While electric vehicles have proved to be better for the environment than those running on fossil fuel, their production leaves a bigger carbon footprint than making an internal combustion engine equivalent. How batteries for EVs are produced and for how long they last are decisive for making the shift to electric transport as carbon light as possible

Battery powered transportation is not yet as green as it should be

CHEMISTRY LESSONS Battery manufacturers are changing the chemistry of their products to find new combinations which are cheaper or easier to procure, while also increasing performance

COBALT BLUES Being cobalt-free or using a lot less cobalt in batteries could become a commercial advantage…

Natural gas has not yet reached its peak in the US, but the summit is in view

Electric utilities in the United States are no longer using gas as a stepping stone from coal to an all renewables future, but making the crossing in a single leap. Market observers are struggling to find a consensus on the role for gas, but as a back-up of last resort it likely has some years of limited usefulness yet

Natural gas has in the past been touted as a bridge to a low carbon future; it is cheap and plentiful, yet cleaner than coal or oil in terms of CO2 emissions, although not emitted methane. While it is a carbonised fossil fuel, natural gas emits about half as much CO2 as coal when burned, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, but this excludes methane leakages from across the value chain, which greatly increases the climate impact of gas.

However, opinions diverge regarding its future in the United States. Gas fuelled power plants are the nation’s most common way…

Smaller-scale companies make up most of the global economy and for that reason the entire energy transition hangs on their ability to come clean. But small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they are known in the jargon of bureaucrats, often have limited resources. Many will need extra help to meet decarbonisation goals

Much attention has been paid to how blue chip companies — the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook — are decarbonising their significant and power-hungry operations. Energy majors like Shell, BP and Total are also making loud noises about becoming greener, with stated intentions to transform their traditional business in the hope of staying competitive and relevant in today’s energy landscape. Even clean energy technology producers, like wind turbine maker Vestas and electric vehicle company Tesla are delivering answers on how to decarbonise business.

The focus on big names in their relevant sectors, however, ignores a fundamental truth: the wheels of…

Norway has a high penetration of EVs achieved by tax breaks and investment instead of restrictions

With many countries like the UK and France banning the sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, Norway’s solely incentive-based approach levelled the playing field with impressive results

Norway offers evidence that electric vehicles (EV) for personal transport can become mainstream if the cars are cheap enough. Globally, EV adoption is expected to start accelerating in the medium-term, once the purchase price without subsidies, is the same as vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE). Price parity is expected mid-decade, in large part because of declining battery costs. Adoption will also increase as the mileage range for EVs on a single charge increases and charging infrastructure becomes more widespread.

Norway has by far the world’s largest proportion of electric passenger vehicles, a market buoyed by the most generous subsidies…

The US has the most to gain in reducing transport emissions, but a series of federal policy rollbacks have put a dent in electric vehicle uptake. Even so, in the car market contraction induced by the coronavirus pandemic, sales of battery powered vehicles have proportionally suffered far less than sales of internal combustion engine competitors

LONG ROAD EVs still only make up a small percentage of the US market as cultural scepticism, policy barriers and a broad preference for SUVs and pick-up trucks hold back growth

PLAYING CATCH-UP The US market is expected to be proportionally larger than China by 2040 — though not as large as Europe — with EVs having reached a price parity with traditional internal combustion engine models

KEY QUOTE “We are betting on [the] capitalistic powerhouse that is the US market to push EV adoption at a much quicker rate in the 2030s”

Cars and the open road have long…

A giant offshore wind farm built around a Baltic Sea island could send electricity into the transmission grids of at least four countries and be used to power a giant electrolyser to extract hydrogen from water. The energy vision from offshore wind developer Ørsted includes locating the electrolyser in Copenhagen to provide ready access to a market for sales of hydrogen for powering ships, planes and trucks

THE PLAN Locate a giant expandable wind farm around the Danish island of Bornholm to send electricity to mainland Denmark and neighbouring countries. On windy days, divert some of the electricity for production of hydrogen to meet demand for green energy for commercial transportation of goods and people by land, sea and air

ADVANTAGES The project can be built in stages and has the potential capacity and flexibility to meet more than grid demand; wind potential is good around Bornholm and the island is relatively close to populated areas that need large volumes of clean energy

UNKNOWNS Assessments of the…

The early months of 2020 were notable for the number of major announcements by investment managers putting the climate crisis at the forefront of their policies. Clearly, some parts of the investment industry see the danger ahead, but more and faster action is needed to avert disaster. The G7 could lead the way by putting its $100 billion a year support for fossil fuels to better use

FOSSIL FINANCE The world’s largest investment funds have provided $713.3 billion in loans, equity issuances and debt underwriting services to fossil fuel projects from 2016 to mid-2019, all of it since the 2015 Paris Agreement

MARKET SHIFT Driven by fears of stranded assets and catastrophic climate change, the investment industry is starting to step away from fossil fuels and other environmentally damaging activities. …

Technology that integrates solar panels in roof tiles, windows and other building materials is becoming mainstream as costs drop and products become aesthetically attractive

Buildings have lots of surfaces. This may sound obvious, but until now solar photovoltaic systems have been largely installed on roofs and then as add-ons rather than as intrinsic parts of a building. The solar industry and architects believe the time has at long last come for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), or solar skins, to become a mainstream solution to curbing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources for buildings.

BIPV technology can be integrated in traditional building materials, such as windows or roof tiles, be flat or curved, and placed on virtually any building surface. …

Geothermal heating has plenty of potential as a long-term solution to decarbonise heating and cooling systems

Geothermal heating is gaining a foothold, but accounts for only a small share of the renewable heat sources used globally. The benefits are plenty. Long-term, it is cost-effective, stable and clean, but initial costs are high

Geothermal hot springs are right below our feet and offer numerous benefits in a decarbonising world. Used for bathing, heating and cooking for thousands of years, hot springs are also comfortably familiar. Yet, geothermal heating still only accounts for a modest part of the renewable heating sources used around the world.

“Geothermal heating has enormous potential,” says Lars Andersen, managing director at Geoop, a Danish geothermal firm. “Ninety-nine per cent of the Earth’s volume has temperatures above a thousand degrees centigrade. …

The cement industry is one of the largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases. Denmark’s Aalborg Portland, part of the international Cementir Group, is gearing up to bring a new type of cement to the market, which could cut the industry’s emissions by up to 30%. The product is expected to be commercial by the end of 2020

Cement, used to make concrete, involves decomposing limestone (calcium carbonate) to produce clinker, a process that accounts for two-thirds of the industry’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Reducing the clinker content of cement is a key climate lever. Calcined clay has for some time been hailed as a potential replacement for clinker. Denmark’s Aalborg Portland, a producer of cement, says it will have cement made from calcined clay commercially available by 2020.

The cement industry is the third-largest industrial energy consumer in the world and the second-largest industrial emitter of carbon dioxide, responsible for about 7% of global CO2 emissions, says…

FORESIGHT Climate & Energy

FORESIGHT Climate & Energy is the essential read from Denmark on the global transition to a decarbonised energy economy

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