Maitland Green: Our weekly update – 30 November 2017

30th 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.

Must reads






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.