October 3, 2017
Russia’s nuclear giant Rosatom goes into lithium
January 27, 2017
Interesting development: Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has announced that it will invest in mining and selling lithium and other metals used in battery production.
The move is the result of the rapid growth seen in the electric vehicle and energy storage sectors in recent years, and also a result of the recent collapse in uranium ore prices, writes analyst James Ayre on CleanTechnica.
“The evolution of the car business is going much faster than predicted,” said Kirill Komarov, the company’s first deputy head, in an interview with Bloomberg. “We plan to accumulate the whole integrated line of everything starting from lithium and up to final batteries or even some cooperation with car producers.”
This does not mean that Rosatom will give up on nuclear – far from it. In September at the 61st Regular Session of the General Conference of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Assocation), director-general Alexey Likhachov of Rosatom presented the corporation’s “long-range agenda”, reports World Nuclear News.
“We are sure that nuclear power development today is inextricably connected with fast neutron reactors and closing the nuclear fuel cycle”, said Likhachov. “Today, Russia is the leader in this field.”
He referred to MBIR – the multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor that is under construction at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) at Dmitrovgrad, which is in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region. He also mentioned the ‘Proryv’, or Breakthrough, project that targets a closed nuclear fuel cycle by eliminating production of radioactive waste from nuclear power generation.
Likhachov also said that “”Everybody understands that the future belongs to green power. Solar, wind, hydro and the atom, while supplementing and strengthening each other, must form the green square which will be the basis of the world’s carbon-free mix. The IAEA forecasts that, by 2050, the total share of clean energy generation in the world energy mix should be more than 80%. Respectively, the installed capacity of NPPs [nuclear power plants] should increase up to 930 GW. This means that, given the replacements of retired NPPs, we are to commission more than 20 GW of new nuclear capacity annually already in ten years. This is a very ambitious but doable task.”
EU LIFE programme now supports 1100 energy and climate projects
October 3, 2017
The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222 million from the EU budget “to support Europe’s transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action”, says a press release from the European Commission.
The EU funding will mobilise additional investments leading to a total of €379 million going towards 139 new projects in 20 Member States, according to the Commission.
Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “In its 25th year, the LIFE programme continues to invest in innovative projects with high added value for people, businesses and nature. I am delighted to see that the programme transforms close-to-market technologies into new, green business.”
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete added: “The historic Paris Agreement on climate change has added wind to the sails of already accelerating climate-smart investments. With these projects, we use limited public finance in a catalytic way: we unlock private finance to protect the environment, fight climate change and provide cleaner energy to our citizens. These kinds of investments are of critical importance if we are to move from aspirations to action.”
€181.9 million will go to projects in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.
In line with the European Commission’s circular economy package, projects will help Member States in their transition to a more circular economy, says the Commission.
Project examples include: “testing an Italian prototype that could cost-effectively convert petrol cars into hybrid vehicles, creating bio-based products from wastewater sludge in the Netherlands, and applying a new biological treatment to remove pesticides and nitrates from water in southern Spain. Other projects will support the implementation of the Action Plan for Nature, in particular the management of Nature 2000 sites. Species protection is another focus, such as in the Slovenian cross-border project to help the survival of a highly endangered Alpine lynx species.”
Note that LIFE is not exactly a tiny programme. “The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 4500 projects across the EU and in third countries, mobilising over €9 billion and contributing over €4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate. At any given moment some 1100 projects are ongoing. The budget for the LIFE Programme for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices, and has a sub-programme for environment and a sub-programme for climate action.”
Green bond issuance will pass $100 billion threshold in 2017
October 3, 2017
The market for green bonds is growing rapidly, reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
BNEF’s most recent Green Bond analysis “finds $96 billion in issuance so far this year, and expects another $39 billion in new green bonds before the end of the year. That $135 billion annual total would be a 36% increase in issuance from 2016.”
A green bond is a loan to a company for “green” projects or activities. Who decides what projects or activities “green” ? This is not always easy to do. Green bonds (also called “climate bonds”) will have to comply with a set of requirements, such as the Green Bond Principles or the standards from the Climate Bonds Initiative.
Bloomberg has its own methodology. It notes that “Bonds are tagged on the Bloomberg Terminal according to Bloomberg’s green bond criteria, which assesses the use of bond proceeds against international green principles.”
According to BNEF, Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power is the largest U.S. issuer to date, having sold over $3 billion worth of green notes to fund investments in power generation since 2015.
Scotland set to ban fracking
October 3, 2017
The Scottish Government is set to announce a ban on fracking, ending six years of fierce controversy, reported the Scotland Herald on 1 October.
“Ministers are putting the finishing touches to a permanent ban, replacing the moratorium they started in January 2015. This will spell the end of plans by the energy industry to frack for shale gas under swathes of central Scotland”, notes the newspaper.
The Sunday Herald notes that “A ban is seen as the best way to fulfil the SNP [Scottish National Party] 2016 manifesto promise not to allow fracking “unless it can be proved beyond any doubt that it will not harm our environment, communities or public health.”
The manifesto, echoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also said the SNP was “deeply sceptical about fracking”. The programme for government launched on September 5 promised a decision “in the coming weeks”.
According to the newspaper, “There is huge opposition to fracking across the potentially impacted communities and amongst SNP members. There were more that 60,000 responses to the Scottish Government’s recent consultation, and the vast majority of those were expressing concerns.”
The Herald writes that “The Grangemouth petrochemical giant, Ineos, has fracking licences for nine large areas around Falkirk, though they have been in suspended animation for most of the last three years. There are also licence applications – some of which may involve other companies – for 19 further zones centred on Edinburgh and Glasgow, which remain similarly unresolved.”
With its ban against fracking, Scotland moves in a radically different direction from England, which is moving ahead with fracking.