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Stuart O'Brien

Oxford Net Zero to tackle carbon emissions globally

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The Oxford Net Zero initiative has launched, drawing on the university’s world-leading expertise in climate science and policy, addressing the critical issue of how to reach global ‘net zero’ – limiting greenhouse gases – in time to halt global warming.

Leading academics from across the university’s disciplines, including Geography, Physics, Economics, Biology, Law and Earth Sciences, will come together to focus on the long-term questions necessary to achieve equitable, science-based solutions.

The team will be led by research director Professor Sam Fankhauser, who is joining Oxford from his current position as director of the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and director Professor Myles Allen, physicist and head of the Climate Research Programme in Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

Oxford Net Zero is a growing network and collaboration of leading researchers from across the university to provide advice and expertise in the global ‘race’ to net zero by national governments, global industry leaders and international organizations. 

Oxford Net Zero convenes and undertakes research to support policy interventions, and this month has been boosted by a £2.2M investment from the University’s new Strategic Research Fund (SRF). The SRF was formed in early 2020 to re-invest some of the University’s revenues from commercialisation activities into transformative research programmes.

“We’ve left it too late to meet our climate goals simply by phasing out all activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions: hence the ‘net’ in net zero,” said Professor Allen. “Aggressive emission reductions must be complemented by equally aggressive scale-up of safe and permanent greenhouse gas removal and disposal. Getting this balance right, and fair, calls for both innovative ideas and far-sighted policies.”

Professor Fankhauser added: “If we are serious about climate change, we have to start tackling the “difficult” emissions from industry, transport and other sources – and safely remove from the atmosphere whatever residual emissions remain.

“Informing this challenge is central to Oxford Net Zero, and I am proud to be part of this important initiative.”

“Since Oxford’s own students are the generation that will be footing the bill for delay in taking informed climate action, it is great to see the University putting its resources behind this initiative: there is no time to waste,” said Kaya Axelsson, former Vice-President of the Oxford Student Union and recently-appointed Net Zero Policy Engagement Fellow. 

To achieve net zero and avoid the worst impacts of global warming, carbon dioxide emissions must be drastically reduced, and any residual emissions removed from the atmosphere and stored. More than 120 countries are committing to net zero, representing more than 49% of global economic output, but official commitments with developed plans cover less than 10% of global emissions.   

Oxford Net Zero’s key aim is to address the issue of how we limit the cumulative net total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This means tackling emission sources and removing surplus carbon from the atmosphere – since more CO2 may be generated by the energy, industry and land-use change than can safely be emitted, if the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement are to be met. 

Professor Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Oxford added: “Oxford Net Zero brings together our research in how to effectively realise the carbon transition, involving many departments and different disciplinary perspectives. We anticipate that more researchers and external stakeholders will become engaged in the programme, strengthening the impact of the ideas and insights that our researchers can provide.”

Essential questions that Oxford Net Zero will address include:

  • How will carbon dioxide be distributed between the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and lithosphere? 
  • Where will it be stored, in what forms, how stable will these storage pools be, who will own them and be responsible for maintaining them over the short medium and long terms?
  • How does net zero policy extend to other greenhouse gases?
  • How will the social license to generate, emit, capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide evolve over the coming century? 

EDF doubles down on energy storage with PowerUp investment

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Cleantech sector startup PowerUp has completed a new round of funding worth €5m from Supernova Invest, business angels, and the EDF Group.

Founded in 2017, France-based PowerUp has developed a breakthrough technology based on more than ten years of research by CEA-LITEN (innovation laboratory for new energy technologies), as well as on a total of 7 patents.

Its solutions aim to optimise the performance and lifetime of lithium- ion batteries in order to enhance the reliability and competitiveness of future energy storage systems.

EDF Pulse Croissance’s investment in PowerUp is part of the EDF Group’s Electricity Storage Plan, which targets the installation of 10 GW of new storage capacity by 2035.

The investment in PowerUp reaffirms EDF’s desire to be a major player in the energy transition and in low-carbon generation.

This new display of confidence is aimed at enabling it to continue its growth in France and Europe. It also marks the start of a new era: PowerUp says it’s is now ready to tackle the energy storage systems sector, a new international market for the firm.

Carmen Munoz, Director of downstream activities, EDF R&D, said: “EDF R&D’s expertise in batteries, which spans more than 20 years, coupled with PowerUp’s innovative technology and market understanding, will ensure further progress towards the development of a more effective solution, while also boosting competitiveness.”

Josselin Priour, CEO and Co-founder of PowerUp, added: “With this fundraising round, PowerUp is entering a new era. In 2021, we will be embarking on a phase of increased production, and this capital will support our growth. In addition to securing our leadership position in France, we aim to grow our business in Europe and North America. Behind this growth lies a real need: more than ever before, we need to increase the lifetime of our batteries to ensure greener energy production.”

Five reasons to attend the Facilities Management Forum

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Join us on the 25th & 26th January 2021 for a virtual event that is now the smartest way to connect with the best suppliers in your industry.

Here are five reasons why you should attend:

1. Enjoy free, flexible virtual attendance to fit around your schedule.
2. Our cutting-edge software creates you a bespoke itinerary that allows you to virtually meet essential and budget-saving suppliers for short 1-2-1 meetings, based on mutual agreement and matched requirements.
3. Create new business relationships and gain industry knowledge easily, from the comfort of your home/office.
4. Enjoy two insightful, 30 minute – LIVE webinar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders.
5. Receive a full list of additional pre-recorded webinar presentations that focus on the current and future challenges within the FM industry.

Click here to confirm your free place.

IRENA: Tripling renewables investment ‘to reach climate goal’

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Global renewable energy investment increased between 2013 and 2018, reaching its peak at $351 billion in 2017, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Climate Policy Initiative (CPI).

The 2020 edition of Global Landscape of Renewable Energy Finance highlights however, that while a cumulative $1.8 trillion were invested during the five-year period, the amount falls short to achieve the global climate commitments.

Renewable energy investment slightly declined in 2018, with modest growth through 2019. Although this was largely due to the decreasing costs of renewables, the total installed capacity continued to grow. The current level of investment is still insufficient however to keep the rise in global temperatures within the 1.5°C objective by mid-century. To achieve this climate goal, investment in diverse renewables technologies must almost triple annually to $800 billion by 2050. 

Ambitious commitments from governments are needed, backed by supporting measures such as moving subsidies away from fossil fuels. The report says further investments are also needed in system integration and enabling technologies that increase system flexibility such as batteries and energy storage. To that end, policies that enable the integration of new renewables capacity additions into the energy systems are needed, leading to their decarbonisation and bringing wide socio-economic benefits.

“The investment trend in renewable energy before COVID-19 was a positive one,” said Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s Director-General. “But COVID-19 has shown us that much more effort is urgently needed to put us on a climate compatible pathway and help us recover better with a sustainable, resilient economy. Decision makers must design systemic approaches to policies that encourage and speed up the flow of investment into renewables, and away from fossil fuels, and doing so enable economic growth, social resilience and welfare.” 

IRENA’s post-COVID agenda showed that average annual investments of $2 trillion in renewables and other energy transition-related technologies in the 2021-2023-recovery phase could create 5.5 million additional jobs in the sector. An additional 19 million energy transition-related jobs would be created by 2030, following average annual investments of $4.5 trillion up to 2030. 

The majority of these investments could come from private sources, if government funds are used strategically to nudge investment decisions and financing in the right direction. The capital is available, with a push from the governments to mobilise it.  Public funds are able to leverage private investments by a factor of 3 to 4 if used strategically to steer investments toward clean energy solutions and away from fossil fuels.

Greater participation of institutional investors – which hold about $87 trillion in assets – will help to reach the scale of global investment needed. To this end, it is key to promote the use of capital market solutions, such as green bonds, that address the needs of these investors. The potential role of institutional investors for the global energy transition is further explored in IRENA’s report, Mobilising Institutional Capital for Renewable Energy, published this month.

“There is a very clear need for a rapid increase of investment in renewable energy coupled with a significant reduction and redirection of investment away from fossil fuel energy,” said Dr Barbara Buchner, CPI’s Global Managing Director. “We call for more effort and coordination among policy makers, public and private finance institutions, energy and non-energy producing corporations, and institutional investors to speed up the global energy transition. This action is fundamental to a more sustainable and resilient future.“ 

This year’s joint report analyses for the first time financial commitments to off-grid renewables technologies in developing markets, as they can bring the world closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030. Providing cost-effective energy solutions, off-grid renewables are essential in a time when energy access is crucial to power healthcare facilities, save lives and create jobs. While investments in off-grid renewables solutions kept growing, reaching an all-time-high USD 460 million in 2019, additional capital must be unlocked especially for income-generating activities and productive uses to improve the livelihoods and resilience of billions of women and men globally and to promote socio-economic benefits. 

Looking ahead, IRENA says policy makers need to signal long-term political commitment and enhance partnerships with the private sector to boost investors confidence and attract additional private capital in the sector. To that effect, the report laid out five specific recommendations that policy makers should implement to engage private sector actors, including institutional investors, capital market players and non-energy producing companies, in the collective path to green recovery and climate objectives.

UK businesses pledge £3bn to back British hydrogen

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The UK could see more than £3 billion invested in the emerging hydrogen sector as more businesses step forward to pledge funding – but only if PM Boris Johnson backs the low-carbon fuel.

Earlier this year, cross-industry group Hydrogen Strategy Now said its members were ready to pump £1.5bn into the UK hydrogen economy. The group revealed that figure has now doubled to £3bn as more businesses line up plans for hydrogen projects across the UK.

Now bosses from leading businesses have come together to call on Mr Johnson to pave the way for a British hydrogen economy in his long-awaited energy strategy as they vowed to heavily invest in hydrogen technologies.

Members of Hydrogen Strategy Now, which combined employs around 100,000 people and has a value of £100bn in the UK, said their shovel-ready projects would create thousands of jobs across the country, helping to kick start a post-Covid green recovery.

The group has welcomed the recent appointment of Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and the South Downs, as the Government’s Net Zero Business Tsar, as a positive step in the right direction from Parliament.

But its members have warned that unless the sector receives load and clear backing from the Government, the UK risks being left behind the rest of the globe.

Attracting cross-party support, the Hydrogen Strategy Now collective wants to see a clear, strategic plan to help unlock significant private funding in hydrogen technologies and manufacturing across the country, driving growth and generating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

They believe a UK-wide hydrogen economy will:

●      Create and sustain hundreds of thousands of high-skilled, green jobs, in all parts of the country and in alignment with the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda

●      Drive progress to Net Zero and improve air quality in towns and cities

●      Secure private investment into the UK, and unlock export opportunities for our products and skills

●      Increase our energy security by making fuller use of the UK’s natural resources

A letter from the group to Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year stated: “As you look to design a post-COVID recovery, we encourage you to focus on creating high-skilled, green jobs, in sectors that will be critical to the future economy, such as low-carbon energy, transport and heavy industry.

“These measures would be wholly complimentary to the Government’s levelling-up agenda and long-term decarbonisation goals. For example, the Committee for Climate Change has made it clear that the UK will not meet its Net Zero targets without significant investment in the hydrogen economy.

“The global hydrogen economy is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs. Other nations, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and China have already set ambitious strategies for growing their hydrogen economies. Just last week, Germany joined this list with their own €9 billion hydrogen strategy. The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, which includes plans for multi-billion euro investment in hydrogen projects, and schemes to boost sales of hydrogen electric vehicles.

“It is now clear that hydrogen is going to play an essential role in the world’s future, low-carbon economy. The increasingly bold steps being taken by other nations underlines the need for the UK to bring forward urgent measures to establish a hydrogen strategy and unlock investment and innovation. We should not risk falling behind other nations in developing our hydrogen industry.”

Do you specialise in Utility Management? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Energy Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in December we’ll be focussing on Utility Management Solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help energy management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Utility Management Solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.

Our features list in full:

Dec – Utility Management
Jan – Energy Management Systems
Feb – Renewable Energy
Mar – Carbon Managemen
Apr – Metering & Monitoring
May – Water Management/Strategy
Jun – Energy Storage
Jul – Data Collection & Management
Aug- Waste Management
Sep – Solar PV
Oct – Lighting
Nov – Heating & Ventilation
Dec – Onsite Renewables

Reconnect, learn & engage at the Facilities Management Forum

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The Facilities Management Forum allows you to learn, engage, and connect with your industry, via a series of online meetings with solution providers and insightful webinars. 

This innovative digital concept is the most time effective way to meet suppliers whilst working from your home or office.

Date: 25th & 26th January 2021
Time: 09:00 – 13:05
Location: Virtual

It is completely flexible, you can attend for one or both half days – we create your bespoke itinerary around your diary!

Simply register your freepass via our short booking form and we will arrange valuable online meetings for you – condensing months of work into one day.

BESA & ESTA collaborate on joint energy efficiency group

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The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has teamed up the Energy Services Technology Association (ESTA) to promote energy efficiency in buildings to government and industry.

The Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group will include members from both associations, focused on promoting the economic benefits of energy demand reduction, energy efficiency and management to all demand-side users and professionals.

ESTA is the UK’s leading energy management industry association and has been active for over 30 years in energy management. ESTA has also established a number of standards and training courses for its sector.

Both BESA and ESTA are well known for promoting members’ interests in the UK, Europe and internationally. The joint Group will help to raise awareness of better energy management with government, business organisations and other relevant trade associations.

The two associations will retain their independence, but plans for the Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group include a combined newsletter and webinars to share information with a wider audience. The partners say the group will also enable the them to work together on areas such as the Youth Stem Summit and Young People in Engineering, where energy management is a link.

The Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group will meet quarterly and include a cross-section of ESTA and BESA members. A chair for the group will be announced shortly.

Jason Hemingway, BESA Membership Director, said: “Our goal in working with ESTA is to raise the energy consciousness of building owners and managers. Harnessing smart technology in the built environment will be vital for achieving the UK’s net-zero carbon target by 2050. It will also help to ensure that our sector can emerge stronger from 2020 and build for the future.”

Mervyn Pilley, Executive Director at ESTA, said: “The new joint Special Interest Group will allow us to share knowledge while making the most of the two associations’ government and industry contacts to amplify this important message.”

The future of offices

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By ETS

The role of the office is changing. Over recent times, we’ve seen a rapid shift in how businesses across all sectors operate. Due to Covid-19, more people than ever are working from home, with many offices remaining empty or at least operating with heavily reduced capacity.

And the response to this has mostly been positive: employees have gained additional flexibility and are able to spend more time with their families, while, from a business side, reports from industry seem to suggest that there haven’t been any significant drop-offs in productivity. It’s probably safe to say that remote working is here to stay in one form or another, and is likely to make up a large chunk of people’s working weeks going forward.

Of course, this begs the question – what does this change in working dynamic mean for the concept of the company office, and businesses’ existing estates?

The Changing Role of Office Spaces 

It’s important to examine the function the office has traditionally played for businesses in order to work out how it might change in the future.

The office has always been a key social space for companies. Not only is it somewhere for existing colleagues to collaborate and connect, but it also acts as an essential hub for new employees, and a key part of the overall business ‘identity’. For staff – especially new recruits – the process of coming to the office, meeting your new colleagues and learning about the company culture has always been an essential step in employee onboarding. 

And it’s hard to see this changing drastically in the future. Businesses will always need that physical hub, even if it isn’t used in exactly the same way with the same level of frequency.

One shift we’re expecting to see is just how much office space businesses need. Many large companies structure their office portfolio through a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model. This means that, usually, they have one or a few large offices in the central business districts of key cities, such as a London or Manchester, and several smaller regional offices elsewhere.

With the majority of employees regularly working from home, these smaller offices could come to be seen as inessential, prompting companies to reduce their overall property footprint and instead focus on one or two central offices, which are served by good transport infrastructure – and with a potentially higher requirement on quality of space for these remaining key assets.

It is estimated that real estate roughly accounts from 8% of a company’s total operating costs on average, so cutting back on total occupied space could act as an effective way to protect company finances during these turbulent times. Any freed-up budget could be retained, funneled into R&D and service development, or be used to fund areas of the business that were traditionally supported by the office, such as company culture and staff collaboration.

Flexible Work Environments 

As businesses consolidate their portfolios and certain offices become unoccupied, demand will grow for increased flexibility in these assets, as property and portfolio managers look to adapt and reposition commercial space in the market and seek out new streams of revenue. We’re likely to see a shift in how these spaces are used, perhaps transforming into co-working areas or even seeing either partial or full transformation into alternative uses – such as retail or even residential.

With this increased need for offices to play multiple roles, there will be a greater need for flexibility and adaptability of space – likely to be facilitated through the adoption of a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach. 

Many offices aren’t currently equipped to function in a way that future demand may require them to, and with things changing quickly, its important that building managers pinpoint the changes that need to be made, the associated technical requirements, and then look to evaluate the current capability of the existing building services to facilitate such alteration.

Where office use is to be retained, businesses are likely to expect more from their space in the future – especially from a health and wellbeing perspective. In light of Covid-19, factors such as internal air quality are going to be more important than ever.

Additionally, energy efficiency and operational cost will also be key considerations. With many offices operating at reduced occupancy, the automation of lighting, heating and other systems will play an essential role in streamlining processes, and ‘right sizing’ consumption and cost.

Furthermore, with an ever increasing focus on sustainability performance – especially in the light of the huge recent traction around the Net Zero carbon agenda – the ability of building systems to adapt to the increased demand for space flexibility whilst maintaining robust control of consumption and cost, and to operate on a trajectory to Net Zero status, will require more consideration of how buildings are specified, managed, adapted and maintained than ever before to mitigate risk of building obsolescence and to protect capital and rental value.

In these changing times, it’s important to partner with the right technical advisor. ETS has a wealth of experience across all these areas, and can help you prepare your offices for the future. 

We will assist your business to find the optimum Smart Buildings solutions to enable building adaptation, futureproofing and occupant wellbeing, whilst keeping a firm grip on cost and driving down carbon emissions.

Our expert team are always here to help; you can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.

www.energy-ts.com

Secure your virtual place at January’s Facilities Management Forum

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Register for your complimentary guest pass for the virtual Facilities Management Summit today! 

Monday 25th January 2021

The Forum allows senior FM professionals to share forward-thinking ideas, meet new partners and discover new ways to underpin their strategies.

Your bespoke place is entirely free and includes benefits such as;

  • Prepare for every eventuality – We can build you a bespoke 1-2-1 itinerary of meetings with innovative and budget savings suppliers who match your requirements.
  • Gaining industry insight – Enjoy a series of topical webinars led by industry thought leaders.
  • Flexibility – Your attendance is flexible, you can either attend for half a day or the full day.
  • Save time – We will handle everything for you, saving you time and money by arranging all the meetings for you based on your requirements.

Click here to secure your virtual place. 

Here is some feedback from the last FM Forum:

“The Facilities management Forum was delivered to a high standard in these testing times. The benefits were still there in the meeting of suppliers as if it was done in person.” – MOD

“Albeit ‘virtual’ some great connections made, once again, during a Forum event” – Park Lane School

You can register for your place via our short booking form or if you have any questions, please get in touch