To Reach Net Zero, the Renewable Energy Supply Chain Must Evolve

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The U.K. signed the Paris Agreement five years ago, signifying its climate change prevention efforts. The goal revolves around greenhouse gas emission reductions. It adopted various renewable energy sources to limit atmospheric pollution and generate a zero-carbon economy.

When conducting life cycle assessments and energy audits, researchers discovered ecological issues with clean electricity sources. Low efficiency levels and emission-generating production practices decrease the sustainability of renewable energy. Fortunately, we can restructure the supply chain and increase the industry’s eco-consciousness.

Issues in Production

Various production aspects decrease the sustainability of renewable energy sources. The industry is relatively new and still evolving. Over time, researchers and engineers can target environmentally degrading features and source solutions.

When conducting a life cycle assessment of the production process, one must start by evaluating the materials’ origins. The mining and manufacturing associated with wind turbines generate 80% of their carbon emissions. Additional outputs derive from the transportation of materials and the devices themselves.

The transportation sector produces 27% of all U.K. greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the materials in wind, solar and geothermal systems are rare, decreasing their accessibility. Manufacturers receive the components through air, boat or vehicle transportation, taking on their carbon footprint.

The devices also take on the manufacturing facilities’ emissions. Conventional global energy sources derive from fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas. They pollute the atmosphere during combustion. There are many incentives for manufacturers to convert to sustainable energy, including increasing efficiency and appealing to eco-conscious consumers. Going green pays off in more ways than one.

A significant portion of renewable energy sources’ carbon footprints come from poorly managed facilities. We can increase the sustainability of green devices by restructuring the supply chain. When utilizing an electric grid, we can power production facilities and transportation with zero-emission energy.

The Electric Grid

The electric grid is a sustainable alternative to the current energy system. It can eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels by sourcing all power from renewables, helping countries achieve net-zero goals.

Generating a net-zero grid requires renewable support for production. Fuel cell energy is on the rise, offering zero-emission electricity and vehicle power. Conventionally, fossil fuel-driven energy helps produce hydrogen for fuel cells.

Recently, environmental engineers discovered a method of production using wind power. It helps companies access clean energy without any associated emissions. The net-zero results offer the potential for a purely sustainable electricity grid.

Producing the net-zero electric grid also requires technological advancements in storage systems. One company developed an efficient model using industrial lithium-ion batteries. The energy storage facility has a 300-megawatt battery, holding enough renewable power to help fuel northern California homes during peak hours.

The facility also repurposed an old power plant as its storage center. We can transform the energy sector in a sustainable way, recycling materials and generating zero emissions. When powering a region with the electric grid, commercial and residential properties must adopt compatible technology.

Compatible Devices

Supporting the longevity of renewable power requires energy-efficient devices. Electric and zero-emission items can preserve sources by preventing overworking and burnout.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems historically consume high quantities of energy. Building owners may install electric HVAC devices or geothermal heating pumps, lowering the overconsumption of energy. Installing a geothermal system can decrease a resident’s energy utilization by nearly 70% a year. Low power consumption improves the efficiency and output of renewable energy sources.

Additionally, consumers can convert from fossil fuel-reliant vehicles to electric versions. You can power electric cars with clean energy, generating a net-zero transportation method. Fortunately, the current devices on the market are compatible, decreasing the need for additional production.

The Initial Steps

Meeting the Paris Agreement’s objective requires a complete restructuring of the energy industry. Before developing an electric grid, professionals may convert current production practices away from their fossil fuel reliance. Society may adopt compatible devices after creating a net-zero supply chain.

Various commercial and residential building owners are jumping the gun and installing electric, zero-emission devices today. Even without an electric grid, the devices significantly shrink one’s carbon footprint. They also increase the value of a property, catering to eco-consumer demands.

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

UK Ranked 6th for Share of Power Generated by Wind and Solar Energy

Wind Turbine

The energy and climate think tank Ember ranked the UK 6th for their share of power generated by renewable energy. Denmark held the number one spot. In 2019, wind accounted for 47% of their power usage.

The Rise of Wind and Solar Energy Consumption 

The UK falls not too far behind, with 24.2% of its electricity powered by wind turbines in 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that offshore wind turbines can create enough energy to power every home in the UK within a decade. He plans to upgrade ports and factories for building turbines. The plan also will invest money into manufacturing sites in Teeside Humber located in Northern England.

Along with the growth of wind power, solar power has also increased in popularity. It made up 6% of the total renewable energy generated in 2019. In 2020, there was a significant increase in ground-mounted solar systems. These were mainly driven by large-scale utility projects. There was also a slight increase in rooftop installations.

The partnership between Solar Energy UK and Solar Media Ltd. helped to provide market insights on these projects.

The Decline in Fossil Fuel and Coal Usage

The UK has also decreased its production of coal over the past few years. The amount of coal consumption dropped from 54 million metric tons in 2012 to 2.9 million metric tons in 2019. In fact, the UK only accounts for 3.6% of the world’s total coal consumption. The UK imports most of its coal from Russia.

The UK also saw a decline in its generation of fossil fuels. The pandemic was one major cause of the shift. With the lockdowns, there was lower demand for electricity. This led to the shutdown of many coal-fired plants. Also, during the pandemic, fewer people needed gas. 

The UK’s growing wind industry also impacts the decrease of fossil fuel production. With more wind power available, the less need to rely on nonrenewable sources. The UK is also home to the largest single wind farm in Yorkshire. The plant generates 5% of the country’s total electricity.

The Demand for Electricity Has Declined

The electricity demand has been declining in the UK for the past few years. In 2020, the need for electricity fell to 331,4488 gigawatts per hour. Part of this was due to COVID-19, but other factors include energy-efficient regulations and more eco-friendly consumers.

Since more people understand the benefits of using renewable energy, there’s a lowered demand for other sources.

Why Renewable Energy Is Playing a Larger Role

The UK’s stricter government regulations are causing an increase in renewable energy sources.

In 2015, there was a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MESS) put in place for Whales and England.

This standard set an energy efficiency level for all domestic private rented properties. If the residence has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F or G landlords need to make changes to improve their property. These changes may have to do with lighting or heating.

For example, you could add a solar water heater or solar panels to your home. The MESS regulations were put in place to help the UK reach its carbon reduction targets.

More energy-efficient homes also lower energy bills for consumers. This is why buying energy-efficient appliances are attractive to many people. Residents aren’t the only ones thinking about energy-efficient options. Some power plants use compressed air storage to save energy. This can help to increase the supply during peak energy hours.

There Is Still More to Be Done

While the UK and other countries, such as the U.S. and China, are moving towards renewable energy use. There is still more that needs to be done. To help curb climate emissions, we need to work towards 100% clean energy by 2050. This will help to try and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5℃.

With the UK’s increase in renewable energy and reduction of fossil fuels, they’re helping steer us towards a cleaner future.

Calls For A ‘Fair Heat Deal’ To Kickstart the Market for Low Carbon Heating

UK Government

More than 20 organisations representing builders and construction businesses, energy companies and civil society groups and including the UK Green Building Council and Federation of Master Builders have signed an open letter calling for a “fair heat deal” to incentivise households to install heat pumps and to ensure people on low incomes can gain access to heat pumps.

Other signatories include Energy UK, Friends of the Earth, thinktank E3G and the CPRE countryside charity.

Experts from these organisations have told the government that households on low incomes should be supplied with free heat pumps in order to drive the uptake of alternatives to traditional gas boilers and kickstart the market for low carbon heating.

Though heat pumps are a core part of the government’s net zero goals, they can currently cost thousands of pounds to install, with ground source heat pumps costing up to £35,000 each. However, the more heat pumps that are installed, the faster the cost is likely to come down. They are widely thought to be the best way to replace the UK’s gas boilers and to play an important part in helping the UK meet its climate targets.

Around 14% of the UK’s greenhouse emissions come from heating the UK’s poor housing stock, most of which is draughty and energy inefficient. UK homes are ranked among the least energy efficient in Europe. The letter also calls for insulation to be made available to people on low incomes.

In September 2020, the government launched a programme to install insulation and low-carbon heating, called the Green Homes Grant, but abandoned it after just 6 months. Only a fraction of the homes targeted were insulated and sadly there were widespread complaints of poor service.

At the end of last year, the government had said that it wanted to install 600,000 heat pumps each year by 2028 in the 24.5 million homes that needed them, so the scrapping of the Green Homes Grant was disappointing for both renewable energy installers and homeowners.

Ministers are currently working on a new heat and buildings strategy, which has not yet been published. The government’s statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee, have warned that reducing emissions from the domestic housing sector will be essential to reaching the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said:

“We are already leading the way to ensure affordability and fairness are at the heart of clean heating reforms, and more detail on our approach will be provided in the upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy. We are supporting lower income households and vulnerable people to make homes greener and cut energy bills and will continue to do so through schemes such as the Home Upgrade Grant and the new Clean Heat Grant from April next year.”

Juliet Phillips, a senior policy adviser at the E3G thinktank, one of the organisations behind the letter, said:

“Moving from a gas boiler to a heat pump is one of the biggest carbon savings a household can make. But it must be affordable, and we urge the government to support our fair heat deal to ensure no one is left behind in the green industrial revolution. If done right, the UK can lead the world in reducing carbon emissions from heat while slashing energy bills, boosting the economy and protecting the fuel poor.”

The letter also called on ministers to do away with environmental levies on energy bills, to ensure it is always cheaper to run a heat pump than a boiler and for grants to be available to all households not on low incomes. Ministers want to make sure the cost of a new heat pump is competitive with the cost of installing a new gas boiler.

Signatories of the letter also asked for the removal of VAT on green home products and installation and for changes to stamp duty to reduce the cost of homes that have been equipped with low carbon technology.

Mike Thornton, the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said:

“For the UK to reach its net zero targets, we need real pace and scale in rolling out heat pumps. A fair heat deal will provide the confidence, clarity and certainty which will unlock the investment required for this.”

The letter also said that a ‘warm homes agency’ should be set up to train installers, create green jobs across the UK and maintain high standards.

Joe Tetlow, senior political advisor at Green Alliance, one of the letter’s signatories, said that instead of outlining how homes will be made greener it is “leaking like a draughty house, with briefing and speculation filling the void where published policy and positive progress should be”.

He added:

“The government needs to seize back the agenda, be bullish about its commitment to decarbonising homes and crucially, its intention to protect consumers.”

Despite the urgent need to tackle heating in the domestic housing sector the government admits that there are major challenges in convincing homeowners to install heat pumps. Last month they conceded that it was “uncertain” how mass uptake could be achieved.

An industry event held recently, outlined the problems facing the government. Some heat pumps are noisy and could breach permitted development regulations if placed too close to a neighbour’s window. This could be difficult to avoid in many buildings. Installation can also take several weeks in some cases and could cause significant disruption, while many homes would not have enough space for the kit required. The kit includes either an outdoor unit or ground array, added piping, a control unit, a hot water tank and a buffer tank.

Perhaps an even more serious barrier to the government’s plans is the lack of trained installers. A report by consultant EY published recently found that the UK would need to train almost 10,000 installers within the next four years which is 8 times as many as currently exist.

The report also said officials have not given the industry enough time to get ready for a planned ban on gas boilers in all new homes from 2025.

The BEIS says the government should follow the principles set out by the Climate Assembly UK and ensure fairness underpins the transition to net zero. Meanwhile we all wait for the government to publish their new heat and buildings strategy.

Report Says New Solar and Wind Projects Will Be Cheaper Than Coal


Nearly two-thirds of wind and solar projects built around the world in 2020 will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the most competitive fossil fuel option according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

The report found that 62% of total renewable power generation added last year could undercut the cost of up to 800 gigawatts (GW) worth of coal plants due to the falling costs of new windfarms and solar panels. This would be almost enough to supply the UK’s electricity needs 10 times over.

According to the report, solar power costs fell by 16% last year, while the cost of onshore wind dropped 13% and offshore wind by 9%.

Amazingly, In less than 10 years, the cost of large-scale solar power has dropped by almost 85% while the cost of onshore wind has fallen by almost 56% and offshore wind has declined by almost 48%.

Francesco La Camera, Irena’s director general, said that the research done by the agency had proved the world was “far beyond the tipping point of coal”.

He said:

“Today renewables are the cheapest source of power. Renewables present countries tied to coal with an economically attractive phase-out agenda that ensures they meet growing energy demand, while saving costs, adding jobs, boosting growth and meeting climate ambition.”

To give a few examples of where renewables are cheaper; the cost of a new coal plant in Europe would be well above the cost of new wind and solar farms including mandatory carbon prices; renewable energy in the US could undercut between three-quarters and 91% of existing coal-fired power plants while in India renewable energy would be less expensive than between 87% and 91% of new coal plants.

The report says that if hundreds of existing coal plants were replaced with unsubsidised renewable energy sources, $32.3bn (£22.8bn) could be saved every year in energy system costs and about 3 gigatons of CO2 could be avoided annually.

To give an idea of the magnitude of the changes that will be needed in the future, the carbon saving from phasing out 800GW of coal power capacity would be the equivalent of removing 9% from the world’s energy-related emissions in 2020, or 20% of the carbon savings needed by 2030 to help limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The cost of renewable energy is predicted to continue to fall in the coming years. The report says that over the next two years three-quarters of all new solar power projects that have been competitively procured through auctions and tenders will be cheaper than new coal power plants, and onshore wind costs will be a quarter lower than the cheapest new coal-fired option.

The report said:

“The trend confirms that low-cost renewables are not only the backbone of the electricity system, but that they will also enable electrification in end uses like transport, buildings and industry and unlock competitive indirect electrification with renewable hydrogen.”

As a result of the findings of Irena’s report, countries are being urged to power past coal as renewables would bring cost savings of $156bn to emerging economies.

Francesco La Camera, Irena’s director general said:

“We cannot allow having a dual-track for energy transition where some countries rapidly turn green, and others remain trapped in the fossil-based system of the past. Global solidarity will be crucial, from technology diffusion to financial strategies and investment support. We must make sure everybody benefits from the energy transition.”

Wind and solar energy are set to gain cost competitiveness over fossil fuel and nuclear power in 2021. It is looking increasingly likely that it will be cheaper to add new wind and solar capacity in comparison to new fossil fuel power plants and nuclear power plants.

G7 Leaders Pledge Climate Action But Fall Short On Detail

Between the 11th and 13th of June, the G7 leaders, which includes the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and Italy met at Carbis bay in Cornwall to discuss the delivery of a strong economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and responses to the climate crisis. Against a backdrop of beautiful sandy beaches and hundreds of climate activists demanding action the G7 leaders deliberated over how they could address the climate crisis on a global scale.

Significantly, the G7 meeting began with a video message from the British broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough. He gave a stark warning to the G7 leaders stating that “the natural world is greatly diminished – our climate is warming fast” and that the decisions facing the world’s richest countries were “the most important in human history”.

Despite, efforts to combat the climate crisis being prominent in the G7 leader’s final official document released on 13th June, green groups and activists are disappointed at the lack of detail in plans to promote a green industrial revolution. 

The G7 nations have renewed their pledge to jointly raise $100bn a year to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming.

The agreement for developed countries to contribute $100bn a year in climate finance to poorer countries by 2020 was first made in 2009 but the target has not been met, partly due to the Covid pandemic.

Though the pledge has been renewed, Teresa Anderson, from Action Aid said:

“The G7’s reaffirmation of the previous $100 billion a year target doesn’t come close to addressing the urgency and scale of the crisis.”

Importantly, an agreement was reached by all nations to step up action on climate change. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who hosted the three-day meeting said:

“We were clear this weekend that action needs to start with us.”

This action translated into the G7 leaders all committing to a “green revolution” that would limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C. They also promised to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, halve emissions by 2030, and to conserve or protect at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030.

However, some environmental groups said that the promises didn’t amount to much as they lacked detail. They believe that the world’s rich nations responsible for causing the climate crisis, know what is expected of them but have persistently failed to deliver their promises in full.

One of the achievements of the G7 summit was a commitment to set net-zero targets in the 2030s and to formalise this. Supporting these targets is a commitment to end direct government support for new thermal coal generation capacity without co-located carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies by the end of this year. Several of the G7 nations, including the UK, have already pledged to end coal production before 2030. This pledge is particularly significant for Japan as coal accounted for 31% of Japan’s electricity in the 2019-2020 financial year and it is believed to be the world’s second largest coal supporter, after China.

The G7 leaders have promised to help developing countries move away from coal plants unless they have the technology to capture carbon emissions. A commitment was made to stop direct funding for coal-fired stations in OECD nations by the end of 2021. These strict measures, herald the demise of the coal industry which fuelled the industrial revolution, and comes at a time when Sir David Attenborough warns that humans could be “on the verge of destabilising the entire planet”.

Ending the use of the world’s dirtiest fuel, coal, is seen by environmentalists as a major step but they also want guarantees that rich nations will deliver on their previous promises to help poorer nations with climate change.

The UK has been criticised a great deal for failing to publish a detailed roadmap outlining exactly how the nation plans to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. The government is expected to publish a dedicated strategy prior to the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow in November this year. The G7 has also committed to publishing strategies outlining how efforts to deliver a global transition to net-zero will be reached. They have also promised to do their utmost to publish them before COP26.

It’s good to see that the G7 realise the importance of linking discussions set to take place at COP26 with the themes and findings of the impending Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The CBD have already commenced meetings to formalise a ‘global diversity Framework’ that would be adopted by governments across the globe akin to the Paris agreement aimed at fighting the global average temperature rise.

The G7 has formally agreed to a shared G7 Nature Compact which notably commits nations to supporting the target to conserve or protect at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of global ocean by the end of the decade.

A commitment has also been made by the G7 to “strengthen their deployment and implementation” of nature-based solutions (NbS), acknowledging that they can deliver “significant multiple benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, and people and thereby contributing to the achievement of various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The G7, however, stated that these solutions should not replace the “necessity for urgent decarbonisation and reduction of emissions”.

Furthermore, the G7 renewed their commitment to the New York Declaration on Forests to end natural forest loss and, building on the Bonn Challenge, restore 350 million hectares of forest by 2030. The previous 2020 deadline of the declaration has not been reached and it looks like the signatories to the original declaration have done little towards achieving their commitments up to now.

The G7 official communique does outline the importance of tackling emissions from the global transport sector, but unlike a net-zero energy agreement, efforts to reduce transportation emissions remain less clear. The G7 confirmed that it would “intensify efforts in enhancing the offer of more sustainable transport modes”, including encouraging phase-out of traditional passenger vehicles in favour of electric vehicles (EVs) before 2040.

Although the G7 did agree on a new framework aimed at funnelling billions into green infrastructure, the details of this new framework are largely non-existent. The UK government has however, claimed that details of the new initiative will be outlined prior to COP26, and that a key focus will be to boost green infrastructure deployment in developing countries.

As with green infrastructure, a focus on green innovation was mentioned but again without any concrete plans. The G7 noted the importance of the circular economy, as well as electrifications and “comprehensive industrial heat utilisation”, fuel switching and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS). Despite this, no official ringfenced funding was announced for these technologies.

It’s looking likely that financing for low-carbon solutions will develop nation by nation ran than through global agreements. Some markets will be better set up to promote certain solutions as the UK, for example, has a world-leading offshore wind market.

The G7 welcomed the second phase of Mission innovation, (the first phase began in 2015) which consists of the European Union and 22 other governments that covers 90% of global public investment into green energy solutions. The Mission Innovation members have committed to pushing “affordable and attractive clean energy, accessible to all in this decade”.

Many crucial pledges were made during the G7 summit but there does appear to be a distinct lack of detail on how these pledges will come to fruition.

How Much Energy Do NFTs Take Up?

Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, are unifying computerization and the world of marketable art. Like Bitcoin, the tokens are a cryptocurrency. However, instead of maintaining a fixed value, each token holds a different value, like a baseball card.

The push towards digitization derives from eco-conscious intentions. Physical art forms utilize many materials like ecologically degrading paints and rare resources. Though NFTs may lessen artists’ exploitation of natural resources, it is essential to examine their carbon footprint.

The Environmental Impact of Physical Art

Before evaluating the energy use and carbon footprint of NFTs, we must examine the environmental impact of physical art forms.

Many well-known pieces display nationally, traveling from exhibit to exhibit. The greenhouse gas emissions generated from shipping an art piece by plane or truck significantly affect its carbon footprint.

The transportation sector accounts for 27% of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. It is the single most polluting division of the country, generating 112 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. When artists frequently move their work, it contributes to atmospheric pollution.

Artists also use paints containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds have adverse environmental and human health effects. VOCs generate fine particles, creating smog and compromising the ozone layer.

VOCs’ effects increase climate change and ecological degradation. Glass-blown pieces also generate adverse environmental impacts. High-temperature ovens rely on vast quantities of natural gases to function, for example.

When burned, natural gas releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The glass blowing sector also has low recycling rates and creates heavy metal pollution. All these ecological considerations led environmentalists to revolutionize the art industry.

NFTs and Their Environmental Impact

Since the Paris Agreement, various industries have adopted sustainable practices. Corporations increasingly balance shareholder expectations with reductions in localized community pollution and increased ecological conservation.

The market is changing, and industries must meet eco-consumer demands to remain relevant and profitable. Over 62% of Generation Z consumers prefer to purchase sustainably sourced goods and services. As a result, they represent a significant portion of the consumer market, influencing company actions.

Unfortunately, NFTs come with environmental limitations. Most “crypto art” distribution and security technology derive from Ethereum. The Ethereum platform uses 48.14 kilowatt-hours of energy per transaction.

The Ethereum blockchain generates thousands of transactions every day. One transaction uses as much power as the conventional household over a day and a half. As a result, it significantly increases global energy consumption.

The blockchain uses vast quantities of energy for proof-of-work (PoW) security. When you purchase an NFT, you hold the original and singular rights to the digital artwork. PoW prevents double-spending or duplication of the piece.

The security system uses data mining to assign a unique identifier to the purchase and constructs mathematical problems that ensure an owner’s protection. Math problems are solved through trial and error by computer systems, running all day and using significant amounts of electricity.

A Sustainable Solution

Environmental engineers and scientists search for sustainable solutions to crypto’s serious emission problem. Data mining generates a significant portion of energy expenditure in the NFT industry. Recently, Elon Musk explained Bitcoin’s plans for using renewable energy.

Musk presented a goal of mining with 50% renewable energy. NFTs can also utilize clean power, significantly reducing their environmental impact. However, a global transition will take time, strict policies, and public pressure.

Over 75% of cryptocurrency data mining occurred in China in 2020. China fuels 40% of its coin mining operations with coal, causing high greenhouse gas emissions. The under-regulation of crypto limits investors’ abilities to influence energy sourcing.

Fortunately, eco-consumers continue driving the market in various industries. For example, they influenced modern physical art forms, creating pieces with trash and limiting surface pollution. So, what is holding them back from altering NFT practices?

Without customers, the crypto art market will crash. Miners must adopt renewable energy and sustainability features for financial success. Over time, their influence can bring carbon-neutrality to the NFT industry.

How to Help

If you are a digital art fanatic looking to expand your gallery, evaluate mining sources before purchasing. Consider the impact of your purchase and its effect on your carbon footprint. Supporting renewably fueled mining can positively influence the NFT market.

Purchasing NFTs from coal-driven mining platforms can support ecologically degrading practices. In addition, you can conduct crypto origin research and ensure the limited impact of your digital art purchase.

New Measures Revealed by The Mayor Of London To Support ‘Retrofit Revolution’

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn has revealed plans to introduce a new package of measures that will make buildings more energy efficient and at the same time help to tackle the climate emergency. He has declared it to be a ‘retrofit revolution’ for London.

These measures form part of the city’s Green New Deal mission, which was announced in November 2020 along with a £10 million investment to help fund areas such as the fourth phase of the London Community Energy Fund project as well as the Old Oak and Park Royal Solar PV programme and the Solar Together London group-buying scheme.

In partnership with Solar Energy UK, the mayor of London intends to launch new training and apprenticeships that focus on battery storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging and related smart tech. This training is vital as there is a notable skills gap in renewables throughout the UK. In order to sustain and create new green jobs more people need to undertake these and other renewables related apprenticeships.

The programme also known as Solar Skills London includes a placement to get trainees into solar businesses and targeted grant schemes to deliver training to staff at 100 solar installation companies in London. The new investment in London’s solar workforce will help to drive the mass uptake of solar energy this decade, enabling Londoners to learn more about solar technologies as well as creating more green jobs.

There is already support for solar within the capital, with around 200 schools having signed up to have solar panels and other efficiency work completed with support and expertise from City Hall.

A key part of the Mayor’s target of reaching net zero by 2030 is to grasp the opportunity for more solar energy on London’s rooftops. His energy programmes alone are expected to more than double the amount of clean energy London generates from solar, but more investment will be needed to ensure the capital goes much further.

It is not only solar that is being supported in the mayor’s mission, but also green transport, energy efficiency programmes and green foundations groups such as Advance London and Better Future, which are designed to support the growth of new and existing business in the green economy.

Projects that are designed to help support decarbonisation and create jobs will receive funding. This will include ensuring the capital has the electricity infrastructure to support the electric vehicle (EV) rollout. In order to identify the best locations around the city for chargers as well as the best times to charge, innovative planning tools will be used.

The new programme of measures follows the mayor of London’s announcement in July last year that £1.5 billion would be allocated to infrastructure projects to kickstart London’s Covid-19 recovery.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: 

“Creating jobs and tackling the climate emergency are two of my priorities for London and that’s why I am delighted London is leading the way on a retrofit revolution.

A strong economic recovery from COVID-19 and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive. This transformative approach to retrofit will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes, and could play a vital role cutting energy bills and tackling fuel poverty.”

As things stand, London’s homes and workplaces are responsible for 78% of the capital’s carbon emissions which means that almost all will need some degree of retrofitting over the next 10 years. London’s social housing urgently needs to be upgraded to be as energy efficient as possible. To be able to deliver the Mayor’s climate targets and tackle fuel poverty, improvements such as better insulation, ultra-low carbon heat and clean power sources like solar energy need to be put in place. Currently London has the third highest level of fuel poverty in the country, with Barking and Dagenham having the highest of any local authority in England.

The mayor will work with London councils and social housing providers on these ambitious new projects which will include an Innovation Partnership designed to facilitate social landlords and UK building firms working together to upgrade aging homes. This partnership has a potential value of £10 billion in retrofit works which could create around 150,000 jobs over the decade. Backed by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) the creation of a 3.5 billion national retrofit centre of excellence was announced at the same time with the intention of helping assist social housing providers gain access to funding for major retrofit projects. It will also support providers in developing plans to improve their chances of being successful through the next round of the £160 million Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. The national retrofit centre of excellence will make it possible to ensure homes are fit for the future, affordable and protect the most vulnerable from cold and damp homes.

These measures make up part of the necessary work to increase the quality and speed of retrofits which will make it possible for social housing landlords to cut carbon emissions and reduce heating costs for thousands of homes and so help to address the growing problem of fuel poverty. Social housing providers are able to access free support from summer 2021.

London’s low carbon and environmental goods and services sector, its ‘green economy’, was worth £48 billion in 2019/20, employing 317,000 people across 14,000 businesses. The sector has grown from £24 billion in 2010/11, employing 164,000 and 9,000 companies.  The Green New Deal mission aims to double the size of the green economy in London to £100 billion by 2030, an ambition that would kick-start greater job growth over the next decade.

Royal Dutch Shell Ordered to Cut Emissions by 45% by 2030 in Landmark Case

On the 26th May this year, Royal Dutch Shell, a British-Dutch multinational, was ordered by a Dutch civil court to cut it’s CO2 emissions by 45% compared to 2019 levels, by 2030. The lawsuit was filed in April 2019 by seven activist groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace on behalf of 17,200 Dutch citizens. The unprecedented ruling was reached after the oil giant’s sustainability policy was found to be insufficiently “concrete” and it could have far reaching consequences for the rest of the global fossil fuel industry and other polluting multinationals.

Some major oil companies have already begun to make changes as a result of the greater global focus on cutting emissions. Chevron investors have recently voted in favour of a proposal to cut its customer emissions, while shareholders at Exxon have elected two climate activists to its board after months of arguing over its business direction.

Many believe that the landmark case is a “turning point in history”.  Friends of the Earth said that it’s the first time that a company has been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris climate accords. Almost 200 countries agreed to keep global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels under the terms of the Paris agreement on climate change, a legally binding treaty that came into force on 4th November 2016.

Shell was found in breach of article 6:162 of the Dutch civil code and to be violating articles 2 & 8 of the European convention of human rights, the right to life and the right to family life by causing a danger to others when alternative measures could be taken.

The court’s verdict said that the Shell group was responsible for its own CO2 emissions and those of its suppliers. Though Shell had pledged to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 20% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 the court in the Hague did not consider that this was fast enough. The lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Shell had been aware for decades of the dangerous consequences of CO2 emissions, but its targets had remained insufficiently robust. It’s no longer enough for firms to comply with the law on their emissions, they may be forced to comply with global climate policy too.

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands said:

“This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris climate agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”

Roger Cox is asking organisations across the world to take legal action to force multinationals to play their full part in tackling the climate emergency.

The Shell verdict alone will be a warning to companies round the world that the battle against climate change may ultimately spell the end of anything resembling “business as usual”.

Donald Pols, a director at Friends of the Earth said in a statement:

“This is really great news and a gigantic victory for the earth, our children and for all of us. The judge leaves no doubt about it: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must now stop it quickly.”

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the European parliament’s environment committee, said:

“This ruling is really good news for the climate. It increases the pressure on large polluters and helps us in Europe to tighten climate policy for them as well. They can no longer escape the climate crisis: the international climate targets must also apply to them.”

Shell said it was disappointed and plans to appeal the ruling, but this comes at a time when there is already mounting pressure on energy companies from investors, activists, and governments to move away from fossil fuels and to rapidly ramp up investment in renewables.

In their defence a Shell spokesperson said:

“Urgent action is needed on climate change, which is why we have accelerated our efforts to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050. We are investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels”.

The company also argues that if people feel that progress towards cutting emissions is too slow, they should lobby governments and not Shell, to change policies and introduce financial incentives.

However, it may well be necessary to both lobby governments and take legal action against the big polluters, in order to reach global climate targets.

There is a lot of hope riding on this court ruling with many climate change activists and campaign groups hoping that the verdict will trigger a surge of legal action against the big polluters to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels.

Tom Cummins, dispute resolution partner at law firm Ashurst said:

“This is arguably the most significant climate change related judgment yet, which emphasises that companies and not just governments may be the target of strategic litigation which seeks to drive changes in behaviour.”

Top 5 Solar Farm Land Requirements

A solar land lease is an excellent way to generate an additional revenue stream—with little to no effort on the part of the landowner. In 2021, solar developers across the United States are seeking suitable land for the development of solar farm projects. However, not every parcel of land is suitable for a solar farm and, although the specifics can vary on a project-by-project basis, there are some key requirements common to a successful solar farm.

Below, we have explored the five key areas which determine whether or not land is suitable for the development of a solar project. Of course, each piece of land is unique and the best way to determine the viability of a solar farm is to speak directly with an experienced solar developer. Nonetheless, the following points will give a general idea of whether or not land is suitable for a solar farm.

#1. Parcel Size

If the parcel of land isn’t large enough to house a solar farm, then the project won’t go ahead. Generally speaking, solar developers will require a minimum of 10 acres of usable land—or 200 acres for a utility-scale project. A good rule of thumb is that 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels requires an area of 100 square feet. It’s also important to note that local towns and authorities usually do not permit full coverage of the entire parcel. YSG’s experience is that instead, they will likely allow somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the total acreage to be covered with the solar PV project. So, if we take our 10 acre minimum as an example, only 6 of those acres will be utilized after setbacks and zoning restrictions. This will be equal to a 1 MWdc solar facility based on YSG’s 5 acres per 1 MW rule of thumb.

#2. Land Condition

As with a traditional agricultural farm, the quality of the terrain will play a significant role in determining the viability and success of the project. Solar developers are seeking clear, flat land, with little to no wetlands, and minimal incline (5 degrees maximum). YSG has noticed a trend towards single-axis tracker units. This is a racking system that will move in a single direction (east/west) to maximize the generation of each solar panel. This can increase power generation by 15%. According to Kenneth DeCiccio at YSG Solar, the land must not exceed a 5 degree incline in order to utilize a tracker system. The land should receive plenty of sunlight annually and be stable enough to house all necessary solar equipment. Smaller obstructions like bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation can be removed—though this could increase overall project costs—but major obstructions which prohibit construction or cause significant shading may prove too big of a stumbling block for developers.

#3. Infrastructure Proximity

Alongside the size and quality of the land, its location will play a key role in determining the viability of a solar farm. YSG’s rule of thumb is to make sure that the parcel is within 1,000 feet of three-phase power, and 2 miles of a substation. The further away a location is from the grid, the higher the cost of interconnection for the developer. As the distance and the cost increase, the land becomes less desirable for prospective developers. Even infrastructure like road access is an important component, as easy access to main roads keeps transport costs low, thus reducing the overall cost of the project. Proximity to a big town/city may offer greater access to the infrastructure necessary for the operations and maintenance of a solar farm project. YSG’s project developer, Kenneth DeCiccio, says, “We avoid connecting solar facilities at the end of the circuit, and the closer proximity to the substation does impact our interconnection upgrade costs.” Items like primary metering, reclosures, and upgrading fuses at the substation are standard upgrade costs, while reconductoring can also be an expensive item. How much does it cost to run three-phase power to a solar farm? On average, in the Northeast of the U.S, the cost is $500,000 per mile of electrical feeder. The typical voltage that a solar farm is seeking will be 12 kV – 32.4 kV.

#4. Local Policy

Regardless of the size or quality of a parcel of land, if local laws and regulations prohibit the construction of a solar farm, then the project will not be able to proceed. For a developer and landowner to work together and develop a solar farm, they need a clear path to construction and interconnection, with local policy allowing for the development of a solar PV project on the land. If there are immediate issues with construction permits or land limits then, unfortunately, the solar farm simply won’t be viable. These issues are more common in areas with fewer renewable energy projects, where the regulations and laws surrounding projects like solar farms are prohibitive or underdeveloped. YSG Solar has worked with various local governments to help rewrite zoning laws or other land use regulations to allow for solar farm development. Typically, items such as screening and visual buffers are of great importance to the community. In areas such as the Hudson Valley region in upstate New York, most of the towns require solar farm ‘screening’ per the local town code. Additionally, certain areas must be left undeveloped for environmental/conservation reasons. For example, the land may be home to a protected species of plant/animal.

#5. Flooding Potential

Before construction begins on a solar farm project, a flood risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that the land is not under threat from future flooding. If the risk assessment indicates a high risk of flooding then the project is unlikely to move ahead. However, even if the land is located on a floodplain, it doesn’t necessarily rule out a solar farm completely. In New York, for example, information regarding flood stage levels is available for most rivers in the state. So, even if the parcel is located on a floodplain, it may be possible to proceed with a solar project—it just requires a little extra planning to ensure that the solar equipment is both strong enough and elevated enough to withstand any potential flooding. It is important to note, however, that these additional measures could lead to additional project costs.

YSG Solar is a project development company responsible for commoditizing energy infrastructure projects. We work with long-term owners and operators to provide clean energy assets with stable, predictable cash flows. YSG’s market focus is distributed generation and utility-scale projects located within North America.

Flighty Business Models Are Causing a Climate Crisis

Most modern companies are expected to move faster than ever — customers expect more, quicker. Keeping up with growing demand typically means speeding up business processes. This swift pace can generate significant waste as a result, however.

One recent article in CMS Wire summarized the early results from a new study on how companies’ digital habits may encourage waste. About 45% of respondents described their business as having a “launch and leave” culture rather than practices that prioritize quality and reuse of resources.

Waste is often central to modern business models. When normalized, these practices can harm the environment and may even be one of the primary drivers behind climate change. Reducing trash generation could help companies fight this global crisis.

How Some Business Models Increase Waste

In England alone, commercial activities generate around 27.1 million tonnes of waste every year. Industrial practices contribute another 10.1 million tonnes. Together, that’s a little less than one-fifth of all the waste produced in England. Most of it goes to landfills, and a significant portion consists of food, paper and cardboard products, plastic, metal and wood.

Food waste tends to have a significant carbon impact after it is sent to landfills. In the U.K. alone, an estimated 27 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is generated every year by these emissions.

Travel can also contribute significantly to a business’s overall carbon footprint — including meetings, employee commutes and deliveries. Certain types of travel are worse for the environment than others. Bicycling and walking have little or no environmental impact, while flying is a major contributor to global greenhouse emissions. Worldwide, flights produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019.

Carbon emissions for flying are also higher depending on how you fly. According to the U.K.’s Defra carbon conversion factors, emissions per passenger per km are 0.60kg CO2e for first class, 0.43kg CO2e for business class and 0.15kg CO2e for economy.

Frequent flights in first class could significantly increase a business’s overall carbon footprint. In contrast, travel by tram or light rail tends to produce just 0.02kg CO2e per passenger per km on average.

Creating Sustainable Business Models

Changes at the societal level will likely have the biggest impact on business sustainability. Low-carbon aviation fuel could significantly reduce the carbon cost of travel by air. Widespread adoption of renewable energy, both at the grid level and by individual businesses, could also help make workplaces more sustainable.

Shifts in business practices could also help. Law firms are often major generators of paper waste. As a result, some are making sustainable business changes, like the use of e-filing, scanning, faxing and digital storage systems, to help to reduce the use of physical documents.

Changing how a business’s team travels can make a major difference. Going by rail produces significantly less CO2 than air. Alternatives to in-person meetings — like videoconferencing — can also help a company reduce its travel-related carbon emissions.

Offering the ability for employees to work remotely can also help. Every time someone can telecommute instead of driving to their workplace, they may save 23 miles’ (37 km) worth of travel emissions on average.

More major shifts to a business model can provide better results. Committing to renewable energy can help significantly cut down on business emissions. An office with solar panels would need to rely on local fossil fuel-fired energy sources.

Retrofitting an office or workplace with smart climate control and lighting technology could also help. For example, IoT thermostats can optimize a building’s temperature, automatically adjusting it throughout the day to keep things comfortable and reduce energy consumption.

Smart lighting can turn off when a building is unoccupied, saving money and energy. This simple change can make a huge difference with little effort.

How New Business Models Could Help Fight Climate Change

Many modern businesses are wasteful — food, paper and travel by air all contribute significantly to national and global carbon emissions.

Changes at both the societal and corporate levels can make a significant difference in how wasteful companies are. Recycling, travel by train and the use of energy-efficient smart technology can all help make workplaces much more sustainable.