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.
Tesla, the maker of luxury electric cars, has unveiled a series of batteries that will allow homes and businesses to store renewable energy, as it attempts to solve a major challenge facing the transition to the low carbon economy. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and chief executive, made the much anticipated announcement last night, confirming the new modular Powerwall system would sell at $3,000 (£1,954) for a 7kWh battery, rising to $3,500 for a 10kWh unit. Deliveries are expected to start in late summer in the US. Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, called the announcement “a nail in the coffin” for conventional utilities.
“It’s a fantastic idea, I say – powering a bus with poo, who’d have thought?” The soft West Country burr belongs to Maisie, a 30-year-old nurse travelling with her toddler, Josh, and three bags of shopping. Squirming out of his mother’s grasp, Josh presses his face to the window as we pass rows of Georgian terraces and graffiti-speckled tower blocks. This is Bristol, and while the surroundings are typical of many British cities, our 41-seater bus is unique. Not due to its sleek design or humorous exterior – though it’s certainly turning heads as we drive past the harbourside – but because the aptly named No 2 bus doesn’t use electricity or oil: it runs entirely on human faeces.
Network Rail could cut operating costs by £150m between 2019 and 2024 by inviting investors to fund trackside solar arrays. That is the conclusion of a new report from infrastructure consultancy WSP, which argues installing solar panels on half of the trackside land in the UK could save Network Rail £30m a year, cutting costs by £150m over the next five year control period. It also investigates new approaches for creating additional value out of the UK rail network, argues that trackside solar panels could provide up to 2.44GW of capacity, increasing the UK’s current installed solar capacity by almost 50 per cent. The approach, which has already been pioneered in a number of European countries, is thought to be particularly attractive as trackside solar arrays would not eat into agricultural land, are unlikely to have a significant visual impact, and tend to have access to grid connections. The report acknowledges that Network Rail would not be able to fund such a large energy infrastructure programme, given cost estimates reach £2.9bn. But WSP’s renewable energy expert Barny Evans argued the project could prove highly attractive to clean energy investors.
Leading investment bank UBS says the payback time for unsubsidised investment in electric vehicles plus rooftop solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6-8 years by 2020 – triggering a massive revolution in the energy industry. “It’s time to join the revolution,” UBS says in a note to clients, in what could be interpreted as a massive slap-down to those governments and corporates who believe that centralised fossil fuel generation will dominate for decades to come. UBS, however, argues that solar panels and batteries will be disruptive technologies. So, too, will electric vehicles and storage.