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Veolia uses hydrotreated vegetable oil for first renewable fleet

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Broadland District Council’s latest contract for all waste collection services including residual, recycling and food waste and for street cleaning with Veolia will see the FM specialist utilise a renewably-fuelled fleet for the first time.

The 10 year contract that started in April 2022 has an option for an extension of up to a further 10 years.

Reducing energy consumption and reaching carbon neutrality is essential for combating climate change and the new contract includes a commitment to reduce operational emissions and to develop low carbon solutions. This supports Broadland District Council’s priority to protect the environment and for continuous environmental improvement.

Every vehicle in the fleet is fully powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), a bio-based liquid fuel made from vegetable oils and animal fats. HVO is a low carbon, low emission, fossil-free and sustainable alternative to conventional fossil diesel which eliminates up to 90% of net CO2 and reduces nitrogen oxide (NOX), particulate matter (PM) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.

HVO fuel is fully interchangeable with conventional diesel and can be used pure or blended with fossil diesel if required. The fleet in the Broadland district will be solely powered by HVO in a first for Veolia in the UK.

Councillor Judy Leggett, portfolio holder for Environmental Excellence, said: “We’re very pleased to be continuing our very successful working relationship with Veolia through the award of this major new contract. The contract brings together an excellent service for residents with innovative new approaches which will help to make our waste and recycling services more effective and even more environmentally friendly. This new contract will help drive us towards our aim of being carbon neutral well ahead of the Government’s 2050 target.”

Pascal Hauret, Managing Director Municipal, Veolia UK said: “We’re delighted to launch our first fully HVO powered fleet in Broadland. HVO significantly reduces CO2 emissions so this is a hugely positive step in our shared commitment to net zero. Importantly, whilst the availability of HVO is still limited in the UK, Veolia has secured a guaranteed supply for the entire contract term.”

The new contract also offers residents an enhanced service with the introduction of weekly kerbside collections of small electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and textile collections.

The Council will continue to roll out food waste collections and will now be able to achieve its goal of food waste collections to all Broadland residents in 2023.

Environmental Audit Committee issues warning over gigafactories

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Reaching the UK’s ambition to host a further five ‘gigafactories’ to produce batteries for electric vehicles could reach a road block unless Government backing increases, the Environmental Audit Committee has warned.

While 2021 has seen welcome announcements, with gigafactories planned for the North East — in Blyth and on Wearside — and proposed in the West Midlands, the Committee asserts a further 100GWh of gigafactory capacity is needed to meet ambitions for the production of battery electric vehicles in the UK for sale on the domestic and EU markets.

Gigafactories are a significant enterprise, costing between £2 billion and £4 billion to establish. The Committee heard evidence that typically, other governments are supporting factories with £750 million per plant. The Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund – at £500 million – is expected to support the establishment of subsequent gigafactories, but appear insufficient to support the establishment of any further plants, let alone the additional five estimated to be required by 2027.

The Committee is clear that the UK, with its strong automotive base and innovative clusters across the country, has a golden opportunity to attract factories manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.

Plans to source lithium in Cornwall will enhance the UK’s potential advantage in the production of batteries and will contribute to building a sustainable supply chain.

However, the UK will remain reliant for the bulk of its critical raw materials on suppliers from third countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where significant concerns have been raised about the way in which these materials are being extracted.

The Committee urges the Government to consider a critical raw materials strategy to manage issues effectively, such as supply interruption, to ensure that we have sufficient raw materials to be used in batteries manufactured in the UK.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “Recent announcements of plans to build gigafactories for electric vehicle batteries in the UK are clearly welcome; bringing together the UK’s strengths in automotive manufacturing and low carbon innovation. We applaud this, as well as the Government’s collaboration with industry on this issue, which should secure the future of many thousands of jobs in the automotive sector.

“But to meet net zero Britain we still need to take it up a gear. If we are to continue manufacturing vehicles to sell into the EU and UK at our current rate, the industry estimates we will need five more gigafactories up and running by 2027. We doubt the £500 million Government funding left in reserve for automotive transformation will be sufficient to secure the additional 100GWh of gigafactory output needed for the UK electric vehicle sector to reach its full potential. Without further government support, establishment of the battery electric vehicle sector in the UK, critical to maintain our auto industry supply chain, will reach a dead end.

“We already know we have thriving clusters well equipped to host gigafactories – but the UK’s potential extends beyond simply manufacturing. Lithium — a crucial component for electric vehicle batteries — has been found in Cornwall. Extracting this crucial raw material in a sustainable way at scale could extend the UK’s supply chain and support the shift to electric vehicles.”

‘Europe’s most powerful’ EV charging hub confirmed for Oxford

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UK-based Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, and Oxford City Council have joined up with Fastned, Tesla Superchargers and Wenea to deliver what they are calling Europe’s most powerful EV charging Superhub.

The hub, initially featuring 38 fast and ultra-rapid chargers in a single site, is the most powerful in Europe – with up to 10MW of power on site – and will scale up to help meet the need for EV charging in the area for the next 30 years. It is the first of up to 40 similar sites planned across the UK to help deliver charging infrastructure needed for the estimated 36 million EVs by 2040.

Unlike any other UK charging hub, the site, at Redbridge Park & Ride, is directly connected to the high voltage national electricity grid, to provide the power needed to charge hundreds of EVs at the same time quickly, without putting strain on the local electricity network or requiring costly upgrades.

This network, developed by Pivot Power, has capacity to expand to key locations throughout Oxford to meet mass EV charging needs, from buses and taxis to commercial fleets.

Fastned will initially install ten chargers at the Superhub with 300kW of power, capable of adding 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes for up to hundreds of EVs per day. The station will be powered by 100% renewable energy, partly generated by the company’s solar roof, and all makes and models of EVs will be able to charge at the highest rates possible simultaneously.

The announcement is a key milestone in the completion of Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), due to open in Q4 this year, and comes as Oxford is set to launch the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone this August, where vehicles are charged based on their emissions, with EVs able to use the zone for free.

The £41m world-first project, led by Pivot Power, integrates EV charging, battery storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies to support Oxford to be zero carbon by 2040 or earlier. ESO will save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 every year once opened later in 2021, equivalent to taking over 2,000 cars off the road, increasing to 25,000 tonnes by 2032. It provides a model for cities around the UK and the world to cut carbon and improve air quality.

Matt Allen, CEO at Pivot Power, said: “Our goal is to help the UK accelerate net zero by delivering power where it is needed to support the EV and renewable energy revolution. Oxford is one of 40 sites we are developing across the UK, combining up to 2GW of battery storage with high volume power connections for mass EV charging. Energy Superhub Oxford supports EDF’s plan to become Europe’s leading e-mobility energy company by 2023, and is a blueprint we want to replicate right across the country, working hand in hand with local communities to create cleaner, more sustainable cities where people want to live and work.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford at Oxford City Council, added: “For Oxford to go zero carbon by 2040, we need to electrify a lot more of our transportation. As an innovative city embracing technologies and change, Oxford is the natural home for the UK’s largest public EV charging hub. We are excited to be taking a major step forward in the completion of Energy Superhub Oxford, working closely and superbly with our private sector partners. As an ambitious city, we are excited about the prospect of further innovation and investments, building upon our record of transformational public and private sector delivery.”

Government plans to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality will see millions of EVs in use by 2030, and the project will show how this can be achieved while maintaining a stable and cost-effective electricity network. To accelerate the delivery of ESO, the Government has contributed £10 million to the project via UKRI’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme.

CENTRICA: UK firms to invest £15.8bn in EVs this year

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Research conducted by Centrica Business Solutions has revealed that UK firms spent £10.5bn on electric vehicles (EVs) and on-site charging points during the year to March 2021, and are now planning £15.8bn of investment in the same area over the next 12 months – a 50% increase year-on-year.

Two fifths (40%) of those questioned said they had increased the total number of EVs within their fleet between April 2020 and March 2021.

Of these businesses, six in ten (58%) cited the need to meet corporate sustainability targets as the biggest driving factor behind their increased adoption of EV, followed by reducing operational disruption caused by low and zero-emission zones (51%) and the attraction of the lower maintenance and whole-life costs offered by EVs (37%).

Four in ten (43%) businesses hadn’t increased EV numbers at all and 10% decreased their EV fleet size. Range anxiety was reported as the chief concern for a third (34%) of these firms, followed by the need to prioritise business investment elsewhere during the height of the coronavirus crisis (32%).

Despite this, two-thirds (67%) of all companies polled claimed they are well-prepared to operate a fully electric fleet by 2030, when the Government’s ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles comes into effect.

46% of businesses polled plan to install charging points on their premises to facilitate the uptake of EVs across the next twelve months, although more than a third (37%) have already installed this infrastructure. The research also revealed that three in ten (30%) firms have already invested in on-site technology capable of generating the energy to charge their fleet of EVs, such as solar panels, while almost half (48%) plan to do this in the future. 

Greg McKenna, managing director of Centrica Business Solutions, said: “Despite the disruption of the past year, it’s encouraging to see investment in EVs remain a key priority for many businesses. The fact that firms are planning to increase their spending so dramatically over the next 12 months is proof that more businesses are recognising the advantages of adopting low-emission vehicles, especially as they recover from coronavirus and seek to create sustainable growth.

“Now that 2030 is set in stone as the end of new petrol & diesel sales we need to ensure three things to help get us there, sufficient electric vehicles to meet demand, reliable charging infrastructure that’s available to all and a flexible energy system that can deliver green power where it’s needed.”

Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister, said: “As we accelerate towards our net-zero future, I’m delighted to see UK firms at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.

“With British businesses set to increase their investment in electric vehicles by 50%, the message is clear – the future is electric. With generous government grants and tax incentives which could save drivers over £2,000 a year, there has never been a better or more exciting time to make the switch.”

Solvay and Veolia partner on electric vehicle batteries

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Solvay and Veolia have announced a partnership on a circular economy consortium to offer new solutions that promise better resource efficiency for critical metals used in lithium ion electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

With the number of electric vehicles on the road expected to grow from 8 million in 2020 to 116 million by 2030, the partners state that ensuring stable access to raw materials is a strategic challenge. Furthermore, they claim materials used today in EV batteries are not always recovered at their maximum value. 

Solvay and Veolia, through its subsidiary SARP Industries, say they are already actively engaged in discussions with a car manufacturer and battery cell producers, to coordinate, collaborate and leverage on respective technologies and core competences at each step of the value chain – from access and spent battery feedstock to dismantling, metal extraction and purification. 

Solvay’s role in this consortium is to optimize the extraction and purification of critical metals such as cobalt, nickel and lithium and transform them into high-purity raw materials for new batteries, ready for another fresh start. Solvay is also present in the EV and hybrid battery value chain thanks to its high-performance specialty polymers for binders and separators and specialty additives for electrolytes. 

“I am truly excited about our partnership with Veolia, aiming to take circularity another meaningful step forward towards cleaner mobility,” explained Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “At Solvay, our technologies will bring new life to batteries at the end of their cycle. Our unique know-how combining Specialty Polymers, Composites and Mining solutions together with Veolia’s unique experience in waste management, is a fantastic opportunity to build a greener battery ecosystem.” 

In its recycling plant in eastern France, Veolia has already been dismantling batteries for electric vehicles since 2013. The combination of mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes makes it possible to treat the active cells and extract the active metals. These metals are then used by industry and transformed into new materials. Press Release 2 

“The recycling of electric vehicle batteries and the management of the pollutants they contain are major ecological and industrial challenges. By partnering, Veolia and Solvay help develop the recycling value chain and the production of strategic raw materials for the production of new batteries. If today the essential compounds of batteries are mainly imported, tomorrow they will be regenerated in Europe”, said Antoine Frérot Chairman and CEO of Veolia. 

Establishing this partnership is integral to Solvay Group’s sustainability ambitions and its Solvay One Planet commitments. By 2030, Solvay will generate 15% of its revenues from either bio-based or recycled-based materials.