected from 2028-2031,” Lewandowski says. “Procurement activity in Quebec and a robust pipeline in Alberta will trigger a 2.5 GW upgrade in Canada, strengthening its position as a top 20 global market.” The US and Canada’s combined 9.3 GW of new capacity represents the biggest level of wind energy growth of any of the world’s regions, Wood Mackenzie says.

European markets are due to see a 9.7 per cent QoQ uplift, which is less in percentage terms but could equate to more than 10.2 GW of new wind-farm capacity. “New and strengthened policies in Germany, France and Greece, and project concessions and awards in Finland, Denmark and the UK, yielded QoQ upgrades in each sub-region,” says Lewandowski. “This was not the case in Eastern Europe, where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has negatively impacted its domestic market.”

by 2025 – a level that the firm does not expect to see surpassed until 2031. The good numbers from these regions are partly offset by a 1.9 GW drop in expectations for Asia Pacific. “This is primarily due to the state utility in Vietnam not recognising new wind power over grid stability concerns, but also due to slow market development in Japan and project adjustments in South Korea,” Lewandowski says.

China is also expected to see increased growth as developers rush to finish offshore wind projects that have been delayed by typhoons, supply chain challenges and COVID-19 lockdowns. The current crop of Chinese projects must be completed before 2026 to fall within the country’s 14th Five Year Plan.

Overall, the growth in wind power should be welcome but is less than what is needed for the world to meet its climate targets. A September 2022 tracking report on wind, by the International Energy Agency, says: “To get on track with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, which has approximately 7,900 TWh of wind electricity generation in 2030, it is necessary to raise average annual capacity additions.”

Wood Mackenzie has upgraded its China forecast to 4.8 GW, powering a boost in annual installations up to 72 GW a year

Much greater efforts are needed to achieve this level of sustained capacity growth, the agency says.

CHINESE CAPACITY GROWTH

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SGRE

Wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa has announced the first delivery and installation of its recyclable blade design, the aptly named RecyclableBlades.

Siemens Gamesa debuts recyclable blades on offshore wind farm Wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa has announced the first delivery of a recyclable blade design amid moves to reduce the environmental impact of renewable equipment. The company’s RecyclableBlades were installed at an offshore wind farm in Germany owned by RWE, a multinational energy company. BY JASON DEIGN |

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“Recycling the old blades is a top priority for us and teaming up with the chemical and composites industries will enable us to do it in the most effective way,” WindEurope’s chief executive, Giles Dickson, said at the time. MAKING BLADE RECYCLING EASIER Siemens Gamesa’s RecyclableBlades, which the company says were developed in just ten months, aims to make recycling easier by using a combination of fibreglass, resin and wood that can be separated with a mild acid solution. “RecyclableBlade technology will help reduce raw material extraction by creating the potential for secondary markets for the reclaimed material,” says Marc Becker, chief executive of Siemens Gamesa’s offshore business unit. Siemens Gamesa is aiming to have fully recyclable turbines by 2040, he adds, “with the job creation that this could provide as an additional benefit in local markets.” Sven Utermöhlen, offshore wind chief executive at RWE Renewables, confirmed the company was testing 81-metre-long Siemens Gamesa B81 RecyclableBlades at several turbines in its 342 MW Kaskasi project, 35km north of the island of Heligoland in the German North Sea. “That we are testing in our offshore wind farm Kaskasi the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades under operational conditions is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines,” he says.

Siemens Gamesa said the milestone marked “a turning point in the long-term sustainability of offshore wind power.”

which can be longer than the wing of a Boeing 747, have until now mostly gone to landfill.

Concern over what happens to old wind turbine blades has been mounting along with the growth of the renewables sector. While up to around 90 per cent of turbine materials, including steel, copper, electronics and gear components, can be recycled, disposing of blades is a challenge. Made of fibreglass and built to withstand the abrasion caused by dust, sand and hail impacts at high speed, the blades,

Building materials giant LafargeHolcim is working with turbine maker GE Renewable Energy to see if the silica in blade fibreglass can be used to make cement. And in 2019, the industry body WindEurope, the European Chemical Industry Council and the European Composites Industry Association created a cross-sector scheme to advance novel approaches to wind turbine blade recycling.

Siemens Gamesa says its RecyclableBlade technology is also available for the 108-metre-long B108 blades used on its SG 14-222 DD offshore wind turbines and the 115-metre-long B115 blades on SG 14236 DD machines, the company’s biggest product. In March this year, a consortium called ZEBRA (for Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) unveiled a 100-per-cent recyclable blade prototype. The 62-metre blade was designed and built by LM Wind Power, part of GE Renewable Energy, using a recyclable resin and high-performance glass fabrics. LM Wind Power is also involved in a blade-recycling project called DecomBlades. November 2022

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EuropeWave

China invests in concentrated solar power to store energy China is pursuing an ambitious buildout of one of the world’s most spectacular renewable energy sources – even as the rest of the world ignores it. Projects dedicated to concentrated solar power, or CSP, are growing at the hands of Chinese developers who use the technology as massive energy storage systems. BY JASON DEIGN |

PHOTO: DREAMSTIME.COM

According to CSP Focus, a Chinese industry information provider, China has kicked off 30 new CSP projects for completion in 2023/2024. Four projects scheduled for construction in the Eastern Chinese Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous 88 |

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Region kicked off in July, each featuring a 100 MW CSP plant alongside 900 MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar. At the same time, developer Three Gorges Energy awarded engineering, procurement and construction contracts for two other 100 MW CSP

projects, also attached to PV arrays, in Qinghai Province, central China. The new array of CSP projects in China use PV for cheap daytime energy production while CSP, which uses heat from


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China is using concentrated solar power, which uses heat from sunshine rather than using the sun’s rays to create electricity, as a massive storage system alongside photovoltaic plants. The plant in this picture is located in Seville, Spain, which is currently the world’s largest CSP market.

sunshine rather than using the sun’s rays to create electricity, is employed as a massive storage system. The heat that CSP plants can capture during the day is used to keep industrial salts molten at temperatures of several hundred degrees. This is hot enough to drive a steam turbine through the night, so the Chinese can benefit from clean solar energy even after the sun goes down. CSP Focus is tracking 30 projects in China, making it the second-largest CSP market in the world by number of plants. LIMITED INTEREST IN CSP The recent level of activity is unusual for CSP, which has been developed in around

a dozen renewable energy markets around the world but has fallen from favour in the face of competition from other, cheaper clean-energy sources. Spain, for example, became the world’s largest CSP market after building 50 plants between 2007 and 2013 but has not seen any new projects since then. The government is now planning to auction at least 220 MW of new capacity in October. There is limited new project activity in a handful of other markets, including Australia and the USA. But interest has waned significantly compared to CSP’s heyday in the early 2010s, when the technology was seen as a viable rival for PV at a time when traditional solar panels were still expensive.

Back then, developers built massive plants across Spain, the US, South Africa and, later, the Middle East and North Africa, and a version of the technology that reflects sunshine onto a central tower was used as a backdrop for car adverts and featured in the opening scenes of Blade Runner 2049. As Chinese manufacturers brought PV prices crashing down, however, CSP came to be seen as too expensive for mainstream power generation projects, and it is thus ironic that Chinese companies are now keeping CSP technology alive – by pairing it with PV. CSP also suffered because it is not as flexible as PV. To be cost effective, CSP plants ideally need to be at least tens of megawatts in size and located in places with hot, sunny climates. November 2022

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Saft

According to Saft, the 3 MWh Modular Intensium Shift (I-Shift) battery storage system will be available from mid-2023 and can store 30 per cent more energy than alternatives.

European battery maker brings new lithium-ion product to market Saft, a century-old French battery manufacturer now owned by oil and gas supermajor TotalEnergies, has unveiled a lithium-ion storage system specifically designed to help renewables. The Modular Intensium Shift (I-Shift) battery storage system has been created for time shifting, which involves storing renewable electricity at times of high output and discharging it to the grid when demand rises. BY JASON DEIGN |

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recycling the battery containers once they reach the end of their lives. Recycling is of growing importance for lithium-ion batteries amid growing concerns about the supply of materials for the battery industry. HARD-TO-FIND MATERIALS Saft’s I-Shift will use a chemistry called lithium iron phosphate, which avoids the need for cobalt, a metal that is required for some electric-vehicle batteries but comes mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there are fewer controls over the health and safety of workers. However, the I-Shift will still need lithium, which mostly comes from Australia, Chile and China, and is getting harder to source as more and more electric vehicles enter roads worldwide. According to the US Geological Survey, around three quarters of global lithium production is already destined for the battery industry. The price of lithium has risen by 80 per cent so far this year, but lithium-ion batteries remain the best bet for electric vehicles and stationary storage systems such as the I-Shift.

Saft says the 3 MWh battery systems will be available from mid-2023 and can store 30 per cent more energy than alternatives. They are also 50 per cent more compact, occupying a 20-foot container that includes thermal systems and digital control interfaces. This could cut the time needed for site-related installation activities in half, making it quicker to install the energy storage systems, Saft says. Large storage projects can be served by stacking multiple I-Shift units. “The launch of I-Shift demonstrates Saft’s ability to innovate, fulfilling the needs of a

growing energy storage market, as operators need flexible, cost-efficient, turnkey solutions for energy shifting,” says Hervé Amossé, Saft’s executive vice president for energy storage. “I-Shift thereby supports the energy transition, enabling faster integration of low carbon renewables to the grid. I-Shift’s innovative design, covered by eight new patents, includes improvements on thermal efficiency and ruggedness, with 30 per cent more storage capacity.” Saft says it will be manufacturing the I-Shift products in China, France and the US, and is committed to dismantling and

Meanwhile, the need for time shifting is also growing, as more and more renewable energy crowds onto the world’s grids. In places where there are large amounts of wind or solar power, turbines and photovoltaic panels produce electricity at the same time – when it is windy or sunny – and grids do not always have the spare capacity or need to take all that is being generated. Time shifting can help make sure this electricity is not wasted. Excess generation is stored in batteries such as the I-Shift, then fed into the grid when the wind falls or the sun goes down, helping reduce the carbon emissions from the electric system. November 2022

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Trial proves vehicle-to-grid tech could work in the UK A British renewable energy group has announced a breakthrough in vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which could one day deliver major benefits to grids and car owners. Working with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), which runs the UK grid, Octopus Energy Group said it has demonstrated the viability of V2G for the first time in the country. BY JASON DEIGN |

PHOTOS: ISTOCK

V2G is a technology that allows grids to tap into electric vehicle batteries as if they were grid-connected assets such as utility-scale battery systems. Using a single electric vehicle battery may not make much difference to the grid, but if the electricity system could draw from thousands or millions of vehicles at once, then the aggregated capacity would quickly add up. Octopus Energy has calculated that if a million electric vehicles fed electricity into the grid for an hour, it would provide as much energy as 5,500 onshore wind turbines. To do this, however, electric vehicles and grids must talk to each other. That is the aim of V2G, which has been in development since the 1990s but has yet to be widely adopted.

“This is a real line-in-the-sand moment for V2G tech,” says Claire Miller, director of technology and innovation at Octopus Electric Vehicles. “We have shown that this technology is capable of helping to balance our future, green grid, to the benefit of people and the planet. Soon we will have millions of electric cars sitting on driveways, capable of storing and exporting green energy back to the grid when it needs it most – and once the vehicle to grid proposition is ready to be launched, these cars will help to support our renewables expansion.” In the Octopus Energy tests, held at the start of August 2022, 20 electric vehicles contributed to a market called the Balancing Mechanism, operated by National Grid ESO.

The system operator uses the Balancing Mechanism to buy extra energy when there is not enough to meet demand. Such operations could in theory help compensate electric vehicle owners for the cost of their cars, since they would earn money from the electricity sold into the Balancing Mechanism. BENEFITS FOR ALL According to Octopus Energy, if a million electric vehicles participated in the Balancing Mechanism four times a week, contributing 20 per cent of their battery power, it would yield around 62 million GBP a year in profits. At the same time, electric vehicle owners could each save up to 840 GBP a year compared to what they would pay on a flat-rate electricity tariff, because V2G would allow their cars to charge whenever prices are lowest. Jake Rigg, corporate affairs director at National Grid ESO, says V2G technology “opens the door for everyone to engage in our electricity system, in a way that we can all benefit from. The next steps for us are to take these learnings and work with industry on how we develop and deploy a balancing mechanism service for V2G.”

Vehicle to grid (V2G) is a technology that allows grids to tap into electric-vehicle batteries as if they were grid-connected assets to help balance the grid when demand is high.

The trial findings will also influence future innovation projects, including the CrowdFlex project which Octopus Energy is currently developing with industry, to establish additional routes for consumer engagement in electricity networks. November 2022

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Cleantech 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 get through the cold winter months in a more sustainable manner. BY SIGNE HANSEN

Photos: Ecobee

ECOBEE SMART THERMOSTAT PREMIUM During the current energy crisis, energy-saving measures have become more vital than ever. And, while turning off the heating completely is not an option for most of us during the winter months, there are ways to save on energy consumption without cutting down on comfort. One such method is offered by the Ecobee SmartThermostat, which has just been released in two new editions; the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium & Smart Thermostat Enhanced. Thanks to the eco+ suite of smart features, ecobee smart thermostats automatically help customers save up to 26 per cent on annual heating and cooling costs by learning and adapting to people’s routines while at home and reducing energy use while away. In fact, eco+ is one of the reasons why ecobee has been named ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for the second year in a row. Furthermore, the new smart thermostats are built with radar – ecobee’s most advanced sensor technology to date – for improved occupancy and motion detection. Moreover, with a harmonious combination of design and function, Smart Thermostat Premium is the only smart thermostat with both an indoor air-quality monitor and an embedded smart speaker, with a choice of Siri or Alexa built-in, encased in a stylish zinc body. Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium : $249.99 94 |

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2023 FORD MUSTANG MACH-E Taking public transport when possible and switching to an electric vehicle when not possible are documented to be two of the most efficient ways of reducing individual carbon footprints. Furthermore, it is commonly acknowledged that getting car owners to leave their flash combustion engines behind can be attempted by using either stick or carrot – the coveted 2023 Mustang Mach-E manifestly offers the latter. In 2020, Ford released Mustang Mach-E, the successor to the Ford Mustang, one of the most iconic names in the automotive industry. The electric SUV sports a wind-friendly teardrop shape, which improves the drag coefficient, and as a result, the range. Starting in fall 2022, Premium models built with the Extended Range battery will have a targeted EPA-estimated range of 290 miles on all-wheel drive models, up 13 miles from previous years’ models. Available on the 2023 Premium models with Extended Range Battery, as well as the GT Performance Edition, is furthermore an extra enticing coating of carrot, in the form of the new Mustang Nite Pony Package which, on the Premium, features high-gloss black 19inch wheels and a black Pony, black front and rear lower fascia, door cladding, and black mirror caps on the grille, while the GT Performance Edition adds 20-inch high-gloss black wheels and black GT badge. Ford offers four different trim levels on the Mustang Mach-E, the Select, the Premium, the California Route 1 and the GT. Single motor RWD and dual motor AWD versions are available, as well as two different battery pack sizes. Mustang Mach-E, GT Extended Range: MSRP: $69,895

Photo: Ford Motor Company

Photo: Ford Motor Company

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Cleantech Products of the Month

Photo: Daikin

DAIKIN EMURA AIR TO AIR HEAT PUMP If you have read the feature on green heating on page 56, you will already be well-versed in the advantages of heat pumps. And, depending on where you live, you might want to take advantage of some of the subsidiaries handed out by many governments to support the switch away from fossil fuels. Of course, heat pumps come in many variations, and which one fits your home will depend on various factors such as the size of your home, insulation level, existing heating installations such as piping and radiators, and outdoor temperatures. If you live in a newbuild with high insulation levels, the Daikin airto-air heat pumps offer up to A+++ energy efficiency thanks to a number of advanced solutions. The company’s signature inverter technology, for example, reduces the energy consumption by up to 30 per cent compared to a non-inverter system. As a market leader for heat pumps in Europe, Daikin offers the full range of solutions, including a multi-split system which allows you to connect up to five indoor units to one outdoor unit, enabling you to efficiently cool or heat up to five different rooms to different temperatures. On top of this, Daikin’s new Multi + range connects a single outdoor unit with up to three indoor units and a domestic hot-water tank of 90 or 120 litres. The air to air indoor units come in a number of variations, our favourite is the Daikin Emura cooling and heating air to air heat pumps which with a sleek design, soft shadow lines, and additional smart has won several design awards including IF DESIGN AWARD and Red Dot Product Design Award 2022. 96 |

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Photo: Daikin

Photo: Daikin


Book of the Month

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Book of the Month

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The Solutions and Breakthroughs We Need, by Bill Gates Most people will know Bill Gates as the co-founder of Microsoft, and some will be aware of his work on health and development through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations. More recently, Gates has found a passion for helping to problem-solve the climate crisis, resulting in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The Solutions and Breakthroughs We Need. Inspired by its recent release in paperback, environmental blogger Anders Lorenzen takes a look at the modestly titled publication. BY ANDERS LORENZEN

As Bill Gates, the tech entrepreneur turned health advocate, acknowledges in the introduction to his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The Solutions and Breakthroughs We Need, two decades ago, he would never have predicted that he would, one day, write a book about climate change. It is, however, exactly what he has done, and to explain how this happened, the book opens with some rather long-winded explanations as to how Gates came to the realisation of why we need to act and why we need to act fast.

be incredibly hard, and in doing so details the challenges of decarbonising industries, such as cement and steel. While he supports renewables, Gates does not promote them as unequivocally as many climate advocates would have wanted. Instead, he rightly, in this reader’s mind, argues we would be foolish not to champion and rapidly scale-up nuclear power as we have been doing with renewables – arguing both technologies are crucial if we are to beat the climate crisis.

If one can get past the fact that a lot of the technologies Gates highlights are from companies and initiatives he is invested in, Gates’ take on the climate crisis offers a refreshing mindset. He has used the available dataset well, crunched the numbers and does throughout the book provide a valuable analysis that has already made its mark on the public debate on climate policies. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The Solutions and Breakthroughs We Need is available to buy now.

It, however, quickly becomes evident that Gates is a numbers guy – throughout the book, he focuses on two numbers; 52 billion and zero – the first number being the number of greenhouse gases emitted each year and the second number being what we need to aim to get to. At the same time, he laments the language conventionally used. Instead of talking about reductions, we ought to talk about the elimination of greenhouse gases, he stresses. But one should not be fooled by Gates’ simplistic approach – not surprisingly, the tech billionaire is a highly detailed and data-orientated person, going through every single clean-energy technology and rating them according to how he perceives their potential. He also makes the admission that decarbonising the economy is going to

Bill Gates is the author of How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The Solutions and Breakthroughs We Need

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Writers of the Month

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

JASON DEIGN Jason Deign is a Barcelona-based business writer, journalist, and author reporting on cleantech, energy, technology and the future. In 2020 he was ranked at number 42 on Tyto Tech’s 500 Power List of the most influential people in the UK technology sector, ranking second within cleantech. Deign runs Jason Deign Associates, a Barcelona-based editorial and copywriting services agency serving clients worldwide. Deign launched Energy Storage Report in 2012 and currently contributes to a range of cleantech publications. www.jasondeign.com

Photo: Marta Fernandez

ANDERS LORENZEN Danish-born Anders Lorenzen is a freelance writer. He is a passionate environmentalist and advocate for action on climate change, as well as 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. agreenerlifeagreenerworld.net

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