Top Stories

December 18, 2020


Floating ‘mini-nukes’ could power countries by 2025, says startup

Floating barges fitted with advanced nuclear reactors could begin powering developing nations by the mid-2020s, according to a Danish startup company. Seaborg Technologies believes it can make cheap nuclear electricity a viable alternative to fossil fuels across the developing world as soon as 2025. The ships are fitted with one or more small nuclear reactors, which can generate electricity and transmit the power to the mainland. The first ship of this kind began supplying heat and electricity to the Russian port of Pevek on the East Siberian Sea in December 2019. Seaborg has raised about €20m (£18.3m) from private investors, including the Danish retail billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, and received the first of the necessary regulatory approvals within a four-phase process from the American Bureau of Shipping this week. (The Guardian) 

Sustainable Investment 

Asset managers and index providers urged to end financing of deforestation 

Investors engaged in the exchange traded funds (ETFs) market are indirectly and often unknowingly enabling the destruction of tropical forests, and as such the small clutch of companies that dominate the highly-concentrated market should take urgent action to eliminate deforestation risk from the sector. That is the conclusion of a report published this week by financial think tank Planet Tracker, which sets out how soybean production companies driving mass destruction of tropical forests in Brazil, Indonesia, and the DRC are being propped by the booming ETF market. Deforestation represents a major environmental and financial risk for global capital markets, and soybean production is the second largest driver of the practice in tropical countries, after industrial cattle rearing, according to the report. (Business Green) 


Activists hail ‘historic win’ as Australian court rejects Bylong Valley coalmine 

The development of an underground and open-cut coalmine in the Bylong Valley will not be allowed to proceed after a ruling in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court. In what environmental campaigners described as a historic win, the court on Friday upheld a decision by the state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to reject Kepco’s proposal for a mine that would extract up to 120m tonnes of coal over 25 years for export. The IPC refused development approval for the project last year citing the unacceptable impact the mine would have on the environment – including through greenhouse gas emissions – and the costs to future generations. Kepco’s options include appealing the judgment in the court of appeal, revising the project and filing a new development application, or walking away. (The Guardian) 


Global coal demand to rise in 2021 with ‘no immediate decline in sight’

The coal industry is likely to benefit from the global economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis next year, with demand expected to rise 2.6 per cent as governments gear up to restart their economies in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Coal demand has plummeted in recent years in the face of growing competition from cheaper and greener forms of energy, but following the pandemic some emerging and developing economies, such as China, have moved to ramp up their coal plans as part of their economic recovery plans. Nevertheless, after historic falls in coal demand of 1.8 per cent in 2019 and a projected five per cent in 2020, the IEA’s estimates indicate coal consumption next year is still likely to remain below 2019 levels. (Business Green)  


Formula 1 gears up for ‘100 per cent sustainable’ fuel in 2030 net zero drive

Motorsport governing body FIA has unveiled plans for Formula 1 (F1) cars to use greener fuel in the next five years, as it sets sights on becoming net zero carbon by 2030. The FIA claims to have developed a “100 per cent sustainable” fuel made from bio-waste which it aims to standardise across Formula 1 cars within the next five years. The FIA said it had developed the second-generation biofuel exclusively using bio-waste and that the first barrels of the fuel were now with F1 teams for testing and validation. Once demonstrated and proven, the plan is for F1 teams to use the biofuel as a basis to develop and innovate their own fuels ahead of the introduction of a mandatory requirement for 100 per cent sustainable fuels across the F1 championship. (Business Green) 


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