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Business rates are an unacceptable threat for anaerobic digestion operators, say industry leaders

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And they will affect the UK’s ability to meet its Net Zero targets

anaerobic digestion site

With charges escalating year on year, business rates are now a real burden for the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry and risk putting many plants out of business, the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has warned, along with renewables consultant Chris Handel. This issue is particularly critical considering the value of AD in addressing climate change and the need for the UK to decarbonise agriculture and other key sectors of its economy.

HMRC’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has been reviewing its business rates assessments and the change of methodology could lead to AD plants in the UK facing bills that they can’t meet – causing the closure of their business and the loss of a precious waste management and decarbonisation service for the UK.

There are currently 685 AD plants in the UK treating 46 million tonnes of organic waste every year and recycling them into green biogas and biofertilisers for the energy, transport, heat and farming sectors. By capturing and transforming organic matter – that would otherwise emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) on landfill or through incineration – into alternatives to fossil-based energy and fertiliser, the AD industry delivers a 1% reduction in the UK’s GHG emissions every year – the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road. Fully deployed, the industry could abate the UK’s GHG emissions by 6% by 2030, says ADBA.

“Business rate payers in England have, so far, benefitted from a generous relief scheme under the government’s transitional rates relief scheme. But many AD operators will soon be coming out of this scheme and for the first time will face the full impact of the recent rates revaluation”, says Charlotte Morton, ADBA’s Chief Executive. “This will mean high levels of charges akin to those now levied on AD operators in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We realise that the tax has to be paid – but it must be fair and reasonable, have regard to a plant’s ability to pay and fully reflect the challenges of running an AD plant. ADBA is very concerned about the impact this tax will be having across the industry.”

The trade association has been working with leading rating practitioner Chris Handel in looking to bring the AD industry together to explore how to address the issue with the VOA and ensure that the business rates remain affordable and fair.

Chris Handel, Managing Director of Handel Rating Consultants, said: “Government changes to the calculations used to work out business rates are likely to trigger higher payments for AD plant owners. This feels counter intuitive at a time when we need to all green the economy.

“I’d urge any AD plant operator receiving a letter about business rates to do two things: firstly take professional advice, don’t just fill in their form. It could lead to higher tax bills. Second, have a think about joining our formal challenge to the government to seek a fairer deal for the industry.”

Charlotte Morton concluded: “We are confident that working together, our concerted action will give us a good opportunity to reset business rate charges to more realistic levels, benefitting not only the whole industry for the life of the plant, but also the UK’s efforts to fulfill the country’s ambition to achieve its Net Zero targets and address climate change.”

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Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/04/27/business-rates-are-an-unacceptable-threat-for-anaerobic-digestion-operators/

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As Electric Vehicle Sales Skyrocket, Tesla Continues to Dominate

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Originally posted on EVANNEX.
by Charles Morris

The events of the last year have dramatically demonstrated the truth of the old adage that major crises tend to accelerate changes that were already underway. The auto industry (among others) had a tough 2020, but it’s coming back strong — in the first quarter of 2021, the US auto market expanded by a respectable 11% year over year. However, the global auto market of 2022 will look very different from that of 2019.

Photo by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica.

As anyone who’s not in deep denial can see (including oil industry analysts and recalcitrant automakers such as Toyota and Honda), the end of the Oil Age is within sight, and electric vehicles are the future. The rise of EVs is still in its beginning stages, but the trend is clear, and the evidence that 2021 will prove to be the tipping point is in the numbers.

According to the most recent data from Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book, overall sales of electrified vehicles (plug-in vehicles and hybrids) grew at a rate that far outpaced the larger auto market in the first quarter. Sales of pure EVs expanded by 44.8% compared to the previous year, and now represent 2.5% of the US auto market — a new high. Hybrids had an even better quarter — sales more than doubled. Electrified vehicles made up 7.8% of the US market in Q1.

Tesla continues to dominate the electric segment — of all EVs delivered in the US in Q1, a whopping 71% sported the cat’s-nose T badge. As many predicted, the Model Y has become the California carmaker’s most popular model — the previous market leader, the Model 3, saw its sales decline by 50% year over year in the US, and the older Models S and X have been pushed off the podium by the Chevy Bolt, while a new entrant, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, took fourth place.

In fact, it may just be that the legacy brands are (after 17 years) beginning to mount a credible challenge to the trend-setter. Tesla’s 71% EV market share is nothing to backfire at, but it’s down from 83% a year ago.

Outside the US, things look very different — in China, and some parts of Europe, the transition to EVs is further along, and Tesla’s dominance is less absolute.

In Norway, EVs are already handily outselling legacy fossil fuel vehicles. EV sales are also steadily growing in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, and the Model 3 remains a leader in these markets (the Model Y is not expected to be widely available in Europe until the Berlin Gigafactory comes online).

According to Jose Pontes of the EV Sales blog, the Model 3 was the top-selling EV in the Netherlands in March, followed by the VW ID.4 and the BMW iX3. The Model 3 also took first place in Germany, just edging out the VW e-Up! The Hyundai Kona EV came in third. Unsurprisingly, VW was the top-selling electrified brand overall. In France, the Model 3 had a commanding lead over the second-place Peugeot 208 EV.

In China, local brands are giving Tesla some serious competition — the Wuling HongGuang Mini EV has only been on the market a couple of months, but it’s taken off like a rocket, quickly stealing first place from Tesla. The Model 3 placed second and the Model Y third in the Middle Kingdom in March. [Editor’s note: It’s worth pointing out that the Wuling HongGuang Mini EV is not in anything close to Tesla’s market, costing just ~$4,000. Its sales are no doubt impressive and a huge EV story, but I think it’s safe to guess that none of those buyers were debating between the $4,000 mini car and a Tesla.]

Zooming out to the global picture, we find that Tesla’s Model 3 still rules — it set a new all-time monthly record in March, selling almost 76,000 units and taking the #1 spot. In second place, that scrappy Wuling Mini sold almost 40,000, and the Model Y followed in third with just over 32,000 sales.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/08/as-electric-vehicle-sales-skyrocket-tesla-continues-to-dominate/

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Oil, Gas, & Chemical Companies Don’t Want Louisiana Residents To Know What’s In The Air

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A Louisiana state committee has rejected a bill that would have required 473 plants to install real-time air monitoring systems and pay for it. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Cleo Fields (D-Baton Rouge) and it was inspired by conversations with his constituents after last year’s fire at the ExxonMobile refinery — the explosion that woke me up at 5:00 am one morning.

Nola.com noted that thousands of pounds of carcinogenic chemicals were released that day, but state officials say the concentrations weren’t high enough to harm the public. “At the end of the day, the people have a right to know what’s in the air, and I think we should benefit from the technology that’s available,” Fields said. I agree. However, the plants and some Louisiana Republican senators don’t.

On the day prior to the committee hearing, the Department of Environmental Quality priced the bill at $3.6 million and stated that it would need to hire 48 more employees to process the data sent by the plants. For now, it has 7 staffers that look at the data provided by 42 state-managed monitors. Teresa Delafosse, the agency’s financial services administrator, told Nola.com, “We do believe that our estimate of staff is reasonable.” She added, “I know it sounds like a lot, but we don’t have the capacity to review all of this data now. It’s incredibly voluminous.”

What Killed The Bill

The bill was heavily opposed by oil, gas, and chemical industry advocates. Even attempts to narrow the bill to reduce costs to the state were blocked. Robert Schromm, the Louisiana Chemical Association’s manager of governmental affairs, told the Environmental Quality Committee that the bill was unnecessary.

“We already feel like air monitoring systems are adequate,”  he said. “It’s unnecessary. The system in place works.”

Nola.com broke down how the committee voted on the bill.

  • Against — Sens. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell; Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville
  • For — Sens. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans; Ed Price, D-Gonzales; Patrick Connick, R-Marrero
  • Absent — Sens. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs; Stewart Cathey Jr., R-Monroe.

There’s another bill that is focused on creating a public notification system for neighborhoods near plants — fenceline communities. The bill was sponsored by Peterson and it requires companies to notify nearby residents and first responders of emergencies within 30 minutes with a state-managed system. Currently, they have an hour.

“It’s pretty frustrating, I would think, that we are here in 2021 and legislation like this needs to be filed to protect the public and our environment,” Peterson told Nola.com. “If we can get a tornado warning on our cell phone … we can surely be able to get a warning when there’s an explosion at a nearby plant.”


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/08/oil-gas-chemical-companies-dont-want-louisiana-residents-to-know-whats-in-the-air/

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Volta Trucks Road-To-Zero Emissions Strategy

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Volta Trucks has laid out its Road-to-Zero Emissions strategy and is launching four full-electric commercial vehicles. The trucks will be between 7.5t and 19t and manufactured at multiple facilities. The target is set to 27,000 vehicle sales annually across expanded markets.

The company plans to launch these new trucks by 2025. The Volta Zero was the first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed for inner-city last-mile deliveries, and Volta is building on the Zero for these new models. The company has plans to expand its product portfolio with three additional variants within the medium to lower end of the heavy-duty class.

The 4 Electric Trucks

The Volta Zero will be the first of the four delivered. Volta plans to have its Pilot Fleet trucks built by the end of 2021 and series production is planned to start around 12 months afterward. Currently, the vehicle is still in the engineering development phase and testing of the early prototype is due to start soon.

Following the production of the 16-tonne Volta Zero will be the largest vehicle, the 19-tonne one. After that will be the mid-size 12-tonne variants in 2023. Volta expects a Pilot Fleet of the smaller 7.5-tonne vehicles to be launched for customer trials in 2023, with production commencing in late 2024. The later vehicles are currently in the early design development phase.

Volta plans for all variants to be designed with optimized payloads, which offer fleet managers the chance to use a reduced number of larger Volta Zero vehicles — which, in turn, removes several smaller vans from their operations. This would help reduce inner-city traffic congestion.

27,000 Volta Trucks Per Year Starting In 2025

Volta is planning for its sales volumes to accelerate past 27,000 per year starting in 2025. Its strategy focuses on a Europe-first city-specific strategy. Following this are North America and Asia. Volta announced what was believed to be Europe’s single largest purchase of full-electric large commercial vehicles with the sale of 1,000 Volta Zeros to Petit Forestier in 2020. Forestier is Europe’s largest refrigerated commercial rental fleet.

Due to the strength of market demand for its trucks in Europe, Volta Trucks is accelerating its market entry in Europe. Initially, the Volta Zero was launched in the UK and France. Currently, it’s in Spain for a roadshow with customers. After its trip to Spain, Volta will bring its truck to Germany and North America over the summer. Due to the market demand for full-electric commercial vehicles that is driven by customers’ needs as well as regulations, Volta Trucks expects volumes to rise beyond 2025 after hitting 27,000 units a year.

Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks, Essa Al-Saleh, shared some thoughts on the company’s new Road-to-Zero Emissions strategy:

“We have seen huge success since launching the 16-tonne Volta Zero in September 2020. We have significant tailwinds with zero-emission large commercial vehicles, thanks to forthcoming legislation changes that are driving demand, as well as many customers with uncompromising sustainability agendas wanting to purchase the most environmentally focused vehicles for their fleets. This has created a very strong order book that encourages us to rapidly accelerate our plans.

“When we launched the Volta Zero, we’d expected to be selling 5,000 vehicles a year with a single model by 2025. Given our pace of development, driven by customer demand, we clearly see the opportunity to expand the Volta Zero into a portfolio of vehicles to offer customers a wider selection of full-electric vehicle sizes, and to accelerate the change to zero emissions. This leads us to far more ambitious sales expectations, with more than five times the number of vehicles now expected to be built compared to our original proposal. That’ll see over 27,000 vehicles sold per year by 2025, and further volume growth afterward. To achieve these ambitious goals and timelines, we will work in a very nimble and agile way to ensure our speed to market. We will also need a network of world-class manufacturing facilities. I’m pleased that recently, we expressed an interest to build Volta Zeros in Barcelona and are also investigating several other facilities in Europe, Asia, and North America to ensure we can keep up with demand.”

Carl-Magnus Norden, Founder and Executive Chairman of Volta Trucks, also added his thoughts.

“When we created the Company, we originally set out to decarbonize logistics operations and to make city centers safer and more sustainable places to live and work in. But we originally believed that we couldn’t achieve this objective by ourselves, and we strongly encouraged other manufacturers on their journeys towards zero emissions. Over the past months though, we’ve seen unprecedented demand in the marketplace, confirming that our ambition resonates well with our customers, but we’ve also seen very few other start-ups or OEMs announcing new fully electric commercial vehicles in the Medium and lower-Heavy Duty sectors. On this basis, we will have to deliver more of the decarbonization of the logistics industry ourselves, and the launch of four separate fully electric commercial vehicles targeting more than 27,000 truck sales per year by 2025, just three years after starting production, is a very strong statement of intent to deliver on our original vision.”


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/08/volta-trucks-road-to-zero-emissions-strategy/

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India Announces $600 Million Incentives Scheme For Solar Manufacturing

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The Indian government has announced a new incentive scheme to boost manufacturing in the solar power sector. Through this scheme, the government plans to disburse more than $600 million in incentives over the next five years.

India’s Ministry for New and Renewable Energy recently announced the guidelines for a production-linked incentives scheme for the solar equipment manufacturing sector. Incentives will be offered to manufacturers of polysilicon, wafers, cells, and modules. The Ministry will call for bids from manufacturers in order to allocate the earmarked incentive.

The Ministry plans to award incentives to at least three different companies and, therefore, the manufacturing capacity eligible for incentives will be limited to 50% of the bid capacity quoted or 2 gigawatts, whichever is lower. However, to be eligible for incentives, a company must set up at least 1 gigawatt of the production line. The scheme is open to companies looking to set up new production lines as well as those looking to expand existing lines.

Selection, as well as disbursement of incentives, shall be based on the capacity bid by companies, the efficiency of modules produced, and the extent of integration across the polysilicon-to-module value chain. Companies will be required to commission their production lines within 1.5–3 years of winning the bids.

Rating agency ICRA noted that the scheme could support the development of 21 gigawatts of cell-to-module production capacity over the next five years. This new capacity would be able to meet around 50% of India’s annual demand for modules during this period.

The production-linked scheme is the latest in a series of efforts by the Indian government to support domestic solar equipment manufacturing. India currently levies a safeguard duty of 14.8% on imported solar cells and modules. In March, the government decided to levy customs duty of 40% on modules and 25% on solar cells.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/08/india-announces-600-million-incentives-scheme-for-solar-manufacturing/

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