GF Blog 23 – Week 41

10th November

A roller-coaster week at the Blog desk, plus a couple of up-coming events to look out for.

This is not a normal week. My colleague Bob has been in and out of hospital and I also have been suffering from mysterious pains. The result I fear may be a rather stilted Blog offering. Apologies!

Let’s consider first the Highs of the past week, in the form of reader emails: –

Email message 1 from Lucas at Prema Energy, a wholesale importer of Hydro Treated Vegetable Oils

Hi Caroline   

Read your blog – bless you for your efforts. I hope your words do not fall on deaf ears in Westminster.

Thankfully, their notions of an EV utopia have been rightfully questioned and it seems other solutions, especially Hydrogen, are being given air.

I’d be glad to speak with you – will 5/10 minutes suit you next week?

Best,  Lucas Robinson, Technical Sales Manager

Our phone conversation was certainly useful. First Lucas told me of a 2nd supplier of HVO in Cornwall, smaller and less visible in the press and media than Mitchell and Webber, but possibly more open to helping me. The boss, Alastair Bennett, was a very sympathetic listener.

Then I was given a lead, for a transport logistics consultant called Simon Reynish and discovered 2 things, both rather astonishing. 1) I was taught music by his Dad in the mid 1980s! 2) He has a plan to drive from Lancashire down the country fuelling at all available HVO service stations (of which there are not many), for publicity. I immediately said, let’s do a meet in the middle! And began to research if there are any filling stations anyway.

For ordinary public access I see only Esso, who say they have 20 filling stations, but only supplying a very low amount of HVO in a diesel blend – Currently available at 20 stations in South East England, and suitable for all diesel engines without adjustments, our latest diesel include 25% premium renewable content, and our proprietary Esso Synergy additive.

Lucas told me of the major companies already switched to HVO for their haulage. 2 examples are Screwfix and McDonalds.

For example, at Wincanton, 85% of its logistics vehicle fleet serving Screwfix now refuels with HVO – using approximately 90,000 litres of the fuel per week. The logistics specialist launched an HVO trial in 2022 involving 48 heavy goods vehicles operating from the Screwfix distribution centre in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Screwfix worked with its truck manufacturer to make sure that the HVO specification fuel was compatible with the fleet, before installing fuel tanks at its Distribution Centres.  Vehicles operating from the Screwfix Stafford Distribution Centre also began using HVO in March this year.

Ian Howe, Supply Chain and Logistics Director at Screwfix, said: “With over 870 stores across the UK and Ireland, transport is a key focus for Screwfix’ commitment in serving local communities, and we are determined to drive a real and material difference, in reducing emissions and improving air quality. The results are impressively encouraging, and we’re exploring how we can go further.”

Not a great fan of McDonalds food, I do however applaud them for their green aspirations and use of waste chip fat oil.

  • 3.5 million litres of oil were collected from McDonald’s and converted into biodiesel fuel
  • 11,700 tonnes of Co2 emissions were saved by McDonald’s powering their UK delivery fleet with biodiesel, rather than other fuel
  • 22,000 tonnes of cardboard were collected for recycling from McDonald’s restaurants and that’s equivalent to saving about 374,000 trees
  • 450 tonnes of paper cups were recycled, equivalent to over 40 million cups

2 More Suppliers to trucks – Radius and Green Bio Fuels 
Radius to provide HVO fuelling through its UK Fuels network

Radius is adding HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) to its fuel network, enabling its fuel card customers to purchase the renewable diesel at several strategically located truck stops across the UK. The diesel substitute will be available from 12 sites, with that to grow to 50 forecourts by the end of the year.

The announcement comes on the back of Radius’ recent partnership with Element 2, the UK’s hydrogen infrastructure company.

The two companies are working together to develop a network of hydrogen refuelling solutions across Radius’ existing UK Fuels network.

Both additions are part of Radius’ ongoing strategy to enable fleet customers to continue to operate as normal while transitioning to carbon-friendly solutions.

During the upcoming months, Radius says it will be announcing new HVO locations in its customer network updates. It will also be able to facilitate deliveries of HVO for customers who have their own bulk storage tanks, allowing drivers to refill sustainably at their own depots, too.

Green Biofuels say that they recognise HVO might not be perfect, but it is better than burning fossil fuels. “HVO may not be the ultimate solution but a key transitional technology that enables the industry to make positive steps while appropriate energy pathways develop without risk or capital expenditure,” the company says.

It continued that the Environment Agency had been badly advised on the issue:- “They have an outdated approach to the energy transition and draw conclusions from incomplete research and several misconceptions regarding the renewable credentials of biofuels. They made no reference to the advanced fuels industry and the decision (to block use of HVO) is in direct contrast to the positions of the UK government, the European Union and the World Environmental agency.”

Email message 2 – from Richard, a local reader

I really enjoyed your blog this week, as usual.

Here is a link to a website which shows how all the UK electricity is being generated in real time:-    You probably have seen this before, but I thought I would mention it anyway. I regularly look at this to see how renewable energy output is going.

Sometimes the wind energy goes over 50%, which is encouraging. And, from your blog, it’s good to see the Dogger Bank wind farm progressing well.

I confess that until Richard sent me to it, I had never seen the gridwatch website. He obviously enjoys viewing data and statistics, which are not so much my cup of tea! But it really is a very interesting resource. For instance, at a glimpse today I see there is more wind energy output  than nuclear or solar.  

Demand 37.79GW 

Input CCGT (Gas)14.40  = 37%  Nuclear 4.21 = 11%  Wind 4.67   = 13%                       

Although the next image is very difficult to decipher, I will try for you. The lower set of dials describes connections for export and import of power from other countries, France, Holland and parts of Ireland.

The top set show other forms of renewables. There is a tiny 0.34%  Pumped Storage (water in circular systems); Hydro 1.24%; Solar 10.36%; Biomass 7.6 % (with interesting news of a purpose-built power station using saw mill waste, called Stevens Croft near Lockerbie, in Scotland).

Based on a swift survey, Stevens Croft does seem to operate a better system than Drax, in that no virgin forest is cut down and imported to make the fuel.

The plant is fuelled entirely by biomass material. Over 480,000 tonnes of fuel is needed to power the station every year. Arriving from the local area the fuel comprises:

  • 60% sawmill co-products and small roundwood
  • 20% short rotation coppice (willow)
  • 20% recycled fibre from wood product manufacture

Back to Richard’s email: –

A clue to the answer to your question about e-bike fires is held in the line, “He had only bought the replacement battery 2 days earlier, off e-bay,”.  Batteries are available on e-bay and elsewhere that do not have proper thermal protection. These result in fires.

Mobile phones rarely have new batteries and if they do they are fitted by competent technicians who fit the correct battery. The battery of an e-bike can be replaced by the end user with no technical knowledge.

 Another problem is that there are hundreds of different chargers available and users can buy completely the wrong charger for their e-bike and the mismatch can cause a fire.

I have an e-bike which I use 2 or 3 times a week. We drive a Renault Zoe and we heat our house with Economy 7 storage heaters which have special wi-fi charging controls that I have optimised for superior control over what is commercially available. So you can tell, I am very interested in renewable energy and energy storage!

By reading your blog I have come to know your interests and activities and I am astounded by your energy and drive, which you use in such a worthwhile way. Keep up the good work. 

Kind regards, Richard.  

Thank you, kind Sir. Thank you!

Summary of the Good

Of course it is lovely to receive compliments like that, but the thing that matters most to me is having more people involved and interacting every week. I really like that and have added it as conclusion to a film for our Cornwall Sustainability Award entry.

The Beastly Bad Blog News

Although I swear I have been much more careful about using images this past 12 months, I have this week been served notices that amount to fines of almost £800. I managed to negotiate them down to just over £400, but still, I am angry and upset. Could there not be a different system for non-profit users?

The only way to go forward, it seems, is to give you links to images rather than copying them myself. Sorry folks ☹

Advance notices – TV on Sunday 12th, Meetings on Thursday 23rd and Dec 2nd

It’s that time of year again. The Earthshot Prize Ceremony in Singapore will be televised for us, by the BBC on Sunday 12th. It’s on BBC1 at 17.20 or is already available on i-player or YouTube.

I have been exchanging messages with a journalist at the Financial Times, who acknowledged the question I sent her was a good one, but she was not in a position to answer it.

Why is there no report of how the investments of previous 2 years have gone? One million pounds is not insignificant. Surely we should be able to know the difference it has made?  

Trying to help, she provided me this info – so if you would like to see lots of images of the Earthshot events, I suggest you click on the Canto board links.  

For any media assets and downloadable press release please refer to the Canto board here, and for any media assets on the 2023 Earthshot Prize finalists please refer to the Canto board here. Please note that images are courtesy of The Earthshot Prize.

Prince William lists the 5 successful organisations, in his personal message:-

The last year has been one of great change and even greater challenge. A year in which the effects of the climate crisis have become too visible to be ignored. And a year that has left so many feeling defeated, their hope, dwindling. However, as we have seen tonight, hope does remain. The light of optimism is burning bright in our Earthshot Finalists. From Boomitra, S4S, and Acción Andina, to GRST and WildAid Marine Program, our Winners and all our Finalists remind us that, no matter where you are on our planet, the spirit of ingenuity, and the ability to inspire change, surrounds us all.”

Prince William, Founder and President of The Earthshot Prize

Here is a summary of each. To my mind they are all deserving choices (I didn’t say that in previous years). And the battery recycle one is especially good news.

Accion Andina – one of the largest ecosystem restoration initiatives in South America.

GRST – a revolution is needed to make lithium batteries cleaner and more recyclable. Today, our water-based technology is driving this transformation to provide consumers with a sustainable energy future.”

Instead of using toxic solvents and hard-to-recycle materials, GRST has created a way to build the battery using a water-soluble binding composite, so that at the end of the battery’s life, the lithium, cobalt and nickel can be more economically recovered and reused again in another battery, reducing demand for further extraction.

WildAid’s Marine Programme is making the promise of marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries real by filling a critical global gap: law enforcement capacity. 

S4S Technologies – We aim to create a waste-free food system and to transform lives of millions of women farmers, using solar-powered food drying equipment.”

Boomitra – removing emissions and boosting farmer profits by incentivising land restoration through a verified carbon credit marketplace.

Thursday 23rd Meeting

And last but not least, December 2nd – looks as if we are full up already, but there is a waiting list. So please email if you would like to be on it.  

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