Energy (and environment) politics from an European perspective - newsletter (1)

This newsletter has a very simple aim: give more visibility to what I am doing for several media outlets. My focus: energy and environment at a EU level.

Each piece of news will have a very simple structure: “copy and paste” from an official source, and a line explaining why it is important. The link to the original article/publication will be  provided. I would suggest to check them - they are very interesting publications (Staffetta Quotidiana, and PV Magazine for instance). 

Three pillars of this newsletter: i. environment and energy developments at the EU level, ii. Hydrogen developments (global perspective, from an EU perspective), iii. Other quick notes / my articles about energy and environment innovation, iv. Some events of the coming week to keep in mind (from next week).

The aim is to make weekly news digestible in 10 minutes. It is therefore an exercise of: i. News selections, ii. News recycling (circular economy applied to news).

EU level - link: 

https://www.staffettaonline.com/articolo.aspx?id=353802

The share of electricity generated from renewables in the EU energy mix (39%) exceeded the share of fossil fuels (36%) in 2020 for the first time ever and EU consumption of both electricity (-4%) and gas (-3%) fell from 2019 levels, but most of the drivers for this change (notably the COVID-19 pandemic) were exceptional, according to the latest Commission quarterly reports on gas and electricity markets published last week.

WHY: It is too easy to draw conclusions. Overly optimistic views on renewables could backfire.

Daimler and Statkraft have signed a renewable Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) to use wind and solar energy to power Mercedes factories, 24/7, wrote WindEurope.

WHY: PPA are key to avoid decommissioning.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said that, at the EU level, we are expecting hydrogen investments in the range of 320 – 460 billion EUR by 2030, including: up to 42 billion euro of investments in electrolysers; up to 340 billion in renewables generation; up to 65 billion for transport, distribution, storage and refuelling.

WHY: The EU is committing to invest in projects, these numbers show increasing focus on renewable generation and partially also to research activities for electrolysers.

The European Commission has opened a period for feedback from interested parties on the draft rules for demonstrating how forest biomass complies with the sustainability criteria laid down under Article 29 of the Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001).

WHY: Biomass is a bone of contention in the EU.

With EU members planning steep reductions in fossil fuel use as per the Paris Agreement, these [EU gas import capacity] expansion plans create an €87 billion stranded asset risk and threaten to lock-in emissions well beyond 2050.

WHY: Energy investments could end up being stranded assets, an EU coordination is quite needed. This argument could be easily used by NordStream2 detractors (but the majority of detractors are equally investing in gas infrastructures).

Gas for Climate values the opportunity in TEN-E for the creation of a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure and proposes to speed up the repurposing of existing gas pipelines to achieve the 2030 and 2050 EU climate targets. It also proposes to consider including CO2 storage and CO2 transport for CCU under the TEN-E scope.

WHY: TEN-E spells the future of EU’s energy infrastructures.

Carbon border levy: Ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China "expressed grave concern regarding the proposal for introducing trade barriers, such as unilateral carbon border adjustment, that are discriminatory and against the principles of Equity and CBDR-RC.”

WHY: Carbon border levy is a key policy to make EU investments sustainable.

Hydrogen - link: 

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/04/09/the-hydrogen-stream-strong-push-from-france-new-plans-and-deals-in-uk-italy-brazil-philippines-saudi-arabia-portugal/

The nascent hydrogen economy has seen a good amount of developments in a week that showed an increasing number of players taking part in the game.

France: SNCF Voyageurs placed a €190 million order with Alstom for the first dual mode electric-hydrogen trains, Toyota Motor Corporation became a direct shareholder in SME EODev, Genvia is moving into the Schlumberger’s plant in Béziers to produce electrolysers, New project in Bordeaux Metropole to be commissioned by 2023.

WHY: France has to increase investments in green technologies, it is the only big EU country lagging behind its climate ambitions.

Chart Industries and India’s Reliance Industries will act as co-leads of the consortium for hydrogen production and storage in India. Chart Industries also teamed up with Plug Power and Baker Hughes for the $320-million investment in FiveT Hydrogen Fund. Plug Power intends to commit €160 million ($200 million), and Chart Industries and Baker Hughes each intend to commit €50 million respectively ($60 million

WHY: Chart Industries is coming up with a strong strategy; it shows how manufacturers are switching from the gas market to the hydrogen market.

Philippines’ Department of Energy signed MoU with Japan's Hydrogen Technology (HTI) for hydrogen as a fuel for power generation. Aim: “investigate hydrogen production in the Philippines to make the country energy independent.”

WHY: Significant development from the Philippines. Very ambitious.

Mobility: Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) obtained the certificate for its hydrogen cylinder from Standards Australian, DMI said on March 31. Apart from Australia, it is planning to enter the European market by September.

WHY: Hydrogen will be used in mobility and drones.

Altaaqa and UK-based AFC Energy signed MoU for long term-partnership in Saudi Arabia.

WHY: Post Brexit, UK's global strategy. Saudi Arabia’s hydrogen potential.

Research projects: Eletrobras, Siemens Energy and Cepel teamed up for developments in Brazil; Italian research agency ENEA to lead an interdisciplinary consortium to develop a prototype for high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis (SOE)

WHY: Research into hydrogen will be key to green hydrogen's growth. 

New research from BloombergNEF suggests that green hydrogen costs could fall 85% by 2050 (below the $1/kg threshold). That would spell the end of blue and gray hydrogen production.

WHY: It is all about prices!!!

Other articles:

The coronavirus crisis has significantly increased the speed of digitization worldwide. It has lowered the cost of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) while triggering innovation.

Link: 

https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-spurs-energy-transition-through-artificial-intelligence/a-57149021

WHY: This development will change energy systems forever.

An energy community in northern Italy will integrate a PV installation with a storage system to power 48 households of a social housing project and a fleet of rented electric vehicles. It is a collective effort that could be replicable as soon as 2023.

Link: 

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/04/09/italy-launches-first-solar-energy-community-in-social-housing-project/

WHY: It is a very cool project. A minor one, but possibly an experiment that could be replicated elsewhere. Considering growing inequalities, social housing will be more and more a hot topic .

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