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Weekly Highlights | From the European new energy reality to the list of companies still buying Russian oil

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By illuminem

· 6 min read

1. Putin’s War in Ukraine Forces New Energy Reality on Europe

By Forbes

  • Russian gas is very difficult to replace. The US has struck a deal with the EU to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply (+15 bcm a year)
  • Also giant gas exporters like Qatar could provide an alternative for gas in Europe, but it would require diverting cargoes from other customers with long-term contracts in Asia
  • While Russian coal is easy to replace, Oil is almost as tricky as gas. Spare capacity in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could partially substitute for Russian supplies and lower energy prices

2. Sustainable materials: is there a concrete solution?

By The Economist

  • Concrete is the second most used resource on the planet, after water. Fast developing countries are using enormous amounts; in fact, China used more concrete in two years than the US in the last century
  • Concrete requires several materials, including cement, the production of which accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Cement-free concrete is under research, but could not be scalable due to its reliance on waste product from industries
  • Another solution is wood; new innovations (cross-laminated timber) can be almost as resistant as concrete, as well as fire-safe. These innovations are set to develop quickly, as customers have a real interest in carbon-free buildings

3. How We Gauge Sustainability

By Futurism

  • According to Google Trends, searches for the term sustainable brandswent up nearly tenfold between 2018 and 2020
  • Futurism’s team outlined the ways they consider sustainability when choosing which products to test, according to the following categories: materials; manufacturing; use of renewable resources; shipping and packaging; recycling and repairability
  • LEGO -  a company whose entire business is based around producing and selling plastic bricks - has announced that it plans on making all of its core products out of sustainable materials by 2030

4. EU leaders need to be ready to rethink electricity market design

By Energy Monitor

  • The price on the electricity exchange varies based on how much power is available from different kinds of sources and at what cost, and at times of high input from low-priced renewables, coal and gas become so expensive by comparison that they are pushed out of the market
  • On 25 March, European leaders agreed that the European Commission is going to look into the upsides and downsides of European-wide electricity market reform, trying to decouple electricity prices from gas prices
  • EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed on almost completely decoupling Spain and Portugal from EU energy market, given their high renewable generation and poor interconnections over the Pyrenees

5. In the battle over electric vehicles, could hydrogen win?

By GreenBiz

  • The IEA forecasts that fuel cell manufacturing could produce 6 million Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCEVs) by 2030, meeting roughly 40% of the "Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario" needs.
  • The Port of Rotterdam and Air Liquide have developed an initiative to deploy 1,000 fuel cell trucks by 2025, and a joint call signed by over 60 industrial partners aims for up to 100,000 trucks by 2030
  • Several studies, including one by Argonne National Laboratory, have demonstrated that creating and using hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles is more environmentally friendly than using grid electricity to power battery EVs

6. Experts say blending hydrogen into gas pipelines won’t work

By Canary Media 

  • Trying to use green hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas to heat buildings, or even to fuel power plants, could be a pipe dream that wastes precious time and money
  • Hydrogen is a very different molecule from methane, which makes up the majority of fossil gas. It’s composed of the smallest molecule in existence, which makes it more difficult to contain in pipelines, increasing the risk of leaks. It’s also known to weaken the strength of steel used for large-scale gas pipelines. At the same time, hydrogen carries only about one-third as much energy per unit of volume as does methane
  • Green hydrogen can have a role to play in powering the ​“hardest-to-decarbonize” sectors. It can also replace the more than 70 million metric tons of hydrogen now produced globally each year for use in oil refining, fertilizer manufacturing and other industrial activities

7. List of companies still buying Russian crude oil

By Al Jazeera

  • Australia, Britain, Canada and the US have banned the import of Russian oil purchases in the wake of the Russian aggression, but the EU bloc’s 27 members still have been unable to agree on an embargo
  • Commodity traders like Trafigura and Vitol, have continued buying Russian crude under existing long-term contracts. Both, however told Reuters that they had not agreed to any new deals since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • Nevertheless, there is still a long list of major buyers of Russian oil, among which can be identified German’s refinery MiRo, Italy’s largest refinery ISAB, and India’s state refinery Hindustan Petroleum

8. Should you buy an electric car? 7 of the biggest myths debunked by experts

By Euronews

  • 1) Electric vehicles (EVs) have a range of up to 350km in one charge and can be recharged 80%  in a few hours 2) 80% of the current batteries’ lifetime is 12-15 years, set to increase 3) EVs can be bought second-hand easily
  • 4) EVs are always cheaper to run than fuel-powered cars and have 60-90% lower maintenance costs 5) EVs will change the economy substantially; cheaper costs will benefit low-incomes, and the infrastructure change needed is huge
  • 6) As battery technology advances rapidly and EVs are cheaper to build, costs could drop 20-40% by 2035 7) EVs are actually safer than conventional vehicles, as subject to high standards

9. How are Countries Counting on Carbon Removal to Meet Climate Goals?

By World Resource Institute

  • More than 80 countries have committed to reach net-zero by 2050; in most cases, both emission reductions and removals are included into their strategies.The latter is deemed necessary, in the range of 10 billion tons of CO2 to be removed per year
  • Carbon removal includes both natural and technological approaches to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Out of the 50 long term strategies submitted to date to the UN, 47 include plans to use carbon removal. 3 similarities exist between them
  • 1) a wide range of natural and technical solutions are included 2) multiple countries quantify how much removal they need 3) details on development, financement and deployment are lacking. Transparency on these points will be key

10. Energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins: ‘It’s the largest, cheapest, safest, cleanest way to address the crisis’

By The Guardian

  • “Just as with the 1970s oil shocks, the problem today is not where to find energy but how to use it better”, says Amory Lovins, adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, nicknamed the “Einstein of energy efficiency”
  • “In our house we save 97% of the pumping energy by properly laying out some pipes. Well, if everyone in the world did that to their pipes and ducts, you would save about a fifth of the world’s electricity, or half the coal-fired electricity”, he says
  • “When you have a climate and energy emergency, you need to invest judiciously, not indiscriminately, to buy the most efficient solution. Far better to deploy fast, inexpensive and sure technologies like wind or solar than one that is slow to build, speculative and very costly” he adds
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