- 100% +
Font size

Paper bags are the low-carbon choice, new study finds



Plastic bags are commonplace in retail. But there’s an alternative that is much better for the climate. “Of the different carrier bags that we studied, the paper bag made by material from BillerudKorsnäs has the smallest carbon footprint,” said Lena Dahlgren from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. EU citizens use an average of 200 plastic bags a year, many of which are used in the current Christmas shopping period. Lots of plastic bags are only used once and end up in landfill. A Swedish life cycle analysis carried out by IVL Swedish Environmental Institute has now shown that the carbon footprint of a carrier bag made from recycled plastic is twice that of a paper bag made by material from BillerudKorsnäs. “The company uses a significant proportion of renewable energy in its production. That contributes considerably to paper bags made by their materials having the smallest carbon footprint,” said Lena Dahlgren, project manager at IVL. BillerudKorsnäs is a Swedish company that aims to be a leader in the transition to a sustainable society. The company produces low-carbon packaging material based on responsibly managed forests in the Nordic region and is now encouraging retailers across Europe to reduce their carbon footprint.

Toyota says new technology means longer battery life



Toyota Motor Corp. has developed a new way of observing the movements of tiny particles in batteries used to power electric vehicles—an advance it says will help boost their cruise range by 10 percent to 15 percent.

Toyota engineer Hisao Yamashige explained to reporters Thursday at the Japanese automaker’s Tokyo office the complex method for tracking the lithium ions, which are tiny particles in lithium-ion batteries, also used in laptops and smartphones.

The ions’ movements, which are extremely hard to detect, are critical in determining the efficiency and power of a battery.

Increasing cruise range is the biggest obstacle for electric vehicles, especially because charging stations aren’t as common as gas stations.

Toyota is more bullish about fuel-cell vehicles, which are expensive but can deliver the same cruise range as gas engines. Yamashige said there is no change to that overall company policy.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, has no pure electric vehicles in its lineup since production of its electric iQ subcompact and other earlier models were discontinued after selling in only small numbers.

But all the world’s major automakers are working on electric vehicles. Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co. leads with its Leaf, which has a range of about 100 miles (160 kilometers) on a single charge. The Nissan-Renault alliance accounts for about half the world’s pure EVs sold.

Toyota’s new technology will allow the company to test various materials and battery structures, and an improved electric vehicle is being planned for the commercial market within the next “several years,” said Yoshinori Suga, a department manager.

The tests are being carried out in collaboration with Japanese research organization Riken, using its high-intensity X-ray facility. Toyota will present its observation method at a battery symposium in Japan later this month, sharing it with other automakers, although not its findings.

The European way to green energy in Southeast Asia



From floating solar panels to systems that convert waste to electricity, a range of European innovations could help Southeast Asian countries to boost their use of green energy. Some of these technologies are being showcased in Singapore and Malaysia from Oct 24 to 28.

Switch on the lights in your home in the future and there could be a good chance that the electricity comes from wood chips, used tyres and other biological and municipal wastes that have been converted into energy sources.

ETIA, a French engineering company that specialises in transforming waste and biomass into electricity and biofuels, is planning to expand its operations in Southeast Asia after enjoying success in markets in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

It is one of 35 European companies that will be showcasing their innovative green energy technologies in Singapore and Malaysia this week, as part of a week-long business mission organised by the European Union (EU).

This Green Energy Technologies business mission is part of the Union’s new EU Business Avenues in South East Asia programme. Launched in June, the initiative aims to bring up to 1,000 European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on week-long trips to Southeast Asia over the next five years to help them to develop their businesses outside of Europe.

“This trip to Singapore and Malaysia will allow the European SMEs and their counterparts in the region to explore new collaborations and growth opportunities in the green energy sector,” says Dr. Michael Pulch, the EU Ambassador to Singapore.

We see big opportunities for our technology in Southeast Asia, especially in turning biomass residues into bio-coal and electricity, and in turning municipal solid waste into electricity, especially for small off-grid power plants.

Olivier Lepez, president, ETIA

Unlocking waste’s full potential

ETIA’s technologies could help Southeast Asian countries to deal with their growing waste by converting more of it into electricity and biological fuels, thereby reducing their need for landfills and increasing their use of renewable energy at the same time.

The firm’s Biogreen systems can use a wide variety of waste as feedstock, including wood chips and sawdust, animal manure, sewage and industrial sludge, plastics and used tyres. The waste is heated in an oxygen-free chamber to produce charcoal and gases, and some of the gases are also condensed to produce oil.

“We are particularly interested in Southeast Asia because it generates a huge quantity of biomass residues from palm oil activities,” says ETIA president Olivier Lepez. 

Malaysia and Indonesia alone account for about 90 per cent of global palm oil production. “There is a huge potential market for solutions that can turn the waste from those activities into electricity.”

ETIA offers its Biogreen systems in the form of both stationary plants and mobile, containerised units. The fixed plants have lower investment costs but require more space, while the mobile units better suited to quick and temporary deployments, for example, if the intended project area has limited space or restrictions on new building works.

ETIA has installed 30 Biogreen systems in 15 countries, including Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. These can process up to 3,000 kg of waste per hour.

It also has research and development centres in the United States and France that are working on more waste management technologies, such as waste-to-hydrogen systems, and  is open to collaborating with partners in Southeast Asia to establish similar centres in the region.

“We see big opportunities for our technology in Southeast Asia, especially in turning biomass residues into bio-coal and electricity, and in turning municipal solid waste into electricity, especially for small off-grid power plants,” says Lepez.

Solar on the sea

Austrian company Swimsol, meanwhile, has its eyes set on Southeast Asia’s solar power sector. The firm, which has more than two decades of experience in installing rooftop solar panel systems, recently expanded its offerings to include floating solar panel systems for tropical regions.

“Southeast Asia has many land-scarce islands, coastal cities and remote coastal areas where space is a precious resource,” explains Thomas Siebenbrunner, Swimsol’s head of sales and marketing. “Our technology enables unlimited solar power generation by using the abundant sea surface for solar panels.”

Furthermore, many coastal regions in Malaysia and throughout Southeast Asia currently depend on diesel generators for power generation. Swimsol’s technology can provide a clean alternative energy source, says Siebenbrunner.

To create solar panels that will not corrode in humid and salty environments, the firm searched for high-quality components, subjected them to independent tests that included testing how they worked under long-term damp heat and salt mist corrosion. It selected the most resilient ones, then developed a way to seal these panels to further prevent corrosion.

“We use heavy-duty, high performance panels developed specifically for tropical marine regions, and our systems have a lifetime of about 30 years,” says Siebenbrunner.

Swimsol’s floating solar panel systems have been installed in various locations in the Maldives so far. One system located at the Baa Atoll is expected to help a local island save more than 50,000 litres of diesel annually and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 130 tonnes per year on average for the next 30 years.

The firm also recently opened an office in Jakarta, Indonesia, to cater to the Southeast Asian market.

Forging East-West partnerships

This week, representatives from 35 European firms will share more about their technologies, which also includes wind power and energy conservation systems, at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre as part of the Singapore International Energy Week, before they travel to Kuala Lumpur for pre-arranged business meetings.

“Southeast Asia is a rapidly growing market that has much untapped economic potential, particularly for SMEs,” says Pulch, the EU Ambassador.

“The companies selected for this business mission have strong value propositions for the energy sector in Southeast Asia, and we hope they will form long-lasting business collaborations with their counterparts in the region.”

The companies will showcase their green energy technologies at the Asia Clean Energy Summit 2016 Conference and Exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Oct 25 and 26. The summit is part of the Singapore International Energy Week.

Big Question on Climate Crisis: How to Inspire Innovation


HAMBURG, Germany — On the edge of this northern German port city, the industrial giant Siemens is testing a way to offset the erratic nature of renewable power, by storing energy in hot rocks.

Off the coast of Scotland, an oil company will soon install the first commercial wind turbines that float in deep water, a potential clean-energy breakthrough that could be adopted around the globe.

And in Texas, an American company is about to test a new type of power plant that may generate electricity while cheaply capturing the emissions, allowing the climate-altering pollution to be pumped safely underground.

Around the world, energy innovation seems to be speeding up. Large historical forces are converging to create unprecedented turmoil and opportunity in what had long been one of the most hidebound industries.

The changes are coming just as governments have finally resolved, after two decades of failed efforts, to tackle the global climate crisis. The emissions that cause global warming have already fallen in some of the biggest countries, including the United States.

Yet none of it is happening fast enough.

Experts say that to forestall the worst effects of global warming, emissions need to drop by 80 percent or more globally by 2050, a mere 34 years from now. But at a global scale they are not falling at all, and the promises countries have made about the energy transition, even if kept, would get the world nowhere close to where it needs to be.

That means, experts say, that innovation in the field of energy will have to accelerate if governments hope to stave off catastrophe.

While the cost of renewable energy sources has plunged, it is still not low enough in most places to drive dirty energy out of the market. And while renewables have shown that they can replace large amounts of fossil fuels, many experts say they believe they cannot do the whole job and new technologies will be needed in coming decades to get greenhouse emissions to zero.

Progress on those new approaches has been halting, at best. So the future habitability of the Earth might depend on the answer to this question: How can innovation in the energy business be pushed into overdrive?

Not at All Like Your iPhone

Many people have a pretty clear idea about how innovation works — or at least they think they do.

After all, millions of people have one of the most dazzling fruits of modern technology, the smartphone, in their pockets. At the root of innovations like the smartphone and the flat-screen television are microchips that get ever faster, reducing the cost of gadgets even as their capabilities mushroom.

Now that almost everyone accepts that dirty energy is a problem, could it not be fixed with that same kind of innovation? It is a rational question, and only a few years ago some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley were asking it, too.

“Some of these venture capitalists had the mind-set that we’ll get this stuff invented in the garage, and then we’re just going to disrupt the whole sector,” said Teryn Norris, a director at the PIRA Energy Group, a consultancy in New York.

Billions of dollars poured into “clean-tech” investments. Most of them failed, and within a few years, investors were acknowledging they had misjudged the difficulty of the problem.

“They ran up against the hard realities of the energy sector,” which does not remotely work the same way as most of the technologies emerging from Silicon Valley, Mr. Norris said.

To understand why, start with this: Though energy may appear to be a free market, with prices rising and falling as traders buy and sell oil and electricity, appearances are deceiving.

“The energy markets are among the most unfree markets you could find anywhere in the world,” said Samuel Thernstrom, who served in the George W. Bush administration and now heads a think tank in Washington, theEnergy Innovation Reform Project. “They are totally distorted at many, many levels.”

The most obvious example is electricity. Because the delivery of electricity is a natural monopoly — multiple sets of wires would be a chaotic mess — state governments essentially took control of the electricity business a century ago.

They dictated what companies were allowed to build and set the prices they were allowed to charge, usually by lumbering, bureaucratic procedures that took years. The focus was on forcing the utilities to keep prices low while eking out modest returns on their investments.

Not surprisingly, electric utilities were among the least innovative businesses in the entire economy, spending next to nothing on research and development. Some aspects of the business have been reformed in recent years, but progress has been halting.

In less obvious ways, the market for oil and the fuels made from it has also been distorted. Much of the world’s oil is controlled by government-owned national oil companies, some of them linked into a huge cartel, and even in the West a large fraction comes from public lands.

That means governments exercise a huge influence over supply; they can and do manipulate it for reasons having nothing to do with business principles.

On top of that, the oil industry benefited for decades from government favoritism, including big tax breaks in the United States and big consumer subsidies in other countries, that helped lock in a global dependency on oil.

As it became clear late in the 20th century that the emissions from coal, oil and natural gas threatened the world’s climate, a cry for change arose.

But the tight linkages between energy companies and governments meant that if change was to come, it would only come as a result of strong public policies.

That, in turn, set off a debate that is still underway: What, exactly, should those policies be?

For two decades, Europe has been the world’s hothouse of experimentation in energy policy. Along the way, European governments have learned painful, expensive lessons.

The governments saw promise in technologies like wind turbines and solar panels, but realized these would never be able to compete with entrenched utilities unless the market for them grew large enough that manufacturers could benefit from economies of scale. They tackled that head-on, creating subsidies funded from the pockets of electricity consumers.

It worked, driving down the cost of renewables at a precipitous pace in recent years. Germany has pushed hardest among the large European countries and now gets a third of its power from various forms of renewable energy.

Adopting Renewable Targets

State governments in the United States also adopted renewable targets, though the United States is behind Germany, with about 13 percent renewable electricity, counting power from dams.

Despite their success in building the market, European governments were slow to adjust their subsidies, even as renewable power grew cheaper. Over time, the cost ballooned. The average German family is paying close to $300 a year on its electricity bill to support the green-energy push.

Among environmental groups, the subsidies and mandates are largely seen as a success.

That view is supported by a powerful argument: Economists have recognized that the falling cost of green energy is directly related to the size of the market. Every time the market for solar panels doubles, for instance, their cost falls by nearly 20 percent, according to research from a consultancy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

So the preferred energy policy of the green groups is basically a more ambitious version of this established approach. If governments keep using subsidies and mandates to push for scale, they say they believe green energy will eventually be able to compete on economic grounds, giving society the tools it needs to reach low emissions by the middle of this century.

But many energy experts say they believe this will not be enough, and see an urgent need to speed the pace of research and development. Their concerns center on the limitations of renewable power. Because the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, solar panels and wind turbines are not entirely reliable sources of electricity.

Wind turbines in the sea are one answer. The strong, steady ocean breezes mean that far more power can be produced than from turbines on land. But putting huge machinery into the ocean is expensive, and for years European governments have had to offer high subsidies to get that industry off the ground.

Now, they are finding a better way.

Recently, instead of handing out fixed subsidies, they have been running “reverse auctions” for new wind projects. The company that asks for the lowest subsidy on a particular project gets the deal, and the subsidy.

The results have been startling, awakening fierce price competition among the developers of wind projects.

“We owe it to the people that are paying for this electricity to show that the industry is focused on getting the cost to them down,” said Gunnar Groebler, who heads offshore wind development for Vattenfall, a huge European utility.

Measure in Florida That Claims to Back Solar Power May Discourage It



Florida’s biggest electric utility companies are backing a proposed constitutional amendment that, the campaign says, “promotes solar in the Sunshine State.” Not so: If Florida voters approve the ballot measure, it could pave the way for utilities to raise fees on solar customers and cast a heavy cloud over the future of rooftop solar energy in Florida.

Utilities and their allies have spent more than $20 million on the campaign, including inescapable broadcast ads and mass direct mailings. While there is no reliable polling on the measure, unscientific surveys suggest that the amendment can win. Daniel Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, said, “It has a decent shot at passing — because the language is deceptive.”

If approved Nov. 8, the measure would take immediate effect. As a constitutional amendment, it needs to pass with at least 60 percent of the vote to be enacted.

The amendment’s supporters say that it will not retard the expansion of solar power, but opponents are adamant that it will. Former Vice President Al Gore criticized it as a “phony baloney” effort, and while a majority of the Florida Supreme Court approved the language of the amendment, the dissenters blasted the law as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

The state’s newspapers have overwhelmingly opposed the measure, as have most unions, environmental groups, solar energy suppliers and Jimmy Buffett.

It has the support of groups like the 60 Plus Association, a conservative advocacy group, and several business alliances.

The hidden intent of the proposal was not widely understood until The Miami Herald obtained audio of an expert at a conservative Florida think tank affiliated with one of the utilities. In the audio, which the Herald obtained from the Center for Media and Democracy, an investigative group, the expert praised what he called the “incredibly savvy maneuver” of using the “language of promoting solar” to gain support for the measure. He called it “political jiu-jitsu.”

That revelation came too late for Barbara Waks, a retiree who had already mailed in her early-voting ballot when the Herald story appeared. She said that she thought she was supporting renewable energy.

“I felt so stupid,” she said. “I’m familiar with the political arena and the garbage that exists, but this is beyond the pale.” She has asked whether she can change her vote (she can’t), and wants the initiative withdrawn (it won’t be).

The audio from the think tank expert, Sal Nuzzo of the James Madison Institute, put “blood in the water,” said Stephen Smith, the executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which opposes the amendment. “They thought they were going to pull a fast one, but this thing is now completely blowing up in their faces.”

The first part of the amendment guarantees the right of Floridians to generate their own electricity — a right that already exists under the law.

A three-bed house with £500 energy bills? How you too can slash your costs


The overnight low in West Kirby on the Wirrall was around 5C last night. Yet in Colin Usher’s home the temperature is a comfy 20c-21C – despite the fact he has not turned on the heating once this autumn. Even in the depths of winter, the house uses a fraction of the energy that most British homes consume trying to keep warm. On average, the Ushers’ home energy bills since 2014 have been £530 a year, and that for a house that is nearly twice the size of a standard British semi. It means the family is saving at least £1,000 a year, and possibly much more. Throw in the fact that their rooftop solar panels generate an income of £500 a year and their net energy bills are actually close to zero.

Colin and his wife Jenny insist they are not shivering in their four-bed house, or wrapped in multiple fleeces and blankets to keep the cold away. Rarely does the temperature in the house go above 22c, rarely does it fall below 20c. Yet they have achieved this without spending ludicrous amounts of money buying the fanciest new technology. Usher, an architect, built the 179 sq metre (1,926 sq ft) house for just £240,000 and says the key to saving on heating bills is being airtight.

“We have lots of insulation, of course. The house is almost completely airtight. But because it is hermetically sealed we also need to carefully ventilate it. Above all, we spent money on good quality construction – it is a heavyweight construction using lots of concrete, a material that helps to iron out hot and cold weather. It heats up from the sun, and holds the heat for days.”

Usher did not even bother to install any heating upstairs in the house and, after three winters in their home, they haven’t needed it. “The way it works is that the whole building holds heat – it’s like a night storage heater. The ventilation system then distributes the temperature around the house.”

One innovation of Usher’s is to have an over-large water cyclinder, which holds lots of warm to hot water, rather than very hot water. “You don’t have to overheat water. We never add cold water to the shower or when running a bath. It is very wasteful to overheat water.”

But while Usher is a fan of “Passivhaus” eco-standards for building, he is critical of some in the insulation industry. “I have a jaundiced view of installing insulation without warning about the condensation risks. People go to great efforts to put in insulation, then get condensation and mildew in the corner of their rooms. It’s almost bound to happen.” He recommends that anyone making their home airtight should also consider systems such as the Nuaire Drimaster, which costs around £250 and gently forces moist air out of the house.

Some will say that new-builds with lots of energy-saving measures are great, but ask what is realistic for an existing house, especially the Victorian or Edwardian terraces common in UK cities?

Luigi and Jane Caccavale took a 120-year-old, three-floor, rundown property in Wandsworth, south London, and brought it up to “EnerPHit” standards that aim to match the energy efficiency of a new-build eco-home. Today their energy bills are around £80 a month, although keeping the home comfortable was as important as saving money. Like the Ushers, airtightness has been key to saving energy, as has triple-glazing the house.

“It’s all about keeping the heat in,” says Luigi, a software engineer who managed much of the project himself. It involved stripping the house back to its brickwork, and then leaving enough of a gap between the bricks and the insulation to let air circulate. “In effect, condensation forms outside the envelope of the house rather than inside it,” he says. But he warns owners of older houses that making it airtight was something of a slog. “When you try to make an old house airtight, you have to go through every crack and seam. It’s very labour-intensive.”

Meanwhile, in Fulham, south-west London, Pablo Ettinger says his electricity bills are already down 40% since he carried out a full energy survey on his house earlier this year and had works completed in July. He’s hoping that his heating bills will be down by a similar amount. “They insulated my roof and some walls, and a very large number of windows and doors were replaced with triple-glazed windows. In addition they converted all my bulbs to LEDs.”

He admits the cost was high – but it’s a big house in an expensive area – and that the work was done to make the house quieter and more comfortable as much as to save money. “It’s a classic large Victorian house, four beds, a cellar, very badly built around 1895 with almost zero insulation. Our heating bills were around £2,000 a year.”


He’s now a huge convert to triple-glazing. “We’d had double-glazing done, but it was a complete waste of money. Triple-glazing is twice the price of double-glazing but makes a huge difference. The house now feels totally, totally sealed. We’re about five yards away from the District Line at the back of the house but now you can hardly hear it.

“The thing with us was that it wasn’t really about saving money, but about making the house comfortable. The top of the house used to feel cold even at the height of summer. It just feels so much more comfortable now.”

Ettinger looked into turning his home into a zero-energy house, but after visiting various projects he decided against it. “I’m a musician, and standing in a zero-energy room feels like standing in a dead space – you really can almost feel it. So we decided not to go the whole hog.”

Akta Raja, founder of Enhabit UK, which designs and delivers low-energy improvements to buildings, and who helped the Caccavales to retro-fit their home, says her drive is about protecting the environment as much as saving money. Around a fifth of carbon emissions in Britain come from buildings, which could be cut dramatically if we moved to low energy standards. She also reckons that we could drive home energy bills down to as little as £350 a year with careful planning and building. “There are also the other benefits: homes that are quieter and more comfortable, warmer in winter and cooler in summer.”

Raja acknowledges that some energy-saving measures can be expensive, only delivering a financial return over the long term. But she adds that there are quick wins: chimney balloons, which cost as little as £20, “make a massive difference to comfort and to bills,” she says. Manufacturers estimate that a chimney balloon can save half a tonne of CO2 a year per chimney and pay for themselves within three months.

So should we tackle the major housebuilding firms for failing to ensure our homes are not more airtight and energy saving? Enhabit UK’s board includes a former chief executive of Barratt. “Current building regulations in the UK are actually quite good, and newly built houses should be relatively cheap to run and be comfortable. But above this it needs attention to detail – so we see some houses where airtightness levels are lower than they should be.”

At the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford, meanwhile, a “zero bills” home aims to make home energy bills obsolete. The rooftop solar panels generate electricity, while a small air source heat pump recycles heat recovered from stale air. The house is an off-the-shelf kit made of a steel frame with timber wall panels that its makers, ZEDfactory, say costs £1,350 per square meter, or around £129,600 to build a standard three-bed home. It has already been commissioned for use on a development in Newport, Essex.

The public can visit the BRE Innovation Park at Watford and view the zero-energy home. Go to or call 0333 321 8811 to book a tour.

Five easy steps

• Switch off standby You can save around £30 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode. The Energy Saving Trusts suggests getting a “standby saver” which allows you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go.

• Save £50 a year in the kitchen Use a bowl to wash up rather than a running tap and cut energy bills by £30 a year. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need and save around £7 a year. Cutback your washing machine use by just one cycle per week and save £5 a year on energy, and a further £8 a year on metered water bills.

• Spend less time in the shower One minute less in the shower each day will save around £10 each year per person. With a water meter this could save a further £10 off annual water and sewage bills. If everyone in a four person family did this it would lead to a total saving of £80 a year.

• Install an energy saving monitor Nothing shows you how much power you are using more than a domestic monitor – you will get one for free when you install a smart meter, or you can buy them for around £25. You soon find out exactly where your cash is going on energy costs.

• Low energy LED lightbulbs New LED spotlights are bright enough to replace halogens, as well as regular energy saving bulbs. If the average household replaced old-fashioned bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, and all of their halogens with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and save about £35 a year.


EBRD And KazTransGas To Work On Energy Efficiency


The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Kazakhstan’s national gas operator, KazTransGas, have agreed to join forces in supporting the country’s drive towards a green economy.

According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Astana today (10/26), the two partners will explore ways to promote energy efficiency in the gas sector. A more efficient use of energy and reduced losses will strengthen energy security and help Kazakhstan cut greenhouse gas emissions. The document was signed by EBRD First Vice President Phil Bennett and Rustam Suleimanov, the General Director of KazTransGas.

The EBRD and KazTransGas, which is mainly engaged in the transportation, sale, exploration and production of natural gas in Kazakhstan, will examine specific possibilities for modernisation and energy efficiency improvements in gas compressor stations and gas networks, systems responsible for the monitoring and control of fugitive greenhouse gas emissions and of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

The EBRD is a leader in sustainable energy investments, including in other countries of Central Asia and eastern Europe with similar energy efficiency challenge, and in research and technical cooperation related to energy and resource efficiency. The cooperation framework will allow KazTransGas to benefit from EBRD expertise in this area.

The EBRD and KazTransGas started cooperating in May this year, when the EBRD committed nearly 300 million to two landmark projects in Kazakhstan aimed at the modernisation of gas networks and the fuel switch from coal to gas for heat and power generation with the upgrade of the Bozoi underground gas storage to help it reach full capacity.

The signing of the MoU comes shortly before the COP22 climate talks in Morocco. As a result of the historic COP21 talks in Paris last year, Kazakhstan has undertaken to reduce its CO2 emissions and increase the sustainable use of energy. The EBRD has consistently supported Kazakhstan’s policy to build up a “green economy” by financing the first solar and wind power renewable energy projects, a range of energy efficiency projects, as well as by supporting the introduction of renewable energy law and supporting.

The EBRD invested close to US$ 7.5 billion in Kazakhstan’s economy to date. Addressing global challenges such as climate change is one of the Bank’s priorities.

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries


New York, NY–October 24, 2016–Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a new method to increase the energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries. He has built a trilayer structure that is stable even in ambient air, which makes the battery both longer lasting and cheaper to manufacture. The work, which may improve the energy density of lithium batteries by 10-30%, is published online today in Nano Letters.

“When lithium batteries are charged the first time, they lose anywhere from 5-20% energy in that first cycle,” says Yang. “Through our design, we’ve been able to gain back this loss, and we think our method has great potential to increase the operation time of batteries for portable electronics and electrical vehicles.”

During the first charge of a lithium battery after its production, a portion of liquid electrolyte is reduced to a solid phase and coated onto the negative electrode of the battery. This process, usually done before batteries are shipped from a factory, is irreversible and lowers the energy stored in the battery. The loss is approximately 10% for state-of-the-art negative electrodes, but can reach as high as 20-30% for next-generation negative electrodes with high capacity, such as silicon, because these materials have large volume expansion and high surface area. The large initial loss reduces achievable capacity in a full cell and thus compromises the gain in energy density and cycling life of these nanostructured electrodes.

The traditional approach to compensating for this loss has been to put certain lithium-rich materials in the electrode. However, most of these materials are not stable in ambient air. Manufacturing batteries in dry air, which has no moisture at all, is a much more expensive process than manufacturing in ambient air. Yang has developed a new trilayer electrode structure to fabricate lithiated battery anodes in ambient air. In these electrodes, he protected the lithium with a layer of the polymer PMMA to prevent lithium from reacting with air and moisture, and then coated the PMMA with such active materials as artificial graphite or silicon nanoparticles. The PMMA layer was then dissolved in the battery electrolyte, thus exposing the lithium to the electrode materials. “This way we were able to avoid any contact with air between unstable lithium and a lithiated electrode,” Yang explains, “so the trilayer-structured electrode can be operated in ambient air. This could be an attractive advance towards mass production of lithiated battery electrodes.”

Yang’s method lowered the loss capacity in state-of-the-art graphite electrodes from 8% to 0.3%, and in silicon electrodes, from 13% to -15%. The -15% figure indicates that there was more lithium than needed, and the “extra” lithium can be used to further enhance cycling life of batteries, as the excess can compensate for capacity loss in subsequent cycles. Because the energy density, or capacity, of lithium-ion batteries has been increasing 5-7% annually over the past 25 years, Yang’s results point to a possible solution to enhance the capacity of Li-ion batteries. His group is now trying to reduce the thickness of the polymer coating so that it will occupy a smaller volume in the lithium battery, and to scale up his technique.

“This three-layer electrode structure is indeed a smart design that enables processing of lithium-metal-containing electrodes under ambient conditions,” notes Hailiang Wang, assistant professor of chemistry at Yale University, who was not involved with the study. “The initial Coulombic efficiency of electrodes is a big concern for the Li-ion battery industry, and this effective and easy-to-use technique of compensating irreversible Li ion loss will attract interest.”

“City of Almaty Sustainable Transport” project’s experts worked out recommendations for the active mobility development in Central Asia


UNDP-GEF “City of Almaty Sustainable Transport” project held the international conference «Cycling and walking. My path. Future of my city» on 22-23 September, 2016 in Almaty (Kazakhstan) with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Republic of Kazakhstan and in cooperation with the Urban Talks. The conference was timed to coincide with the worldwide “Day without cars”.

Bronwen Thornton, Walk21 development director (Great Britain): stressed the need for pedestrian traffic development policy at both national and international levels, as well as the walking development, which contribute to achieving the Paris agreement objectives on climate change mitigation.

Manuel Proell, Vienna city administration (Austria): gave practical examples and data that encourages people to walk more and use bicycles for longer distances, introduced specific measures on urban infrastructure change to provide comfortable mobility for pedestrians and cyclists.

Jeroen Buis, JB Mobility (Netherlands): described the main trends in cycling infrastructure design in developing countries, analyzed urban cycling development cases and noted the key factors of its promotion.

At the end of the discussion experts have identified the following issues in the cities of the region:

– No cycling inclusive approach while designing streets and green zones reconstruction and repair;

– The shortage of qualified staff in government agencies and design organizations leading to an inability to integrate the bicycle as a mode of transport into the existing infrastructure, the lack of quality infrastructure and integrated urban development plans;

– Unclear lines of projects’ responsibilities in the city authority. Thus, urban mobility development responsibility falls within several departments and supervised by different Akim deputies, and so on.

The conference was attended by over 100 participants, including experts from the Russian Federation, the UK, Austria and the Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as representatives of the eight cities of Kazakhstan.

As additional activities to the conference were also provided:

– “Design of safe cycling infrastructure” workshop by Jeroen Buis, the Dutch expert, and Dmitriy Korniyevskiy, UNDP-GEF “City of Almaty Sustainable Transport” project expert, and Adil Azhiyev, Light Space architect.

– «Bike vs. cars» movie free screening at the Bekmambetov Cinema (“Almaly” shopping center).

– Almaty downtown walking tour with Dennis Keen.

– A 10-kilometer bicycle sightseeing Almaty with Alexander Gabchenko.

The final event – Tour de Kids was held on 24th September, assisted with the “Velo-Almaty” initiative group. 180 children aged 2 to 7 years took participation in the race.

Key World Energy Statistics: A world of energy data at your fingertips



Electricity is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, with China producing a quarter of global electricity in 2014. These are just two of the many facts presented in the 2016 edition of Key World Energy Statistics, released today.

The use of electricity has grown significantly over the past decades, with its share of energy used in homes and businesses doubling, from just under 10% in 1973 to close to 20% now.

This change, especially in recent years, has been driven by increased use of electricity in countries outside of the OECD, reflecting continued economic development and enhanced electrification. In 1973, the OECD produced nearly three quarters of all electricity. In 2014, it was less than a half, with China becoming the largest producer in the world.

China is also the largest coal producer, while the US retains its position as the leading gas producing country, and in 2015 was the second largest producer of oil, behind Saudi Arabia, but ahead of the Russian Federation.

KWES, which is also available as a mobile app, draws on information from the full range of IEA statistics, including World energy Balances and World Energy Statistics. These two new publications reflect the global nature of energy.

Also released today are new data on CO2 emissions from fuel combustion which continue to show the decoupling of energy use and economic growth globally. Also available is a wide range of data and information aimed at helping everyone understand energy, including the Sankey flow charts which show how energy is used in each country.

Added: 17.10.2016
Modifited: 24.07.2017