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Shortlist revealed for New Energy & Cleantech Awards 2013

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Some of the UK’s most innovative companies have been shortlisted for prizes at the New Energy & Cleantech Awards 2013, which take place on March 21 in London.

Renewable energy developers, investors, entrepreneurs and companies are in the running for gongs at the event, which is now in its sixth year.

For the first time, the event will be complemented by a conference prior to the ceremony itself, entitled Fostering relationships between cleantech, clean energy and the financial community.

There are 11 awards in total, recognising new energy champions to innovators; advisory firms to university spin-outs. Winners from 10 awards will go into the hat to be considered for the prestigious Company of the Year award, which was last year won by Nujira.

With cleantech investments during 2012 totalling £280m, there have been some standout achievements in the area”, said Hunter Ruthven, editor of GrowthBusiness.co.uk.

Companies such as Tamar Energy and Bluewater Bio are making real strides in furthering the development of clean and sustainable energy sources.

The awards will provide a chance for us to stand back and take stock of the enterprising companies, trailblazing entrepreneurs and committed advisers that have accomplished so much over the past year. It’s a strong list of nominees and it’s going to be a tough job deciding on a winner.”

Among the nominees are community finance platforms Abundance Generation and Microgenius, sustainable fund managers WHEB Partners and Julian Patrick, managing director of solar specialists Freewatt – one of the most prolific solar installers in the country.

Three firms featured in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Banking 2012 – Triodos, Charity Bank and Ecology Building Society – are in the running for Financier of the Year.

For a full list of nominated companies, see below.

Innovator of the Year

AlertMe

Biochemica

Enecsys

Green Biologics

i2O Water

New Energy Champion of the Year

Addison Lee

Bluestone National Park Resort

BP Target Neutral

Eden Springs

Radio Taxis

UPS

Entrepreneur of the Year

Shaun Fitzgerald – Breathing Buildings

Amanda Jones – Red Button Design

David Martell – Chargemaster

James McKenzie – PhotonStar LED

Julian Patrick – Freewatt

Deal of the Year

Abundance Generation – £1.4m fundraising

Bluewater Bio – £22.5m fundraising

Revolymer – AIM admission

Sefaira – £6.8m fundraising

Smarter Grid Solutions – £3m fundraising

Tamar Energy – £7m fundraising

University Spin-out of the Year

Azuri Technologies

Cambridge CMOS Sensors

ITI Energy

Molecular Solar

Oxford Photovoltaics

Smarter Grid Solutions

Investor of the Year

Berti Investments

Microgenius

MTI

Oxford Capital Partners

WHEB Partners

YFM Equity Partners

Advisory Firm of the Year

Acuity

Altium

Deloitte

Grant Thornton

Knight Frank

PwC

Financier of the Year

Charity Bank

Ecology Building Society

Greensphere Capital & Foresight Group

Pictet

Scottish Equity Partners

Triodos Bank

Developer of the Year

Derwent

Land Securities

Lend Lease

Stanhope

Retailer of the Year

Aldi

Co-op

John Lewis

Marks & Spencer

SPAR

Tesco

Company of the Year

Selected from the winners of the other categories.

Further reading:

Conference added to New Energy & Cleantech Awards 2013

New Energy Awards 2012: the winners

New Energy Awards 2012: the nominees at a glance

New Energy Awards 2012: an overview

 

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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