Dundee is now at the vanguard of the switch to zero-carbon transport. It already boasts the largest number of electric minicabs anywhere in the UK (134 at the last count), a council-owned network of four solar-powered charging hubs capable of taking 78 cars at a time (with sites for another 60 being built) and the highest number of rapid chargers of any Scottish city. In a few days it will open a rooftop charging hub – solar-powered, of course – at a city-centre multistorey. Despite the Scottish government’s boasts about its charging network, Scotland’s drivers have been slow to take up electric vehicles. Official sales figures show that while Scotland has 8.5% of the UK’s population, only 5.8% of the UK’s ultra-low-emission cars are registered in Scotland. That’s 11,607, out of a total of 2.5m cars in Scotland. Meanwhile, bus use has been in long-term decline and CO2 emissions from transport continue to grow. Environment campaigners welcome the shift to electric vehicles, but John Lauder, the deputy chief executive of the sustainable travel charity Sustrans, said far greater effort was needed to cut overall private car use, not just to switch from fossil fuels. “Electric vehicles are not always carbon neutral, they will not tackle congestion in our towns and cities, they will not improve road safety and they will do nothing to deal with the obesity crisis facing Scotland,” he said. “We need to see a sizeable reduction in shorter urban journeys by car, and we have existing technologies that can be scaled up and rolled out in a far shorter timescale: walking and cycling.”
UK Power Networks has contracted 18.2MW of grid balancing services in London and South East England, after holding one of the UK’s first major auctions to provide power flexibility through the use of battery storage, demand-side-response, and behind-the-meter generation technologies. The distribution network operator is the UK’s first to commit to a ‘Flexibility First’ approach aimed at more efficiently using generated energy as increasing levels of intermittent renewable power sources come on to the grid. The hope is that the approach can provide additional power capacity at lower cost and with lower emissions than compared to the traditional approach of building more power plants for grid reinforcement. After first announcing the auction in May, UK Power Networks announced late last week that it has now agreed contracts collectively worth £450,000 with four companies: Moixa, AMP Clean Energy, Limejump and Powervault. UK Power Networks teamed up with Piclo to identify areas best suited for provision of flexibility services, using the software designer’s smart energy platform to provide a “heat-map” for areas of network congestion and link them with grid flexibility service providers.
A tender process has been launched as Aberdeen bids to build on its reputation as a centre of excellence for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The £100k study is jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council (with support from the EU’s Interreg Hytrec2 project), Opportunity North East and Scottish Enterprise. The study aims to develop a business case which will explore the development of a sustainable and commercial supply of hydrogen in the city, which can then be adopted by other Scottish cities in future years. The commitment of the three partners demonstrates the city’s ambitions to embrace the future of hydrogen. As part of the tender potential locations for a hydrogen hub will be identified in addition to outlining the strategic, economic, financial and commercial objectives whilst determining the opportunities to seek private investment in the hydrogen market. Aberdeen has one of Europe’s largest fleets of fuel cell buses, which has exceeded the million-mile mark, and the study will seek to develop the next phase and continue to strengthen the city’s reputation as a global energy innovator.
Smart Charging: parked EV batteries can save billions in grid balancing. 95% of a car’s time is spent parked. It’s why parked and plugged-in EVs could be the battery banks of the future, stabilising grids powered by wind and solar. More than 1bn EVs could be on the world’s road by 2050, their 14 TWh of EV batteries dwarfing the projected 9 TWh of stationary batteries, according to the IRENA report “Innovation Outlook: smart charging for electric vehicles”. Smart charging could therefore save billions of dollars in grid investments. Distribution system operator Stromnetz Hamburg is testing a smart charging system which, when fully implemented, could reduce grid investments by 90%. But there are specific challenges, including: slow charging (rather than fast) is better suited to grid balancing; “car sharing” reduces an EV’s grid availability; charging infrastructure at home and at the workplace is critical.
FIFE-based Living Solutions (LS) are going all out this week to increase their ‘green energy footprint’, as they take delivery of their new hybrid Renault Kangoo van, supplied by local company – Bright Green Hydrogen (BGH). The Levenmouth Community Energy Project – led by BGH in Methil, Fife – is a collaborative initiative supported by Fife Council and Toshiba. Begins a spokesperson: “This new industry development involves the facility being created into the world’s foremost demonstrator of hydrogen derived from renewable turbine and solar resources. “It is the first project of its kind in Scotland to use green hydrogen to fuel a fleet of hybrid/electric vans to the road.” This new vehicle will add to Living Solutions’ green credentials, as they are already working to create an eco-friendly zero emissions tree-surgery service – as they ramp up their contracting business.
The bright yellow Big Lemon buses are a familiar sight – and smell – on the roads of Brighton and Hove. For nine years the Community Interest Company has run all its vehicles on waste cooking oil from local restaurants, recycled into biodiesel, but now it wants to go one step further. The Big Lemon wants to install solar panels on the roof of its east Brighton depot, storing the energy in batteries and charging buses overnight. It is working with the Brighton Energy Cooperative (BEC) towards a vision of zero emissions bus services in every UK community by 2030, using Brighton as a pilot.
Two dual-fuel bin lorries which have the ability to run on both hydrogen and diesel have been delivered to Fife council in Scotland. Converted to run on both fuels by Liverpool-based low emission vehicle specialist ULEMCo, the two Heil Farid vehicles are designed to produce lower carbon and air pollution emissions reducing their environmental impact in densely populated urban areas. The work is part of the council’s Levenmouth Community Energy Project, which was last year awarded £4.3m through the the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund and will see the area become home to up to 25 hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles. The project will also see the conversion of five Ford Transit vans and 10 Renault HyKangoo vans to hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell operation, as well as the installation of hydrogen refuelling points in Methil and Fife council’s depot at Bankhead, Glenrothes.
Community energy group Mongoose Energy intends to launch its energy supply business before the end of the year after plans accelerated in recent months. Solar Power Portal reported in December that Mongoose was preparing a supply business for late 2016, however the company this morning revealed fresh details of their plans. A senior management team is currently being assembled and will be revealed later this quarter, while launch tariffs will be announced in Q3 2016 prior to a full launch later this year. When open for business, Mongoose is expected to become the first energy supplier majority owned by community energy groups and Jan-Willem Bode, chief executive at Mongoose Energy, said the project had “the potential to transform the nature of energy ownership”.
The cities of Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London are set to welcome an array of green vehicle technologies and innovations after winning a share of a new £40m fund from the Government to support the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) across the UK. London has been awarded £13m to create the ‘Neighbourhoods of the future’ which prioritises EV travel over conventional methods in certain London boroughs. EV charging streetlights in Hackney and a low-emission zone parking and traffic priority in Harrow are among the green innovations to be rolled out through the new funding. Meanwhile, Westminster City Council – which already provides free EV parking as a way of incentivising uptake – aims to promote the sale of 70,000 EVs by 2020. This target will be increased to 250,000 by 2025. The former European Green Capital, Bristol, will receive £7m to give EVs access to three carpool lanes as well as installing more than 80 rapid and fast charging areas. A scheme offering people a monthly lease of a plug-in car is also on offer.
A Scottish community energy project is on track to become one of Europe’s largest fleets of hydrogen-powered vehicles after the scheme’s lead partner announced the order of 15 such vehicles. Bright Green Hydrogen has invested in 10 Renault HyKangoo vans. The Levenmouth project – which secured £4 million from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Fund – aims to position Levenmouth as a global leader in clean energy through developing the Hydrogen Office Project in Methil into a world-class demonstrator of hydrogen applications, generated from renewable sources.