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The European Investment Bank decided to stop funding fossil fuel projects

Last week the European Investment Bank (EIB) adopted its new energy lending policy, which would see it end funding to most new fossil fuel projects from the end of 2021

This means that from the end of 2021 the world's biggest multilateral bank will end new lending to fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Colin Roche, fossil free campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Today's decision is a significant victory for the climate movement. Finally, the world's largest public bank has bowed to public pressure and recognised that funding for all fossil fuels must end – and now all other banks, public and private must follow their lead.

The final policy has been the subject of intense debate since its publication in July and has been watered down under pressure from Germany and the European Commission. The Commission continues to promote dozens of gas projects while Germany backs new infrastructure such as the gigantic Nord Stream II.

Colin Roche continued, "The European Commission must now end their obsession with gas and focus on the emergency action needed to stop the climate crisis instead of building yet more gas projects to last for decades to come. But 2021 is still too late if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown, the EIB needs to reject any fossil fuel projects and close its loopholes for gas, and not wait till 2021."

Stronghold for Power One in East Africa

Earlier this year Power One was offered to electrify a university in Amhara in Ethiopia. Now five more Ethiopian universities also wish to be electrified by Power One.

 

Power One is specialised in electrifying formerly non electrified areas with renewable energy. The area of operation is established in East Africa but is growing. Apart from electrifying remote areas in Burundi and eastern Congo the company was earlier this year asked to supply one university in Ethiopia with 50 MW renewable energy. Now five other Ethiopian universities also wish to be electrified by Power One.

Power One´s mini-grid projects will bring much needed renewable energy resource to hundreds of thousands university students, professors and staff at major universities. These universities are located in cities with strong economic activities and expanding industrial parks.

Located in East Africa and just north of the Equator, Ethiopia is a country endowed with an ideal level of solar irradiation for the development of solar energy. Presently Ethiopia has approximately 4,300 MW of installed generation capacity which is short of the demand to serve a population of over 100 million people. However, the demand for electric power continues to outpace supply as Ethiopia’s hydropower plants, supplying more than 90 percent of the electricity, struggle to produce at full capacity. The country's solar radiation has therefore the potential to generate thousands of megawatts of renewable energy.

Power One now aims to develop a replicable platform under which five additional major public universities in Ethiopia can develop similar solar-based mini-grids that are scalable to meet rising demand.

A car that runs forever?

Put together the best solar panels money can buy, super-efficient batteries and decades of car-making know-how and, theoretically, a vehicle might run forever. That’s the audacious motivation behind a project by Toyota Motor Corp.Sharp Corp. and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan, or NEDO, to test a Prius that could revolutionize transportation.

 Even if fully electric cars overtake petroleum-powered vehicles in sales, they still need to be plugged in, which means building a network of charging stations across the globe. The sun, on the other hand, shines everywhere for free, and when that energy is paired with enough battery capacity to propel automobiles at night, solar-powered cars could leapfrog all the new-energy technologies being developed, from plug-in hybrids to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles,.

 But the current forecast is only partly sunny because there’s still some work left to reach that level of efficiency.

“This is not a technology we are going to see widely used in the next decades,” said Takeshi Miyao, an auto analyst at consultancy Carnorama. “It’s going to take a long time.”

Not for lack of trying. Toyota and Hyundai Motor Co. already introduced commercial models with solar panels on the roof, but they were too underpowered and could barely juice the sound system.

“The solar car’s advantage is that — while it can’t drive for a long range — it’s really independent of charging facilities,” said Koji Makino, a project manager at Toyota.

Indeed, there have been some breakthroughs, mainly due to advancements by Sharp. The prototype’s solar panel converts sunlight at an efficiency level of more than 34%, compared with about 20% for current panels on the market.

Because the solar cell being used by Toyota, Sharp and NEDO is only about 0.03 mm thick, it can be placed on more surfaces, including the curvy parts of the roof, hood and hatchback. The electrical system can charge the vehicle even when it’s on the move.

If the car is driven four days a week for a maximum of 50 kilometers a day, there’s no need to plug into an outlet, NEDO’s Yamazaki said.

Toronto garbage trucks soon powered by biogas from the waste they collect

All of the garbage trucks in Toronto will soon be powered by the biogas produced from the very trash they collect. Toronto is set to be one of the first cities in North America to launch such an initiative, thanks to the their newly-constructed Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.

Starting in March 2020, the city’s fleet of garbage trucks will collect all of the organic waste and flood scraps from the Toronto Green Bins and bring them to the facility for processing. The facility will then use anaerobic digesters to capture all of the biogas produced by the waste and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG).

After the scraps are dropped off at the facility, the city’s 170 garbage trucks can then immediately fill up their fuel tanks with RNG before heading out to collect more trash.

According to city officials, “RNG is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles or provide electricity or heat to homes and businesses.

"RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon-negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.”

10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto are generated by garbage, primarily food waste. Now, estimates suggest that the Dufferin facility will produce approximately 3.2 million cubic meters of RNG per year, which will save roughly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 from ending up in the atmosphere.

This closed-loop system is just one of the city’s four pre-planned waste-to-RNG production schemes for the coming years.

The military coup in Bolivia likely to give a German company the right to extract lithium deposits for batteries. 

The military coup in Bolivia has put in place a government which appears likely to give a German company the right to extract lithium deposits for batteries. 

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni salt flats hold the largest reserves of lithium in the world and demand for lithium is expected to more than double by 2025. The soft, light mineral is mined mainly in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Bolivia has plenty—9 million tons that have never been mined commercially, the second-largest amount in the world—but until now there's been no practical way to mine and sell it.

Morales' cancellation of the ACISA deal opened the door to either a renegotiation of the agreement with terms delivering more of the profits to the area's population or the outright nationalization of the Bolivian lithium extraction industry.

"Bolivia's lithium belongs to the Bolivian people," tweeted Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins. "Not to multinational corporate cabals."

The coup, which resulted in Morales resigning and going into hiding, was the result of days of protests from right-wing elements angry at the leftist Morales government. Sen. Jeanine Añez, of the center-right party Democratic Unity, is currently the interim president in the unstable post-coup government in advance of elections.

Investment analyst publisher Argus urged investors to keep an eye on the developing situation in Bolivia.

India cancel coal power due to record low cost for solar power

Leaders in India have turned their backs and walked away from plans of building nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – which is about as much power used in the whole of the UK. The dramatic plummeting of the cost of solar energy has made this possible. This good news only highlights the rate of change regarding solar energy, reports India Times.

Analyst Tim Buckley (director of energy finance studies) wrote in his article on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s website that this shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India will have “profound” ramifications for global energy markets. He tells about how 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been canceled so far this month.

It all started in January of 2016 when Fortum, a Finnish company, got on board to generate electricity in Rajasthan at record low tariff (a guaranteed price) of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt-hour (about 5p). At the time, Mr. Buckley said that this price was so low it would never be repeated.

He was wrong about that! Just 16 months later, an auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees. That’s 31% less than the wholesale price charged by a major coal-power utility of 3.2 rupees! From that moment, everything turned in favour of renewable energy.

Mr. Buckley said: For the first time solar is cheaper than coal and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound.

Time to invest in Africa

The African continent is about to seize every available opportunity to attract investments, according to the second edition of Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, hosted by the African Development Bank. The summit is one of Africa's premier investment conference and brings together pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private investors, policymakers, private equity firms, and heads of government.

Highlighting how Rwanda was working to improve the investment ecosystem, President Kagame recounted multiple initiatives ranging from policy initiatives such as ensuring predictable governance, ensuring rule of law, guaranteeing security to investment support such as hubs, innovation fund among others.

"We have concentrated on creating a good environment for people to do business, a predictable governance system, security, in a region of East African Community that is probably the fastest growing region on our continent and Rwanda being part of and benefiting from that," he said.

The President was speaking alongside South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário of Mozambique on a panel discussion on Investing in Africa.

"Let's do what we know we have to do, let's involve our women, see more numbers of women becoming CEOs because they are many who are capable, we should not leave our women behind, that's what we have tried to address. We know we should have transparent, accountable systems of government, we have to create rule of law in our environment for people to expect certain things to happen and that's what happens. I cannot give advice that anyone doesn't know in this room, everyone knows what we are talking about. Let's just do it," he added responding to a participant who asked for advice on how to increase investment in Africa." Kagame said.

He challenged leaders and stakeholders from across the continent to seize every available opportunity to get towards where the continent ought to be.

"It is not just knowing what you ought to do or being capable of it, it is about actually doing it," Kagame said.

 

The U.S. central bank takes climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability

Severe weather carries economic and financial stability risks and major central banks have already made climate change an explicit part of their financial stability remits. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration still denies climate change exist, the U.S. central bank now also consider taking climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability, and may even take it into account when setting monetary policy.

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore. Scientists all over the world are in broad agreement that carbon dioxide from cars, power plants and other human sources are behind the climate change that’s already making powerful hurricanes, severe drought, and other weather extremes more frequent.

“To fulfill our core responsibilities, it will be important for the Federal Reserve to study the implications of climate change for the economy and the financial system and to adapt our work accordingly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks released at the start of the Fed’s first-ever conference on climate change and economics in San Francisco, Reuters reports.

The Fed, she said, will need to look at how to keep banks and the financial system resilient amid risks from extreme weather, higher temperatures, rising sea levels and other effects of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The attention for the San Francisco conference was so big that it was oversubscribed. Due to this a webcast was created to meet demand. Papers presented at the conference showed how climate change has crimped growth and presented ideas on how policy, including monetary policy, can be used to mitigate harm.

Ms. Brainard said the central bank now discuss how it might participate in a network of about 40 global central banks that was created in 2017 to promote climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues. The goal of becoming more active with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, she said, would be to “learn from our international colleagues’ approaches to measuring and managing climate risks in the financial system.”

As social norms have shifted, the Fed has talked about inequality more openly and regularly without a backlash. A similar evolution seems to be underway when it comes to the climate.

“Climate change is an issue we can’t afford to ignore,” San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said at the start of the conference. “This is not a hypothetical risk of the future...the risks are here, we have to deal with them.”

Scientists Have Discovered How To Turn Seawater Into Fuel

With hydrogen fuel there are no carbon emissions. The only down side is that it uses water that we could be drinking instead. But now scientists have figured out a way to skip this costly water purification part of the process and convert seawater into usable hydrogen. This research is published in the journal PNAS.

The electrodes in water make it possible for the chemical reaction in which hydrogen is formed. When electricity is run through water it splits the hydrogen and oxygen, giving you a pure and zero-emission fuel source.

Seawater contains a positive electrode that attracts chloride, quickly decaying the metal. To tackle this problem, the scientists added a new metal coating so the electrode can last longer. The team was able to use 10 times more electricity with its device, generating hydrogen even faster than before. As a bonus, they made their design environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and powered it with solar cells.

The good thing about fuel cells is that it could store more energy than batteries while avoiding some of their environmental challenges.

"Hydrogen is the next generation of power because the energy density is higher than batteries, meaning that you can drive for a longer distance, or power heavier devices." explains Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford University.

  • Hydrogen-powered cars are already on the roads around the world
  • A hydrogen-powered train is now running in Germany
  • A hydrogen-powered ferry is coming to San Francisco this year
  • Hydrogen-powered cargo ships are currently being designed in Norway
  • The first regional hydrogen-electric airplane is being developed by a startup in Singapore

 

In the future, ships running on hydrogen fuel cells will be able to make their own fuel directly from the ocean with the help of renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines.

South Korea to build three cities powered by hydrogen before 2022

South Korea is trying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology. The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way.

The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces. The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country's cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040.

This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen powered cars.

With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refueling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles.

But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream.

The output from hydrogen-powered cars is only water as a by-product. Producing the hydrogen itself is an energy-intensive process though, but as long as the production is powered by renewable sources the system is completely clean.

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