Maitland Green: Our weekly update – 30 November 2017
Maitland Green attended ‘Trade in a decarbonising world: where the UK can lead’ with a keynote by BEIS Minister Claire Perry. She opened her remarks by saying how struck she was by the sheer scale of the market and economic opportunity for clean industry when she took on her role. Recent innovations and research meant that clean industries are fast approaching a tipping point into the mainstream. Perry praised the UK’s leading role in climate change, citing the UK’s statutory framework to force carbon emissions downwards a ‘brilliant piece of legislation’. Perry also revealed that having to set targets and budget process forced behaviour change in government that had withstood the test of different political cycles.
Following requests and feedback from other countries, Perry also announced that at next year’s COP, she intends to lead a ‘how to do it’ workshop for other countries. Perry spoke of the huge momentum in clean growth happening globally before asking the assembled stakeholders to tell her department how they could better support decarbonising trade. Speaking of the EU ETS system, Perry promised that there would be no cliff edge for businesses following Brexit and even suggested that she could see an opportunity for the UK to remain in the ETS system longer term.
Perry was particularly confident about Brexit as a catalyst for lots of different sectors. She was keen to use the might of public sector recruitment to support new technology and looking forward to the potential for industries to cross over on innovation – such as new battery technology in EVs informing the energy sector.
The government also has shown that they are willing to back a wider push for electric vehicles across the country. In the Autumn Budget last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £400 million fund to increase the number of electric vehicle chargers on the road, with further plans to incentivise electric vehicles with grants for purchases and tax breaks for company car drivers. However, much to the disappointment of environmentalists, the chancellor also confirmed that there would be no additional funds allotted for new renewables projects levied through electricity bills until 2025 to help keep energy costs down.
Worldwide, a massive 63% boost in electric vehicle sales has been reported, as strong demand from China continues to push the clean transport option forward into the mainstream. A UBS global auto survey found that almost one in every six cars worldwide will be electric by 2025 amidst the news that Shell is teaming up with major auto makers to offer high-speed charging points across 10 European countries.
Electric aviation also received a welcome boost as Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens have announced plans to develop hybrid electric engine plane technology with a demonstrable version ready by as early as 2020, and hopes for commercial application by 2025.
- The Prime Minister vowed to ensure that all Big Six energy giants treat customers fairly after British Gas announced an end to their open-ended standard gas and electricity deals from April.
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced that they are “actively working” on a plan to allow large onshore wind farms to be built once again in Wales and Scotland.
- The government committed to electric transport, as the chancellor announced a £400m fund to boost the number of chargers on the road network.
- Councils have been accused of thwarting the shift towards electric cars by refusing to allow roadside chargers to be installed over concerns that they will “clutter” the street.
- James Heappey MP has claimed that the boom in renewables weakens the case for fracking in the UK.
- Energy regulator Ofgem has announced plans to crack down on excessive tariffs.
- Britain is set to host a new £80m battery research base in Coventry and Warwickshire to develop batteries for use in the automotive industry.
- New research suggests that the rapid cost of renewables combined with flexible demand technology could replace “more than half” of coal and gas-powered electricity in Europe by 2030.
- Strong demand for electric vehicles in China has caused global sales to surge 63%.
- European Parliament MEPs voted in favour of increasing efficiency and renewable energy targets.
- Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are set to develop hybrid electric plane technology as part of a push towards cleaner aviation.
- Emmanuel Macron inaugurated West Africa’s largest solar energy plant in Burkina Faso and pushed for French companies to be the preferred partners to develop future renewables projects on the continent.
- Eight of the world’s largest energy groups have committed to cut methane emissions from their supply chains as part of efforts to promote natural gas as relatively climate-friendly.
- A UBS global autos survey has found that 16% of the cars sold worldwide in 2025 will be electric vehicles.
- A leading Indian financier issued a $400 million green bond on the London Stock Exchange yesterday in a bid to support the country’s renewable energy push.
- Ireland faces a €600m fine for missing EU energy targets as emissions rose 7% since 2015 despite efforts to reduce them.
- Tesla has completed construction of the world’s largest battery in Australia in 55 days, fulfilling Elon Musk’s promise to finish it in 100 days or it would be free.
- The price of solar panels has dropped 26% in just one year, on top of an 80% reduction in the previous 10 years.
- Australian banks have been warned of ‘regulatory action’ following fears they are not doing enough to assess climate change risks.
- Energy companies in Italy and Spain have come up against unexpected local opposition to the closure of their own coal power stations.
- Shell has announced plans to work with some of the world’s biggest carmakers to offer high-speed charging points for electric vehicles in 10 European countries.
- One of Europe’s leading energy consultancies has estimated that Tesla’s electric haulage truck will require the same energy as up to 4,000 homes to recharge.
- The first commercial ship to run only on hydrogen, called the Hydroville passenger shuttle, produces zero pollution.
Comment of the week
How to catch ‘wind turbine syndrome’: by hearing about it and then worrying—The Guardian, Simon Chapman
Simon Chapman resents the so-called “windfarm anxiety” fears swirling around the development of wind turbine technology in Australia. He likens the fears over the new technology to historical fears of electricity, microwave ovens, computers, and WiFi. “I’ve counted 247 different diseases and symptoms in humans and animals attributed by opponents to windfarms. These include lung cancer, skin cancer, haemorrhoids, gaining and losing weight and my favourite, disoriented echidnas. But most are classic symptoms of anxiety: things that can happen to you when you are very worried.” Instead, Chapman claims that few wind farms affect residents in their areas. “Social panics over new technology have a natural history. Few now fear television sets and microwave ovens. The heyday of fearing cell phone towers came and went in the 1990s. Wind farm anxiety is now thankfully rapidly receding.”
Analysis of the week
Why Battery Cost Could Put the Brakes on Electric Car Sales—Bloomberg, Chisaki Watanabe
Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that electric vehicles’ battery prices will need to drop by over half to be competitive with internal-combustion engine powered cars, with 2026 estimated to be the time when this will happen by. “The average cost of cars powered by fossil fuels is about $28,000, a figure that will probably rise to about $30,000 by 2030, based on estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. To become cheap enough to replace that fleet, electric vehicles will rely on a 67 percent drop projected for battery costs in the next nine years.” Toyota has said it’s working to commercialize more stable solid-state batteries in efforts to address the need for safer and more powerful energy storage in the early 2020s. Meanwhile, British company Dyson has claimed that it will build an electric car using solid-state batteries in just three years, with plans to invest £1bn into the development of the car and a further £1bn into the development of the batteries for it. The investment proposed would outpace the investments made to date for electric vehicle development, going even further than other major EV developers like Tesla.