13 February, 2018

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New report from Oxford Martin Net-Zero Carbon Investment Initiative

The Oxford Martin Net-Zero Carbon Investment Initiative recently published the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, a briefing that provides a framework for engagement between climate-conscious investors and companies across the global economy. The briefing is adapted from a recent paper published in Nature Climate Change.

Exeter University’s IGov will hold an energy conference focused on Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems in London next month. All speakers at the conference will be women. Prof. Catherine Mitchell, who is helping to organise the event, has highlighted the need for greater diversity in the energy sector to advance the transition to a low carbon energy system.

BP has announced plans to invest US$500 million in low carbon businesses each year. BP’s investment strategy will focus on five key areas: advanced mobility, bio and low carbon products, carbon management, power and storage, and digital.

The South African government has approved an application by national energy utility Eskom to procure some of the additional 6.3GW of renewable energy capacity that the South African energy minister first announced nearly three years ago. The utility has claimed a lack of adequate transmission infrastructure has limited power procurement from renewable energy.

A recent report published by the Aldersgate group and written by professors at University College London explores what government can do to support competitive industrial electricity prices. The report recommends the UK government improves investment conditions in low-cost renewable energy, coordinates investment in network infrastructure, and increases interconnection with EU power grids.

Australia has seen a record month for rooftop and large scale solar installations leading analysts to suggest Australia’s solar capacity could almost double in a single year. Low installation costs and a boost in commercial uptake drove the installation of 111MW of new panels, a 69% increase compared to January 2017. In other news, India reached 20 GW of solar capacity after adding 9.5GW in 2017, surpassing its 2022 target of 20GW four years early.

Iceland is expected to use more energy mining virtual currencies such as bitcoin this year than it uses to power homes. Due to the favourable climate conditions and abundance of renewable energy, many virtual currency companies are establishing mining operations in Iceland with demand expected to reach 100MW this year.

Energy storage and electric vehicles

National Grid’s T-4 auction for the 2021/22 winter period has cleared at a record low price of just £8.40/kW per year, almost one third of last year’s auction. CCGTs picked up the largest share of awarded capacity with 23GW while battery storage found it hard to compete after securing only 153MW worth of contracts.

UK start-up Gravitricity has secured £650,000 of government funding to rejuvenate old mine shafts to store energy. Gravitricity suspends weights up to 2000 tonnes in deep shafts, raising the weights to the surface when excess electricity is being generated. The weights can then be released in less than a second, at variable speed, to respond to fluctuations in demand almost instantly.

Oxford City Council has been awarded £1.7 million to introduce Oxford’s first fully-electric double-decker buses. The funding will retrofit five of the city’s open-top sightseeing buses to make them fully electric while also retrofitting 78 local buses to be less polluting. This follows last year’s announcement of a planned zero-emission zone for Oxford city centre by 2035.

Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing announced last week that it would build an electric car sharing service that would allow members to use vehicles on demand through an app-based system. Didi said the new network is supported by 12 automakers, including the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Last November, Didi said that more than 260,000 EVs were already running on its network, and the company aims to introduce one million more electric cars by 2020.

Demand-side response

Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission has approved a slate of demand response programs that will improve grid management by controlling customer equipment through wireless networks and advanced metering. The decision came after two years of technical and financial analysis and will support Hawaiian Electric Co.’s plan to meet 100% of the state’s renewables by 2045.

Italian energy company Enel has secured a tender to provide 165MW in demand response services in Japan through its US subsidiary EnerNOC. The company stated it would increase its virtual power plant capacity to 165MW from 60MW currently, aiming for a market share of 17% in Japan by this summer.

The UK consortium recently formed by blockchain technology developer Electron aims to start testing an ‘energy eBay’ in the first half of this year. The trading platform will be a shared marketplace for energy assets that aims to support new flexibility markets being launched by grid operators and utilities.