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The energy director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has made astonishing statements about coal investments prompting Bankwatch’s EBRD campaign team to react.
posted on the Bankwatch blog by Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath, Bankwatch EBRD campaign coordinator
At about the same time as scientists declared an unprecedented and increasingly dangerous CO2 concentration in the earth’s atmosphere, the Energy Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Mr. Ricardo Puliti, warned in an interview with the guardian against an “ideological” approach to financing energy projects that only takes climate change into consideration. Clearly as a reaction to a widespread call to end coal financing, Mr. Puliti specifically ruled out a “No” to coal.
The news has been received with surprise and open criticism not only by environmental organisations. [*] Colleagues here at Bankwatch were particularly astonished by Mr. Puliti’s understanding that what scientists repeatedly called for was “ideological”: to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. (We were also surprised by the claim the EBRD only financed two coal-related projects between 2006 and 2012. A quick look at the database for 2006-2011 – one that includes natural resources projects and is based on Bankwatch’s own methodology – shows 16 coal-related projects worth more than EUR 600 million.) [**]
Yet, Mr. Puliti is not the only one at the bank talking about balancing [the apocalyptic threat of] climate change with other priorities such as security of supply and affordability. We have heard the same repeatedly in the corridors and meetings at the EBRD’s annual meeting in Istanbul last week, which is why it is time to make a few points in reaction:Ideology vs. science
First of all, intensified efforts to halt climate change are not urged by ideologists, but for decades by climate scientists, on the one hand, and by respected institutions like the International Energy Agency, on the other hand. Bankwatch’s demand to exclude coal projects from the EBRD’s portfolio is informed by these scientific analyses and supported by calls from several other international institutions (including other development banks) for a discontinuation of fossil-fuel subsidies and by the warnings about the economic “cost of inaction”.
Climate science suggests one meaningful target, to keep the rise in global temperature under a maximum of 2 degrees if catastrophic climate change is to be prevented. Seemingly blind to this goal, the EBRD has expressed great satisfaction and pride with ANY contribution to CO2 reductions, even if it enforces the status quo by entrenching coal in the energy mix of countries for decades to come.
A case in point is the Kolubara lignite mine which provides more than half of Serbia’s electricity. The EBRD’s investment will bring estimated emission reductions of 200 000 tonnes CO2 equivalents while the mine’s remaining lignite reserves will produce 540 million tonnes if burned. (Other examples are the Sostanj lignite power plant in Slovenia and potentially a lignite power plant in Kosovo.)Does excluding coal contradict affordability?
Mr. Puliti suggests affordability as one possible reason to keep coal in the mix. But affordability calculations often favour fossil fuels, because promoters
A 2012 report by Corner House vividly discusses the pitfalls of “energy security” (and security of supply), both as policy and as rhetoric.
[T]he more that the term “energy security” is invoked, the less clear it is just what is being “secured” as a range of different interest groups use it to signify many often contradictory goals. The multiple meanings of “energy security” are an obstacle to clear thinking and good policymaking. They are also an open invitation for deception and demagoguery, making it easy for politicians and their advisers to use fear to push regressive, militaristic social and environmental programmes.
I’m certainly not accusing the EBRD of demagoguery or militarism, but our experience with the bank has often been that where security of supply is the core justification, alternatives to the damaging energy sources have not properly been assessed.If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading
I have been struggling to understand why in our communication with the EBRD we seldom come to a shared understanding. In the endless policy consultations in which the banks engages us these days, if we get to agree, usually it is an agreement to disagree. In Istanbul we reached one conclusion with the bank’s staff, that perhaps our disagreements have to do with our incompatible definitions of ‘sustainability’. Why else would we consider the Sostanj lignite power plant an outrageous investment that will lock Slovenia into a high carbon future while the EBRD places it under its Sustainable Energy Initiative?
If the EBRD believes in a low-carbon transition and indeed wants to act as a responsible “active citizen” (Mr. Puliti) it should invest in projects that enable the fundamental shifts in industrial, institutional, social and political relationships that are needed in our region for an effective response to the climate threat. Anything less than that will not be fit for purpose.
[*] The EBRD’s Director of Communications stated on twitter that Mr. Puliti has been misquoted in the guardian article, referring, however, to the notion of a possible expansion of coal funding by the EBRD, not the points discussed in this blog post. By the time of publication, no correction has been made on the guardian’s website.
[**] More details, including an outline and explanation of Bankwatch’s methodology can be found in the report Tug of War: Fossil fuels versus green energy at the EBRDRelated articles
Enerkem Inc., the developer of a thermochemical (gasification and catalytic synthesis) process to produce synthetic fuels with an initial focus on ethanol (earlier post), has launched a new research project with the Government of Canada. The objective of the project is to develop new catalytic processes for the conversion of waste into drop-in biofuels fully interchangeable with hydrocarbon fuels, such as conventional gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
Enerkem’s core business is the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, and we now intend to take advantage of our flexible technology platform to gradually expand our line of biofuels and chemical products. —Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem
The Government of Canada is contributing $1.1 million to this project via Natural Resources Canada.
Enerkem’s technology produces a chemical-grade synthesis gas that serves as a key intermediate for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. This R&D project will be conducted at Enerkem’s research and development pilot facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke.
The University of Michigan announced the establishment of the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) as a partnership with government and industry to improve the safety, sustainability and accessibility of the ways that people and goods move from place to place.
A key focus of the MTC will be a model deployment that will allow researchers to test emerging concepts in connected and automated vehicles and vehicle systems in both off-road and on-road settings. The model deployment will build in part on a $25-million study for the US Department of Transportation now underway at UMTRI. (Earlier post.)
Researchers there have outfitted nearly 3,000 private cars, trucks and buses in Ann Arbor with wireless devices to communicate information that can be used to alert drivers of potential crash situations to each other as well as to similar devices located at intersections, curves, and freeway sites in the area. Data gathered from this pilot project will be used to inform future policy decisions by the US DOT.
Rapid advances in such diverse areas as connected vehicle systems, driverless vehicles, shared vehicles and advanced propulsion systems have brought us to the cusp of a revolution that will transform mobility worldwide. The goal of the MTC is to draw on U-M’s broad strengths in engineering, urban planning, energy technology, information technology, policy and social sciences to accelerate progress toward a working system that synthesizes these continuing advances.— Stephen Forrest, U-M vice president for research
According to Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute and director of the new center, emerging technological advances could bring substantial benefits.
Integrating the most promising approaches to mobility into a coordinated system could reduce motor vehicle fatalities and injuries as well as energy consumption and carbon emissions by as much as a factor of 10. We also estimate that freight transportation costs could be cut by a factor of 3, and the need for parking could go down by a factor of 5.—Peter Sweatman
Beyond the safety pilot, MTC draws on a strong base of existing research and relationships with industry at U-M.
Research conducted under the auspices of the MTC will not just focus on emerging technologies, Forrest said, but also social, political, regulatory and economic issues that must be addressed in order to realize the promise of technological advances.
Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable composed of the most senior executives from the state’s largest companies, has identified becoming a Global Center for Mobility as one of the six strategies with the most potential to grow the economy.
The Michigan state government has also identified the importance of continuing innovation in this arena to the vitality of the industry and the health of the economy.
Scientists have returned from a 15‑day research expedition in the northern Gulf of Mexico with the best high-resolution seismic data and imagery yet obtained of sediments with high gas hydrate saturations.
The expedition and the data and imagery collected resulted from long-standing cooperation between the US Department of the Interior’s US Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). This collaboration aims to advance scientific understanding of gas hydrates, a potential future energy resource.
Gas hydrates are ice-like substances formed when certain gases combine with water at specific pressures and temperatures. Deposits of gas hydrates are widespread in marine sediments beneath the ocean floor and in sediments within and beneath permafrost areas, where pressure-temperature conditions keep the gas trapped in the hydrate structure. Methane is the gas most often trapped in these deposits, making gas hydrates a potentially significant source for natural gas around the world.
This expedition represents a significant milestone. The data and imagery provide insight into the entire petroleum system at each location, including the source of gas, the migration pathways for the gas, the distribution of hydrate-bearing sediments, and the traps that hold the hydrate and free gas in place. The USGS has a globally recognized research effort studying gas hydrates in settings around the world, and this project combines our unique expertise with that of other agencies to advance research on this potential future energy resource.— USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce
The recently completed expedition was planned jointly by USGS, DOE, and BOEM, and was executed by USGS. Using low-energy seismic sources, USGS scientists collected details about the nature of the gas hydrate reservoirs and about geologic features of the sediment between the reservoirs and the seafloor. The new data also provide information about how much gas hydrate exists in a much broader area than can be determined from using standard industry seismic data, which is typically designed to image much deeper geologic units.
The high-resolution nature of the data acquired through this interagency project will uniquely inform the BOEM effort to assess the resource potential of gas hydrates on the US Outer Continental Shelf.—Renee Orr, Chief, Strategic Resources Office, BOEM
The data were collected at two locations in the Gulf of Mexico where the three federal agencies partnered with an industry consortium to conduct a drilling expedition in 2009. That expedition discovered gas hydrate filling between 50 and 90 percent of the available pore space between sediment grains in sandy layers in the subsurface. These reservoirs are expected to be representative of the 6,700 trillion cubic feet of gas that BOEM estimates is housed in gas hydrates in sand-rich reservoirs in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The new data are being used to refine estimates of the nature, distribution, and concentration of gas hydrate in the vicinity of the 2009 drill sites. This will help assess how useful specialized seismic data may be to estimating hydrate saturations in deepwater sediments.
In coming years, the three agencies will continue their collaborative investigation of gas hydrates in the northern Gulf of Mexico and other locations across the world.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (DE-FOA-0000920) seeking feedback from stakeholders for hydrogen delivery research and development activities aimed at lowering the cost of hydrogen delivery technologies in order to reach the threshold cost goal of $2-4 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (gge) produced, delivered and dispensed of hydrogen.
The RFI is not a funding opportunity announcement, although DOE said it may issue such an FOA in the future. The RFI covers two main areas of interest: Compression, Storage and Dispensing; and Liquefaction.
Compression, Storage and Dispensing (CSD). DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) Office would like feedback on the “2013 Hydrogen Compression, Storage, and Dispensing Cost Reduction Workshop Final Report”, with specific interest in which of the topics identified in the report are the most relevant to cost reduction at the hydrogen refueling station (forecourt).
DOE also is looking for input on topics which could address cost reduction at the forecourt which are not included.
The Hydrogen Compression, Storage, and Dispensing Cost Reduction Workshop was held at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) on 20–21 March 2013, and featured 36 participants representing industry, government, and national laboratories with expertise in the relevant fields. The objective of the workshop was to identify the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) needs in the areas of compression, storage, and dispensing (CSD) to enable cost reduction of hydrogen fuel at fueling stations.
The workshop was divided into sessions for compression, storage, and other forecourt issues. Among the findings:
Compression Cost Reduction Opportunities. Hydrogen compressors currently used at fueling stations are generally either diaphragm or reciprocating compressors. Poor reliability is a problem for hydrogen compressors because current standards for their design assume prolonged operation at peak pressure—an operating regime that is not representative of the operating conditions to which forecourt hydrogen compressors are exposed.
The operating and maintenance cost of in-service compressors is exacerbated by the on/off cycling of the compressors resulting from a lack of station demand.
The capital cost of the commercial hardware remains high due to low production volumes. Significant cost reductions can be achieved through high-volume production; panelists estimated that a 70% reduction in compressor capital cost is possible from a three-order-of-magnitude increase in production demand.Identified activities to decrease the cost of hydrogen compression at the forecourt include research and development (R&D) to develop design standards and tests that accurately reflect operating conditions; development of high-temperature polymer and composites that are compatible with hydrogen; identification of high-strength metallic materials that are resistant to hydrogen embrittlement; improved compressor efficiency; and collection of compressor durability and reliability data to better understand the current mean time between failures and failure modes.
Storage Cost Reduction Opportunities. The cost of on-site storage is determined by vessel requirements and durability. High-pressure stainless steel vessels are expensive due to the thickness necessary for containment and the manufacturing process requirements. Composite carbon fiber and steel vessels are a potential alternative.
To become economically competitive with steel, lower-cost, high-strength carbon fiber and improved batch-to-batch carbon fiber quality are needed. In addition, composite vessels are constrained due to the lack of non-destructive tests for recertification and the 15-year service life, which is based on glass fiber degradation. R&D to better understand the effect of partial pressure cycles on composite tank life and the design of non-destructive tests for tank recertification is needed to extend the service life of carbon fiber composite tanks, which would lower the life cycle cost.
Another low-cost alternative is a steel/concrete composite vessel projected to meet the DOE’s 2020 dollar per kilogram cost goal and is currently under development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Another significant barrier to low-cost on-site hydrogen storage is the large setback distances required by facility codes and standards. The early stations are expected to be deployed in urban environments where real estate is at a premium. Requiring larger than necessary setback distances from wall openings (e.g., gas station windows) at best significantly increases the station cost and at worse precludes station placement in these settings.
Necessary activities include research to determine ideal minimal setback distances and development of underground and containerized storage to reduce cost. Analysis of other alternatives such as installing hydrogen refueling stations at retail stores or the use of high-pressure tube trailers in a “swap and drop” scenario could identify lower-cost alternatives to the traditional station design of co-locating facilities at existing gasoline refueling sites.
Cost savings could also be obtained by maximizing the use of high-pressure storage through development of the necessary balance of plant components and standardization of storage vessel capacity to increase production volumes and lower cost.
Other Forecourt Issues Cost Reduction Opportunities. Key opportunities for cost reduction outside of compression and storage were identified in hydrogen dispensing and through analysis work to optimize station designs.
Hydrogen metering requires further development to meet the required 1-2% system accuracy while also lowering costs. Other recommendations included development of high-pressure welding standards and hardware to measure the quantity and quality of the hydrogen as well as the performance of the refueling station during vehicle fills.
Opportunities to reduce cost through station optimization include analysis to establish the expected demand profiles for early and mature market demands, allowing for optimization of station design for both the near and long terms. Once these profiles are established, an analysis of the trade-off between compressor throughput and on-site storage capacity to meet station demand could be performed to optimize station design for both performance and cost. Another analysis activity identified was work to quantify the cost effects of different fueling protocols in order to provide input to code development.
Liquefaction Technologies. Current liquefaction technologies require significant capital investment and the process is energy intensive. Current liquefaction contributes ~$1.50/gge to the cost of hydrogen delivery via liquid pathway.
At 8-12 kWh/kg H2 and ~$186 million for a 300,000 kg/day plant, significant cost reduction and energy improvements are needed to reach the $1-2/gge delivery cost goal for hydrogen delivery and dispensing. The Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) Office requests information on improved liquefaction cycles and novel approaches to both lower the cost and the energy requirement of the technology.
Of specific interest are what liquefaction process innovations can potentially reduce energy penalties and cost, as well as the potential cost reduction, the estimated kWh/kg energy requirement of the process, the kg/day capacity of the design, and the barriers to commercialization.
General Motors Co. and Nissan have signed an agreement for Nissan to produce a small cargo vehicle that GM will sell in the United States and Canada. GM will procure the vehicle from Nissan and distribute it through the Chevrolet dealer network.
GM expects the Chevrolet City Express, based on the Nissan NV200, to be available for sale in the fall of 2014. Nissan currently sells a version of the vehicle as the NV200 in numerous markets globally, including the United States and Canada.
The 2015 City Express, Chevrolet’s first entry into the small van segment in the US and Canada, will join the full-size Express van as part of the Chevrolet lineup in the fall of 2014.
Our fleet customers have asked us for an entry in the commercial small van segment, so this addition to the Chevrolet portfolio will strengthen our position with fleets and our commercial customers.—Ed Peper, US vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial Sales
Working with partners to expand markets for our innovative products enhances Nissan’s growth and manufacturing efficiency by leveraging our capacity to meet growing demand in this space.—Joe Castelli, Nissan vice president, commercial vehicles
The City Express will be available in LS and LT trim levels and features 2.0 liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine rated at 131 horsepower (98 kW) and 139 lb-ft (188 nm) of torque mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
The document tracks progress to implement recommendations made in the roadmap version 1.0, released in April 2012 (earlier post), and identifies additional areas where there is a perceived need for standardization work to help facilitate the safe, mass deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in the United States.
Never has there been a more auspicious time for EVs than the present. Nonetheless, while the times appear especially promising, EVs do face significant challenges to widespread adoption. In order for EVs to be broadly successful, the following challenges must be successfully addressed:
Safety: While inherently neither more nor less safe than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs do have unique safety complexities and risks which must be understood and accounted for as part of the vehicle life cycle. Affordability: Cost is a critical issue which must be continually addressed in order for EVs to become widely accepted and broadly penetrate the consumer market. Interoperability: The ability to recharge anywhere in a secure fashion will greatly enhance EV driver flexibility and user convenience. Performance: The ability to extend the driving range of EVs on a single battery charge without the need for range extension is largely due to energy storage capabilities (batteries) and a function of technology development. Environmental Impact: The demand from both regulators and consumers for “greener” vehicles (i.e., more fuel-efficient, less reliant on fossil fuels) must be met.
Safety: While inherently neither more nor less safe than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs do have unique safety complexities and risks which must be understood and accounted for as part of the vehicle life cycle.
Affordability: Cost is a critical issue which must be continually addressed in order for EVs to become widely accepted and broadly penetrate the consumer market.
Interoperability: The ability to recharge anywhere in a secure fashion will greatly enhance EV driver flexibility and user convenience.
Performance: The ability to extend the driving range of EVs on a single battery charge without the need for range extension is largely due to energy storage capabilities (batteries) and a function of technology development.
Environmental Impact: The demand from both regulators and consumers for “greener” vehicles (i.e., more fuel-efficient, less reliant on fossil fuels) must be met.
Standards, code provisions, and regulations, as well as conformance and training programs, cross over all these areas and are a critical enabler of the large-scale introduction of EVs and the permanent establishment of a broad, domestic EV and infrastructure industry and support services environment.—EV Standardization Roadmap v 2
Highlights of the revision include:
The closing of four partial gaps on power quality, DC charging levels, the safety of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and EV coupler safety, where work to publish a new standard or a revision to an existing standard was still in progress at the time the original roadmap was released last year and has now been completed.
The identification of eight new gaps relating to standardization work in the following areas: electromagnetic compatibility issues related to EV charging; the functionality and measurement characteristics of EV sub-meters included those embedded in EVSE or EVs; coordination of EV sub-metering activities; cybersecurity and data privacy; telematics smart grid communications; electrical energy stranded in an inoperable rechargeable energy storage system; and workforce training related to charging station permitting and college and university programs.
Substantial modifications to fifteen of the gaps identified in the roadmap version 1.0.
An indication of the status of progress on all outstanding gaps, including those where new standardization activity was initiated in response to roadmap version 1.0.
Significantly expanded text in a number of areas, in particular the infrastructure communications sections and appendix A on EV charging actors and communications.
Information on domestic and international coordination efforts since publication of the original roadmap.
ANSI also updated the ANSI EVSP Roadmap Standards Compendium, a searchable spreadsheet of standards that relate to the issues identified in the roadmap.
Developed by representatives from more than 100 private- and public-sector organizations, the Standardization Roadmap aspires to maximize coordination among those developing standards for electric vehicles—primarily plug-in electric vehicles (both battery-powered all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids)—and the charging infrastructure needed to support them.
The publication considers issues that are integral to consumer adoption of EVs such as safety, performance, and interoperability. It describes relevant standards, codes, and regulations that already exist or that are in development, and gaps where new or revised standards would prove useful.
Gaps are prioritized as needing to be addressed in the next two years (near-term), two to five years (mid-term), or more than five years (long-term). Standards developing organizations and others that may be able to take up the recommendations are noted.
Conformance and training programs are also considered, including for those who provide support services for EVs and the infrastructure.
Volvo Buses’ new plug-in hybrid buses will begin field tests in Gothenburg, Sweden this month. Volvo Buses has already sold more than 1,000 of its conventional hybrid units; the plug-in version will facilitate the reduction of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide by 75 to 80%, compared with current diesel buses, the company said.
The plug-in hybrids are based on the Volvo 7900 Hybrid, Volvo Buses’ second series-produced hybrid bus model. The plug-in hybrids have been further developed, and enable rapid recharging from electricity grids via the Opbrid Bůsbaar pantograph on the roof (earlier post).
An electronic control module regulates engagement and disengagement of electric and diesel power, as well as gear-changing modes and recharging of the Li-ion battery. The close-ratio Volvo I-Shift automated transmission has software that is optimized for city and commuter traffic.
The 4-cylinder, 5-liter Volvo D5F diesel engine produces 215 bhp and is installed vertically in the left rear corner. The conventional hybrid offers up to 37% fuel savings compared to a diesel version and 40-50% lower exhaust emissions.
The plug-in versions have a larger battery pack, making it possible to drive up to 7 km using electricity only—about 70% of the route distance. The batteries are charged at the bus terminus via the Bůsbaar for between six and ten minutes.
The purpose of the field test is to study and verify the anticipated reductions in energy consumption and emissions, as well as to compile information from drivers, passengers and surrounding residents about their views on the properties of the bus.
Volvo Buses expect to be able to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 90% by using biodiesel instead of standard, fossil diesel oil in the combustion engine.
Volvo Buses expects to commence commercial manufacturing of plug-in hybrids in a couple of years, and the technology is now to be tested in the three buses that will be put into service in Gothenburg. A demonstration project has also been planned for 2014 involving eight plug-in hybrids in Stockholm.
In recent years, sales of Volvo Buses’ hybrid buses have tripled for each year and we believe the market for electromobility will continue to expand rapidly. Accordingly, the Volvo Group is investing in this area, making it possible for cities to realize their visions of more eco-friendly and attractive transportation.—Håkan Karlsson, President of Volvo Bus Corporation
RelayRides, the US’ largest peer-to-peer (P2P) car sharing marketplace, acquired peer-to-peer car sharing platform Wheelz. Wheelz’ intellectual property, including its proprietary DriveBox technology, provides technology that can make peer-to-peer sharing more convenient and facilitate frictionless rentals.
DriveBox allows renters to reserve, find, and unlock a car in minutes all from a smartphone, without having to meet with the owner in person. Wheelz first introduced its service on college and university campuses throughout California before expanding to the urban centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The acquisition of Wheelz brings new talent, technology and resources that bring us even closer to our companies’ shared goal of having a car within a 10-minute walk for at least 100 million Americans by the end of 2015. Given our mutual vision to revolutionize personal mobility, we are well positioned to immediately enhance our members’ experience and turbo-charge the growth of peer-to-peer car sharing.—Andre Haddad, CEO of RelayRides
Since its national launch in 2012, RelayRides’ marketplace has grown to serve tens of thousands of members using thousands of cars in more than 1,500 cities in all 50 states. Rental reservation volume increased 500%, and active vehicle listings have grown 530% to include more than 500 unique makes and models of cars and trucks.
RelayRides has raised more than $13 million in venture capital funding from investors including Google Ventures, August Capital, Shasta Ventures and General Motors Ventures.